on August 2, 2005
This is a pretty cool and interesting documentary if you understand the subject matter going into it.
The movie primarily takes a look at two Holllwood stunt woman: Jeannie Epper, who doubled for Lynda Carter during the Wonder Woman series run, has been working in the business for approx 30yrs and comes from a whole family of professional stunt men and women; and Zoe Bell, a New Zealand native & young up and comer who doubled for Xena during that shows six seasons who is now looking to make her mark here in L.A./Hollywood.
We get the background of each woman, a look at the difficulties that women face in the business, a lot of celebrity interviews, and some additional celebrity cameos that the filmakers shot while making the film.
What I particularly enjoyed was the immediate bond between Epper and Bell. Epper seems to take Bell under her wing rather quickly by helping with valuable training and allowing her to stay at her home while she struggles to get work and make her own name in the stunt woman profession. It's a nice inside look that goes to show not everyone in "the business" is just out for themselves. Epper comes across with genuine eagerness, kindness, and integrity as she guides Bell through the Hollywood machine.
If the plot line so far interests you, or your a fan of shows like Wonder Woman and Xena, then this documentary should not disappoint.
on July 4, 2005
This movie explores the lives of 2 incredible stuntwomen: Jeannie Epper (Wonder Woman, et. al.) and Zoe Bell (Xena). It provides an interesting look at the newcomer, Zoe, and her struggles in finding her way into this predominantly male profession. The profile of the legendary Jeannie Epper was very intriguing to me. At 60+ years of age, Jeannie is still going strong and still pursuing work. Amanda Micheli has done an incredible job putting this film together.
The DVD also contains some great interview footage with Lynda Carter and Lucy Lawless. The only disappointing aspect is the fact that more of Jeannie's Wonder Woman footage was not included. As I understand it, Micheli wanted more footage, but Warner Brothers was not cooperative. Who knows why???!!!
I also had the privilege of seeing this film in the theatre, along with a live Q & A sessions with Lynda Carter, Jeannie Epper, and Amanda Micheli. What a thrill. It was so great to hear Lynda and Jeannie recount their days on the Wonder Woman set and give praise to each other for their respective performances. Amanda also gave great insight into the making of the film and what her vision had been for the project. She is a super lady herself and presents a terrific documentary that you will want to check out.
on May 4, 2005
I got a chance to see this movie in San Francisco a few weeks back and I absolutely fell in love with it. The story revolves two stuntwomen, one starting her career and one on the tail end of her career. You see the ups and downs of trying to get a career started and the ups and downs of trying to get one going. It's hard enough being a stuntperson at all, let alone being a woman in a job domminated by men.
The cameos in the movie by the likes of Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino are just added bonuses to make an already great movie just that much more interesting.
This is a great look at what goes on behind the scenes in a way you've probably never seen before. If you're a fan of action films, of filmmaking, or just of women who kick ass then pre-order this baby now. I just did.
on July 12, 2005
Yes this documentary tries to be marketed to Kill Bill fans and Yes this documentary tries to be marketed to Xena fans....
BUT this documentary is so much more. It delivers a very interesting insight view into the hollywood industry showing the work of stunt artists - femal stunt artists - and how they work. A very intimate look at two outstanding artists of their profession and the DVD even offers more: the various deleted scenes, commentaries and interviews even deliver a wider range of information and insight and thus bring to the fan what no documentary before has delivered: a capable and intimate insight into the lives and works of female stunt artists, a profession that made films such as Kill Bill possible
on June 13, 2005
And it was totally worth it. I learned so much about the stunt industry, about how things happen behind the scenes, and especially about these two women featured in the Documentary.
I was amazed at the amount of work, and pain that goes into being a good stunt woman. I was also touched by the loving nature of Jeannie Epper and how she helped out a friend who was dying even if could have possibly ended her career, when she was struggling to KEEP her career going.
This is just an amazing story, and one that every fan of movies in general should check out.
