Chances are, you enjoy motorcycle action scenes in movies as much as we do, especially, if they involve some serious stunt performances. Since Steve McQueen's legendary motorcycle jump in the 1963 film, The Great Escape, motorcycle stunt scenes have always had to meet a high bar.
Being a self-proclaimed stunt critic, I've seen many movies involving motorcycle stunts that are not only lame but also very far from the realities of riding a motorcycle. If you're an astute rider, you'll notice these things. For example, in one movie, a single-cylinder 4-stroke motorcycle was shown, but with sound from a 2-stroke. In another, you can clearly see the actor let go of the throttle, but somehow, the bike still has the power to overtake another one. These flaws are often very easy to notice since we're motorcycle riders ourselves. One film, however, has caught my attention and I'm pretty sure, it has done the same for many, many other fans out there: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
Awesome (and often brutal) action scenes are synonymous with the John Wick film franchise. In its third installment, we see the titular character (played by Keanu Reeves) being chased by wakizashi-wielding thugs onboard Yamaha MT-09s. The succeeding chase in New York's Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is both brutal and, at the same time, a very convincing motorcycle stunt scene (except for the bike that still managed to wheelie when the chain catches the rider's severed arm).
But, did you know that most of these were done with the help of computer-generated imagery (CGI)?
Flashback FilmMaking, through their official YouTube channel, has given us a glimpse of how that awesome motorcycle-chase scene was completed, and, it involved a lot of guys in green tights.
Both movie actor, Keanu Reeves, and John Wick 3 director, Chad Stahelski, claimed to have been inspired by Korean film, The Villainess. As it turned out, bringing that short yet heart-pumping chase scene to the screen would require many months of preparation, logistical setbacks, and countless hours of fight choreography.
The original scene from The Villainess.
Most of the scenes were choreographed and filmed inside a warehouse in New York that they fitted with a green backdrop. Then, the motorcycles were put on free-rolling platforms which were pushed and pulled by men in green tights. They were then digitally removed by the visual effects team.
“For the life of us, we couldn't figure out how they did it,” said Stahelski. “It was like a puzzle that we tried to piece together. It wasn't as simple as we thought it was.”
The entire action sequence was rehearsed four complete times (excluding countless practice rehearsals) before being filmed, as shared by the film's visual effects supervisor, Rob Nederhorst. “That sequence was rehearsed four times before it was actually photographed for real. It was a crazy amount of work.”
Despite the fact that most of it were just CGI, we can just imagine the amount of work put in to make this motorcycle scene one of the best and most believable Hollywood has ever produced.