3x3: non-faked physical bits by actors


Michelle Yeoh
Moving Train


Uh, no. Lance Henriksen might be able to quickly move a knife among a series of different points around someone's hand, but he certainly can't do Bishop's knife trick, which is a matter of doing it superfast. And then nicking your finger so milk comes out.

That said, what are the other movies where he's done the trick?



Surprised no-one's mentioned the chariot race in Ben Hur. From wiki:

One of the best-remembered moments in the race came from a near-fatal accident. When Judah's chariot jumps another chariot which has crashed in its path, the charioteer is seen to be almost thrown from his mount and only just manages to hang on and climb back in to continue the race. In reality, while the jump was planned, the character being flipped into the air was not planned, and stuntman Joe Canutt, son of stunt director Yakima Canutt, was considered fortunate to escape with only a minor chin injury. Nonetheless, when director Wyler intercut the long shot of Canutt's leap with a close-up of Heston clambering back into his chariot, a memorable scene resulted

The story that one of the stuntmen actually died during the filming of the race (which apparently took three months) appears to be an urban myth, however.

  1. Jason Statham adjusting his jacket in The Transporter at the end of a fight scene. See this video around 1:35-1:40. This one move pretty much defines the franchise, and every subsequent Jason Statham action flick. I seem to remember Neo doing something similar in one of the Matrix movies, but whether it happened before or after this movie came out I can't say for sure, or if I'm misremembering at all. Either way, this one is the most memorable for me.

  2. And speaking of The Matrix, Neo's flourish at the start of his sparring match with Morpheus. You can see the craziness here @ 0:32-0:37. What the hell is up with this? Who knows. Do real martial artists do stuff like this? Who cares, it helps set the tone for the fight about to come.


Well, he did it in Alien vs Predator. Sort of. Except with a pencil and not a knife, and much shorter, and not as fast.


Of course they do! Well, at least in kung fu movies – and his manerisms in that scene are taken directly from kung fu movies, most notably from Bruce Lee. His opening pose is even purposely stiff and exaggerated.

And do they do it in real martial arts? Some, I think. It wasn’t done when I wrestled way back when, but a little flourish and bounce before a bout starts is pretty common in fencing. Mostly it’s tradition, but there is a small side of gamesmanship that has some effect against the occasional nervous opponent.


Well, that’s the trick, doing it at all at any speed. Go try it, I assure you it is very difficult (and painful.) I can’t remember the other movie I saw him in, had to be twenty years ago, but he was going damned fast for my money.



You mentioned he's done it "in other films" and you can't remember a single one of them?

Normally I'd call bull on this, Houngan. As I said, I'm sure Lance Henriksen can poke a knife on the table. And I know full well how the game works from my extensive time as a dumb teenager in Arkansas who owned a pocketknife or two, not to mention from playing Red Dead Redemption. But it's entirely faked in Aliens, which is why I specifically mentioned it as an example of something that doesn't count for the category.

However, since folks' picks have veered off into fight choreography and full-blown stunts involving motorcycles and trains, you're entitled to your own definition of "faked", "bit", and "physical". :)



Nice one, kerzain. And thanks for that link. For such a goof of a movie – I mean, seriously, that music? – I forgot how good the choreography was in the first Transporter.



Also in Heat the balcony scene between Val Kilmer and Ashley Judd, which I don't think was faked but was definately non-verbal (therefore...physcial?) acting.

In The Ususal Suspects with Benicio Del Toro particular way of opening chapstick. This guy can't be normal. He has to do little things that get people to notice.

In Out of Sight Jennifer Lopez's pre-tussle search through the handbag.


I know I remember Neo doing it in one of the movies, I think Reloaded in the chateau fight, which would put it after The Transporter.

I also like the subtle physical bit when Hugo Weaving adjusts his jacket and cracks his neck during the original Matrix subway fight. This actually became a recurring thing for Smith whenever he fought Neo in all 3 movies: It was meant to let the audience know that Smith was taking off the gloves and now the real fight was starting.


Heath Ledger eats an hors d'oeuvre and drinks some champagne (hopefully not alcholic) in the rooftop scene of The Dark Knight.


Or for that matter, the way George Clooney flicked his zippo lighter in this movie.

Does anyone know if that was faked?


In Hougan’s defence, henriksen’s proficiency with this trick was mentioned in one of the commentary tracks for Aliens. Cameron obviously sped it up further to highlight the fact that Bishop was not human. So as presented it’s a cheat, but apparently he’s quite good at it. Notice he’s using a real knife - not the kind of thing you want to make a mistake with.


James Bond has been doing this for years. Roger Moore certainly used this, can’t recall if Connery did it previously or whether it was a Moore affectation.


Nice one! There's a lot of Ledger's bits that you can pull from TDK, but that's a good one. I'd also like to submit Ledger giving Gordon a round of applause in his cell when they announce that he's the new Commissioner. I give that part bonus points since he just did it on impulse (it wasn't in the script), because he thought that that was exactly what the Joker would do in that situation. The look on his face and the outwardly-extended arms conveying his sarcasm worked so perfectly. Such an incredible testament to how much he really became that character in the movie.

Another favorite: the comedic run Ledger does after the second hospital explosion. In a nurse's outfit!


I always enjoyed Alicia's "As if!" scene at the beginning of Clueless.

Legolas firing the bow at the Warg Riders before hopping on the horse in Two Towers.


Not faked. On the DVD commentary the director mentions that he saw Clooney do it at a party and he decided to add it to the movie.

Love that film.


Robert Carlyle in Ravenous. The scene at the cave, after knifing one guy, Carlyle takes off his coat, holds up the bloody knife and does a simple hand gesture as he tells Jeremy Davies to run.

As seen in the first 20 seconds of this clip:


The memory goes with the years, sadly. I just had a memory in my head that I had seen him in a different movie and thought “Huh, so he really can do that!” but it’s been a long time. And it could have been a television show. Unfortunately Google is so inundated with Aliens references there’s little chance of parsing it out.