Daredevil: Cut Man

"Just once, I want Matty to hear people cheer for his old man. Just once."

Should I start with the hallway fight? Yeah, let's start with the hallway fight.

The fight scene at the end of this episode, where a seriously injured Matt takes on about a dozen Russian mobsters who have kidnapped a young boy simply to get to him, is probably the best action scene we are likely to see this year. I doubt there will be anything in any of this year's blockbusters that will match it. I've seen people compare it to True Detective's famous six minute tracking shot, but I honestly think this tops it.

The logistics that went into making this scene must've been a nightmare. Taking place entirely in one small stretch of corridor, the whole thing was shot in one continuous take that had to be filmed in one day after only two days of rehearsal. I honestly cannot lavish enough praise on director Phil Abraham, fight coordinator Philip Silvera, director of photography Matthew J. Lloyd, Charlie Cox, his stunt double Chris Brewster, and the rest of the stunt team for all the hard work they must've put into making this scene a reality. They all deserve Emmys, and it's just too bad they probably won't even be nominated due to the Emmys' general snobbery towards any sci-fi or fantasy series that isn't on HBO.

Far too often we've seen heroes overcome serious injury to beat the odds and save the day. We see it, but we don't always believe it. Their recoveries are just too miraculous to be believable. Here, though, I believed it. But more importantly, I felt it. Matt goes into into this fight in pretty bad shape (a few broken ribs and a concussion) and you never forget that for one second. Throughout the fight he was stumbling about and falling over himself, bumping into the walls and sometimes struggling just to stay on his feet. By the end it is clear that there is nothing he would rather do than just lay down and die. Matt's greatest power isn't his enhanced senses, it's that big headed Murdock determination that just won't allow him to quit no matter how much he wants or needs to.

If this episode contained just that scene and nothing else I would still be tempted to give it a four. Luckily there was a lot more to shout about. I really liked how, after spending an entire episode establishing Matt as a fearsome fighter, we start this episode with him laying in a dumpster after getting his ass handed to him. It's rare for a show like this to show its hero this vulnerable this quickly. Normally they save that for a big mid-season cliff-hanger.


The title of the episode refers to the individual responsible for fixing up a fighter during a match. We saw Matt performing this role for his father in the flashbacks (albeit, post fight) while Claire did the same for him in the present. It looks like Claire is being set up to be Matt’s confident, the Alfred to his Batman if you will, someone to stitch up his wounds and argue with about the morality of his night time activities. Oh, and to participate in importune rooftop torture sessions. Yeah, I could’ve done without that. The minute sharp objects are heading in the direction of eyeballs I know I need to look away. Claire is actually an amalgamation of two characters from the comics - Claire Temple, who is Luke Cage's ex-wife (so don't be surprised if Rosario Dawson shows up in that series), and the Night Nurse, who is sort of like a mob doctor for superheroes.

I was wary of how the show would handle the story of Matt's father because of how dead parental figures have become one of the worst clich├ęs in comic book storytelling, second only to girlfriends in refrigerators. We've seen hundreds of different variations of this storytelling trope over the decades, from Batman's parents to poor doomed Uncle Ben, and almost all of them make the same mistake of not making the characters people we should care about before their inevitable demise. They exist simply to die so the hero has added motivation to put on tights and fight crime. Why bother (-to) making Thomas and Martha Wayne three dimensional characters when they are going to be dead by the end of the first act? Thankfully, Daredevil hasn't made that mistake. Very quickly, I came to care about Battlin' Jack Murdock and the bond between him and his son. I’m not going to deny it, this storyline got to me. I was close to tears by the end. When Jack looked around at the crowed cheering his name I pretty much lost it. It really is a shame Drew Goddard had to leave the series, because he has done a tremendous job scripting these first two episodes. The ball is now in your court, DeKnight.


Notes and Quotes 

--Because he wouldn't tell her his real name, Claire referred to Matt as "Mike". This is no doubt a reference to that time in the comics Matt posed as his own (not blind) twin brother in order to throw off suspicion that he was actually Daredevil. No, seriously, that's what happened.


