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Stuntmen play policemen in reel and real life

Update: June, 08/2014 - 17:38
Fighting fit: The stuntmen's martial art skills are of great value in shooting such scenes. — VNS Photos Truong Vi

Chosen to act as law enforcement officers because of their looks and skills, stuntmen often end up helping real policemen fight crime and nab criminals. Quynh Nga investigates.

Stuntman and action director Bui Van Hai often tells his colleagues: "The actors who look ugly are always offered the role of robbers. Only handsome actors are offered the roles of hero and policemen."

Hai states that finding a stuntman for acting as a wanderer, thief or robber was easy.

But, the directors are very strict when choosing stuntmen to act as policemen, he says. "The stuntman's face must be bright and gentle. More important, they should have a stately manner like policemen," adds Hai.

Every time he talks about the first time he played the role of a policeman, director Huynh Phu expresses his pride: "In 1996, I was selected to act as a policeman in movie Hong Hai Tac (Red Pirates) though there were many other professional stuntmen. While I was still excited, the Hong Kong director gave me an extra role in the movie because he liked my pleasant face. Since then I have had the opportunity of acting in movies."

After this successful role, Phu was subsequently invited to play a policeman in such films as Nu Canh Sat Dac Nhiem (Task Force Policewomen) and Buoc Qua Qua Khu (Step Through the Past).

A movie had a scene of two policemen riding a motorbike chasing a robber. Phu was the stuntman for the scene in which a policeman jumps from his bike onto the robber's bike to grasp him and both roll down a hill.

When he and his colleagues completed the scene, Phu felt a pain in his abdomen. His hands were warm with blood. He looked down and found that a tree branch had stabbed into his hip while rolling along.

During a shooting scene, a broken piece from a tree hit Phu's face, causing him to bleed, which left a scar near his eye.

In another scene of the movie Step Through the Past, three policemen were crossing a river on a cable. Suddenly, the cable broke, hitting the stuntman who swung first and wounding him on his neck. The remaining cable hit straight into Phu's body, but he used his hands to protect himself and was only bruised.

Because of his handsome features, Do Hoang Chien was often selected by many directors to act as a policeman. Some movies that he had very much contributed to were as a policeman in the film Vet Dau Loang (Oil Slick) and as a stuntman for actor Binh Minh in the movie Nu Sat Thu (Female Assassin).

In the film Female Assassin, Binh Minh played an undercover policeman who was a sublime martial artist. At nights, he wore a mask and fought criminals.

As the role was that of a masked character, it was like an examination for Chien's ability. He had to climb onto the high pile of containers at a glance, and fight while wearing mask that limited his vision. Jumping over high roofs at a distance of 4 metres from each other or climbing fast on high-rise buildings was also a challenge that he has experienced.

Hai was not only a stuntman for actors but also for women police.

Daring: For dangerous scenes, stuntmen and stuntwomen replace actors and actresses.

Although there are many skilled stuntwomen, including Thu Van, Kim Thoa, Ngoc Thuy, Kim Dung and Phi Ngoc Anh, people in the movie industry noted that stuntwomen usually performed simple action that were less risky.

As far as highly risky falling and rolling scenes were concerned, the stuntwomen can easily be wounded. So, such scenes require a stuntman.

The stuntmen said the martial arts sequences of policemen in a film must be very good and that their actions must definitely be accurate. During the scenes of chasing and fighting criminals, the stuntmen must express courage, bravery and intelligence akin to real-life policemen.

The stuntmen selected to act as policemen, in addition to being bright and gentle, usually have a common feature: they have a close relationship with the policemen in real life.

They learn the mannerisms, working style as well as thoughts and feelings of the real policemen, so that they can reflect "police quality" in the movies.

Stuntmen Phu and Chien had spent time teaching martial arts to a number of police units and a police school in HCM City. Stuntwoman Anh has also participated in various information programmes for the police force.

Being friends with the police, Hai and other members of Quoc Thinh stuntmen groups often helped the policemen crack many devilish cases.

As the stuntmen are influenced by the police's braveness, and also have martial art skills, they will not ignore when a real-life robbery occurs.

Once while riding his bike on the street, Hai saw a young man riding motorbike cause an accident to a little girl. The young man fled from the place. Hai chased him immediately. Unfortunately, the road was stuck with traffic. There was only a tiny gap between a bus and a taxi running in parallel in front of him.

"If I do not pass this gap, that guy will escape." Hai pursed his lips and accelerated his bike.

His bike passed through the narrow gap, which made onlookers witnessing the scene turn pale with fright.

Hai caught up with the guy and told him blandly: "I just want you to go back to the place where you caused the accident to deal with the consequences."

The guy swore and wanted to hit Hai, but Hai was quicker and twisted his hands. The young man was controlled and had to follow Hai to the accident scene.

As Hai could quickly lock the arms of criminals and his martial arts and mannerisms resembled that of a real policeman, many criminals believed he was a plain-clothes policeman.

Also, thanks to his mannerisms, Hai escaped the revenge of a gangland group once when he had chased a robber.

"One feature of the policemen is that they use the criminal's shirt to tie him. We immediately apply this trick."

So, when Hai caught a thief and tied him with his shirt, the thief's friends did not dare to attack Hai to rescue the thief.

"After I took the thief to the police, they shook my hand to thank me, and only then did the thief realise that I was not a real policeman. Sometimes the gangsters also search for me in order to take revenge," he noted.

The stuntmen respect and admire the policemen. So, apart from acting in the movies that depict policemen in their fierce fight against criminals, in real life, the stuntmen want to contribute some efforts to help the police protect the peaceful life of the people.

"As we do stun in movies and witness the battle with criminals in the real life, we understand that the dangers that we face on film studios are just a trifle compared with what the police face in daily life. We also have protective facilities that help prevent risks. But, for the police, dangers are unexpected: life and death is only a fragile thread," stuntman Phu added. — VNS

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