How The Classic Musical Helped Keanu Reeves Train For His Fight Scenes

Classic Musical Helped Keanu Reeves Train For Fighting Scenes

Directors Chad Stahelski and Nathan Orloff of “John Wick: Chapter 4” discuss the film’s inspiration, “Singin’ in the Rain,” and how the classic musical helped Keanu Reeves train for his fight scenes.

Chad Stahelski, director of all four “John Wick” films, is a cinephile whose eclectic mix of interests gives the series its distinct style. Although Stahelski’s commitment to Sam Peckinpah, Sergio Leone, and other action filmmakers may be anticipated, it’s completely other genres that offer the most significant — and probably most shocking — foundation for his work.

Classic Musical Helped Keanu Reeves Train For Fighting Scenes

According to IndieWire, Stahelski expressed his admiration for musicals, citing Bob Fosse as a major influence, along with Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.” He acknowledged that while “John Wick” did not revolutionize the action genre, they invested significant resources in training Keanu Reeves to be their equivalent of Gene Kelly. Despite the laughter it may provoke, Stahelski stands by his love for musicals.

Singin’ in the Rain | Gene Kelly 

Stahelski’s favorites, “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Easter Parade,” served as structural templates for all of the “John Wick” films, including “John Wick: Chapter 4,” which is also one of those movies.

Stahelski stated that the method of training individuals is heavily influenced by dance. Instead of adopting a martial arts approach, where cast members are trained to strike focus mitts or heavy bags, their team prioritizes remembering choreographed movements over the power of the strikes. In essence, hitting hard or kicking strong will not matter if one cannot recollect their routines.

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For a pivotal pursuit and fight sequence on a big stairway in “John Wick: Chapter 4,” Reeves had to memorize a hundred movements. Stahelski made a dance sequence out of the motions to ensure Reeves remember them because he would have to start over from the beginning if he made a mistake. Stahelski made it clear that despite his martial arts appearance, Reeves had really trained in dancing. Reeves was able to mimic filmmaker Stanley Donen‘s style from “Singin’ in the Rain” by putting in the work necessary to let the action do the talking. Stahelski compared a dolly shot with Keanu Reeves to a simple dolly shot with Gene Kelly.

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“John Wick: Chapter 4,” editor Nathan Orloff says “Singin’ in the Rain” influenced the film. Orloff told in an interview that he structured the action film’s editing after “Singin’ in the Rain.” The film’s lack of dancing cuts pleased him. Orloff tried to blend in. He edited through punches, showing the aftermath and moving on. Orloff and director Chad Stahelski wanted the action to flow without excessive editing.

Much as Donen highlighted the talents of Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor, Orloff hoped to highlight the physical capabilities of Reeves and the stunt team. As Orloff took a unique approach to the action, he didn’t need to edit the sequences to make the fights more dramatic.

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