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January 19, 2020

30 Seconds of Wick Chapter 19: John Wick Must Die (58:40-59:25)

Hey folks. Since my first choice dropped John Wick I’ve moved onto another streaming service for the movie, which is a fifteen seconds behind on the time codes. I’ve flipped to their timing as of now, at some point I’ll likely edit all of this to the DVD time codes. Maybe.

Also, this is the climax of the fight so I’m running it a little long to get to the end, which oddly then makes it sync back up to my original timing.

After nearly getting his arm broken, then nearly choked out, John has rolled both he and Perkins off the sofa and onto the floor. They tumble and Perkins takes his back.

This position is called “back mount” in Brazilan Jiu Jitsu and it’s the most dominant, powerful place to be in a fight.

(Personal Digression: I once ran into my gym to use the washroom and encountered my best friend (a woman and full instructor) teaching someone BJJ — a young dude about 6’2″, 250 lbs. I was going to an errand and distracted but as I came out of the washroom she was waiting for me.

“Fight this guy,” she said.

“I don’t have time.”

“It won’t take long,” she grinned at me.

At the time i was in the best shape of my life about (180lbs, 5’7″ middle aged woman). I took off my shoes, introduced myself and tagged into a “roll” with the guy. This was straight wrestling, no strikes.

Inside of a minute I had taken his back and choked him out (to tap, or submission), jumped to my feet, said ‘Bye!’ and ran out.

I found out later he leapt to his feet and exclaimed “What the f**k just happened?”

“She killed you,” was the response he got.

Back mount is lethal.)

Perkins has her ‘hooks in’ — she gets both her feet around his hips and onto his thighs. Honestly, this is another moment that the fight ends. If John Wick isn’t the hero of this story, this is where he dies.

Perkins wins this fight at least again. If it was her movie.

Instead John just, somehow with an adult about his size on his back, stands up. Obviously these movies set up a universe where in John is an unstoppable force but … this does happen IRL. It just doesn’t happen this easily and quickly.

So John Wick stands up with Perkins on his back like a barnacle, still choking him. Staggering to the wall display, he smashes her into the glass shelves, raining shards onto the floor. Though I know it likely isn’t, I would like to point out this is essentially a visual joke for BJJ fighters and wrestlers in general — one of the “critiques” of wrestling arts is that ground fighting is bad because ‘there might be broken glass’.

(This sequence from the wall kick off is also obviously our stunt double, Renae Moneymaker, since Perkin’s face is generally obscured and most production insurance doesn’t like it when you drive glass into an actor’s back, even safely) .

They fall together onto the bed (seen through the gun site of Marcus across the way, still looking out for John) . John is propped onto his forearms and elbows, Perkins is on her feet but crouched over him with her head facing down his back. She lands two lovely knees to his side, swift and vicious. Knees and elbows are the great equalizers of the striking world. Elbows are small, sharp and move fast (speed = power); knees are the heaviest tools of the body, driving from the core using the largest bone and muscle group humans have.

There is no way this fight was not choreographed by someone who knows and loves BJJ, from the way Perkins then spins to side/back mount over John’s back, trying for that arm again. If she breaks that arm, he’s meat. She’ll have time to retrieve her gun, reload and kill him.

John rolls them both so Perkins is on her back but she has his left arm (his dominant hand which she would know) pinned out and straight against her shoulder, nearly a classic armbar position, about to snap his elbow backwards. This is a crippling, possibly un-healable injury as it turns the inside of the joint to gravel. Easy to miss in the roll was that she hooked his right arm with her leg, cruciform style. He’s half off the bed, no leverage, both arms extended.

But Perkins even now isn’t underestimating him. His side wound exposed she hammers her fist into it, blood spreading on his white shirt. This feels pretty personal, but it’s also smart fighting for her, up against someone physically stronger than her. Pain enervates.

Everything she’s done this whole fight has been smart, using force multiplication, skill and viciousness to negate Wick’s natural advantages. No fighter needs to be strongEST or strongER — just strong ENOUGH.

All the way through this, under the music and combat, the phone in the suite has been ringing as the Concierge tries to get through to Wick’s room, to complain about the noise.

Cutting to the front desk winds up being a cheat here, as they don’t have to show how John got out of the above move, we just get to see him smash the still clinging Perkins into the TV on the wall and then flip her into a table.

They literally have to edit out the part where she would have won the fight.

Just in this 30 seconds, Perkins ‘killed’ John Wick twice. Remember that.

The fight is about over here, John using a bed sheet to smother Perkins, punching her in the face and throwing her through the glass partition between the door and the bed area.

We then get the little comic business as John answers the phone re: the noise complaint and then goes after the broken, wounded, bleeding Perkins as she crawls down the hallway.

To sum up Wick vs. Perkins: she won. She won three times; Perkins killed John Wick thrice. He’s only alive because of in universe help (from Marcus waking him up with the gun shot), improbable physical attributes (being able to stand up like that with her on his back) and out right technical cheating by the film makers, inserting an edit to get past the fact that she broke his damn arm on that bed.

And in every case she did it using real world techniques, skill, and raw viciousness.

“Never underestimate the strength or malice of your opponent. In combat it is the stronger or more malicious fighter who will win.” — swordfighting saying, italics mine.

Sometimes I wonder why the analysis of the Wick movies gloss over these facts and this fight like they do.

A fight where the female assassin clearly, cleanly, plainly WINS.

Weird.