Man, the Cobra Kai TV show is far better than I ever thought it would be. I’ve been gripped for all three seasons so far, and with season four coming at the end of this year, I’m pretty damn excited. For those not in the know, Cobra Kai is a sequel TV series that continues the bitter rivalry story of Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid film(s). Of course, there’s much more going on than Daniel-san and Johnny’s dislike for each other as a whole host of other characters join the story. Along with some fantastic returns of other characters from the movies to boot.
Anyway, part of that rivalry between the two leads stems from the original The Karate Kid flick. In Cobra Kai, Daniel is a rich and successful businessman. Beautiful wife, big house, kids, etc, he’s got it all. But Johnny’s life, following the film, went in a very different direction. He’s more of a loser, doing odd jobs to put food on the table, living in a shitty apartment and so on. The two opposing lives are put down to the fact that Daniel LaRusso won the All Valley Karate Tournament in the first film, beating the previous two-time winner, Johnny Lawrence.
When the two first cross paths after so many years in Cobra Kai, the karate tournament that Daniel won (thanks to Mr Miyagi) by beating previous champ Johnny is brought up. So too is the fact that Daniel won via an illegal kick to the face, the famous crane kick move. For many years, even before the TV show, the internet has been swamped with people claiming that Daniel won the tournament illegally, using an illegal kick to the face. Pretty much everyone is stating that Johnny was the rightful winner of the fight as Daniel should’ve been disqualified, or at the very least, shouldn’t have been given the winning point, for using an illegal move. Most people are in agreement that the ending of The Karate Kid and Daniel winning is a major plot hole. So much so that the whole thing has become a very famous meme, then there’s the fact that it has now become canon within the universe as Cobra Kai itself even brings up the fact that Daniel shouldn’t have won in the show. So then to summarise, it is now in-universe fact that Johnny (incorrectly) lost the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament due to Daniel basically cheating. But here’s the question, was the kick to the face actually illegal as many claim, and was it a plot hole that Daniel won?
Well, that’s what I’m here to cover. I’ve done a few of these explorations of plot holes and I always use the same handful of rules. I can only use in-movie universe logic, I can’t just make shit up to suit my own agenda. I can’t use explanations in novelizations, comic books, etc and only what’s in the film(s). Deleted scenes are a bit of a wildcard, depending on why they were deleted. Example, if a scene was removed against the director’s better judgement, because the suits forced it to be cut, then I can think about using it. But if a director cut a scene over something like time constraints, then that’s a bit more questionable as, if the director didn’t think the scene was worth fighting for, then why should I? So, with the rules in place, it is time to destroy this plot hole that Daniel used an illegal move and Johnny should’ve won.
Okay so, getting back to the point. Daniel’s kick to the face was not illegal at all and the many years of memes and videos are wrong. Of course, you’ll want proof of this claim, right? It’s not as if you’ll just going to believe something written on the internet with zero evidence to back it up, are you… Kind of like how this whole thing started then eh? Okay, some proof. First, here’s a little montage of the ending fights, just give it a watch and tell me what you see.
Okay, I’ll bring up a few highlights for you. Starting at 0:53 in the video, Johnny delivered a kick to the face and wins the point. Directly in front of two judges. Perhaps you missed it, well here’s a screengrab for you.
So if kicks to the face are illegal, then why did Johnny win that point? Then later, we have Daniel take a kick to the face from Dutch of the Cobra Kai dojo. Is his opponent reprimanded for the face kick? Nope, he wins the point. Again, screengrab for you.
Aside from the fact that, given the obvious reasons, the kick doesn’t actually connect in real life. Within the reality of the film, it did and the point was awarded to Dutch against Daniel, and in front of the judges too. In fact, if you go back and re-watch the various fights in that final tournament, you’ll see multiple examples of people winning points from kicks to the face. Johnny wins three points via kicks to the face alone, one against Daniel. None of those kicks are deemed illegal either.
So there you go, head/face hits score a point. So given the fact that multiple people win points with blows to the head through the entire tournament… How or why was Daniel’s winning kick illegal? I mean, even Ralph ‘Daniel-san’ Macchio himself has said that the kick was illegal… But it wasn’t. In the article I linked to there, Ralph states that:
“No hits to the face was clearly something when the referee made the list of things what not to do.”
Errrr, no. The ref never says hits to the face are not allowed, neither do any of the other judges. Nobody in the first film says that hits to the face are illegal. Want more eh? Well, here’s a line taken directly from the film where the rules of the tournament are explained to Daniel:
“Everything above your waist is a point. You can hit the head, sternum, kidneys, ribs. Got it?”
The exact opposite is actually said about hits to the face, the movie outright states that hits to the head can score you a point. Now, for the tournament in The Karate Kid Part III, the ref does say that no face contact is allowed, but never in the first film. So I think this is where the confusion lies, people seem to think (Ralph Macchio included) that the no face contact rule is in the first film when it’s not. Several of the tournament rules have been changed between the films too, not just the face contact one. But in the first film, face contact is allowed… Multiple times.
This is actually an older (and fairly lengthy) article I wrote for another (now defunct) site a few years back. I’ve given it a bit of an update and a polish to re-posted it here on my blog, as a way to remember one of my heroes on the anniversary of his death.
On this day twenty-seven years ago in 1994, the world lost, who was quite simply, the greatest racing driver who ever sat in the cockpit of a Formula 1 car. The three-times F1 World Champion Ayrton Senna da Silva. In this article, I’d like to share my own personal memories and highlights of watching the great man and how I first became a Senna fan.
How It All Began
As far as I recall, it all started with a simple Formula 1 toy car.
I think it must have been 1985 and I was 8 or 9-years-old. My older brother, Rob would have been around 16 at the time. No older brother in the midst of their teenage years wanted their annoying little brother hanging around with them, but Rob was different as he would often let me join in with (almost) anything he was doing. I remember that our granddad gave my brother a toy F1 car and it was this simple toy car that got Rob into watching F1 on TV. He would usually have to use the small, portable TV on a Sunday afternoon to watch the races as my mom would be engrossed in her soap operas on the main TV. So my brother would be relegated to the kitchen to watch the racing on that old black & white, small screen and I would watch with him. His favourite driver was a young Italian called Elio de Angelis who, at the time, was driving for the Lotus team.
It was the 1985 season when de Angelis gained a new teammate. A young, unknown Brazilian driver from São Paulo who had made his way up through the Karting, Formula Ford and British Formula Three circuits in the late seventies and early eighties, before arriving in F1 by joining the Toleman team in 1984. That young, unknown Brazilian was Ayrton Senna da Silva. Elio de Angelis and Ayrton Senna were teammates at Lotus through 1985. On the rare occasion that me and my brother did get to watch Formula 1 on the bigger, colour TV, I remember just loving the contrast in colours of that black JPS Lotus and Senna’s bright yellow helmet design. That’s pretty much how I became an Ayrton Senna fan, just because my brother liked his teammate de Angelis, and I liked Senna’s distinctly coloured helmet. Then, when de Angelis left Lotus for the Brabham team in 1986, this was when us brothers became united as fans of Senna. There was just something about him, his attitude, his personality, his driving style and of course, the fact that the black Lotus with that distinctive yellow helmet sticking out of it looked awesome. This young driver had something very special, even if we didn’t realise it at the time. I admit that I never really understood F1 back then, I just thought that the black Lotus looked cool. But my brother would explain the rules to me and I began to learn more and more about the sport and slowly fell in love with it.
