By Gen Terblanche27 December 2023
Epic stunt party: Spinners and more car-stunt thrills
One of the greatest things about streaming is that once you know a film or show, you can skip to the best bits and watch them in slow-mo, pause on the action, break it down and take it in. While nothing beats the seat of your pants journey for your first viewing, it pays to watch again – especially if you love car stunts. Here are just seven of our favourites from shows and movies that took it into overdrive. Let’s floor it!
Spinning, stunting and stunning
Spinners meshes the thrill of driving the way you thought it would be when you were a kid – setting up epic stunts with your toy cars – with a gritty coming-of-age story about life and death, drugs, gangs, friendship and the search for a way out on the Cape Flats.
With Spinners available to binge from Wednesday, 27 December, it’s time to check out your favourite stunts, like Ethan (Cantona James) and Jackie (Stephren Saayman) standing on the roof of their spinning car in their first appearance as The Underdogz in episode 5.
Watch the making-of doccie Inside Spinners for more, as Vic Pardal – MC of Red Bull Shay’ iMoto and founder of Southside Crew – visits the Spinners set to chat to the Spinners gang, including Kayla Olifant, who’s been driving since she was 14 years old and is the spinning double as well as the inspiration for the character of Amber (Chelsea Thomas). You’ll also meet Ethan’s precision driver – Cape Flats-based spinner and Mr Killshot himself, Yaseen Damon, who also plays himself in the series. Yaseen talks a bit about Cape Town’s rubber-burning spinning style, helping to design the series’ spinning sequences, and shows off the real cars used in Spinners S1.
We don’t watch The Fast and the Furious films for the plot, Oscar-level performances, deep characterisation or any kind of re-creation of reality (hello to F9’s space car for no reason, just being polite). We just want to see cars go vroom! Self-aware enough to be funny, the Fast films always deliver on the promise of a good time.
Scenes getting our action replay from the latest film in the franchise, Fast X, include Jakob Toretto (John Cena) and Dom’s (Vin Diesel) son Brian (Leo Abelo Perry) walking out of their flight in mid air, using their packed luggage – a working mini-jet. But you know what we’re really here for. Yes, it’s Dom driving his Charger down the near-vertical wall of Aldeadávila dam, on the border of Portugal and Spain, while outrunning a massive truck explosion. It’s sheer glee. The stunt is literally based on an idea that Fast X director Louis Leterrier had when he was eight years old and making up car crashes to film with his mom’s camera.
Shiny and chrome
Car culture will be the only culture to survive the apocalypse – we have proof and it’s “shiny and chrome”. That’s the battle cry of the War Boys, warriors for the tyrant Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) and his V8 Cult, as they spray paint their mouths and faces silver and prepare to terrorise and enslave anyone they come across in their endless hunt for petrol in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Just 15 minutes into the story, one of Imortan Joe’s concubines Furiosa (Charlize Theron) goes offroading with her petrol tanker full of precious cargo, and a film-long car chase begins. Imagine a circus act but the clown cars are stuffed with shrieking psychopaths wielding flamethrowers, and the orchestra pit is a dump truck filled with four drummers pounding massive bass drums, rigged up front with a zillion loudspeakers and, as a hood ornament? Coma the blind Doof Warrior playing a double necked electric guitar, shredding that heavy metal and spitting flame. The mere existence of this vehicle, the Doof Wagon, is a punch in the mouth that lays you out and sends you sweetly to the movie funhouse without even having to even pop a wheelie.
Softened up, you’re ready for the insanity that follows, including War Boys swinging on poles over the top of a moving tanker, from moving cars. It’s a demonstration of why practical effects and stunts will never go out of style.
Mission Impossible’s impossible sandstorm
Since 1996, the Mission Impossible franchise has existed to bring us three things: Tom Cruise running and hanging off stuff, and impossible stunts created with practical effects. One of our favourite car stunts is the sandstorm chase in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, which comes about an hour and a quarter into the film, soon after the scene of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) climbing around on the outside of the Burj Khalifa. The stunt happens on the front of a sandstorm, so the effects team had fans set up and were blowing sand into the air while filming (just give some thought what that would do the cars’ filters).
First of all, Ethan leaps onto/gets driven into by his target’s car, leading to a punch-up between him and the driver, who’s swinging the car about wildly and winds up nearly scraping Ethan off like a bug. Then Ethan steals a BMW 6 Series convertible and speeds off, playing bumper cars with other vehicles that suddenly appear through the sandstorm and scraping the car along the guardrail as a guide until he sets on a collision course in an interchange and throws himself out of the car at the last second, only to nearly have a tumbling car wreck pin him like a bug.
Bad Boys get wrecked
In the Jerry Bruckheimer buddy cop action comedy Bad Boys, detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) are working on a case with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) when they see that the Haitian gang they’ve been watching are on the move. The resulting car chase through Miami might have their boss fuming, but audiences were shrieking, as a 1967 Pontiac Firebird, a Chevy II Nova SS, and a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am go head to head with a Ferrari Maranello 575M (and a 550).
It starts with a circling chase down a parking garage ramp, which sees one bad guy go flying over the side, still clinging to a car door. And the car chase gets a half-time gun battle before the Haitians hijack a car transport truck and start dropping cars off the back of it and onto the road, where they flip and crash and smash their way through traffic. There might be car nunchucks? At one point a speedboat hits the road and explodes. It’s 15 minutes of kinetic car carnage, starting about 26 minutes into the film.
Death Race: let’s really gun it!
Cult classic Death Race (2008) is set in what was then the near future: 2012 and 2020. The US economy is in ruins and for-profit prisons like Terminal Island are raking in cash from the online streaming of vehicle combat races through the prison complex – in which the cars are armed to the teeth and the warden can call up obstacles, power-ups, shields, and weapons on the track.
And if you don’t have the talent, you “recruit” it by framing innocent drivers like Jensen Aimes (Jason Statham). Under the name Frankenstein, Jensen is forced to go up against psycho killer Machine Gun Joe (Tyrese Gibson) in the latest Death Race. Missiles fly, flaming cars spin like rotisserie chickens and the on-track car compactor squishes metal and flesh together. Practically the entire film hinges on jaw-dropping car stunts, but a stand out might be when an armoured fuel tanker hits an obstacle and takes off into the air like a jet aeroplane.
For more high-speed stunts that makes you go “wheee”, watch Jackass Forever (marching band on a treadmill and vomitron, come on!), Bullet Train (so many high speed fights), The Matrix Reloaded (freeway fight and car chase), John Wick 3 (fighting guys on motorbikes while riding horseback), The Italian Job (Mini Coopers race through underground tunnels and down staircases in LA), and XXX (Vin Diesel parachuting off the roof of a car after driving it off a bridge).
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