--Karen and Foggy didn’t have much to do in this episode. They just hung out at Josie’s, getting drunk, and talking about how crappy post-Loki New York is. It's too bad their night out didn’t end in a karaoke bar so Foggy could further show off his amazing singing voice.

--Jack's fight was against Carl "Crusher" Creel, who showed up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the start of the current season.

--Karen really should move, but I imagine even after an alien invasion finding a great apartment in Manhattan for an affordable price has to still be next to impossible (unless your names are Monica and Rachel).

Jack: "Sometimes… even when you get knocked down, you can still win."
Matt: "It ain’t how you hit the mat..."
Jack and Matt: "...It’s how you get up."

Claire: "Your outfit kind of sucks, by the way."
Matt: "Yeah, it's a work in progress."

Matt: “I know you’re afraid. But you can’t give in to the fear. If you do, men like this win.”

Foggy: "Could you... could you hear me just now?"
Karen: "Nope."
Foggy: "The correct answer is, 'Yes, and you sound amazing.'"
Karen: "Well, of the two lies, I took the lesser."

Matt: "There's someone in the building, a man, going from door to door."
Claire: "How do you know that?"
Matt: "Shh. He's on the third floor already. Smells like Prima cigarettes and discount cologne."
Claire: "You can smell a man on the third floor?"
Matt: "You'll smell him soon enough. He really likes that cologne."

Claire: "Okay, that right there, that's what I'm talking about. Okay, I find a guy in a dumpster who turns out to be some kind of blind vigilante who can do all of this really weird shit like smell cologne through walls and sense whether someone's unconscious or faking it. Slap on top of that, he can take an unbelievable amount of punishment without one damn complaint."
Daredevil: "The last part's the Catholicism."

Four our of four fire extinguishers.
---
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

9 comments:

Korlis said...

The amazing hallway fight is strongly reminiscent of a similar long, single-take corridor fight in the Korean movie Oldboy, but the fight in Daredevil adds a number of flourishes (like the way the camera roves up and down the corridor before and during the fight) that more than set it apart. Even if it was intended as a homage to that other fight, I think this absolutely stands on its own as an fantastic piece of fight choreography.

I also think you really nailed how well the show handles Jack Murdock's character. I'd been expecting him to get killed in the ring, especially when it became clear how much punishment he was putting himself through, but the truth was much worse.

ChrisB said...

Another outstanding episode. I was surprised how quickly I came to care about Jack. The relationship with his son was just gorgeous. I loved the scene with the sip of scotch, but then insisting that Matt finish his homework. I teared up as the crowd was chanting his name. The inevitable hit hard.

I really enjoyed the scenes with Foggy and Karen. The way he got her to open up to him and his responses about the people in the bar made me smile. It was all a tad bittersweet, though. I think he's keen; she's not so much. I hope she realizes that a good man is right in front of her.

The fight scene should be required viewing for anyone who wants to make film. Simply exemplary from beginning to end.

Question -- the gym where Jack fought was called Fogwell's. Does it belong to Foggy's family? Have he and Matt been friends that long?

migmit said...

I'm dropping it. I just wanted to say one thing: this fight was so fake, I think I hurt my eyeballs constantly rolling them.

Josie Kafka said...

I've seen people compare it to True Detective's famous six minute tracking shot, but I honestly think this tops it.

As much as I love True Detective, I think you're right, Mark.

I've been really surprised by the variety of reactions to Jack Murdock that I've seen across the internet. I saw his decision as misguided but essentially selfless: he felt like he couldn't give his son much (money, support), but he could give him pride. But others seem to view his actions as inherently selfish.

I also love that the dive bar is named Josie's.

Jess Lynde said...

I agree that they did a really great job making us care about Jack and his relationship with Matt before taking him out with that heartbreaking but powerful choice to "go out swinging." I'm not sure he made the right choice, but I totally understand why he made it and why he felt it was the right one. And, as Josie said, it didn't come across to me as being motivated by selfish pride from his perspective. Still, I wish he could have seen a way out that didn't involve getting himself killed. Those few moments of being proud of his dad, are a pretty poor trade off for Matt no longer having his dad in his life at all.