I do vaguely remember hearing about the crash that killed Elio de Angelis in 1986 while he was testing his Brabham BT55 in France, I recall being shocked, even at that young age, that people could die in this sport I had just begun to watch. After de Angelis died at only 28-years-old, all eyes were on Senna as he started to make waves in F1.
The Lotus Drive
Anyway, Senna’s first year for Lotus in 1985 was an exciting watch. It was the Portuguese Grand Prix where he secured his first-ever pole position which he then converted into his first race win. The 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix was run under very wet conditions and this is where Senna showed his unbeatable driving skill and dominance in the rain, a skill and talent he would prove he had time and time again in the years to come. During the race, Senna managed to lap everyone up to and including third-place driver, Patrick Tambay and brought his Lotus home to take the chequered flag a whole minute ahead of second-place driver, Michele Alboreto. Senna managed to secure the fastest lap of the race too and he did all of this in the pouring rain. While other drivers were sliding about, spinning off and crashing into barriers, Senna was dominating. The 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix has rightfully gone down asone of the greatest F1 races ever seen.
Senna finished the 1985 season in an impressive fourth place and racked up some very memorable races along the way too. His second race win was again, under wet conditions at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Just another excuse to show off his wet racing dominance. As well as collecting a few podium finishes at the Austrian, Netherlands and Italian Grand Prix. Even then, early in his Formula 1 career, Senna was making huge waves.
Senna’s 1986 season and his second one with the Lotus team got off to a strong start. He finished second in the first race at Brazil and won the second race in Spain after a nail-biting climax where Senna finished ahead of Nigel Mansell by just 0.014 seconds. One of the closest finishes in F1 history.
After two races, Senna was leading the championship. But later in the season, he was bogged down with poor reliability as he struggled to keep up with the Williams team. Despite being the top qualifier that season with eight poles and six podium finishes including another win at the Detroit Grand Prix, Senna only managed to finish the season in fourth place once more. It was after his win in Detroit (one day after Brazil were knocked out of the 1986 World Cup), Senna pulled up at the side of the track and asked a fan for their Brazilian flag. Senna then drove a celebratory lap waving the flag, a tradition he repeated every time he won a race from that point on.
Senna just loved driving so much, it didn’t matter what it was, if it could go fast, Senna wanted to master it. He even had a brief foray into rallying as 1986 was the year when he headed to Wales and drove a Vauxhall Nova, MG Metro 6R4, Ford Sierra RS Cosworth and a Ford Escort just for some rallying fun.
1987 saw a lot of changes at Lotus, least of all was an all-new look to their cars. As the striking John Player Special black and gold livery was replaced with a yellow Camel sponsorship. But, this would also be Senna’s last season with Lotus before switching teams in 1988 to form one of the most memorable team-ups in F1 history. Ayrton Senna’s 1987 season got off to a controversial start, a strong podium finish at the San Marino Grand Prix led to an altercation between him and Nigel Mansell. After the race, in the pit lane, Mansell reportedly grabbed Senna by the throat and he had to be restrained by the Lotus mechanics. This was following a collision between the two drivers on the track:
“When a man holds you round the throat, I do not think that he has come to apologise.”
– Ayrton Senna
Senna had a very strong start to this season including his first and a very memorable win at Monaco… One of many to come. Senna soon found himself leading the Drivers Championship. However, the latter part of the season saw the Williams cars take the advantage, this led to Senna becoming dissatisfied at Lotus as he looked around for a new team for the following season. He finished the 1987 season in third-place with six podium finishes and only one pole position. He knew he could de better, he knew he could be World Champion and he knew it was the Louts car holding him back too. So, Senna said goodbye to Lotus as he joined his new team for 1988.
The McLaren Drive
Senna joined the McLaren team with the approval of McLaren’s number-one driver and then-double world champion, Alain Prost and the two became great teammates. A relationship that would quickly turn sour over the years. The 1988 season was full of incredible race incidents between the two teammates and marked the start of one of the most famous rivalries in F1. It was at the Monaco Grand Prix where Senna out-qualified Prost and went on to lead most of the race, yet he crashed on lap 67. Senna just disappeared from the Grand Prix as he went to his apartment in Monaco without telling anyone. He eventually returned to the track later that night as the teams were packing away and Prost was none too impressed with Senna’s apparent lack of professionalism.
Then, at the Portuguese Grand Prix, Prost managed a slightly faster start than his teammate, yet Senna dived into the first corner ahead with aggression. Prost retaliated and attempted to pass Senna by the end of the first lap. Senna then swerved to block Prost, forcing him to almost run into the pit wall at around 180 mph. But Prost refused to slow down and soon edged out Senna into the first corner and started pulling away. Prost was angered by Senna’s dangerous manoeuvre and the Brazilian was given a warning from F1’s governing body, the FIA. During the post-race team debrief, Prost voiced his anger at the move which prompted Senna to apologise to his teammate for the incident. Despite the numerous clashes between the two McLaren drivers, Senna rewrote the record books in 1988 with a total of eight wins, thirteen poles… Oh yeah, he won his first-ever World Championship too.
The 1989 season didn’t see the relationship between Senna and Prost improve, if anything, it got worse as tension and mistrust increased between the two. Senna took an early lead in the championship after wins at the San Marino, Monaco, and the Mexico GPs, which he followed up with wins in Germany, Belgium, and Spain too. But unreliability in the latter part of the season meant Senna soon found himself in second place in the standings while Prost took the lead. It was the penultimate race of the season in Japan where the two teammates collided… Figuratively and literally. Senna needed to win the race to remain in contention for the title. Prost managed to get away at the start ahead of Senna and he led the race. It was on lap 46 when Senna pulled up alongside his teammate and attempted a pass on the inside at the last chicane, but Prost turned in, cutting off Senna and the duo tangled wheels. Both of the McLarens slid off the track and on to the escape road and they both seemed to be out of the race, meaning Prost was World Champion, so he abandoned his car and the race. However, Senna stayed in his car and requested a push-start from the circuit marshals so he could rejoin the race.
Senna went on the win the race by taking the lead from Benetton driver, Alessandro Nannini. He was World Champion for the second time… For a few hours anyway. Later, after the race, Senna was disqualified for receiving a push-start, cutting the chicane after the collision with Prost as well as for crossing into the pit lane entry, during a stewards meeting after the race. An enraged Senna entered a bitter war of words with the then FIA president, Jean-Marie Balestre. He claimed that Balestre had forced the race stewards to disqualify him so his fellow countryman, Prost, could win the championship.
