Giannone drew from his background in mixed martial arts to prepare for the role and performed his own stunts in the film. Says Giannone, "I go to a boxing gym and do five different things. In addition to boxing, I do Judo which is body flipping, Muay Thai which focuses on limbs like knees and elbows, in addition to kickboxing."
JJ Perry, a veteran martial arts instructor, was the fight choreographer for the film and arranged special training with the Philadelphia Police Department that included shooting 200 rounds of live ordnance. "We practiced tactical movement in pairs and trios to enter and clear rooms," said Perry.
Multiple styles of mixed martial arts were used in the film, appropriate to the various groups represented throughout the plot: the Chinese Triads, Russian Mafia and the NYC Police officials who used a SWAT team style attack.
For the action sequence set in the casino, Giannone's character played the role of "breacher", the guy who breaks down the door. Perry notes "It was Giannone's physicality that allowed him to perform his own stunts."
Regarding the fight between Giannone and Statham, Perry observed "(Giannone) was doing more of a Krav Maga and close quarter combat or a CQC fighting style."
Audiences and martial arts enthusiasts can experience SAFE when it hits theatres April 27, 2012.
About Jay Gianone
Jay Giannone grew up in the Old Harbor Projects of South Boston. In 2006 he served as technical advisor to Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio on the feature film "The Departed", offering his insights on South Boston's Irish mob politics. Giannone's perspective contributed significantly to DiCaprio's grasp of the role of Billy, an undercover State Police officer. In 2009 he wrote and directed "Diamond In The Rough", a short film which won the Boston Film Night Audience Award. That same year he also wrote, directed, produced and starred in the full length feature "Scalpers" based on his real life experience as a sports ticket scalper in Boston. As an actor, he has appeared in several television shows including the HBO hit series "Entourage" which was based on the real Hollywood life experience with childhood friend Mark Wahlberg. His feature film roles include box office hits "Confidence"
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