When Amanda Micheli started filming DOUBLE DARE, about two top female stunt doubles, she certainly had no idea how lucky she had become. One of the two women was Jeannie Epper, one of the top female stuntwomen ever, a pioneer in a profession where women had previously been doubled by men (best illustrated in the film by a still photo of Irene Ryan, best known as Granny on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, standing beside a man dressed up in an outfit similar to hers) and perhaps best known as the double for Lynda Carter on WONDER WOMAN. Her inclusion in the documentary was basically a no brainer, but selecting Zoë Bell had, in 2001 when filming began, to be something of a gamble. Though she possessed over-the-top skills as a stunt double, she had only one item on her resume. That one item, however, was doubling Lucy Lawless on XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, perhaps the most stunt intensive role for a woman ever seen on television. They certainly had no idea how Zoë Bell's half of the story would develop and luckily for both her and Micheli the film ends with Bell in Beijing where she is filming the stunt scenes for Uma Thurman in Tarantino's KILL BILL. The rest, as they say, is history. Tarantino was one of the first directors ever to express strongly in public fashion how much a production had relied on the work of a stunt double. He went on to make the film DEATHPROOF (the second half of GRINDHOUSE made with Robert Rodriguez), the second half of which was built around a stuntwoman riding on the hood of a Dodge Challenger while a car driven by a mad man slams into the car at high speeds. It was a role written for Zoë Bell and she pulled it off magnificently.
If much of the documentary focuses on the immensely talented up and comer Bell, it is equally focused on the pioneer Epper, who in her early sixties is finding work harder to come by but who is determined to keep working as long as she can. Unlike Bell, who came to stunt doubling completely on her own (though I had wondered whether she was related to Peter Bell, who was the stunt coordinator on XENA -- she isn't), Epper is part of a large family of stunt doubles. Her father, who is shown in some wonderful old sequences, was a leading stuntman, and her brother is a top stunt coordinator. Her daughter is also a stuntwoman, though during the filming of the documentary her career was being hampered by a shoulder injury. What the two women the film is built around have in common is that they are remarkably likable personalities. Jeannie Epper comes across as a deeply caring and upbeat person, perhaps best illustrated by the fact that when her friend Ken Howard (THE WHITE SHADOW star) had to have a kidney transplant, she donated one of hers upon discovering that she was compatible with his blood type. I'm not sure what more you can say about a person than that. As for Zoë Bell, her base facial expression seems to be a huge grin accentuated by the lip ring she wears most of the time when she isn't working (there is a very, very funny moment when Zoë is asked by Epper whether her lip ring didn't interfere with a certain sex act made famous in the Clinton years and she replies that no, she is great at that particular act). They both seem like people you would love to know.
The disc also comes with a lot of great deleted scenes. Most of these center around Zoë Bell on XENA. There is also a scene that confirms what one often hears about XENA, that Renee O'Connor did much of her own stunt work. And indeed, although there is a stunt double dressed much like O'Connor, she isn't called upon as O'Connor is able to do all of Gabrielle's fight scene. I always thought that one of the ironies of XENA was that O'Connor, who played the sidekick, was actually the more athletic of the two actresses. In fact, a number of affectionate but unflattering nicknames attached themselves to Lucy Lawless and I have suspected for a couple of years that the line that Lawless that spoke in the episode "Downloaded" in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, about always being a complete klutz after being resurrected (for non-initiates, on BSG Cylons, when they die, have their consciousness downloaded into a new and identical body). Also, in the Season Three BSG gag reel produced for the wrap party (available on Youtube though it probably will be included in the Season Three DVD extras) there is a shot of Lawless walking down a sidewalk on the New Caprica set when she suddenly stumbles and falls forward. But very much to her credit, in this film Lucy Lawless states that Xena was played by two women. (And let me add that in every interview I've seen Lucy Lawless seems to be massively likable -- on top of this the two Kiwis I've known have also bee utterly loveable individuals. Is everyone in New Zealand likable?)
I strongly recommend this film to just about anyone. Fans of KILL BILL or XENA will love it for background for one of the hidden stars of both films. Students of film will love it for getting a sense of how the role of women stunt doubles has grown over the years (anyone will recognize many of the stunts that Jeannie Epper is shown performing, such as Kathleen Turner's stunts in ROMANCING THE STONE). And students of Gender Studies will appreciate the struggles that women have had in pursuing their profession (e.g., having to perform stunts with minimal padding because the actress they are doubling usually has a fairly revealing outfit on, so that Zoë Bell had to do Xena's stunts wearing no padding on her arms).