Senna finished the 1989 season in second place behind Prost with six wins and one second place. Prost left McLaren for Ferrari ready for the 1990 season. While Prost may have left McLaren for Ferrari, that didn’t end the bitter rivalry between him and Senna. Replacing Prost at McLaren was Austrian driver, Gerhard Berger. Senna and Berger soon became much more than just good teammates, they became very close friends too:
“I tried to find weaknesses in Senna, but I couldn’t. He is 100 per cent in everything. I learned a lot from him, so for me, it was a good three years. And I still like Senna. We had good fun, a good relationship.”
– Gerhard Berger.
Once again, Senna got off to a strong start in the 1990 season and he was leading the championship. It was the latter part of the season where Prost in his Ferrari began to close the gap as he won five races bringing the point difference between himself and Senna to just nine, with only two races left. In an almost identical replay from the previous season, it all came down to the Japanese GP at Suzuka. Senna took the pole over Prost and he requested to have pole position moved to the left side of the track as it was cleaner and he could get a better start. The FIA president, Balestre denied Senna’s request. Meaning Senna had to start on the dirty side of the track, thus favouring Prost on the left.
The race started and Prost managed to get away ahead of Senna. However, Senna refused to relent and tried to pass Prost at the first corner. Prost turned in to take the corner while Senna kept his foot on the accelerator and the two cars collided (again) at the Japanese GP (again) and the crash settled the World Championship title (again). Senna and Prost spun off into the gravel trap as they both exited their cars, both of them out of the race. Only thistime, there was no stewards inquiry, no disqualification and Senna was crowned World Champion for the second time.
It was also during the 1990 season when Senna witnessed something that changed his perception of the sport and when he struck up a very important friendship with the then head of the Formula 1 on-track medical team, Professor Sid Watkins:
“I was in the pits, practice was stopped. I hear by different people, there was accident, was Donnelly. Was bad, was too bad, was disaster. And I decide to go to the place to see myself. Million things went through my mind, in the end I… I realised I was not going to give up my passion, even just having seen what I had seen … And I had to, to put myself together, and walk out, go to the racing car, and do it again. And do it again, and do it even better than before. Because that was the way to… Kind of cover that impact it had on me. I was just not ready to give up. As much as I was scared to continue, I was not ready to give up my aim, my target, my objective, my passion, my dream… My life. It is my life”
– Ayrton Senna
Senna was referring to this…
Martin Donnelly crashed his Lotus during practice at the Jerez circuit. His car was decimated and his limp, lifeless body lay on the track still attached to the seat as the medical team rushed to the scene. Amazingly, Donnelly survived. He suffered horrendous injures including brain and lung contusions as well as severe leg fractures and the crash ended his F1 career… But he was alive.
It was this crash that (in his own words) ‘scared’ Senna. Following this incident, he sought out a friendship with Professor Watkins and Senna continually questioned Watkins on certain medical procedures and practices. Senna learned some basic first aid that could possibly save injured driver’s lives and he did exactly that later in his career. Before the final race of the 1990 season at the Australian GP, Senna was famously interviewed by the legendary ex-F1 driver, Jackie Stewart. Stewart quizzed Senna on his recent collisions and Senna firmly, but rather respectfully put Stewart in his place:
The 1991 season began and Senna showed his dominance as the Ferrari of his ex-team-mate and bitter rival, Prost struggled to keep up with the pace and Senna won the first four races. His main competitor for this season was Nigel Mansell driving for the Williams team and between the two, they managed to produce some of the most memorable highlights of this season. During the British GP, Senna ran out of fuel on the last lap and his car slowly came to a stop, Senna was left stranded on the circuit while Mansell went on to claim victory. During his celebratory lap, Mansell stopped and offered Senna a ride back to the pit lane, by doing so they created one of the most iconic images of F1.
They may have been fighting for the World Championship, but there was a deep respect between the two. I very much doubt Prost would have stopped to offer Senna a ride back.
Then later in the season at the Spanish GP, Senna and Mansell fought and fought hard as Mansell managed to pass Senna as sparks literally flew with only centimetres between the two cars at around 200 mph. A brilliant piece of driving from both Senna and Mansell:
“In the 1980s, I was blessed to drive against so many great drivers but Ayrton certainly stood out most among them.”
– Nigel Mansell
1991 also saw Ayrton Senna win one of his most memorable races. Of course it had to be at the Interlagos track in Brazil. Senna was leading the race with Nigel Mansell in second. What we didn’t know was that Senna’s gearbox was failing, by lap 60, he had lost fourth gear and his lap times began to drop as his lead was drastically decreasing. Mansell retired from the race on lap 61, putting Riccardo Patrese in seconds and fast catching Senna in his struggling McLaren. Shorty after and Senna’s gearbox issues continued as he lost both third and fifth gears too. Pretty much only giving sixth gear to work with, which caused major issues on cornering and nearly stalling his car to go out of the race. Senna battled with his difficult to control car and won the race just 2.9 seconds ahead of Patrese… In the rain too.
Senna screamed, as he had just won one the his most difficult races and in his home country too. His first race win in Brazil after losing out mulitple times before. But he wasn’t screaming with happiness, he was screaming in pain. The struggle of keeping the car on the track with only sixth gear to work with took a serious physical toll on Senna. He suffered severe muscle cramps and when he stopped the car, he couldn’t get out, couldn’t even loosen his grip on the steering wheel. Senna had to be carefully lifted out of the cockpit of his McLaren. He was checked over by the medical team and told he needed to rest, Senna refused. He had just won his home Grand Prix for the first time, he wanted, nay, needed to show his appreciation to his home-track fans. Senna was driven to the podium celebrations by the medical team, where he had to fight to swing the Brazilian flag and lift the trophy, while the pain of the muscle cramps fought him every step of the way. You could clearly see the pain on his face too. Perhaps one of Ayrton Senna’s greatest and most memorable races.
Senna’s consistency throughout the season meant he managed to claim his third World Championship title. Yet the McLaren car was just not as competitive as the Williams and Senna knew this too. In fact, he wanted to move to the Williams team for the 1992 season, but he was persuaded to stay at McLaren by engine supplier, Honda’s CEO Nobuhiko Kawamoto, which Senna did purely out of loyalty. Senna’s 1992 season was full of bad luck and poor reliability. Though he secured a few race wins, Senna only managed to place fourth in the World Championship by the end of the season, behind both of the far superior Williams cars.
Yet, the season was not without its memorable moments. During the qualifying session for the Belgian GP, French driver, Érik Comas suffered an horrific crash at around 200 mph, just in front of Senna who was on the track. Ayrton Senna stopped his car and got out disregarding his own safety, in an effort to aid a fellow driver. Senna’s selfless actions and knowledge he gained from Sid Watkins after the Donnelly crash in 1990 actually saved the life of Comas.
