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Why fake punches in movies look real

Punching in movies, explained by someone getting punched repeatedly.

Edward Vega joined the Vox video team as a video producer in 2021. His coverage focuses on all things cinema, from the intricacies of film history to the nuts and bolts of filmmaking.

Movie fight scenes at their best are spectacular, visceral, and impactful. Films like Creed, John Wick, and Bullet Train have scenes that make you feel every punch.

But not all fight scenes are created equal. We’ve all seen scenes that rely on quick cuts to conceal the absence of actual physical contact, or scenes that just don’t land. Crafting a fight that immerses the audience and makes them feel like they’re in the midst of the action requires a delicate dance between choreography, the work of stunt performers, strategic camera angles, immersive sound effects, and, above all, a compelling story.

Most of the time, actors and stuntmen aren’t really hitting each other. So how do they make it feel realistic? In Vox’s latest, stunt coordinator and second unit director Wade Eastwood breaks down the artistry behind creating on-screen battles that leave a lasting impact on viewers, even when the punches aren’t real.

You can find this video and the entire library of Vox’s videos on YouTube.

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