Exclusive : Stovall on Universal Soldier 4, Dragon Eyes


His name may not bring immediate recognition, but if you are a martial arts action fan (or an action fan in general), you’ve likely seen some of his work and if you haven’t, after reading our interview, go out and buy some of these movies. Unfortunately many guys behind the scenes are not well-known, yet without them, the awesome fights and stunts you see onscreen would likely never materialize. Larnell Stovall has been involved in stunts and coordinating stunts and fights (and even more recent, he’s had the esteemed role of Second Unit Director) since around 2001 and has done so in such movies as “The One”, “The Rundown”, “Jarhead”, “Black Dynamite”, “Blood and Bone”, “Undisputed III: Redemption”, “The Other Guys”, “The Mechanic”, “Never Back Down 2”, “Green Lantern”, “Dragon Eyes” and most recently, the John Hyams directed Scott Adkins/Van Damme actioner, “Universal Soldier: A New Dimension.”

Here’s a taste of what you can find in the interview; in particular, the goss on upcoming projects like Van Damme’s “Dragon Eyes” and “Universal Soldier” sequel.

Stovall on “Never Back Down 2”

JU: “Never Back Down 2” is another martial arts movie that will be released sometime this year that you were involved in and it was Michael Jai White’s directorial debut. Tell us about this movie and how White did directing.

LS: MJW, my big brother, did a great job. I am very excited to see him take the directing reigns and do an awesome job. We talked about NBD2 months before we ever started filming. I wanted to wrap my head around what he was looking for and deliver. I hope the audience enjoys it due to it will feel and look different than part 1. It won’t be anywhere near Undisputed 3 fights scenes due to I kept them more gritty and within what could “possibly” happen in a real MMA match.

Stovall on when we’ll see the final episode in the “Mortal Kombat : Legacy” webseries :

JU: What are some of the things you were proud of in the series and some of the things you’d change if you could go back?

LS: I’m proud of the look and overall performances from everyone. I WISH I had more time for the fight scenes. I didn’t want to disappoint the fans and mostly myself by having a weak product. MK has to have a story but if the fights are weak then I failed. Unfortunately with a web series, 70-80% of the day can be spent on acting, then I have to make a miracle and film an entire fight scene of high quality in 2-3 hrs. I did what I could in that time but I hope next time around will be different.

JU: Will all the episodes be collected and put onto blu-ray for release this year?

LS: I believe so. The final episode involving the robots Sektor/Cyrax will be released at Comic Con. Hopefully there will be an announcement concerning season one and more.

The fight-man also touched on his work with Jean-Claude Van Damme, who he worked with on “Universal Soldier : A New Dimension” and “Dragon Eyes”.

JU: Most recently, you’ve worked with director John Hyams, on “Dragon Eyes” and are finishing up with him on “Universal Soldier: A New Dimension.” How did you get involved on these projects and describe what it’s like to work on a John Hyam’s film?

LS: John’s a great guy and an awesome director. I like his approach to fights; he wants them bloody, brutal, and real. He takes the time to make sure they are covered correctly and captures the story moments within the fights.

JU: In “Dragon Eyes” you have Cung Le (a champion MMA fighter) and Jean-Claude Van Damme. How was your experience working with Le and Van Damme and did you learn anything about Van Damme that you didn’t know before?

LS: Cung Le is a great guy, very professional and a hard worker. You will see him in many more films to come. This was my first time working with Van Damme and he was very open to my choreography and overall it was a great experience working with him.

JU: How was Van Damme in the fight scenes and did he give you input while filming? What do you think of Van Damme as a martial artist?

LS: Van Damme of course has his input and we were able to meet on common ground with moves he was comfortable with. Van Damme is a legend in the game, no one can deny that. He has accomplished so much and has influenced so many. He still has many years left to give out some Van Dammage and I look forward to whatever he has next.

On how good the 3D is looking on the new “Universal Soldier” movie :

JU: John Hyams put himself on the map with “The Smashing Machine” martial arts documentary and then cemented himself as the “new kid on the DTV block” with the acclaimed “Universal Soldier: Regeneration.” Now you are working with him on the sequel, “Universal Soldier: A New Dimension.” I understand this is to be a 3D movie, shot with the same 3D rigs that the new Spiderman movie is being shot with. What is it like filming in 3D and does it change how you have to choreograph your fights and stunts?

LS: 3D changes how many set ups you can have in one day. It takes more time for lens changes, etc. This was my first movie in 3D doing the choreography so some of the hits have to be closer to the face for the camera. No one got hit or hurt. Overall it was a good experience due to the camera crew was great and moved quickly to get more set ups in.

JU: Since this movie is still in production, is there anything you can say about it, or perhaps you could give everyone an idea of the style of fights we can expect?

LS: Bloody, brutal, gritty, and exciting.

JU: You are working with Adkins, Van Damme, Andre Arlovski, and Dolph Lundgren—basically your own “Expendables” cast of DTV stars. What is it like choreographing all the different fighting styles and what else are you responsible for on set?

LS: I’m responsible for the execution of the choreography, safety and being able to change things on the spot. Sometimes the location or set may be different than how we rehearsed it in the gym. It’s funny “The Expendables” was mentioned due to I “might” be helping on that [the sequel] but if I don’t then I’m satisfied with US4. I believe in this movie and it will stand toe to toe with some of the bigger action films in 2012/13 that might be similar in tone.

JU: Have you seen any of the shots in 3D and, if so, can you tell us how we might expect 3D to be used in an action film? Obviously it won’t be like in a CGI movie like “Avatar.”

LS: John is not a fan of the obvious 3D where it’s cheesy and things come flying at you. We did not do the whole punch comes at the audience or his foot appears in your face. He took a subtle approach with the use of 3D and I believe it will work.

Again, Jonathan’s full interview is here