Enjoying the Volatile Aspects of Enter the Fire
For the most committed of actors, the ultimate goal is not awards or money (although these aren’t refused) but the brass ring of simply doing great work. This realization can be simultaneously freeing and confining. It’s often in the rejection of seeking recognition that it ultimately takes root. There is a necessary relationship that exists between the arts and awards. While some creatives refer to competition in artistic endeavors as a ridiculous notion, most understand the fact that recognition is often the fuel which allows one to continually pursue creating. Actor Leonard Waldner understands this as he has a resume that includes numerous award-winning productions at the Cannes Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival, the New York City Short Film Festival; and a list that goes on and on. His latest film, Enter the Fire, has not only been shopped at the Cannes Film Festival Marche du Film but is also about to be released on Amazon Prime and iN Demand on August 1st. While theaters are still the main vehicle for films, there’s an obvious quicker timeline for them reaching streaming and download services. It’s an aspect which those in the industry are coming to embrace for the fact that these services are bringing huge audiences to their work.
Amazon Golden Globe winners like Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, Goliath, and others draw attention to feature films such as Enter the Fire. Amazon’s twenty-six million subscriber base is constantly expanding due to the accolades the programming receives, an aspect that does not go unnoticed by the filmmakers who created Enter the Fire. Enter the Fire follows underground fighting legend Jake Bolt as he defies the mafia’s order to take a dive on his championship match. With the help of his estranged brother Henry and new flame Sonya, Jake attempts to outrun and outmaneuver his criminal pursuers. It’s only a matter of time before the two groups meet and a confrontation must occur. Part of the fuel behind Jake and Henry’s determination is credited to their father, Nick Shinawatra (portrayed by Leonard). An angry/ abusive drunk and smoker, Nick blames his misfortunes on his son and stepson. He verbally and physically abuses them for no apparent reason. He makes his sons more comfortable on the streets than in their own home. Enter the Fire’s director Phil Gorn (known for his award-winning films like the Sony release Richard the Lionheart: Rebellion), describes Waldner as possessing, “a rare chameleon like ability that blends seamlessly into any production. He’s one of North America’s most distinguished actors.”
While the relationship onscreen is quite tense between these three men, Waldner went to great lengths to create a bond and physical language with the actors playing his sons. Enter the Fire is an action film that required choreographed fight scenes and vigorous physicality. The three actors trained together in a Dojo throwing actual punches and learning to fight in order to communicate believability during the shoot. This also developed a shared style of movement that gave a subconscious feeling of family to the characters. Waldner states, “I like action films. All of Bruce Lee’s work was self-choreographed; simply an amazing dance! Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master and The Foreigner are among his many great performances. I love seeing someone pushing their bodies to the limit. Of course Tom Cruise never disappoints in the Mission Impossible franchise. He always gives a hundred and fifty percent. Charlize Theron really pushed herself in her latest action film, Atomic Blonde. All of these actors are great and very unique in how they present an action role. I was excited to throw myself into this film and find my way of presenting this as well. It’s an art that you don’t fully appreciate until you’ve undertaken it. Action and thriller movies are very high stake formats. They require you to be extremely alert and ready to react physically and emotionally to any given circumstance.”
Talks are underway concerning Enter the Fire’s possible presentation on Redbox and Netflix. With a Redbox at nearly every grocery story and the one hundred million Netflix subscribers (in addition to the aforementioned Amazon subscribers), American audiences are going to become very familiar with Enter the Fire and Leonard Waldner.