The showdown in the Golden Army Chamber just past the Angel of Death’s lair provides the dramatic climax of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The lavishly choreographed spectacle involved every department of the production.
The stunts team worked closely with the visual effects department in planning Hellboy’s battle with the computer-generated Golden Army soldiers. But the one-on-one fight between Hellboy and the prince is a flesh-and-blood encounter that required close collaboration between stunts and special effects, not to mention close calls between Ron Perlman and Luke Goss.
The dramatic design of the Golden Army Chamber heightened the fight’s ferocity. The huge golden cogs that flank the stage where the prince imperiously surveys the army become the fighting arena of the two combatants. The cogs’ movement is also the trigger that brings the Golden Army to life.
The action began with a shout of “Start the cogs!” from first assistant director CLIFF LANNING. “Every film has a slightly different range of effects and, in this movie, it’s the cogs that make the difference,” says assistant SFX supervisor MANEX EFREM, who oversaw their construction and operation. “Because of the cogs, this looks like no other fight you’ll ever see. The cogs spin, some move vertically, some are beveled gears. It’s very much like a fighting ballet.”
The cogs inspired stunt coordinator Brad Allan. “We saw an opportunity for some comedy and some excitement. We’re channeling a little bit of Charlie Chaplin from Modern Times and a little Jackie Chan, plus our own Hellboy flavor.”
The two combatants have completely different fighting styles, suggests Allan. “Hellboy is a strength guy, a stone-fisted brawler. The prince is all speed and stealth, lean and like lightning.”
Although the physically fit Luke Goss performed much of the sword and spear work, Allan upped the ante by mixing in top Chinese martial artists. As is Allan, they’re veterans of the Jackie Chan stunt team. Because the prince’s fighting technique is based on evasion, del Toro and Allan also decided to add somersaulting to his moves.
“I had no idea how I was going to find a power tumbler with the stature and physique of Luke Goss, because most of them are stocky little guys,” says Allan.
“But by typing ‘tumbler’ on YouTube, I found DAMIEN WALTERS—a tall, skinny, blond, blue-eyed guy who is the No. 3 power tumbler in the world today. He’s not a professional stunt performer, but his skill was exactly what we needed, and his work was so outstanding that the entire crew broke into applause after most of his takes.”
Wielding the ancient spear of Bethmoora, Prince Nuada knows almost no equal. In fact, he almost destroys Hellboy in a previous battle before their rematch in the Chamber. Concept artist Velasco explains of an early version of the drawing, created by PABLO ANGELES: “The main idea was for the spear to be a kind of telescopic device, so when it is short it can be used as a double-bladed sword and then extend to spear,” he shares. “All the weapons of the elf royalty are richly decorated. We were trying to stay away from just Celtic motifs and create our own patterns. In the end, we moved the design toward more Oriental and Islamic ornamentation.”