Written by Kepei Zhou
In the last ten years, the action films have experienced a huge aesthetic development. Matthias Stork has called this new trend in action films as “Chaos Cinema”.
To be more specific, Chaos cinema is a trend for the action film director to break traditional “rules” for action scenes, such as spatio-temporal logic and geographical continiuity in favour of speed and energy. So the action filmmakers will try to avoid making an action scene which is easy for audiences to follow, on the contrary, they will make some incomprehensible scenes by fast editing (CRAIG, 2012). Chaos cinema discards the ideals of continuity editing, and the shots do not continue more than a few seconds with almost constant cutting back and forth between camera angles with no attempt to create any real sense of continuity (Grey, 2011).
Nevertheless, there are some other action films illustrate a totally opposite form, especially Jackie Chan’s films, whose remarkable scene of his films are always shot by only one angle, and the editing is very simple. Because every move, each shot sets up elements that pay off in the next, each shot is carefully planned and choreographed. Jackie Chan always designs some incredibly intricate and creative stunt, so when the audiences watch Jackie Chan’s film, they still feel more awestruck, although there is less editing (Bordwell, 2010).
Therefore, while comparing chaos cinemas with Jackie Chan’s film, I am considering about if the development of “Chaos Cinema” is good for action film? Because complicated editing is not the most important element for the action films.
Actually, chaos cinema can produce some successful battle scenes with the sense of confusion and terror, such as Black Hawk Down. However chaos cinema is not suitable for all types of cinemas. Jim Emerson (2011) stated that chaos cinema is merely an excuse to hide the deficiencies of certain filmmakers, and chaos cinema even will destroy the storytelling. Emerson also takes Batman Trilogy as a bad example, in The Dark Knight, the scene of Batman chasing truck illustrates Nolan’s slapdash approach to shot composition and editing. He also argues that the sequence, like the rest of Nolan’s work, is confusing staged, full of mistimed edits and made up of unmemorable shots.
Bordwell, D. (2010), ‘Bond vs. Chan: Jackie shows how it’s done’, Observations on Film Art, September 15, 2010
CRAIG, S. (2012). CHAOS CINEMA. Retrieved from: https://craigadamadgie.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/chaos-cinema/
Emerson, J. (2011). In the Cut, Part I: The uninterrupted action sequence. Retrieved from: https://vimeo.com/28798112
Grey, I. (2011). GREY MATTERS: The art of Chaos Cinema. Retrieved from: http://www.indiewire.com/2011/08/grey-matters-the-art-of-chaos-cinema-132825/
Stork, M. (2011). CHAOS CINEMA: The decline and fall of action filmmaking. Retrieved from: http://www.indiewire.com/2011/08/video-essay-chaos-cinema-the-decline-and-fall-of-action-filmmaking-132832/