This is the last segment of the Siege of Casa Wick, the first fight of the movie. And it’s the least dynamic, least athletic and most interesting bit of the fight.
Because it’s here, in this moment, the audience first sees exactly what kind of movie John Wick is.
It’s only superficially an action film.
It’s a slasher movie — but the unstoppable maniac killer is the GOOD GUY.
This entire thirty seconds is a nearly static, nearly motionless, struggle for control of the kitchen knife the assassin had been slashing at John.
As of 31:15 the action is continuous, with no edit till the end of the fight. It’s not a locked frame—there is a slow, subtle push into the action to center Keanu.
John has the assassin’s back, as the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu term goes, controlling him with his legs. The music has faded from the techo synth “action” music to the ominous spare tones of a horror movie.
And John has control of the assassin’s left arm and hand, where the knife is. The assassin is trying to protect his core with crossed arms, bracing or “framing” against his own arm.
At 31:36 the fight actually ends, though the assassin and the audience don’t know it yet. John Wick calmly, almost gently, folds both hands around the handle of the knife (hilt-less knives are nearly as dangerous to the wielder as the victim, it’s incredibly easy to slip down the blade and rip up your own hands) and starts to push in. Since he has the assassin’s back he’s in an incredibly strong position, essentially pulling the knife into his opponents body with his lats.
But the man is strong and he’s resisting — so John moves to give himself even more of an advantage: gravity.
Hooking his chin, he throws the assassin on this back and John’s got the knife now, in his left hand. John Wick has the knife and he has top position, THE control position in a grappling fight. The assassin has HIS hands wrapped around John’s wrist and frankly — he probably knows he’s dead at this point.
Honestly, I can’t think too many combat situations where I would be this sure of my death, other than someone pressing a muzzle to my head. My only thought right now would be that I’d at least want to put a bruise on him. I’d want him to remember me.
No one else will.
What started ten seconds earlier is now come to fruition. John, rearing up over his opponent, just places the tip of the knife against his breast bone and punches his own fist with his right hand.
Power, gravity and the pointed metal pierce flesh.
The Siege of Casa Wick is over.
On a “I’ve watched this a whole bunch of times so I’m seeing things that aren’t obvious” note — the end position of the knife is off, giving away it’s not a true blade but eh, what can you expect?
And the door bell rings.
Next week I’ll post a meta installment with the links to the entire fight in one place and also a short over view of the whole sequence, start to finish. Enjoy.