I liked the material with Foggy and Karen, too. I'm glad that they are letting us get to know them as people, while continuing to spool out consequences from the pilot. If it had all been just drinking and laughs with those two, it wouldn't have worked nearly as well as it did. I appreciated that the show acknowledged the dark place Karen would be in, and let us see her new colleague supporting her.

Josie Kafka said...

Josie Rewatch Comment:

I liked this even more on a second watch, since I knew the cool fight scene was coming, and could therefore enjoy the slower pace of the first 35 minutes.

I think Claire's pillowcase mask is incredibly creepy.

And I would once again like to reiterate the awesomeness of the bar being called Josie's. If I owned a bar, I would want it to be just like that bar. Complete with drinkable eels.

Swoooze said...

I also got Oldboy vibes from that as it was likely a tribute to that amazing film. I wouldn't say it was the best action from any show or film this year as the Raid 2 was quite simply breath-taking.... actually let me check... okay that was last year so I'll take it back!

Tracking shots are such a passion of mine I just love them. Orson Wells made it famous with his crane shot at the start of his movie which still looks fantastic to this day. But I've always found then simply awe-inspiring. Even the simple ones like the scene in Goodfellas that follows Henry and Karen's walk through the kitchen to the club or the car scene in Children of Men wow me.

Then you get the ones were you just cannot understand how they are pulling off what seems like impossible feats such as Kill Bill's tracking shot of the Bride as she follows Sofie Fatale through the club with the camera going from a crane shot to suddenly following her down a corridor with a ceiling and you feel like it must be witchcraft.

Some use slight camera tricks to maintain the shot but they still look impressive such as the first shot of Spectre or the first shot of Gravity. There is an Argentine movie which picked up the Oscar for best foreign language film called The Secrets in Their Eyes which while featuring dodgy CGI for a split second combines the tracking shot with an incredibly tense chase and it all starts from a helicopter shot. It is simply one of the best things I've ever seen in cinema.

Lastly while Oldboy and Daredevil are amazing action-paced tracking shots the best one in my opinion comes from the genius that is John Woo in his final Hong Kong movie before we went to America- Hard Boiled. The action is beyond sublime as you'd expect from him and would be impressive in itself, but to do it with a tracking shot takes it to another level. The two main characters enter an elevator and this is where the scene somehow goes up a level. Now because John Woo could only film on the same floor as soon as the elevator doors closed the cast had to tidy up all the fake class, fix the walls and completely change the layout of the set so it appears that it is a different floor entirely. Then the action resumes. It's magical.

With the advent of CGI and the decline of musicals you never get to see anybody actually really do anything on screen any more (kung-fu movies actually being the exception) so the tracking shot I think is the one thing that captures that Hollywood magic these days.

The Secrets in Thier Eyes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvL0Bj9ZUPc

Hard Boiled
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bozxgVQ9m0

Oldboy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwIIDzrVVdc


Anyway that was an amazing episode of Daredevil!

Billie Doux said...

What I keep noticing is the photography. This episode began with a close-up of the rough pavement, so close that you could imagine how it would feel against your skin. The colors are all unpleasant: sickly green, mustard yellow, off blue, neon red. And of course, the hallway fight scene was indeed impressive. What made it work for me was Matt's injuries and utter exhaustion.

Matt was certainly lucky to run into Claire, or more accurately, the dumpster behind her building. Pretty karmic that she'd already run into people he'd saved while working at her hospital job.

Karen and Foggy are indeed extremely cute. I'm wondering what Foggy knows about Matt, if he knows anything. They haven't addressed that yet.

Billie Doux said...

Forgot to add: the tale of Matt's father was indeed sad, but it didn't get to me at all. It's not only a cliche, but as a parent, I thought it incredibly selfish for Jack to court death when he had a son to raise for the sake of his pride.