Sci-fi and martial arts are a natural pairing, but nobody needed to tell that to veteran stunt man James Mark. One of the founders of the stunt group Team 2X, James (who has a 3rd Dan black belt in Taekwondo) has lent his extensive skills in stunt work and martial arts to such films as “Jumper”, “Pacific Rim”, “Kick Ass”, “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” and the Netflix series “Marco Polo”.
For his latest project, he steps in the director’s chair for the (just released) sci-fi martial arts thriller, “Kill Order”, with the help of Team 2X and his equally talented brother Chris. Chris is a stunt veteran in his own right with credits on such action hits as “The Hunger Games”, “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”, “xXx: Return of Xander Cage“, and the upcoming “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”!
Today, James sits down with KFK to share a behind the scenes look at the making of “Kill Order” and the process of realizing the film with Team 2X, along with a look at some of their upcoming projects!
Hi James, thank you so much for taking some time out today. Hope you’re doing well?
Hi Brad, happy to be here. I’m doing great, thanks!
Fantastic! Well, let’s begin with how your film “Kill Order” first got started?
It actually got started about five years ago. My stunt team, Team 2X and I have been putting out a number of digital shorts and viral videos over the years, such as “Ultimate Fan Fights” and “Jedi Ninjas”. I had directed a few of them, and I wanted to take a step forward with directing my first full length feature, and also really showcase the abilities of my brother Chris and Team 2X.
With “Kill Order”, we were also touching on a narrative for a much bigger project that we have in the works. With “Kill Order”, our goals are to really show off our action chops first and then hopefully expand on the mythos we’ve established in the film.
Sounds like a plan and we definitely look forward to seeing all of that! So, what interesting stories can you share about the making of “Kill Order”? Any injuries or mishaps?
No injuries apart from the usual cuts and bruises here and there. Chris did all of his own stunts, but we had some ups and downs during production. We spent a year and a half shooting it, based around finances and when people and sets were available. We also had an actor drop out of the film midway, so we did some re-writes and I stepped in to take over the role.
Kudos for keeping at it! So, with the martial arts action in the film having a somewhat superhuman quality to them, what can you share about the process of creating the film’s highly kinetic and engaging fight sequences?
We used a lot of wire work, particularly Hong Kong-style wire work, to make a lot of the impact feel supernatural, but we wanted to do it in a way where it didn’t look like people were floating in space. When someone took a hit, we really wanted to make sure it looked like they weren’t just flying through the air, but like they’d actually taken a hit from someone with supernatural powers in a way that you would expect it to look. (Both laugh)
Tricky to pull off, I imagine. So, what were some of the more memorable experiences from the making of “Kill Order”?
Wow, that’s a tough one! It was literally four years from pre-production to the end of post, so it was a very challenging but very rewarding experience for all of us to fulfil this project we’d been wanting to make. Probably the most memorable day was when we filmed Chris going over the picnic table. Since we’d only rehearsed it on the mat, we had an idea of how it would go, but still had the anticipation that something might go wrong. Fortunately, nothing did and Chris pulled off the stunt perfectly.
Indeed, it’s an outstanding a stunt! So, what other projects do you have in the works seeing that “Kill Order” is now out?
After finishing “Kill Order”, I directed a feature for Reel Deal Action in Germany. We’d met on the Netflix series “Marco Polo”, and that’ll be coming out later this year.
Sounds great, Reel Deal Action just released “Plan B” last year. We look forward to seeing your collaboration with them! Thank you so much for the privilege of this interview, James!
Thanks, glad to have the chance to speak with you guys at Kung Fu Kingdom!
What are your impressions, excited to see it? Let us know (or after you’ve seen it) in the comments below, join in the conversation on Facebook follow us on Twitter. Be sure to check out KFK’s other fu-filling interviews too!