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Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle - Eventually, the bruises go away

Feature by: Jack Foley

One of the first rules of the sequel process is making things bigger and more spectacular. Hence, having dazzled audiences with the fight sequences first time around, the challenge for Full Throttle was raising the stakes.

Explains director, McG: "We all wanted to make this film decidedly more muscular and show that these girls can hang with the guys.

"Hence, we ramped it up to include wrestling, motocross, car crashes and leaps off tall buildings. The Angels hold their own in arenas normally reserved for idealized male action heroes. We wanted to put them in those environments and still have them be beautiful and comfortable in their own skin."

While there is some of the spectacular wire work from the first film, the fight sequences in Full Throttle proved to be more gruelling, but the girls insisted on doing many of their own stunts so audiences could feel the impact of every blow.

Explains Barrymore: "McG and I like many different types of fighting styles, from different films and time-periods, and we brought all those elements together. This film used more than one genre, one flavour."

In order to be able to achieve the level of authenticity required, the production team enlisted ‘The Master,’ Cheung-Yan Yuen - the Hong Kong fight choreographer who instructed the three actresses in martial arts and wire action for the first film.

"Cheung-Yan brings a code of honour and a way of conducting yourself that is very angelic," states McG.

"He’s the ultimate example of ‘speaking softly and carrying a big stick.’ Months before we started principal photography, the girls were working out with him and his ‘team Hong Kong’."

For the sequel, however, Yuen decided to make the Angels’ fighting abilities ‘reflect their personalities’.

"Having confidence in yourself and your ability is as important as learning the correct moves," he explained. "Each of them has an individual strength. Cameron has amazing explosive power and reflexes, and she is very focused. Lucy is strong and professional. Drew has very good flexibility and great willpower."

In addition to the Angels, Yuen also trained Crispin Glover (aka The Thin Man) and Demi Moore.

Though Glover had previously worked with ‘The Master,’ his training was equally intense this time around.

"We’d begin with stretches, then practice kicking, punching and various fight combinations. At the end of the day, we’d work with swords.

"The style of fighting is influenced by Wu-Shu, a derivative of Kung Fu. It’s the most dance-oriented martial art and has a lot to do with form.

"Cheung-Yan had a specific way of moving. He and his team were very clear about how you’re supposed to hold your poses. There is no difference in the fighting style between good and evil. What is interesting is that his choreography is psychologically based. There are different styles for the different characters."

For Moore, who had never studied martial arts before, part of the fun of filmmaking is learning new skills.

"There is a particular stylistic element to the way Cheung-Yan choreographs," she reveals. "In some ways, it’s like a dance. Some of it is very challenging because it’s extremely intricate and has to be well timed.

"Learning the different sequences was very empowering and exciting. Still, you really count on getting ‘The Master’s’ approval because you want to do your best for him. Cheung-Yan looks for a certain commitment, so we were all working towards maintaining a level of integrity to what we were doing."

The same sentiment was echoed by Diaz, who maintains that part of the training effort was to avoid repeating actions from the first film.

Hence, Yuen moved her and Liu’s characters more toward kung-fu training and Barrymore’s towards street fighting stances.

"We really get thrown around in this one, but I think Cheung-Yan and McG have married the two different styles of fighting very gracefully, so you have the best of both worlds," says Diaz. "This time the bar was raised in a very organic way. It’s charged with even greater energy. The fight scenes are more exciting, more dynamic."

And Diaz claims to have the bruises to prove it.

"There is just no way a human body can collide with another body over and over again, a hundred times a day and not get bruised," she asserts. "It’s part of the job. Eventually the bruises go away. What remains is the great feeling you get when you know that, after all that rehearsal, you got it right and that the take is perfect."

Yet while the stars had the option of using a stunt double, all declined. As Barrymore concludes: "I felt that if the Angels can do their stunts, then I can too."

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