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Gun Kata Development
the action & fight style of Equilibrium

 Origins of Gun Kata

From the Interview @ Sci/Fi Dimensions with Kurt Wimmer

sfd: The combat sequences in Equilibrium are a distinctive form commonly referred to as "gun-kata". What's the origin of gun-kata? (And who coined that term?)

KW: I coined the term in the context of the film - DuPont... first mentions it. I just made the thing up in my yard because I didn't want to waste my time making the film if I couldn't bring something new to it and something that excited me.

From the Production Notes

The film also presents an entirely original fighting art: the Gun-Kata, a fast and furious combination of Western fire-power with Eastern discipline of the body. Says Wimmer: "Hong Kong action movies brought out the idea that if a man has two hands, he can shoot two guns but that's as far as they took it. I wondered: Have we really hit the envelope for gun-play or is there somewhere new it could go? To me, combining the gun with martial arts was a natural. No one has ever used a gun before in a Kata form but it becomes the perfect extension of the body and can be used in ways not usually seen."

From DVD Commentary: Kurt Wimmer

The gun kata. Ok. So, I invented the gun kata in my yard, basically. After I would make sure that my family was out of the house and my neighbors weren't looking over the fence and I would, I developed it in the grass behind my house. And I remember thinking, "Wow, y'know am I crazy?" "Do I actually have the balls to hang a movie on this concept which may not work at all? Which may fail completely and if it fails the movie itself will fail?".

The reason I did, I think, it grew out of frustration and love of, simultaneously, of gunfights on film. Y'know, about ten years ago, or more actually, Hong Kong invented the great idea of having two guns in your hands when you shoot. And Hollywood quickly caught on and soon everyone was holding two guns and blasting away. And then Hollywood came up, sort of, with their own urban variation on that which was to turn the gun sideways when you shooting. And then Hong Kong reabsorbed that, but that simply seemed to be the end of gun fighting for several years. And it was frankly getting pretty damn boring. And I asked myself, "Y'know, in a thousand years, is this really what we're going to be looking at in terms of gunfights?". And, I just wanted to see something new. And, so I invented the gun kata.

I remember when I first showed it to my stunt coordinator Jim Vickers in the hallway in Germany, and I was going down the hall doing this. He was the first person to ever see it, and how silly I felt actually and I don't know what he actually thought when he was watching it. He never said, to his credit, he just embraced it and he flew with it. And I think together, given our limited resources, we actually did a pretty decent job of conveying this cinematic fiction. And it is obviously a cinematic fiction . I tend to think that the thing most suited for film is dance. I would actually love to do a musical one day. This is sort of my version of combining the two and translating them to film.

Jim Vickers Interview @ Sci-Fi Online (Fight Choreographer)

JV: I was brought on board by the producer at which point I met with the director, who was also the writer, and we talked at length about the story. He told me what he wanted to do on a martial arts level. He set me the challenge to develop sequences that had not been done before on film. We developed a mindset where we were using weapons, like guns, as extensions of the human body. This is basically the philosophy in the martial arts where weapons, be they throwing stars or swords, are strictly an extension of oneself.

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