By the end of the season, Senna had not secured a drive with any team. He was unhappy at McLaren as they were just not able to create a car that could make him world champion for the fourth time. He even looked at leaving Formula 1 and thought about joining the IndyCar championships instead, when he tested for Penske Racing. However, Senna disliked the bulky, heavier American cars and despite posting the fastest lap during a test run at Firebird International Raceway in Arizona. He decided to stick with F1.
The big problem was that by December of 1992, Senna was a driver with no team to drive for in the 1993 season. He didn’t want to return to McLaren as he just knew they couldn’t offer a competitive car. It was the Williams team and their far superior and more technically advanced car he needed. Senna even offered to drive for Williams for free, a great offer for Williams to have the mighty Ayrton Senna drive for them for nothing. But there was a problem, a French driver shaped problem. Alain Prost, Senna’s biggest rival had already signed to be the number one driver at Williams and he was having none of his arch-nemesis joining the same team and so Prost vetoed against Senna joining Williams.
McLaren boss, Ron Dennis managed to persuade Senna to stick with McLaren for the 1993 season. Though he refused to sign a full season contract and only agreed to stay on via a race-by-race basis. Senna still ended up staying with McLaren for the whole season regardless. The Williams cars were just too damn fast, too technically advanced and far more reliable over the McLaren. And yet, despite the lack of competitiveness from the McLaren cars, Senna was still able to finish the championship in second place behind Prost, even in a far less competitive car. There may have been a deep rooted rivalry between Senna and Prost, but there was always respect too.
You know, Senna must have driven hundreds, thousands of laps during his career. Countless man-hours invested into learning his cars and the tracks he raced on as he perfected each and every corner of every circuit he raced on. Yet, of those hundreds and thousands of laps that he ever drove… There is one single lap that showcased just how much of an amazing talent Senna truly was. That one lap was during the Donington GP of the 1993 season. Senna managed to qualify in fourth place, but dropped down to fifth at the start, yet by the end of the lap, he was in first place under wet conditions in what many consider the greatest lap in F1 as Senna once more displayed his raw talent in the rain.
The Williams Drive
He finally did it, Senna secured a drive for the Williams team in 1994 now that Prost had retired. The world’s greatest driver in the world’s greatest F1 car. Anyone that knew anything about the sport just knew that this season was going to be a walkover for Senna, we all knew this would be his fourth World Championship with ease, it was inevitable. However, the 1994 season instantly got off to a bad start when new rules were brought in by the FIA banning the use of active suspension, traction control, and ABS, meaning that the previously technically advanced Williams cars had already lost their edge before the first race even began. Senna himself even made a rather spooky prediction about the 1994 season and all the rule changes:
“It’s going to be a season with lots of accidents, and I’ll risk saying that we’ll be lucky if something really serious doesn’t happen.”
– Ayrton Senna.
During the first race of the season at Interlagos in Senna’s home country of Brazil, he managed to secure pole position and went on to lead until he was passed during a pit-stop by Michael Schumacher in the Benetton. Senna wanted to win on his home ground and he pushed hard to regain the lead. Only he pushed a little too hard, spun out on the 56th lap and stalled his car, taking himself out of the race. So, on to the second race of the season, the Pacific Grand Prix at Aida. Senna once more got his car on pole position, yet was dogged with even more bad luck during the race. He was hit from behind on the first corner by Mika Häkkinen. Senna went spinning into the gravel trap where the Ferrari driven by Nicola Larini T-boned Senna’s Williams forcing the Brazilian to retire yet again.
It was the worst start to any season in Senna’s career so far with two DNFs out of two races. Things were only going to get much, much worse from this point on too.
The San Marino Grand Prix, 1994
It was just another race weekend much like the hundreds that had occurred before it. Yet what was to unravel over the following three days of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix would go down in motor racing history as the darkest, most emotionally draining race weekend ever.
Friday’s qualifying session on the 29th of April and a fellow countryman of Senna, Rubens Barrichello suffered a terrible crash. He had hit the kerb coming into the Variante Bassa corner at around 140 mph, which launched the Jordan car he was driving into the air and it hit a tyre barrier. The car horrifically rolled several times before finally coming to a rest upside down. It really is a very nasty crash to see and serious injury (or worse) was inevitable.
Barrichello was knocked unconscious as medical teams rushed to the crash site to offer aid before he was taken to the medical centre. Jordan’s team boss, Eddie Jordan, soon arrived at the medical centre to find that Senna was already at the bedside of his recovering countryman. Senna was the first person Barrichello saw when he finally regained consciousness too. Senna refused to leave the young Barrichello’s side. Barrichello returned to the race meeting the next day with a broken nose and his arm in a plaster cast, he would not be able to continue the race weekend. Still, his injuries were a testament to not only how dangerous the sport was, but also how safe it was too. If literally flying into a barrier at 140 mph only resulted in a few broken bones, these Formula 1 cars were very safe places to be in during such a terrible accident… Or so it seemed.
Saturday’s qualifying session held on the 30th of April would bring an even bigger tragedy than Barrichello’s terrible crash. Austrian driver, Roland Ratzenberger was making his debut in F1 in 1994 driving for the Simtek team. He had damaged his front wing at the Acque Minerali chicane trying for a qualifying lap. Instead of coming into the pits to get it fixed, he chose to stay out and try for another fast lap time. As he entered the very fast Villeneuve Curva, his damaged front wing failed while driving at 190 mph and Ratzenberger struggled to control the car. He hit a concrete wall almost head-on and was fatally injured suffering a basal skull fracture. Roland Ratzenberger died aged just 33. It was the first death in Formula 1 since Senna’s ex-team-mate Elio de Angelis in 1986.
F1’s lead doctor and medical expert, Professor Sid Watkins was a very close friend of Senna. Watkins revolutionised medical treatment at F1 races and was responsible for saving the lives of many drivers over the years. The following is taken from his autobiography of a conversation that he and Senna shared after the tragic death of Roland Ratzenberger:
“Ayrton broke down and cried on my shoulder.”
“What else do you need to do? You have been world champion three times, you are obviously the quickest driver. Give it up and let’s go fishing.”
Senna replied: “Sid, there are certain things over which we have no control. I cannot quit, I have to go on.”
– Professor Sid Watkins
It was race day, 1st of May, 1994. Senna had secured pole for the start after refusing to take part in the previous day’s qualifying session following the death of Ratzenberger. It had already been an unrelenting two days of terrible luck and accidents. We all hoped the bad luck was over, fingers crossed there would be no more incidents But the worst was yet to come:
“This is the blackest day for Grand Prix racing that I can remember in the many, many years I have been covering the sport.”
– Murray Walker
It was a glorious, sunny day and one burnt into my memory for the rest of my life. Me and my brother Rob used to have a tradition where we would get together and watch the Formula 1 without fail, even if it meant staying up until dawn to watch a live race shown on the other side of the planet. We both grew up watching this sport together and we loved it with a passion. We followed Senna from his early Lotus years and all through his F1 career, little did we know that this would be the last time we would see Senna in the sport that both he and we loved. Rob went to the fridge to get a couple of cold beers for us and rushed back to his seat before the start of the race as not to miss a single second of Senna’s triumphant return to form and what we both hoped would be the race that kick-started his 1994 F1 World Championship. Even Senna himself was confident that Imola would be the start of his World Championship campaign, as he revealed in an interview with legendary commentator Murray Walker just a few hours before the race:
“Basically our championship starts here. Fourteen races, not sixteen. It’s not a comfortable position to be in, but that’s the reality. The team is conscious about the challenge we have to make to recover the ground over Benetton.”
