‘Hitman: Agent 47’ star trains with Filipino kali martial arts

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Rupert Friend plays 47, the deadliest, genetically-enhanced assassin

Rupert Friend plays 47, the deadliest, genetically-enhanced assassin

Fresh off the success of Keanu Reeves’ groundbreaking action film John Wick, director Chad Stahelski and producer David Leitch are once again redefining the action movie genre for the 21st century with the latest game-to-movie reboot of Hitman: Agent 47.

Directed by Aleksander Bach, a noted commercials director making his feature film debut, from a screenplay by Skip Woods (The A-Team) and Michael Finch (Predators) and a story by Woods, Hitman: Agent 47 stars Rupert Friend in the titular role along with Hannah Ware and Zachary Quinto.

Known only as 47, Friend dons the custom-tailored suit of the deadliest assassin who was genetically enhanced since conception bent on breaking the syndicate out to unlock his secrets as the undefeated killing machine the world has ever known. With two mysterious characters in tow, Katia van Dees (Ware) and John Smith (Quinto), 47 is on a race against time to fulfill his mission while he stealthily dispatches an entire phalanx of soldiers and unknown operatives in a series of split-second action sequences before they even realize he’s there.

Action unit directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, stunt coordinator Jonathan Eusebio, and fight coordinator Jon Valera—all from 87-11 Action Design—oversaw the stunts and action.


“It [the film]features a close quarter gun battle, the likes of which you haven’t seen before on screen,” said Valera. “We’ve been trying to do something like this for a few years. It’s hand-to-hand combat with contrasting styles. Smith is stronger, but 47 tries to outsmart him.”

“47 is the opposite—he’s more linear and efficient in his movements. So we trained Rupert in Malaysian Silat and Filipino Kali martial arts ‘empty hands’ styles,” explained Eusebio. “When Rupert grabs a weapon, he looks like he’s handled it for a long time. And I’m not just talking about 47’s signature weapon, the silver ballers handgun. We wanted Rupert to be able to use anything he could find—like a broken bottle, a plate, a pen, or a lamp—and turn it into a deadly weapon.”

But Friend made sure he was more than adept at wielding the silver ballers. “I spent weeks with a fantastic lead armaments team that trained me to the point where I could put a bag on my head and take the gun apart, and then put it back together,” he recounted.

Hitman: Agent 47 opens August 19 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

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