September 28, 2007

Double Dare

Double Dare is a different kind of film than what we usually review here at Heroine Content. Rather than being an action movie, it's about action movies. It doesn't feature the women who are in these movies for their pretty faces, great bodies, and famous names, but the ones who are in them for their ability to kick ass.

Made in 2004, Double Dare is Amanda Micheli's look inside the world of stuntwomen. She follows two stuntwomen, one at the beginning of her career (Zoe Bell) and one at the end (Jeannie Epper). Bell began the film (as well as her career) as Lucy Lawless' stunt double in Xena: Warrior Princess and ended working as Uma Thurman's stunt double for Kill Bill. Since then, she's worked on several smaller projects, and she recently came in front of the camera in the Tarantino/Rodriguez project Grindhouse.

For Epper, however, the situation is not so rosy. In her early 60s when the film was made, Epper was clearly less interested in reliving her stunt glory days (including being Lynda Carter's stunt double on the Wonder Woman television show) than in continuing to work. However, the film shows that Hollywood is no kinder to older stunt women than it is to older actresses, and Epper doesn't get much work through the course of the film (though she does end the movie with an eight week assignment on 2 Fast 2 Furious).

Micheli does a fantastic job of showing not just how these women and others like them kick serious ass, but the obstacles they face in order to do so. In one particularly telling scene, Epper is in a meeting of the coordinating committee for the US Stunt Awards. She suggests that the group consider making their format like the Academy Awards, with separate male and female categories for some awards. While some of the group members take the suggestion seriously, most are quick to make fun of it, saying things like, "what, should we have an award for best fall from 12 feet?" and "we don't want to award wienie stunts." Another scene shows Epper getting a consultation for plastic surgery, with the explanation that she has to improve her body to get work.

When I watch an actress kick ass in a movie or on television, I very rarely give thought to the behind-the-scenes woman who is actually making that ass-kicking happen. Behind every Heroine Content movie, though, there is at least one woman taking the risks and getting the injuries. As fabulous as Linda Hamilton was in T2, she couldn't have done it without legendary stuntwoman Debbie Evans; much as we love Angelina Jolie's Lara Croft, she owes a great debt to Eunice Huthart. And, as watching Double Dare makes clear, without Zoe Bell, The Bride never could have existed. I am glad to have seen it for just this reason--I hope to keep it in mind the next time I watch a woman doing something really cool on screen.

I'm giving Double Dare four stars. It's a must-see for other fans of Heroine Content who are willing to set aside their fantasies for a little while and see how the work really gets done, and I think it does a good job with making both the sexism and the glory in this industry clear without beating anyone over the head with it. I'd definitely recommend it.

3 Comments

Thankyou, even more than usual, for that one.

I loved it when Zoe called Lucy Lawless her acting double!

To be fair, Lucy Lawless does A LOT of her own stunts. All those horseback riding shots (full speed and sometimes while fighting) for example, are all her doing so (judging by the fact that a lot of New Zealand women were actually the ones dressed up in armor riding horses in 'The Lord of the Rings' scenes, maybe horseback riding is very popular with them?). The fire breathing trick she does (VERY dangerous) and she's in great shape. Yes, I'm a huge fan :P

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