– Ayrton Senna
A very pensive and somewhat apprehensive Senna sat in the cockpit of his Williams, reflecting on all that had happened the last two days. The car rested on the grid while the team mechanics ensured the Williams was as perfect as it could be just before the opening parade lap. Our beers were cracked open just as the cars pulled back into their respective qualifying positions ready for the start. Rob and I took a good swig of that golden brew as the red lights to signal the drivers that the start of the race was imminent. We both sat forwards in our seats, ready to watch our hero, Ayrton Senna dominate and teach the other drivers what real racing was. Murray Walker’s normal excitable voice was somewhat morose and downbeat following the events of the previous day as he introduced the live F1 action.
Our eyes were firmly fixated on Senna as he got away clean when the red lights finally change to green. But there was a problem, in the middle of the gird the Benetton of J.J. Lehto had stalled. All of the other cars accelerated from 0 – 160 mph heading towards the first corner of the race, the very fast Tamburello, unaware there was a stationary car on the grid. Pedro Lamy in the Lotus ploughed into the back of the stalled Benetton creating a scene of utter chaos and destruction. Debris from the crash showered the racetrack and some of it even cleared the safety fence put in place to protect the spectators and caused numerous injures to nine people. Thankfully, both Lehto and Lamy walked away unscathed. The terrible accidents of the Imola 94 race just refused to end.
The safety car was deployed, holding all remaining drivers at a slower driving speed. At the drivers briefing before the race, Senna expressed a major concern that the safety car did not go fast enough in order to keep tyres at the temperatures needed for race conditions and this would result in a loss of traction and grip, if only they had listened. The debris from the start crash was eventually cleared and the safety car pulled into the pit lane on lap 5, as the race got underway once more.
It was on lap 7 as he was leading the race, coming into the fastest corner of the track, Tamburello, when Senna’s car failed to turn and it went straight on. Senna managed to slow the car down from 190 mph to 131 mph, but it was too late. The Williams car skipped over the gravel trap designed the slow the cars down and careened into the concrete wall. Senna’s concern over the safety car cooling down the tyres proved to be true as his car ‘bottomed out’ when the tyre pressure dropped, which caused the car to lower and it was this that sent his car straight into a concrete wall… At least that is one theory.
Sid Watkins was one of the first to arrive on the crash scene and he recalled tending to his close friend, Senna at the track-side:
“He looked serene. I raised his eyelids and it was clear from his pupils that he had a massive brain injury. We lifted him from the cockpit and laid him on the ground. As we did, he sighed and, although I am not religious, I felt his spirit depart at that moment.”
– Professor Sid Watkins
Around ten minutes after Senna’s fatal crash, the Larrousse team mistakenly let one of their drivers, Érik Comas, out of the pits despite the circuit being closed under red flags conditions. Comas drove past the crash site and saw what had happened to Senna. He then pulled out of the race due to being too distressed and upset at what he had just witnessed. This is the very same Érik Comas whose life was saved by Senna in 1990 after a bad crash. Bitter irony?
Though Ayrton Senna was officially pronounced dead at 6:40 pm on the 1st of May, 1994 several hours after the crash, Professor Sid Watkins later confirmed that Senna died right there, track-side. As mentioned earlier, Senna had a tradition of waving the Brazilian flag on his celebration lap whenever he won a race and he would often have the flag under his racing overalls. At the hospital, it was discovered Senna had an Austrian flag tucked away in his racing overalls, obviously planning on paying tribute to Roland Ratzenberger who had died the previous day.
“If I ever happen to have an accident that eventually costs me my life, I hope it is in one go. I would not like to be in a wheelchair. I would not like to be in a hospital suffering from whatever injury it was. If I’m going to live, I want to live fully, very intensely, because I am an intense person. It would ruin my life if I had to live partially.”
– Ayrton Senna
I was 17-years-old then and up to that point in my life, I had not yet really experienced the death of someone I really looked up to like that. Senna’s fatal crash left long-lasting scars with me, so much so that I have only ever seen the crash once and that was when I watched the race live with my brother in 1994. For me, being a Senna fan was so much more than ‘just being a fan’. My brother Rob and myself have always been close, we share a lot of similar interests in music, films, etc. But it was our shared passion for Ayrton Senna that really was a defining and important factor in our relationship… And it still is.
I even have the iconic Senna ‘S’ tattooed on my arm (really, I do). Later, I named my firstborn child Sienna after Senna. Not just out of respect for a sportsman I never even knew or met, but also because of just how much closer following Senna brought me and my brother and the many, many happy hours of memories that linger in the back of my head whenever I see that distinctive yellow helmet. I even wanted to have our son be named Ayrt, so our kids would be called ‘Ayrt and Sienna’, but the name proved unpopular.
Many people still speculate to this day on just how Senna died with some not satisfied with the previously mentioned ‘bottoming out’ theory. Some people claim there’s no way that a driver as skilled and as experienced as Senna was would not be able to control the car better at the time. I really don’t care for all of the conspiracy theories surrounding Senna’s untimely death. Personally, I prefer to remember how he lived.
Senna was never an angel as some Senna fans will like to claim. He would bend and break rules, not as bad as Michael Schumacher but still, he knew how to make things work to his advantage. The collision with Prost in 1990 that secured Senna his second World Championship was done so on purpose, Senna himself admitted as much the year after. He infamously punched Eddie Irvine in the face after the Japanese GP in 1993. He certainly was no angel. But there is one thing he was and always will be… The Greatest.
If you’d like to learn more about Ayrton Senna, then I highly recommend the documentary film Senna from 2010. A brilliant and thought-provoking film that even non-F1/Senna fans can enjoy. Then there’s also an up and coming Senna TV mini-series inspired by the man’s life, from Netflix.
“I believe in the ability of focusing strongly in something, then you are able to extract even more out of it. It’s been like this all my life, and it’s been only a question of improving it, and learning more and more and there is almost no end. As you go through you just keep finding more and more. It’s very interesting, it’s fascinating.”
I’m doing a few of these movie sequels we never got articles through the year. See my previous look at the Italian Job sequel that never happened. But now, I take a look at the Tim Burton helmed Batman 3 that we never got to see.
