John Wick 4’s Club Scene Was Originally Longer, With Keanu Reeves Fighting A Dog

The action sequence montage that was "John Wick: Chapter 4" has cemented the series' status as a serious blockbuster franchise (even though the movie has only slightly outdone the third entry's domestic box office). Director Chad Stahelski's approach recalls that of George Lucas when he conceived of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" as a series of adventure set pieces, then hired writer Lawrence Kasdan to connect them all together narratively. But in Stahelski's case, his John Wick movies are basically a series of insane gun-fu action scenes threaded together with a much more loose narrative and bolstered by multi-layered lore.

And with the latest entry, those action scenes took even more precedence, as Stahelski and his team pushed themselves to outdo previous entries. With a final act that is basically a full hour of non-stop combat and stunt choreography, the director and his team certainly managed to fill the runtime with as much action as possible. And while that hour, which contains the fiery top-down sequence or the Arc De Triomphe fight, has been getting a lot of attention in the wake of the "John Wick: Chapter 4" release, that doesn't mean the rest of the film isn't packed with similarly impressive set-pieces.

The club fight, for instance, was the stunt team's most challenging scene to film. It sees Keanu Reeves' assassin go up against martial arts and stunt legend Scott Adkins in a packed Berlin nightclub where Adkins plays the head of the German branch of the secretive High Table, Killa Harkan, whose hefty frame and ruthless drive present a formidable challenge, even for Baba Yaga himself. The fight that plays out between the two may seem like a protracted affair — much like the rest of the fight scenes — but it seems Stahelski originally envisioned it as being even longer.

The Club Scene Was Originally Twice As Long

Chad Stahelski delivered a three-hour-long action fest with "John Wick: Chapter 4" — the longest in the entire series. And believe it or not, the original cut was somewhere closer to four hours, which is crazy, considering how long some of the action scenes in the film are. And for the club scene, Stahelski had John Wick face off against Killa Harkan across multiple dance floors, ending with a brutal fight beneath an indoor waterfall, all witnessed by clubbers who don't seem at all fazed by all the murder and brutality. It goes on for a while, as Harkan seems to get the best of Wick, but ultimately, our ruthless assassin comes out on top. And believe it or not, it was originally going to be a lot longer.

According to Stahelski, Wick was supposed to also go up against Shamier Anderson's Tracker — more specifically his dog. Speaking to the AV Club, the former stunt performer said:

"Oh, [the club scene] was at least twice as long as you see in the movie. My lack of directing skills, the way I had written it, choreographed it, and shot it, it was a little too 'stop and go.' Once John chases Killa, it felt better to just push that through and get to John's goal and get him out of there. I had it as 'chase Killa and get interrupted.' 'Chase Killa and get interrupted.' 'Chase Killa and get interrupted.' It gave me whiplash watching that thing. We also had some cool choreography for Shamir. And John Wick actually fought the dog. It was super-cool. For no fault of any of the performances, it was just bad conceit on behalf of the director and not understanding pacing well enough in his own sequence."

This Is The Edited Version?!

I'm all for extended action scenes. Comically long fight sequences are, after all, the gag of the whole John Wick franchise — at least according to Chad Stahelski. But "John Wick: Chapter 3" did the whole dog thing, and I'm kind of glad we didn't have more of it in "Chapter 4." Also, that action-filled final act is great, but as /Film's own Witney Seibold argues, "after so much of it, the eyes begin to gloss over." And I'd argue that by the time the club fight scene arrives, just prior to the extended chaos in Paris, the eyes have long since glossed.

It's a fact that with "John Wick: Chapter 2," Stahelski decided, as he put it, "don't worry about plot" and just, "push the action even further." And that's been his modus operandi since that 2017 sequel. Now that we've hit the fourth entry, there's only so far you can push the action before it becomes a game of diminishing returns — especially if you're willingly sacrificing plot in favor of the more high-intensity stuff.

Which is ultimately why it's kind of unbelievable that the action scenes in "Chapter 4" were significantly cut versions of what was actually filmed. If nothing else, you can at least say these guys obviously love what they do and can't get enough of coming up with outlandish combat choreography. But honestly, Stahelski did us all a favor by cutting down the club scene, and arguably should have taken his axe to the rest of the action, too.

Read this next: 23 Movies Like John Wick That Will Get Your Adrenaline Pumping

The post John Wick 4's Club Scene was Originally Longer, with Keanu Reeves Fighting a Dog appeared first on /Film.

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