The Hollywood Reporter hosted a round table of some of the most noteworthy directors of our time back in 2016. The table included the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, Danny Boyle, Alejandro G. Inarritu, and Tom Hooper. It’s worth noting that this was filmed before Hooper’s cat-astrophe.
When you have some of the greatest artistic visionaries in the world at your table, you’ve got to ask some existential questions. The host piggybacked off of a nuclear scenario with a riveting hypothetical:
“Let’s say that atomic bomb goes off…you’ve got a time capsule and you’re going to put one moment in the history of film in that time capsule for the future Alien races, what moment would you choose?”
Danny Boyle responded immediately with the masterful edit from “2001: A Space Odyssey ” in which Stanley Kubrick jumps millions of years in evolution by showing an ape throw a bone that match cuts to a spaceship. Tom Hooper picked another iconic moment from Lawrence of Arabia while Ridley Scott threw a curveball by choosing the entirety of Muriel’s Wedding (1994). But it was Quentin Tarantino’s answer that surprised the group of directors the most.
“A really magnificent cinematic action scene, one of the really great action scenes of all time.”
Immediately things like Aliens and Terminator 2 come to mind. Tarantino hesitated to name his choice at first because he felt he was under pressure, and probably knew that it was going to be considered an odd choice. He really didn’t want to answer but then the “Pulp Fiction” director found his courage:
“Okay, I will! The final climax of Jackie Chan’s Police Story 3 directed by Stanley Tong…aliens would watch and be amazed at what they saw.”
Police Story 3 is a Hong Kong action film starring Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh. Chan reprises his role as a police officer with stunning martial arts skills named Chan Ka Kui. If you find the movie difficult to find, that’s because it was rebranded as “Supercop” for American audiences. The film features such intense action sequences that Jackie Chan dislocated his cheekbone during filming. Tarantino’s peers must have thought his answer was a joke, or at least they were surprised by the absurdity, because almost all of them started laughing.
They quickly saw that Tarantino was serious and had great reverence for the film. His eyes remained focused as he used his hands to explain his choice for the hypothetical time capsule:
“That would be a thing of what cinema could do. That could actually give you an understanding of cinema and all its bells and whistles and movement.”
In a way, the answer is what you’d expect from a director from Tarantino. He’s beloved for his ability to find inspiration in unlikely places and has demonstrated his love for martial arts cinema in the Kill Bill trilogy.
Despite his passion for martial arts films, Tarantino ruffled a few feathers with his depiction of Bruce Lee in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. He later defended the scene on an episode of The Joe Rogan Experience.