The 1989 Batman flick is one of my personal favourites. Tim Burton’s vison of Gotham City is visually stunning, even now, three decades since the film was released. His dark tone and style put in place the stepping stones for many superhero films to follow. Then there was the casting of Michael Keaton as The Caped Crusader himself. Man, that casting really caused some problems with die hard Batman fans. It has been said that the studio producing the film received over fifty-thousand complaints in relation to Keaton playing Batman. This was the eighties remember, no social media, no Twitter to vent your anger at the studio itself. These folk had to write these letters of complaint and post them to the studio themselves. Just take a quick look at this article snippet from Rolling Stone magazine before the film was released::
“Michael Keaton is no Batman. Or so a vast sector of the bat community has vehemently asserted. Upon learning last year that Michael Keaton would, indeed, be Batman – the definitive cinematic Batman, no less – batheads were disconsolate. In Keaton’s hands, they felt, Batman would become a smirky wisenheimer. Mr. Mom in a cowl, they thought. ‘Treating Batman as a comedy is like The Brady Bunch going porno’, wrote a fretful fan, one of the tens of thousands who swamped comics fanzines with disapproving nerd mail. The common refrain among disbelievers: Keaton has no chin, not enough hair; he’s too scrawny, too doughy, too short, too glib, too distracting.”
There was even a petition made to try and have Keaton removed from the role, don’t believe me?
The biggest fear among fans was that they felt the film was going to be a campy comedy. Tim Burton was mostly known for directing 1985’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure at the time. Then, Michael Keaton was famed for his comedy roles in flicks like Johnny Dangerously, The Squeeze and more specifically, Mr. Mom. Nothing sounded right about the first ‘proper’ big screen outing for The Dark Knight. The dark and brooding tone of the comics was sure to be thrown out for a more comedic take on the superhero, something more like the TV show from the sixties. Of course, that’s not what we got. We got a moody, harder edged Batman film, far removed from the camp, kitschy, comedy slant of the TV show. When released, Batman was a massive hit and those fears from Batfans were quickly quashed. Of course, with a huge hit on their hands, the studio wanted a sequel. So in 1992, we got Batman Returns.
Batman Returns was even darker than the first film. So much so, that a licencing deal with McDonald’s to include Batman toys in their famed and kid friendly Happy Meals was scrapped. As Tim Burton himself recalled when talking to Yahoo:
“I think I upset McDonald’s. [They asked] ‘What’s that black stuff coming out of the Penguin’s mouth. We can’t sell Happy Meals with that!’”
Long story short and due to a lot of arguments behind the scenes, Tim Burton left the Batman franchise behind as director and Joel Schumacher stepped in to helm the third film, Batman Forever. Also gone was Michael Keaton. Under Schumacher, the Batman films (d)evolved into the campy, kitschy, comedy slant the old TV show had and that darker edge that Burton gave The Caped Crusader was long gone.
Anyway, before both Tim Burton and Michael Keaton left and before Joel Schumacher ruined the franchise, there was another and a very different Batman 3 in early development. That film was to be called Batman Continues. There are quite a few details around that give us a bit of insight as to just what this other third Batman flick was going to be like. Under Burton’s direction, it was sure to continue that darker vein the pervious two films had. Michelle Pfeiffer’s now iconic take on Catwoman was said to return and be a permanent love interest and partner for Bruce Wayne/Batman. A quick aside. While developing Batman Continues, Tim Burton expressed an interest in making a Catwoman spin-off flick. This was going to pick up exactly where Batman Returns ended and was going to bridge the gap between the second and third Batman films. Then when Burton dropped out of the whole project, that Catwoman spin-off became the much panned Halle Berry film.
On the villain side of things, Robin Williams was being eyed up to play Edward Nygma/Riddler. Interestingly enough, Burton actually originally wanted Williams to play Joker in the first flick. It has been said that Robin Williams was unsure about playing Joker in the film and as the start of production crept closer, Tim Burton needed someone to play the role, so Jack Nicholson was approached an asked instead. Billy Dee Williams was also going to return as Gotham’s district attorney, Harvey Dent and of course, become Two-Face. But that was not all for the villains, Brad Dourif was rumoured to have been asked to play Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow too. To me, that sounded a little too ‘full’.
Batman’s sidekick Robin was going to make an appearance. He was even originally going to be in the first flick, storyboards exist that show how Robin was going to be in the film (click here). Then, Robin was also almost in Batman Returns too. Anyway, obviously Robin never made it into either film. But Tim Burton really wanted to introduce the character in his third Batman film and he was going to be played by Marlon Wayans. Reportedly, Wayans still gets paid to this day for NOT being in the film. Marlon Wayans recalls the role when he spoke to io9.gizmodo.com:
“I was actually supposed to play Robin, in Batman Returns, about 15 years ago. But there was too many characters. I was cast, I was paid and everything. I still get residual checks. Tim Burton didn’t wind up doing three, Joel Schumacher did it and he had a different vision for who Robin was. So he hired Chris O’ Donnell.”
Not bad that, being paid to NOT do a job. Tim Burton’s Batman Continues is a bit of a stupid title but that is exactly what is was going to do, continue the story of Batman and be a direct sequel to Batman Returns. But exactly what that story was going to be is unknown. Elements of Burton’s Batman Continues were tweaked and reworked into Batman Forever (Riddler, Two-Face, Robin, etc)… that’s probably why Tim Burton was credited as a producer on that film.
For me, I still think there’s time for Tim Burton and Michael Keaton to team up and do another Batman picture. There are comics with an aged Batman, so why not a film too? Sure, it wont be the Batman Continues they originally wanted to make, but it could still be a ‘proper’ continuation of their first two Batman flicks. I mean, Keaton is going to play The Dark Knight at least one more time in the new The Flash film. Burton, Keaton and Pfeiffer reunite for another Batman project? It could happen…
I like to think that I’m fairly competent at what I do with this blog. This was only ever meant to be a bit of fun for me, a way to share my passion and opinions of games and films… Sometimes TV and other subjects too. When I started Little Bits of Gaming, I only ever wanted to do small, easy to read posts. But I began to get into larger retrospectives, histories, editorials, etc and the smaller articles just stopped as the more in-depth ones took over. My skill and confidence as a writer grew and I began writing bigger and richer articles, I moved onto writing books and much more. It even got to a point where I even considered getting into ‘proper journalism’.
I spend several months last year looking into and applying for real writing jobs for various big-name sites that cover similar subjects that I do here and a few random and general writing jobs too. I’m not going to name those sites, but if you’re into gaming and film news, then you’d be more than familiar with several of the sites I looked into and even applied for jobs with a few places. I just really wanted to get into writing on a professional level In fact, several years back now, I used to write ‘professionally’ for Movie Pilot and their sister site, Now Loading as one of their paid creators. I had to go through a whole host of ‘lessons’ to pass thier writing academy and become one of their verified creators (as they called us) and bring in some side cash as well as learn a lot more about writing on a professional level.
Anyway, I’ve always believed that outside of this blog that I could easily do this writing thing for real and be a ‘proper journalist’. I genuinely enjoy writing, I like to think I’m pretty decent at it too. So, that’s why I spent a chunck of last year trying to get into this writing thing proper. It was the midst of the first covid lockdown here in England over last summer. I wasn’t doing my day job as my workplace had to close in accordance to the covid restrictions at the time. I had been dealing with anxiety and depression for a while at the time too, even before the lockdown. It was all work-related and being in that first lockdown really made me realise how much my day job was affecting my mental health. Long story short, I ended up quitting my job in the midst of mass unemployment due to the whole coronavirus thing, with many businesses closing for good.
