THOR: THE DARK WORLD - A Review & Discussion with Stuntman Chris Brewster

assistant fight choreographer and motion capture stuntman Chris BrewsterPL: What got you started in martial arts?
CB: I began martial arts at the age of 4. I give credit to the ninja turtles and Van Damme. They were my inspiration throughout my childhood. I would run around the house, practicing ninja moves, so my parents enrolled me in the local martial arts studio. I traveled the world, performing and competing. I won 13 world titles in NASKA, NBL, and WSKF.

The best coaching and instruction that I received was from Sensei John Sharkey (Sharkey's Karate). He made me a champion, in the ring and in life. He also introduced me to Matt Mullins, founder of Sideswipe Performance Team. Matt and I instantly became close friends, and I joined Sideswipe. We did live shows all across the world, and competed in America's Got Talent (we were in the top eight).

PL: Who where your inspirations?
CB: I am surrounded by inspiration. My friends and family have always been a huge source of inspiration. My parents were the most supporting and amazing people in the world. They dedicated so much of their time to help me follow my dreams. They drove me to Karate every day of the week, helped me balance training with schoolwork...even taught me how to do back flips. Sensei John Sharkey inspired me to elevate my training, and become a greater person. Now, my biggest inspiration is my girlfriend, Isabelle. She is the most incredible person I have ever met. Her positive energy motivates me to train harder and keep striving for my dreams!

PL: Name your weapon of choice or favorite martial style.
CB: I grew up during the debut of Xtreme Martial Arts and tricking. I love the showmanship involved with both. The flashy moves might not be the most realistic in real life situations, but they look awesome on camera. Since getting into the stunt world, I have expanded my training to include boxing, kickboxing, and a little bit of grappling to become more versatile.

Stuntman and martial artist Chris Brewster in action

PL: What fight sequences in THOR: THE DARK WORLD are you most proud of?
CB: Most of THOR: THE DARK WORLD was filmed over in the UK. I had the opportunity to work on the opening sequence of the film. The stunt team that I worked with was incredible. We battled hard, and I think we created something really great.

PL: How would you describe Dark Elf Kung Fu?
CB: Ben Cooke was the fight coordinator of THOR: THE DARK WORLD. He is one of the best fight/stunt coordinators in the world. He has studied multiple forms of martial arts, and was able to create a very unique style for the dark elves, and for every character in this film. His styles are both flashy and real. There is no unnecessary or wasted movements. Even the coolest techniques have a purpose. Philip Silvera took over and coordinated the motion capture re-shoots for this film, and stayed true to Ben's styles. Like Ben, Phil has studied both hard and soft styles of martial arts, so he is able to combine a beautiful flow, with a deadly impact.

fantasy combat in THOR THE DARK WORLD

A Viking's Best Friend
THOR: THE DARK WORLD is the superhero adventure that gets to L.A.R.P. as a modern fairy tale. It's apparent the movie's creators have watched most of the movies mentioned above as they continue the tradition of the narrated history of an ancient battle. This time it's space Vikings vs. gothic elves with spaceships overhead. That familiar fantasy prologue is eye candy for the fans of war gaming and informs their dates of the story's epic scope, before moving quickly into a more traditional fantasy battlefield. Thor, played a 3rd time by an even bulkier Chris Hemsworth, returns to the screen much to the audible approval of those patent ladies in the audience. Making short work of horned ogres and giant rock trolls, his greatest challenge remains the witty banter.

Fans of beautiful warrior women (or sword hotties to use the technical term) should pay attention, as it's one of only a handful of times Jaimie Alexander gets to give life to Sif, goddess of war and Wonder Woman look-alike. Unfortunately, character designers neglected to provide her with the round, center-gripped shield that made the Viking sword and shield combination historically formidable. Renne Russo also has her moment with the classic weapon; it's a heroic one.

There's little writing to be found on the Viking fighting arts, but that hasn't stopped researchers and enthusiasts from gleaning information from Icelandic sagas and archaeological finds, such as the Gokstad ship. The results of the research range from the Icelandic fighting style Glima, which resembles Mongolia's Shuai Chiao, to those less accurate images of horned helms and battle axes. Former PUNISHER Ray Stevenson swings that sort of weapon to some humorous effect while Ichi the Killer (2001) himself, Tadanobu Asano, alternates between his comic book inspired spiked mace and a more historically accurate version of a long axe. It should also be said that the war hammer was not such a popular weapon among Vikings. Some of their sagas suggest that to fight with a hammer (a tool rather than a weapon) was an insult to their opponent. Its use would change later with the invention of plate armor, but those hammers look nothing like what THOR's weilds.

Date Night on a Dark World
True to the titular comic book, Thor throws his enchanted hammer across worlds and around corners. Called Mjolnir, it's pronounced meow-meow by the lovely and hilarious Kat Dennings, who reprises her role as intern-with-a-quip Darcy Lewis. It's that humor which keeps THOR: THE DARK WORLD feeling fresh amidst familiar tropes. Stellan Skarsgård also returns to provide broad comedy as the now-potentially-mad scientist Erik Selvig while Natalie Portman spends half her time portraying Jane Foster as the lead in a romantic comedy.

When not providing many exclusively female laugh-out-loud moments, Jane Foster works on her own heroic plot-line. It's remarkably parallel to Frodo's from LORD OF THE RINGS, evil artifact and tower included. Her weapon of choice turns out to be a sort of cosmic etch-a-sketch that saves her from a damsel-in-distress status reminiscent of Ridley Scott's 1985 fairy tale LEGEND. Fan favorite Tom Hiddleston also returns as Loki, fresh from his defeat in THE AVENGERS. His character evolves into something more like a roguish anti-hero - as much a delight to the females in the audience as a shirtless Hemsworth.

With plenty of innocent him and her eye candy, THOR: THE DARK WORLD stands to make for a popular date-night destination. Expanding the Marvel settings beyond the USA, modern London provides a nice departure point to the otherworldly vistas of Asgard and beyond. The richly colored 3D resists the urge to fling items at you. Instead, you can linger upon the ornate design of Asgardian armor and architecture before flying long-ships engage Dark Elf stealth flyers in dog-fights that call to mind both the Star franchises, Trek and Wars. It's at those times when those pale Dark Elves look remarkably like Romulans.

Chris Hemsworth starring in THOR THE DARK WORLD

THOR: THE DARK WORLD remains enjoyable even when it leans too heavily on déjà vu-educing imagery and sequences. Hemdall's own epic kill calls to mind both the aforementioned Legolas version from RETURN OF THE KING (2003) as well as its previous iteration in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980 and subsequent years). It does give Idris Elba something very cool to do. The GAME OF THRONES nod was more superficial, and continues the curious trend of superhero-sadomasochism last seen in THE WOLVERINE. Kudos go to whomever spots the oblique reference to Koji Morimoto's contribution to THE ANIMATRIX (2003). Finally, a tip to those taking their date to see this movie: if you're not planning a break-up, stay beyond the inspired mid-credit sequence; stick it out to the very end.

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About Patrick Lugo :
Find us on facebook Patrick Lugo has been Senior Designer at Kung Fu Tai Chi Magazine, since the 90's, has done design work for martial art books as well as illustrations. Most notably, he illustrated the award winning Little Monk & the Mantis. More artwork and comics can be found at

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