December 2011 / January 2012
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)
BILL YOUNG'S PRECISION DRIVING TEAM -
SLAYING FILM AUDIENCES FOR 30 YEARS
Cinema audiences are picky, hard to please, and downright demanding. And have every right to be. Think about it studio execs before adding another "surcharge" for those 3D glasses. If your average couple wants to take in a night at the local multiplex, they've got to plan on dropping at least fifty bucks. Count parking if you're seeing your show in the city; add in a few concessions - y'know, popcorn, sodas, Goobers, Gummies and the like; then maybe a babysitter and a little something to eat before or after the show, and you're easily talking more likely close to a hundred. If you're taking kids with you, well then we just need to go back and recalculate all over again. It's a lot of money, especially in the current economy. So that audience wants their money's worth. In an attempt to satiate those forking out those mega dollars, one of the ways filmmakers have been giving that "money's worth" since the inception of the medium has been through mind boggling feats of derring-do performed by precision stunt personnel on, around, and in all the major elements: earth, air, water, and yeah ... even fire!
The granddaddy of them all was certainly Harold Lloyd (1893 - 1971). Best known for his "glasses character" in over 200 silent films (as well as later "talkies"), Lloyd was the Jackie Chan of his era, performing many of his own death defying stunts via a combination of (at times) special effects assistance, and (more often than not) a personal physical daredevil-ness of the circus acrobat sort. He continued doing so even after an accident in which a live explosive mistaken for a "dummy" prop blew off the thumb and index finger of his right hand. In subsequent films he'd wear a special prosthetic glove to hide the injury, but it didn't stop him from even more spectacular feats in later comedic adventures.
As America (and the world) eventually became a "Car Culture", it wasn't long before the automobile took front and center stage in the comedic stunt goings-on of the Keystone Cops, Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges and others. And in time vehicular action coordination would become a cinematic art form all it's own with names of driving stunt team leaders such as Joie Chitwood (LIVE AND LET DIE-1973, THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE - 1974 ), Hal Needham (FRENCH CONNECTION II-1975, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT-1977), and Remy Julienne (the original THE ITALIAN JOB-1969, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY-1981, GOLDENEYE-1995) in certain circles becoming as important to a film's success as the actors' names toplining the marquee.
BAD BOYS II (2003)
For the last 30 years the mantle of "stunt driving kings" has passed to BILL YOUNG'S PRECISION DRIVING TEAM. Officially formed after a stint coordinating traffic and automotive action on NBC's CHiPS TV series, the core member unit has grown over the years into a mini-army of championship drivers who's work has wowed audiences in films such as LETHAL WEAPON 1, 2, 3 & 4; TERMINATOR 2, HEAT, SPEED, RUSH HOUR, ENEMY OF THE STATE, TWISTER, Clint Eastwood's THE ROOKIE, GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS-2000, THE ITALIAN JOB-2003, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3, KNIGHT AND DAY, the Michael Bay adventures BAD BOYS II, THE ISLAND, TRANSFORMERS 2, SALT, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, and a massive list of others.
THE ISLAND (2005)
"A picture is worth a thousand words", and rather than praddle on about how much we admire the work of Bill Young's Precision Driving Team, we felt it best to let the magicians speak for themselves in the form of a "moving gallery" of film clips highlighting some of their most mind-boggling feats of vehicular acro (and aero!!!) batic sorcery.
Hold on to your popcorn!
CEJ - December 2011