After I quit my job, I began to feel better about myself. The anxiety and depression are both still there, but just nowhere near as badly as before and I’m managing my mental health far better than ever. As I write this now, I still don’t have a job, I’m unemployed I guess. But, my partner returned to work at the start of this year after being off for a year following the birth of our son at the end of 2019. With my better half in employment and earning well, we made the decision that I’d be a stay at home father for a while, instead of going back to work, as it saves us a fortune in childcare. Plus, I get plenty of time to do a spot of writing too. Oh, and spend a lot of time with my two kids.
Two days a week and my little monsters are in nursery. That’s two days that I have to myself and can write. I’ve never had that much free time to write before and I’m loving it. Before, when I was working full-time, I could only write after work. And my job had me working unsociable hours too. Late finishes, working weekends and holidays, etc. On top of having one, then two small children to care for too. As a result, I could only write for around four to six hours a week, if I was lucky. So, with all this newly found spare time as a stay at home father, I thought I’d explore writing as a job. As I said, I did look into and apply to a few notable sites… And it seriously began to depress me. I wish I had screen-grabbed some images of the expectations from some of these sites. I mean eight to ten articles a day… A DAY! That’s what one of the sites I looked into were expecting from a content writer.
I tend to do around three to four articles a month on this blog on average, and I feel that’s plenty of content. I actually spend time on my articles though. I research and fact-check as best as I can. Something that a lot of modern journalists just don’t seem to do anymore. For most, if not all, of these entertainment websites, it’s all about quantity over quality. Often I find myself reading badly researched and written content from (what are supposed to be) respected sites written by ‘professional journalists’, that are really generally just lazy copy & paste jobs. Big named websites churning out shit as fast as they can and screw the quality of the content itself, as long as there’s lots of it. I know I can produce far superior content for most of these sites, but they’re just not interested. It’s all about suffocating people with as much crap as possible, while the quality of the content takes a back seat. I just can’t write like that, I can’t fart out endless dreck just to meet an unrealistic quota.
I know why big-name sites do this, it’s all about the clicks and ad revenue. These sites are a business and a business needs money to survive, it’s just a shame it’s that quantity over quality aspect of the business that brings in the most money.
Then there are the editors. From my last experiences writing for Movie Pilot and Now Loading, I learned to loath editors. See, whenever I published something for Movie Pilot, especially if it was a major article that got main coverage (I had several articles published as lead articles when I wrote for them), they would have to pass through an editor before publishing. Most of the time, the editors would completely mess up my work to the point where I asked for my name to be removed. Look, editors are needed, I get that. But the ones I had to work with were clueless imbeciles. I recall one article I wrote where I set up a joke and used a picture as the punchline. I send it off to the editor, a few hours later and it was published. I clicked on the link to read my published work and the editor had moved my picture punchline. The lead in joke was still there, but the punchline was gone. Now, it wasn’t an issue with the picture itself, because it was still used in the article, the editor had just moved it elsewhere and further down. I remember emailing the editor to explain the situation and all I got back was a snippy reply telling me how the image worked better in its new place. Despite the fact it ruined the joke and now made no sense… apparently, it was in a better place… How?
Then there was the time I wrote an article on why Metal Gear Solid V took me over a year to finish. Honestly, the game really kind of bored me and I found it utterly repetitive with having to do the same handful of missions over and over in the same handful of locations. Now, I was very respectful in my (long) article. I admitted to not being a huge MGS fan, but I still respect the franchise for what it is. I made that point very clear in my writing too. Again, I sent the article off to the editor for publication and yes, it made the grade, got published and even given credit as a lead article too, proudly displayed front and centre of the main site. Probably no more than an hour after my MSG V article had been published, my inbox was inundated with alerts to comments made about the article. Honestly, I was getting dozens of them, the biggest response to an article I had ever written for them. So of course, I was curious as to why I was getting such a huge response. I clicked on my article and went straight to the comments section, where I found nothing but personal attacks aimed at me, not my article, me directly. Swearing, threats, insults, you name it and there was a derogatory and personal slur there in the comment section. Now, I’m very thick-skinned and I don’t get offended easily. Call me whatever you want, I’m a grown man, I won’t cry about it. But I began to grow very curious as to just why my perfectly harmless article, where I respectfully explained why it took me over a year to finish MGS V, was attracting people to personally attack me. So I scrolled up from the comments and read my article after going through an editor.
It had been altered to the point where I honestly hardly recognised my own work. Now, the main gist was still there as I explained why the game just never gelled with me, but that respectful nature and tone of my writing was gone. I began to see vitriolic words such as ‘abhor’, ‘detest’ and ‘hate’ in the article, words I never wrote myself. See, I personally think words like ‘hate’ are often over and misused. It’s a strong word that I only use for particularly strong circumstances. Yet, here was my article littered with trigger words put there just to clearly get a certain response. In fact, the article ended with the line (and I quote) ‘If you hate Metal Gear Solid V as much as I do, let me know in the comments below’. A line I never wrote, a line that was clearly saying I hated the game. It had been put there by the editor as a final twist of the knife. Anyway, as I read my now edited article, I began to understand why I was getting such abuse in the comments section. Because the article was altered to be nothing more than a very bitter rant that came across as a mass insult to MGS fans and even Hideo Kojima himself. Which certainly was not the intention of my original scrawling.
I was fuming, I emailed my editor and demanded the article be reinstated to how I originally wrote it. I was told the editor’s decision is final and it would not be changed. I pointed out the comments section and all the abuse being aimed at me due to how the article came across. They loved it, to them, it was traffic to the site, which meant more clicks, more ad revenue, more money. I was told to just take it on the chin, that sometimes I’d get comments I don’t like, that I should just ignore them. Fuck that, I was getting abuse over an article that had my name on it as I had written it… but one that had been edited to remove my respectful nature and replace it with hate and vitriol. Again, I didn’t care so much about the comments themselves, I could handle them. I was angry, not because I was getting abusive comments, but because my article had been purposely edited to incite those type of comments. My name was attached to a piece of work I didn’t agree with.
Now, I don’t have anything against editing, it’s a necessity in this writing thing I do. But there are ways and means of doing editing well. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet, not long back and a fellow blogger and friend, Lord Badger Nimahson from Stoffel Presents did a review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League for this blog. I was emailed the review and spotted a few minor gaffs, so I edited it, I also did a little polishing of some of the formatting and overall review. However, the end result was still 99% of Badger’s work and 1% of my editing. I didn’t change the tone or voice of the review, I didn’t add any vitriolic wording just to get a response.
