We take you behind the scenes of Kick-Ass 2, the sequel directed by Jeff Wadlow, with an interesting and detailed interview with Mike Lambert, fight coreographer, responsible for the action scenes and fighting present in the movie. Mike has a long career in film and television, having worked on numerous feature films and TV series, also in the role of stuntman. Among them we can mention Bulletproof Monk, The Gladiator, X-Men: The Last Stand, Casino Royale, Merlin and Game of Thrones.
Hi Mike. Just to start, can you please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us about your carreer?
Hi! Firstly thank you very much for wanting to interview me. My name is Mike Lambert, 42 years old and I like long walks on the beach and non alcoholic piña coladas, oh and I am a stuntman/fight coordinator which I have been lucky enough to be doing for the past 21 years.
Are there films or TV series that have particularly inspired you to become a stuntman and a fight coreographer? I read on your website that you used to watch A-Team…
Well I grew up watching Bruce Lee & Jackie Chan movies and all sorts of martial art films so yeah that really inspired me to get into learning martial arts and also ignited a spark to maybe one day work in the movie industry.
Also watching action films like raiders of the lost ark, and TV shows like the A Team got me thinking about becoming a stuntman…..
Then at age 21 I went and lived in Hong Kong for 6 years, learning the ropes as a stunt man/action actor, and it was a fantastic learning curve for me, working alongside some top HK martial art stars such as Jackie chan, jet li and Donnie yen and working with some of the best Chinese stunt guys out there!
You worked as a stuntman in Kick-Ass, while in the sequel you took the role of fight coreographer. What have been the main challenges you had to face during the filming?
I think the main challenges for any stunt/fight coordinator is getting the director/producers to like what you do. I like all my fight choreography haha, but the hard part is getting others to like my work, fortunately the director on kick ass 2, Mr Jeff Wadlow was fantastic, he has great vision and also a super nice guy to boot, and he played a major part in tweaking certain parts of the fight sequences to fit in with what he wanted from certain characters.
Also my boss was Mr Jimmy O’Dee who was the stunt coordinator on KA2, and as well as being a great friend he was amazing to work for, he knows what he wants and he is a very experienced martial artist himself, so he had all bases covered in both the fight areas and the action scenes.
Nowadays action movies show a lot of more or less original fighting scenes. Creatively speaking, how hard is it to set up a scene that can strike and impress the audience?
Nowadays it’s very hard to be original re a fight scene, a punch is a punch and a kick is a kick, but how the performers interpret the move, or how it is filmed and edited is the way that we can try to be a little different in presenting a fight sequence to a movie audience.
Also when choreographing a fight I try to think what would I like to see if I was watching this particular movie, as a martial arts/action film fan myself i tend to put moves together, that would make me smile when watching or give that ‘wow’ factor.
Of course everyone is different and not everybody is gonna dig my fight scenes, but that’s cool, you can’t please everyone, but those that do like martial art fight scenes in general will hopefully like the sequences in kick ass 2.
In my opinion, the most striking fight scene in the movie is the combat between Hit Girl and Mother Russia. Can you describe in the details how it was realized, especially regarding the collaboration between the stunts and the actors Chloe Moretz and Olga Kurkulina?
In early rehearsals, we got in Chloe Bruce and Helen Bailey to work with Jimmy O’Dee, me and the rest of the stunt team, they were great in helping me shape an early build of the end fight, both these girls are awesome stunt performers and I would like to say a big thank you for their help.
The fight actually went through a few versions, till we got to something the stunt coordinator and the director/producers liked then we started rehearsing with the hit girl double Miss Talila Craig who is a fantastic stunt women, and always gave 110% in her performances, tbh Tee (her nickname) is not really a martial artist, but came from a gymnastic background, but because she moves so well, she picked up the choreography with ease and learnt a s**t load of martial art techniques in a very short time, she got that good that a lot of experienced martial artists thought she had been training for years after seeing her in action, she was that good!
In fact I would have Talila on my fight team any day of the week now, she earned her fight stripes on KA2.
When it came to came to rehearse with the actors, I had Tee playing hit girls part and another great stunt performer Mr Ashley Beck playing Mother Russia, we then break down the fight sequence in sections as this is the easiest way to let the actors digest the moves, then we slowly build up the speed and tempo, until we get a nice flow and see how the 2 artists gel with each other.
Miss Chloe Moretz was awesome, she is very hard working and a really nice kid as well, plus she moves great so it makes our life a lot easier!
This was Olga’s first time working in front of a movie camera so a lot of pressure was on her, but she did a great job and was a soldier, never complained, she just dug in and got on with it.
The original fight between these 2 titans was over 4 mins long, but of course due to time limits this got cut down big time, but I am still very pleased with how the end fight sequence came out and the rest of the fight scenes in KA2.
How long does it takes to make the coreography of a fight scene in a film as Kick-Ass 2?
Again it all depends on many factors, how long do we have to rehearse? How complicated is the scene? I.e many people fighting, one vs one, weapons involved and also whether or not the stunt coordinator and director like version one of the fight, if not it could take weeks to get one version of a fight that everyone is happy with.
Are there particular moves and blows that have been used in the fight scenes? Can you tell us about them?
Well I don’t wanna spoil anything for people that haven’t seen it yet, but the nunchuku is back and re the end fight scene, glass springs to mind.
How has the collaboration with director Jeff Wadlow and the rest of cast been? Do you have any funny memory to tell us about?
Jeff and the rest of the cast were fantastic, re funny moments, no we are very professional and never joke around on set……….only joking, there was many funny memories, too many to mention, but for me the best part of a movie is the rehearsal stage where I get to work closely with the stunt team and do the ‘pre viz’ (which is kind of a visual storyboard, where I choreograph, shoot and edit a fight sequence, hopefully as near as damn what it will be like on the day)
This is normally lots of fun, lots of ‘out takes’ happen where people fluff their lines or forgot their fight moves, usually lots of great stuff for the blooper reel.
I have seen that you also worked in Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, a trailer of which has just appeared. Would you like to tell us about this movie and your future projects?
Yeah vamp academy was also back working for Jimmy O’Dee and again it was a great crew to work with! We got most of the same team back we had on KA2 so it once again like a close knit family unit.
Also we were again lucky to have some great cast members and they put a lot of effort into the stunt/fight rehearsals.
The fights were very martial arts focused with a nice variety of styles ranging from some taekwondo style kicking to some jeet Kune do style trapping to aikido (which Jimmy is a 6th Dan in) so hopefully the fights will turn out exciting and please movie fight fans.
Re the future, I don’t know what I am doing next week lol, but we shall see what the future holds, what I would love to do one day is direct a full on, all out martial arts action flick, a kind of homage to Hong Kong action cinema, it might happen……. (Chocolate pain)
Lastly I would like to thank you for taking the time to interview me and I would like to say a massive THANK YOU to Mr Jimmy O ‘Dee for getting me on the stunt team as fight coordinator and the rest of the performer.
Mr Buster Reeves, assistant stunt coordinator
Miss Talila Craig hit girl stunt double
Mr James Embree kick ass stunt double
Mr Ashley Beck, Mr Arran Topham, Mr Mark Kelly and the rest of the stunties that made this such a wonderful experience
Also a massive thanks to Mr Jeff Wadlow, (director) Mr David Reid, Mr Adam Bohling, Mr Tarquin Pack & Mr Matthew Vaughn (producers).