June 29, 2019

30 Seconds of Wick Chapter 5: Cleaning the Kitchen (31:00-31:30)

Our current sequence begins as John Wick shoulder throws the opponent he was grappling with onto the kitchen counter. He uses a variation of the shoulder throw we’ve seen before and will see again but this time he actually flips the opponent up over his head, from his right to his left to land him on the counter. It’s a very acrobatic move and requires a fair amount of strength; even assisted by the stunt person here, I remember being impressed by how fluid Keanu looks.

For anyone wondering why I’m not using the Judo terms for these throws (the shoulder throw is a Seoi nage for instance) it’s two fold: I didn’t train in Judo—my grappling art is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu—and I try to avoid jargon as much as possible when talking about fighting. I speak jargon to my instructor for speed and clarity, using it in normal conversation is just obfuscation.

The end result of the throw is John’s opponent on his back on the marble counter. John hit him somewhere on the torso with a downward hammered fist, artless and brutal — the angle makes it impossible to see where. This leaves that man seemingly stunned for a moment. Now John turns to his right and reacts to something behind the camera. The pull back reveals the other assassin was not dead and has gotten up to reach for the gun John (or the first assassin) just dropped.

Four seconds of screen time. That entire sequence I just described in about 250 words takes four seconds of screen time. The visual medium is almost impossibly dense when it comes to conveying information.

John kicks the gun out of the man’s reach and they go hand to hand.

The assassin throws an awkward…something…half way between a knife hand and an elbow with his right arm that seems to meet a block thrown by John — exactly what he does there is obscured by the angle and a swift edit to show the fight with Keanu’s face visible.

In any case John winds up in control of the assassin’s right hand from the block, then blocks a left handed blow and delivers a swift strike to the left shoulder of his opponent. Though any wound isn’t visible from the reaction I think we’re supposed to surmise that’s the shoulder where John just shot him seconds before.

We get another lovely variant on the shoulder throw then, as John spiral rotates his opponents’s arm up and over, using the momentum to flip him onto his back. (It’s really the same shoulder throw with a different entry is all, but it’s nicely dynamic, with excellent use of body mechanics.)

Seven seconds have elapsed.

John turns and strikes at the man on the counter, who is rising. He blocks an attempted kick, then hammers a simple straight punch into the man’s face, slamming him onto his back on the counter again, then pulling him so that his head is lolling over the edge of the marble.

Meanwhile, the assassin he just threw has staggered up and taken a knife out of the block on the counter.

Before the knife weilder can strike, John kills the man on the counter using a single brutal punch downward, with body weight and gravity, that appears to snap the man’s spine.

I must admit, I don’t think that move is physically possible, or at least physically likely, but the biology and physics of it are sound. And in universe it serves to illustrate that John Wick is utterly merciless and impeccably deadly.

There is a dodge as a knife is slashed at John, then an arm to arm block and John has control of the knife hand, the left. The assassin grabs John’s throat with his free hand and pushes him backwards, exiting the kitchen into a corridor with windows on one side and closets on the other.

John Wick takes the assassin’s back, pinning the left arm to the man’s torso. The assassin switches the blade to his right hand (smart!) and slashes it upwards at John, over his own shoulder.

And John grabs that arm into another Figure-Four lock, holding the knife out and away from his own face by main force. He kicks/sweeps the assassin onto his back on the tiles.

The background music changes, from frenetic fast action beats to an ominous, horror-movie-like trill.

John takes his opponent’s back, one arm under his right arm pit and the other controlling the knife, which has been switched to the left hand again.

John Wick is about to reveal what kind of movie this really is.

But our time’s up this week.

Next time: Not running with knives

Chapter 6