Anyway, back to my Movie Pilot/Now Loading story. I refused to write for them any more. In fact, I asked for my account with them to be deleted and all of my content removed. They said they couldn’t do that, some bollocks about it going against their policy, that they can’t remove content from their paid creators. Of course, the real reason was that they were still making money off my articles every time someone clicked on them and they didn’t want to lose out on any revenue. So, as I still had access to my account with them, I spent two days just uploading articles with nothing but hardcore porn. Porn films, pictures and so on. Bombarded them with so much salacious, very adult content that they were forced to shut my account down. Then about three weeks later Movie Pilot/Now Loading shut down the entire writing department to concentrate on video content. There was a rather in-depth article that uncovered some rather questionable management practices, including accusations of sexual harassment and more at the company. I couldn’t find that article when I looked, but I did find this one about the selling off of the brand and there are a few mentions of mismanagement and the like. So it seems that I was not alone in my distrust of the company.
It’s shit like this that really put me off exploring writing professionally. What’s the point if I have to write ( copy & paste) asinine crap and lots of it, to meet a pathetic quota just to get more clicks? Why should I spend time and effort researching and writing content, just for some wanker of an editor to completely fuck up my work because they only care about getting comments and traffic to the site? That’s not what being a journalist is about. After looking into getting into ‘proper journalism’ last year, I learned that I’m a rather large square peg trying to force my way into a tiny and uncomfortable round hole. It’s just not worth it. My love, respect and passion for writing, my integrity and my moral compass just won’t allow me to go down that route.
I mean, here’s a typical piece of what passes for modern gaming ‘journalism’. An article that looks at a game character’s shoe size. This actually exists as ‘proper journalism’ from a reputable site, this is how low this shit has sunk. Even more so, the article ends with:
“What do you think of Lady Dimitrescu’s shoe size? Are you surprised by all the interest surrounding the tcharacter? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter.”
How about no, fuck off?
This is it folks, this is what passes as journalism these days. This is the kind of very low quality dreck that gets published on well known sites. This is what you get when you hire cluless writers with zero passion for writing and force them to churn out ten articles a day.
I have this very minuscule piece of real estate of a blog, lost on the gargantuan plot of land that is the internet… And I’m happy about that. I can post what I like, when I like, how I like. I mean, do you think some big-name and ‘reputable’ media site would allow me to write a lengthy rant about how shit modern journalism is now?
I love the 1997 John Woo action flick Face/Off. In it FBI Agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) undergoes top secret surgery to swap faces with his son’s killer and general dickish bad guy Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), in order to work deep undercover to infiltrate Troy’s gang and learn the location of a bomb. Long story short, things go wrong and Castor Troy ends up swapping faces with Sean Archer, leaving Archer stranded in the face of the man he hates most, while Troy enjoys life as an all star FBI Agent… along with the added bonus of porking his nemesis’ wife.
I guess, the basic plot of Face/Off is nothing more than a take on the classic and often used The Prince and the Pauper story, but given a modern and more violent John Woo twist. Anyway, the reason I’m addressing a plot hole in this flick is because Face/Off has been popping up in my newsfeed a lot over the last few days. See, a sequel is currently being developed. To be directed by Adam Wingard, the man behind the very recent Godzilla vs. Kong flick. The sequel is set to reunite John Travolta’s Sean Archer and Nicolas Cage’s Castor Troy once more, though details on the plot are very sparse right now and just how involved in the sequel the original stars will be is up for speculation. Will they be the main characters, or perhaps more of a secondary/cameo thing? Anyway, none of that is important to this article. What is important is the plot hole I need to address.
See, along with news of a Face/Off 2 comes several reports on how the sequel will address and correct a plot hole from the original. Quite a few notable sites have already been talking about this plot hole fixing. Notable sites such as Digital Spy, We Got This Covered, ScreenRant and other entertainment news sites are commenting on the ‘big plot hole’ of the original film. That got me thinking… What plot hole?
Apparently, these sites are saying that the original flick has a major plot hole in that, while Sean Archer and Castor Troy only swap faces, their bodies magically change too. If you read these plot hole articles, then you’ll see things like ‘in the first movie, the bodies of the lead actors change, despite the characters only undergoing face-swap surgery‘ being claimed. Yeah, you can definitely see a big difference between the body types of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. And yes, one would have to question why when they have the face surgery that for some reason, the bodies also change. Even I can’t deny that’s a plot hole, or it would be if you don’t pay attention to the film.
Still, what I like doing is looking at film plot holes and trying to cover them. When I do this plot hole covering thing, I set myself a few rules. I can only use in-movie universe logic, I can’t just make shit up to suit my own agenda. I can’t use explanations in novelizations, comic books , etc and only what’s in the film(s). Deleted scenes are a bit of a wildcard, depending on why they were deleted. Example, if a scene was removed against the director’s better judgement, because the suits forced it be cut, then I can think about using it. But if a director cut a scene over something like time constrains, then that’s a bit more questionable as, if the director didn’t think the scene was worth fighting for, then why should I?
Anyway, you can check out the other plot holes I’ve covered with the likes of Die Hard and the Back to the Future trilogy to better understand my thinking. So with that out of the way, on to this major plot hole in Face/Off.
As covered, this plot hole surrounds the difference in body types between Sean Archer and Castor Troy. You can clearly see in the film that Travolta has a (I’ll declare delicately) ‘chunkier’ body type than Cage, whose body is certainly leaner. So when the two swap faces, those differing body types really would and should stand out to the other characters in the film, but after the face surgery… they have also swapped bodies. However, this isn’t a plot hole as it’s being declared by certain sites, nor does it need addressing and fixing in the sequel either. Because, the original film already covered this in its plot. As proof, I need to jump to the part where John Travolta’s Sean Archer finally agrees to the surgery and has it all explained to him. This occurs at around twenty-five minutes into the flick. The doctor in charge of the super secret face-swapping procedure talks Archer through what will happen and I take the following quote directly from the film. This is not a deleted scene, not a part of the script that didn’t make the final cut. This scene and quote is right there in the film for all to see and hear.
“Hight difference is negligible. Skin pigment, eye pigment, both almost identical. We’ll use laser sheers for the hairline, micro-plugs for body hair. We’ll do an abdominoplasty to take care of those love handles.”
There’s more to that speech of what the surgery entails, but that’s the basic gist. So to summarise. The surgery to swap the face wasn’t just to swap the face as these sites are claiming. Other aspects of the surgery are mentioned in the film, including altering the body via an abdominoplasty and more. Now, one can argue just how ‘realistic’ it is to change someone’s body type so much or so drastically. But hey, you’re watching a film about an FBI agent that swaps faces and then lives his life as his son’s killer and general terrorist-type bad guy (and visa versa), so I think you can apply some of that suspension of disbelief to the body surgery too, if you’re willing to accept the whole face-swapping thing in the first place, right?
Point is, that it’s not a plot hole because the plot of the film addresses the difference in body types and does change them via the surgery. No plot hole and those sites reporting on the plot hole are wrong… as is director of the sequel, Adam Wingard, who is the one saying he’s going to address the non-existent plot hole in the sequel.