When it comes The Matrix’s influence on modern cinema, most people would cite the groundbreaking VFX used by the Wachowski siblings for how it changed the game. For me though, the 1999 sci-fi blockbuster’s most prominent legacy is perfectly summed up in that iconic scene of Keanu Reeves’ Neo waking up and declaring “I know kung fu”. While there were exceptions, pre-The Matrix Hollywood action heroes typically fell into two camps: 1) Those who shot guns and blew things up (see: Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, etc.) and those who used real-life martial arts skills to punch and kick their way to victory (see: Van Damme, Segal, Norris, etc.). And then the Wachowskis came along and had the radical idea of taking non-martial artists and actually… wait for it… training them so that they looked believable when they needed to flying kick some baddie on screen. It was so crazy that it worked.
Since then we’ve seen a number of more dramatic and non-actiony actors transformed into true cinematic badasses, provided they were willing to sacrifice the time and sweat to get skilled up in preparation for a role (fittingly, Reeves is still the gold standard here with his work on the John Wick franchise). And the latest to put in the work is Oscar Isaac, who is currently prepping for his titular role in Marvel’s upcoming Moon Knight series on Disney+. For the uninitiated, Moon Knight is essentially Marvel’s answer to Batman… only with some added Egyptian gods and multiple personalities. Bottom line though is that he kicks serious ass whether it be barehanded, with a knife, or with guns. And Isaac has been training for weeks now to convincingly pull that off on screen.
Last month his production company, Mad Gene Media, posted a vid on their Instagram channel showing off the actor’s early hand-to-hand combat training. This included some traditional pugilism, knife work, grappling, capoeira kicks, and even a BJJ flying armbar.
Honestly, while it’s cool that Isaac is getting to grips with the combat, his work still looked a bit rudimentary and clumsy here. Oh but what a difference a month can make though as a new vid posted this week showed off the actor’s remarkable progress.
Not only does Isaac appear way more comfortable and explosive in his movements now, but the actual fight choreography has brutal efficiency to it that I really like. Besides for fitting in with Moon Knight’s less merciful approach to criminals, it actually also reminds me quite a bit of the John Wick fighting, which, as I mentioned above, is about as high a compliment as I can give for these things. Moon Knight currently doesn’t have a release date (the only thing we know about it is that Umbrella Academy’s Jeremy Slater is the showrunner), so there could still be lots of time left for Isaac to improve even further in his skills. I can’t wait to check that out!
Last Updated: April 14, 2021