Action cinema has had many protagonists throughout its history. The most prominent during the 80s were arnold schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, which started a trend that has grown to this day. In essence, they are tough characters whose role is to bust as many enemies as possible for the duration of the movie.
The style of action heroes has been changing over time. From the beefy Shwarzenegger and Stallone we move on to Bruce Willis, Jason Statham and even Harrison Ford, Christian bale and Keanu Reeves they had their moment during the 90s. Later, Stallone created The Expendables. If you’re in The Expendables, you’re a true action hero.
Currently, the most popular and successful action hero is Keanu Reeves with John Wick. The first three installments made it clear that we were facing one of the best sagas in the history of action movies and John Wick 4 is the definitive proof that Reeves and Wick are a new chapter, as was Willis.
And why do we like John Wick so much?, what is it that conquers us? It has many good things, but the most obvious are its action scenes. The long shots, the choreography, the style and the frantic pace is brutal. It is not merely action, but elaborate and done with taste. So much so that some video games have even integrated it into their gameplay to a greater or lesser extent.
“John wasn’t the bogeyman, he was the man you sent to kill the fucking boogeyman”
The following question is more than obvious: Why is John Wick so lethal? His fighting style is unique (but not much) and his combat skills can only be matched by characters like Batman. Let’s start at the beginning: What is the name of John Wick’s main fighting style? The most famous and the one that gives us the most spectacular moments thanks to the choreography.
He Gun Fu, union of Gun (weapon) and Kung-Fu (one of the most complete martial arts), is the main fighting style of John Wick. It unites all that is good about martial art with the use of firearms (mainly short) at short range. Use grapples to disarm or deflect enemies’ weapons, point-blank shots to destabilize or kill, and positioning to use them as shields from other shots.
Although it has become popular thanks to John Wick and there are schools all over the world that teach it, its origins date back to the kung fu movies by Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. We could see it in balance (2002) by Christian Bale before John Wick. And as a result of the latter, other films such as Tyler Rake 1 and 2 (Extraction), Polar, Nobody, Resident Evil: Vendetta and the Kingsman saga have used Gun-Fu with different styles.
And what about Gun-Fu in video games? Today there are two video games that use this style of fighting and that offer very Close to John Wick: Watch Dogs Legion and Saints Row (2022). Both feature animations with guns to execute enemies. His influence even reaches Star Wars Jedi: Surviror, which has many more run animations than its predecessor and even some with a blaster, inspired by Gun-Fu.
The thing with John Wick does not end with Gun-Fu. Unlike other action heroes, Wick was trained by Ruska Roma to be the perfect assassin. He is educated, educated and most importantly he knows at least 8 other fighting styles and martial arts.
The Twitter user @KellyAfterDarkk made a thread listing all the combat styles and martial arts that John Wick employs (besides Gun-Fu) to rack up a whopping 373 kills in four movies. They are the following:
- Sambo: A Russian martial art that John Wick learned during his training with the Ruska Roma. It is a style of self defense. It is inspired by Judo, Kurash and other ancient fighting styles.
- Judo and Jiu-Jitsu: two martial arts based on taking the enemy to the ground to subdue him by means of locks, strangulations and dislocations.
- Skrima or Kali: a Filipino martial art that is based on combat with short bladed and/or thrown weapons. As indicated in the thread, we can see her in a scene in John Wick 3: Parabellum.
- Kobudo: This Japanese martial art uses traditional wooden and metal weapons to fight opponents. It is one of the least used styles in the franchise, as we see it during the fight at the hotel in the fourth film.
- ninjutsu: The Japanese martial art of espionage and stealth, which was practiced by Shinobi. John Wick was trained to be the perfect assassin, and that means being stealthy and discreet.
- Wrestling or Wrestling: It is a very aggressive fighting style that is usually focused on the show. John Wick uses it against large opponents or when he wants to deal maximum damage to his enemies by throwing them against the ground, walls and/or objects.
- Naked/Kill: This martial discipline is not real, although some people have started to practice it after it was popularized by John Wick. It is based on using everyday objects in a lethal way against enemies. The most famous example of John Wick is the pencil, but he has come to use a book.
- Military training and tactical shooting: This discipline focuses on the knowledge and use of firearms, from their maintenance to their effective use in all combat situations. In other words: be precise and lethal with any weapon that falls into your hands. In addition, he knows combat tactics such as guerrillas, he knows how to drive and ride a horse, etc.
And speaking of martial arts, there is another video game that takes the style of John Wick to offer a similar experience and one of the best in terms of martial arts: Sifu. In fact, there are several mods available that turn the protagonist into John Wick. Two other video games that can come close are Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption II. And I’m not kidding you.
In summary: the scenes of John Wick are so spectacular because of the fighting style itself, the incredible work during the choreography and the long shots that allow enjoy the action much better. Video games allow us to enjoy them repeatedly and have control when executing them to create scenes as impressive as the movies.
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