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December 1, 2019

30 Second of Wick Chapter 17: The Best Fight Begins (57:55-58:25)

We’ve finally caught up to the best fight in this movie.

Yes, I’ll say it again: as good as Red Circle is, Perkins vs Wick is the best fight of the movie and possibly the best fight in the three movies so far. I covered the second segment of this fight (58:25-58:55) back in my very first blog post (and I’m going to repost that in full for the next chapter to make sure we maintain continuity) — that should also explain the slightly arbitrary start point here.

I’ve got my tongue slightly in cheek with the pronouncement above, but only slightly. I missed John Wick 1 in the theatre and rented it on the recommendation of my ex-boyfriend, whom I met in MMA. I was really loving it (other than the dog dying) when this fight kicked off.

I wound up on my knees on my living room floor, bawling. I called my best friend, then a cop (whom I also met in MMA), weeping incoherently.

“They finally did it! They finally gave us a fight between the male star and a female assassin WITH NO SEXUAL TENSION and he had to cheat to win!” she tells me a sobbed into the phone.

I believe her. I’d been begging for, and despairing of, such a thing for decades at that point.

So, all kidding aside, the emotional stakes of this set piece make it resonate for me in a way that nothing else has since.

Wick is back at the Continental, patched up by their doctor, bleeding, broken, swigging liquor to dull the pain and now nodding off in his bed. We know–though he doesn’t–that Willem Dafoe’s Marcus is set up in the building across the street. His sniper’s reticle has already come to rest on the prone John.

And yet, he doesn’t fire.

The crosshairs drift up, and now we see John’s door opening. They drop again.

Wick is still asleep.

Marcus will have to shoot fast to get the bounty.

He fires…

…into the pillow next to John’s head.

That’s not a miss. That’s a warning. And without it, given how the fight is about to go, John Wick would be dead.

Outside help–cheating in my books.

John Wick rolls off the bed, onto the floor, scrambling to his feet — to meet the fabulous Ms. Perkins, all dark hair and clothes, drawing her own bead on him. He scrabbles back, away from her.

This fight is on. (57:55)

Firing two muffled shots, Perkins calls out a maliciously cheerful “Hey John!”, grinning maniacally. She’s not just not afraid, she’s having fun. She tracks his desperate roll across the bed, shooting through the frosted glass of the headboard.

Wick and Perkins banter, from either side of a barrier, both preparing their next moves. John rips off his sling, wrapping the fabric around his fists like boxing wraps, or a length of chain in a street fight. His head is on a swivel and you can practically hear his thoughts:

“The first shot was from outside. Why aren’t they still shooting?”

I’m not sure if it was intentional but that thought does explain why the battered, injured Wick — who provably is fine with retreating when his body/resources are failing — is willing to close with a fresh, armed and clearly lethal Perkins. From their banter here, it’s obvious she’s high up in the ranks of their mysterious underground world. But it’s not an illogical assumption that Wick thinks the sniper outside isn’t shooting to avoid hitting Perkins, that they are working together. It’s wrong, but logical.

Perkins comes around the headboard of the bed shooting and John wraps his modified sling around her gun hand and forearm. His right arm was in that sling but not broken, which implies a shoulder or elbow injury. Which means he’s going to be lower strength on that side…so using both the impediment of the wrapping fabric and the extra leverage the wrap provides is good, smart fighting.

That’s another reason I love this fight — it’s close quarters between two very competent, very skilled fighters who both think fast and modify their style/approach based on necessity and response. It’s one of the most ‘professional’ fights I’ve ever seen (other than going on way longer than any ‘real’ fight would — that’s the nature of the beast in movie fights. Five seconds is more realistic; five minutes is more interesting).

Wick uses the leverage he gains to disarm Perkins, and now they’re chest to chest and she’s mad. They pummel and he gets the length of cloth under her throat. She grabs at it to stop him choking her, the material trying to cut off her breathing.

In any other movie this would lead some sexually charged ‘dialogue’, flirting even, and probably with the woman being soundly defeated right there. That was certainly what I was expecting when I saw it the first time.

Instead, she wraps a hand around his throat and they snarl at each other (and she drops the ‘Viggo’s paying me to break hotel rules’ line, which Wick needs to know — that not even the Continental is safe anymore) .

Then Wick using the fabric wrapped around her throat to do a full, spinning over his back throw. Honestly, there’s a better than even chance that would have broken her neck IRL.

But it’s 58:25 and the best line of the movie is about to be dropped, as well as one of the most satisfying and interesting thirty seconds of screen time in the whole trilogy to date.

Perkins is my dream girl.

Next up, a repost in full of my first entry, to continue the continuity forward.

58:25-58:55 — You Were Always A Pussy, John