In the same vein as my previous post, I wanted to highlight yet another interesting fight scene I viewed recently. My wife and I have been enjoying Barry on HBO, and Season 2, Episode 5 starts with this half-assed scuffle. The setup: Barry’s been told to assassinate a man, but he’s had a change of heart.
He follows the man around his house, telling him that he’s not going to kill him, and that the man should relocate, and the man seems to go along. But then Barry discovers his target is an award-winning Taekwondo expert, and this happens.
Much of the ensuing fight scene is filmed as a single shot, the characters moving in and out of the frame as they clumsily beat each other (the man has been smoking what we assume is pot, and Barry is off-balance through most of it). They knock about through several rooms, both of them winded, and the fight continues for a number of minutes, always with long, unbroken, fluid camera shots.
The clumsiness was well choreographed, visibly communicating how tired, frustrated, and out of focus both of the men were, yet how relentless they remain throughout the scene. While the two combatants are both experts, what we see here is how inarticulate a real fight can be. It’s not always flashy. Often it’s just two (or more) combatants trying to survive, where form and rules are optional. That’s something to think about as I write my own fight scenes. Not everything is elegant. Sometimes our heroes tire.