Despite mixed responses from critics and moviegoers, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra scored over $300 million at the global box office. As a result, it did not come as surprise when Paramount Pictures announced that a sequel was on the way. However, for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura went back to the drawing board - enlisting the help of Step Up 3D director, Jon M. Chu for a half-sequel/half-reboot with a gritty military tone.
Chu made drastic cuts to the original film roster, retaining only a few key players, filling the cast with fresh faces in iconic Joe and Cobra roles. Rise of Cobra stars Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Storm Shadown (Byung-hun Lee) made the Retaliation cut but iconic staples like Destro (Christopher Eccleston) and The Baroness (Sienna Miller) were bumped to make room for new additions - including lady-ninja, Jinx (Elodie Yung)
Last year, we had a chance to chat with Park, Lee, and Yung during a group interview on the Retaliation set. You can read our full G.I. Joe: Retaliation set visit report as well as an interview with Dwayne Johnson right now - and make sure to check back in the coming days as we post further interviews including director Jon M. Chu, Ray Stevenson (Firefly), DJ Cotrona (Flint), as well as Lorenzo Di Bonaventura.
Check out Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow back in 2009 for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - along with a "debatable" cameo from Jinx at the 25 second mark:
Throughout the various iterations of the G.I. Joe franchise, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow have vacillated between a ruthless rivalry (based on mutual respect) and moments where they were forced into temporary partnership. While Snake Eyes has always been presented as a dedicated Joe, Storm Shadow's allegiances to Cobra have wained from time to time - especially when a current mission conflicts with past relationships or larger worldview. For this reason, Jinx is often found in the middle of the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow feud - since, depending on the version, she's been student to Snake Eyes, cousin to Storm Shadow, as well as an undercover Joe working inside the Cobra organization.
NOTE: The following is an abridged (and more concise) version of the interviews. You can read the entire transcript for each performer by clicking on the links below:
Reprising his role as Snake Eyes, Park was excited to return for Retaliation:
Park: I have the signature guns on my side. I'm the man with the toys. I love it. I love playing Snake Eyes. It's a great challenge and I love doing it. I've been training since the release of the first movie, back in '09. I was just like, “Right. Ok, they're gonna start the sequel to this pretty soon," so the last two years all I've been doing is Snake Eyes.
Talk about the changes in the costume from the first film.
Park: The changes with my costume are completely different. How I look and how the suit looks is completely different. It's more of an armor battle gear. Both suits from both movies were laser scanned to my body, so I had to go and stand there and they scan my body. They do the mold and make the suit. This one is more for like, ready for battle. More tailored for Snake. Chest plates and forearm, and back plate. And I actually like it. I like the look from the first movie. It was nice. But this, it's real. There's a person inside [...] Loved the first one, and I really dig this one. I like the look of Snake. And when I see pictures of myself as Snake, I become an even bigger fanboy of myself as Snake. I feel lucky to be playing the part in this movie. And I love the changes.
Are your fight scenes with Storm Shadow more intense in the sequel?
Park: Ya, we wanted to make it real. Like it's two brothers fighting, there's a lot of aggression. Instead of flashy-flashy and doing flips in the air, we wanted to tell the story throughout the fight as well. There's a lot of good moves, a lot of great choreography that we worked on. There's a lot I can do with the character but I'm also working with my fellow actors, especially with Jinx. And I love Elle's character and we've had this great sort of rapport since day one, and this great relationship between the two characters. Where Snake doesn't speak, it's sort of sold through our actions toward each other.
Unsurprisingly, Lee was equally enthusiastic about the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow brawls in Retaliation - reinforcing that, in addition to upping-the-bar for action, the ninja characters will have a much larger role in the main storyline this round:
Lee: I think it'll be more of his history. His history and we will see even his humanistic traits [..] Of course there are a lot of action scenes here. Much more, I think. They will use different weapons [...] Definitely much more than the first one. I used to always be with Sienna Miller or Destro before but in this movie I'm with a lot of people, actually. There's no specific person in this movie. I go around, sometimes by myself with Snake Eyes, Jane. Maybe all of them.
Are you and Ray [Park] in sync with one other as far as choreography goes on fights?
Lee: We're both much more comfortable now. We know each and how we move. His specialty and my specialty. In this movie, he has a lot of fights. Of course, we've trained a lot together, but we need to train separately, also. We have other fights.
How many fight scenes do you get with Snake Eyes? I think the first one was two.
Lee: There's two big fights with him and another big fight without him.
The Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes feud has taken center-stage in much of the Retaliation marketing but fans should also expect Jinx to play a major part. We'll have to wait until Retaliation's release to know whether a "big fight" without Snake Eyes means we'll see Storm Shadow go toe-to-toe with Jinx instead. Either way, Yung confirms that her character will enjoy plenty of action - evidenced by the amount of training she endured for the role:
Yung: I did all the swordplay and fights. I was really nervous. I trained about a month before we began because I had never done swords before. I did a bit of karate -- I’m a blackbelt -- so I know how to move. But when I arrived there I realized I hadn’t used the swords, and it’s really difficult. We’ve trained a lot.
One of the most challenging scenes that Yung (along with Park) filmed takes place in a brightly-lit Dojo environment. Even Park, who is no stranger to complicated and physically-demanding choreography (most famously as Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode 1), considers the scene one of his toughest:
Park: The dojo sequence, that was a tough sequence for us to film. The lights...the crew members were sweating and changing their t-shirts because of the hot lights we had to simulate the sun. I was dying in there and so was Jinx. But it was such an important sequence for us to show because it's the first time you see Snake and Jinx together, and it tells a story. But it was a tough one to do and I really enjoyed it. I'm glad we did it.
As indicated, Jinx has seen a variety of origin stories in prior G.I. Joe stories but in Retaliation, the character is a student of RZA's Blind Master - from the same clan as Snake Eyes. That said, anyone anticipating that Jinx will serve as a romantic interest for Snake Eyes, Park made it clear that their partnership is strictly plutonic:
Park: There's no romantic interest. We're ninjas. We're from the same Arashikage clan. We're fighting for the same cause. But we have a lot of scenes together and it's great. Storm Shadow is the bad guy and I'm upset with him, or Snake is upset with him, and he wants to bring him to justice. So it's fun. I'm really excited. I saw some footage last night, and I'm really, really happy about this movie.
Hopefully audiences will be equally happy when the film releases.
You can check out Ray Park, Byung-hun Lee, and Elodie Yung in G.I. Joe: Retaliation on March 28th and check back soon for more interviews from the set. However, if you’re eager for more G.I. Joe Retaliation info right now, make sure to check out the G.I. Joe: Retaliation news archive – which includes the following featured articles along with much more:
- ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ Set Visit Report: Knowing is Half the Battle
- Dwayne Johnson Talks Roadblock in ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’; Interested in ‘Expendables’ Role
- ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ Set Visit Preview: Gravity, Kung Fu, and ‘Yo Joe’!
- ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ 3D Conversion Preview – Was It Worth the Wait?
- New ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ Trailer Is Legitimately Exciting
G.I. Joe: Retaliation releases on March 28, 2013 in 2D and 3D theaters.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on G.I. Joe: Retaliation as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.