Usually there’s some kind of content-based reason why I love any particular scene but the reason why I loved this one was because it was so visually RIDICULOUS. The Rude Boys fight scene was just packed with sweet camera and editing work.
Right off the bat when Smoky runs off with the bag we get an inkling of things to come, which is, the shot is filmed from such a low angle that it’s like we’re lying on the ground seeing him kick the door.
It sets the tone right. Smoky bursts in from above, placing him in a visual position of power, the dust flies like a kungfu movie, the two guys fly to the side and you know instantly that parkour boy’s got the upper hand.
This is one of the things I love about this scene. They switch it up constantly between high angle and low angle shots.
First this actually helps to expand the setting a little. Because some shots are shot specifically to make it seem like you are looking up, and down at other times, it seems like the area they cover is huge.
There’s also a sense that action is happening EVERYWHERE, which is the point really. You look up, something’s happening, you look around, a fight’s definitely going on, you look down and someone’s running. It’s exciting.
Many of the shots are also sped up or slowed down so monotony is avoided. I tried to think about how it would be like if they just used the same cuts but didn’t change the speed. It just wouldn’t be as impactful. Stating the obvious a little here, but sped up shots emphasize the guys’ speed, which in turn makes the slowed shots much more powerful. They are like an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence, packing a punch.
It also lends a video game feel to the whole thing.
Then let’s talk about the use of what I believe to be a steadicam (sorry not a film pro, just an enthusiast) in this because I think this is one of the best things about this scene. The lack of stability and the constant movement makes it like we’re part of the scene. It thoroughly engages.
Take for example this part with Smoky. It’s like we are standing right by him avoiding punches and watching him go. When the camera tilts up and down it’s like we are literally watching the bad guys fall. The close-up shots also help to make us feel physically close to him. (P.S. I slowed this gif down a bit so you can see the camera movement better).
When he finally beats of the bad guys the camera stops moving and while that gives fangirls some time to just oogle at him (cough), it also carries on the illusion that we were fighting alongside him but now have stopped.
Also how amazing is it when they tracked this guy and edited the speed of it after. Not only does this help to pinpoint and identify one member of Generations (remember, we are selling the LDH groups here), but it also creates a sense of exhilaration, like we’re running alongside him.
Another favourite of mine is when we suddenly switch to a POV shot. In this scene we know that it’s not us but because of the way it’s shot it’s kind of ‘us’ holding that bag. But then the camera cuts and suddenly we’re thrown back out to a 3rd person perspective. That couple of seconds is enough to draw us into the action in a tactile sense. As I hear the sound of the bag landing in ‘my’ hands, and as I watch as ‘I’ run with ‘my’ shadow below me. So it wasn’t enough that we’re already experiencing the heady experience as if we were watching the action up close. Nah, we quite literally embody it for a few seconds too.
Same thing happens at this jump.
Of course what pulls everything together is the skill of the actor/performers. All that jumping, swinging, breakdancing, whatcha-ma-call-it…I mean…The street gang genre is the perfect one in which to play up physicality, and play it up they did.
I haven’t gotten around to watching the 2nd season of HiGH&LOW but I’m hoping it’ll step it up and give me more of this.