all of us have probably seen a few documentaries or featurettes
about stuntmen. Whether it's Master Wo Ping's work on The
Matrix movies, Jackie Chan's brigade of suicide machines,
the occasional American teenager's backyard wrestling video,
we feel compelled to watch hours of footage of people exploring
the art of defying death.
it's always about one thing for us, the viewers: how mind-numbingly
dangerous is it? Just how much does it violate that human
instinct for self-preservation? Well, I want you to imagine
a career of stuntwork done with little (usually no) padding.
The roles are typically small and thankless, and the threat
of never working again once injured is greater than ever
wondering why no padding, eh? Well, it's just not that easy
to hide shoulder pads and knee braces under a strapless evening
Yup, we're talking about stuntwomen; those poor souls often
relegated to work as "hair-pulling" doubles and
fall gals for the "weaker sex", blah, blah, blah
But what about those bone crunching scenes in Charlie's
Angels or, better yet, Kill
Bill? You actually think the actresses are that crazy?
Dare takes us through two generations of stuntwomen, focusing
intently on Zoe Bell, the Xena behind Xena: Warrior Princess,
and Jeannie Epper, probably best known for doubling Lynda
Carter on Wonder Woman. Throughout the film, our perspective
flows back and forth between these two characters: Zoe, the
spunky New Zealander who takes repeated blows to the head,
but still laughs it off in a way that's
adorable; and Jeannie, who pioneered into what was always
a man's world and co-founded the first stuntwomen's organization,
only to find Hollywood now far too ready to write her off
as she enters her sixties.
know what the craziest thing of all is? We really do come
to love these insane women well before the film even gets
going. Director Amanda Micheli brings us so close to these
characters, it's crushing when Zoe is turned down for the
main stunt role in a new TV series. But, in a way, that's
no hard task at all; Zoe glows with so much joy and youthful
exuberance throughout the film that seeing her down at all
is painful. Micheli's directing really comes to the fore when
she takes us through Jeannie Epper's day, calling lists of
stunt coordinators when no work is available, struggling to
make sure women get recognized in the stuntwork community
without belittling them as "good enough- for a girl",
and then, in probably the saddest moment, watching her eyes
when she visits a cosmetic surgeon's office for an appraisal
and, for once, seems to feel her age catch up with her.
also shines in the way she structures her story; revealing
the danger that starting a family presents to a stuntwoman's
career, showcasing Jeannie's daughter's struggle with the
"high fall" stunt after an accident all but ends
her own career, and exploring the bond that forms when Jeannie
takes Zoe under her wing and shows her around the LA stunt
scene, hoping to kick start her struggling career.
end, Double Dare sucks you in so completely, you almost
wish its stars would try their hand at acting
least that more movies would showcase women kicking major
ass. In any case, the filmmaking world needs to get it's act
together, and Double Dare is a step in the right direction.