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Set Visit: Elektra (1/3)

07.06.2004

At the conclusion of 2003’s DAREDEVIL, Matt Murdock finds a charm left behind for him and with that, a glimmer of hope that his one true love, Elektra Natchios, will one day return to him. Well, she may just do that, but for the moment, she’s spun off to the city of Vancouver and set up shop to film her very own super-heroine movie, ELEKTRA, due out February 18th, 2005. Personally, I kind of liked DAREDEVIL, and for many reasons. Colin Farrell’s evil Irish assassin was one, the great Jon Favreau was another and the two badass Evanescence tracks in the movie certainly didn’t hurt matters.

But it was Jen Garner’s powerful and sweet performance as Elektra that really gave the movie that special spark it needed. Okay, I admit, sexy women in tight leather outfits kicking ass is a major turn-on too, but that’s another article for another fetish site for another day. So, it’s with great anticipation that I found myself flying to Van city, ready to experience what director Rob Bowman (THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE, REIGN OF FIRE) and his merry men and women had in store for us. And with a little luck, the lovely Ms. Garner would kick the living shit out of me too...

WHAT'S THE MOVIE ABOUT?

Before I begin describing the set visit, I’d like to set the story up a wee bit. Here is the basic setup as described by the production notes we received:

Having survived the seemingly mortal wounds suffered in Daredevil, Elektra has become the world’s most dangerous assassin. Driven by the suppressed rage she harbors for her parent’s brutal murders, Elektra is a magnificent killing machine – and a lethal synthesis of grace and power. She has purposefully severed all ties with the world and lives only for her next assignment. In an unexpected turn of events, Elektra’s latest contract forces her to make a decision that can take her life in a whole new direction – or destroy her.

To elaborate on that just a little, the organization that Elektra works for is called The Hand and one of the men that leads them is called Kirigi, who possesses otherworldly supernatural powers (but is the leader of The Hand, master of his domain?). Elektra is sent on a mission to kill a widower named Mark Miller (ER vet Goran Visnjic). Once she meets him and his daughter, she can’t go through with it, which leads Kirigi and the members of The Hand to go completely batshit.

They decide to hunt Elektra, Miller and his daughter Abby down themselves, with a fistful of ninja warriors lending a hand. Elektra is then forced to protect father and daughter against The Hand, a difficult task seeing as The Hand has mastered many elements of black magic that includes everything from foreseeing the future to manipulating the world around them. One of their secret weapons is a deliciously sexy lady assassin, Typhoid Mary, played by model/actress Natassia Malthe, who literally has a kiss of death. It helps that she reminded me a lot of the gorgeous Lady Deathstrike from X2. Throw SUPERMAN 1 & 2 veteran Terry Stamp into the mix as Elektra’s blind and grizzled mentor and you’ve got yourself a genuine superhero spin-off movie…

WATCHING THEM SHOOT A SCENE

On to the set visit… We first met up with producer Gary Foster (DAREDEVIL, the upcoming GHOST RIDER) who described a little the scene we would see being filmed:

This sequence that we’re shooting today, is that she was taken to a safe house (Abby), but they’re found and they go on the run and they run from there to the back, to an orchard and into the woods and this is the first time where Elektra sees that Kirigi and his elite team of operatives are here to get this girl. The girl, whom they call the treasure, she’s somebody that The Hand wants, she has physical abilities, Elektra doesn’t know that, in fact, in this sequence is the first time Elektra realizes she’s more than just a little teenage girl.

What we’re shooting here is Typhoid actually plants a nice juicy kiss of death on Elektra (editor’s note- Yipeee!) in this sequence and what we’re doing is coverage of her having done that and coming off her and trying to come towards the girl. Typhoid’s character has a real jealousy of the little girl, because she’s important to Kirigi and The Hand and that makes Typhoid less important to them. 

Foster added that Colin Farrell offered to do a cameo if the filmmakers deemed it necessary, but wouldn’t say more than that. He also let it slip that there would be a nice little Matt Murdock surprise somewhere along the way. He said nothing about Joey Pants though…

Damnit!

I have to give major props to the folks at Fox for putting us right in the thick of things for the filming of this scene. Director Rob Bowman was literally right in front of us, looking at the monitors and calling the shots. The actors and actresses’ back and forth with him were seen and heard very clearly as well. It was extremely up close and personal. Close enough, in fact, for us to notice that the great Bowman enjoys a nice cigar, or two, or twenty...

The magical Ms. Garner also strolled by us media types to say hello and jokingly apologized for her “fake bra and wig”; a reference to the different hairdo and outfit she sports in the film (she might’ve said more, but unfortunately I lost my hearing after she said “bra”) She was adorable. What was most satisfying about witnessing this scene, in particular, was that ALL of the major players from the movie were in it: Elektra (Garner), Stick (Stamp), Kirigi (Will Yun Lee), Typhoid Mary (Malthe), Mark Miller (Visjnic) and Abby Miller (Kirsten Prout). As far as the actual scene is concerned, I’ll try to remember as much as I can, as most of the time I was transfixed by the immense beauty and sex appeal of the delicious Typhoid Mary…hmmm, yummy.

The most crucial thing I noticed is that Bowman knows exactly what he wants from this movie, he was in total control and yet cool enough to keep things on set relatively loose and lively. It kills me that I didn’t get the brand name of those cigars he was smoking though. Anyway, the many takes of this scene always began with the luscious Typhoid Mary laying on top of Elektra on a blanket in the middle of a forest (ahem!) after just having planted a poisonous kiss on her beautiful lips. She gets up and walks towards Abby, who is standing nearby with her father.

Before she gets to them, her leader, Kirigi, materializes from a tree and gets between her and Abby. Abby then tries using her powers against them as she casts a chain from her hand in their direction, but she’s easily thwarted by Kirigi’s superior powers. In walks General Zod, oops, I meant Stick, as he, along with his large staff (ahem!) breaks through between the girl and the villains, giving way to a gang of ninjas descending from the trees (this was shot earlier) to take Abby away from the delicate situation. That’s the gist of it.

I was most impressed by Jennifer Garner, who was laying down herself for an hour +, basically not doing anything but being the backdrop to the shot. She proved to be a class act, the whole day (and way) through…

By the way, am I the only one just giddy over the fact that there will be a shitload of killer ninjas in this flick? I mean, it was nice to see a few of them in THE LAST SAMURAI, but before that, I hadn’t seen a decent ninja-themed movie since 1984, in the basement of my buddies’ house watching REVENGE OF THE NINJAS. But I digress…

The scene wrapped and we were off to enjoy a damn good meal. Afterwards, we were escorted to the top of a nearby hill were the Fox gang had us online and print media meet with the film’s stunt coordinators/trainers. We were to learn a few basic techniques in the art of self-defense. I just used it as an excuse to beat upon my fellow on-liners with wooden staffs -an unfulfilled dream of mine since forever. I’m kidding, of course (or am I?). Anyway, it was a very fun and apropos thing to do considering we were covering a martial arts laden superhero flick.

At the end of the day (and after the interviews that came later-- stay tuned to the site for more on that), the impression I was left with was that all involved were as passionate about this film as I was about getting Natassia Malthe’s (Typhoid Mary) phone number. There is no question Rob runs a tight ship and knows what he’s after so it all bodes well, for now, that is…

Stay tuned for the interview session we conducted with the cast (Goran Visnjic, Jennifer Garner, Terence Stamp) and filmmakers (Gary Foster, Rob Bowman) of ELEKTRA. Until then all I can say is: “Where the f*ck was Jon Favreau, yo?!”

Source: Fox

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