“Professionally, this is certainly a highlight of my career.”
NOT-SO-SPOILER alert: “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” has a lot of fight scenes.
On its face, the third installment of the wildly popular film franchise seems like your garden variety action film about assassins. But John Wick 3 proves itself to go beyond purely escapist entertainment and opts to showcase the best in martial artistry and the craft of stunt acting to the highest degree.
Among those in the talented and diverse cast is Filipino American actor and decorated martial artist Mark Dacascos (“Cradle to the Grave,” “Iron Chef America”), who plays Zero, the principal villain to Keanu Reeves’ John Wick, a fearsome and skilled assassin.
Although Dacascos — who is also part Japanese, Chinese and Irish — boasts a 30+ year career acting in a variety of films showcasing his extensive expertise in martial arts (his father was renowned martial arts instructor Al Dacascos and from ages 7 to 18, Mark Dacascos won multiple championships in karate and kung fu), Dacascos told the Asian Journal that John Wick 3 was his biggest break to date.
“Professionally, this is certainly a highlight of my career and it’s so interesting to wake up to friends and family members texting you about how your film is No. 1 in America. I mean, unless you’re someone like Keanu Reeves, when does that ever happen for an actor?” Dacascos said, laughing.
Dacascos was cast late in the project, noting a days-long turnaround time from when he was approached to when he stepped foot on set.
“I’ve had the smallest amount of prep time for the biggest project I’ve been a part of,” Dacascos explained. “I got a text from Chad [Stahelski, director of the John Wick franchise] on a Sunday night, talked with him on Monday, flew from LA to New York on Tuesday, prepped on Wednesday and started filming on Thursday.”
But the brief preparation time was actually a blessing in disguise for Dacascos, noting the “unforgettable” experience he had working with the cast and crew.
“To be able to work with such a high-level, experienced and accomplished cast was just phenomenal, and I mean every actor that Chad had on board I’m a fan of, so I’m happy about how things turned out because that all could have been quite overwhelming had I had time to process it,” Dacascos said.
As of press time, “John Wick 3” has amassed $93.3 million worldwide. It debuted to $57 million making it the first film to beat “Avengers: Endgame” at the top of the box office. And just like its first two installments, it has been met with high regard from critics and fans alike.
At the start of “John Wick 3” (released Friday, May 17), Wick finds himself “excommunicado” from the assassin society The High Table, who has placed a $14 million bounty on his head.
As Wick fights his way through some of the world’s most deadly assassins, Zero, the odd, yet formidable mercenary formerly for The High Table, is hired by an adjudicator from the High Table to hunt down Wick as well as those who have aided him on this international goose chase.
Throughout the 131-minute thrill ride, viewers are treated to some of the most creative and expansive combat scenes seen yet in the John Wick franchise. Stahelski’s stunt production company 87eleven Action Design provided the choreography and coordinated the sequencing for the film and were “extremely collaborative and open-hearted.”
“He’s a highly accomplished stuntman and extremely proficient at different martial arts, and that was a huge advantage,” Dacascos said of Stahelski. “He knows how to bridge the gap between what works in real life and what looks good on camera, and it really shows when you see the film, and everyone just approached every sequence with the actors in mind and it was such a joy.”
This week, production of “John Wick 4” was announced, set for a 2021 release. “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” is in theaters now.