'How many do I have to hurt today?' Joo Won fights hundreds of stunt actors for Netflix's Carter

Korean star Joo Won was unrecognisable in Netflix's upcoming K-movie Carter, set to release on Aug 5.
PHOTO: Instagram/Netflix Korea

Korean star Joo Won was unrecognisable in Netflix's upcoming K-movie Carter, set to release on Aug 5.

Cropped hair, tattoos, scars and a buffed-up physique: he went from a pretty boy to an absolute rough-and-tough action hero.

PHOTO: Netflix

"I always thought, 'How many do I have to beat up today? How many do I have to hurt today?' Every day we had very high-octane action scenes," the 34-year-old actor said in a regional press conference today (Aug 2).

Joo Won, who was last seen in the 2020 drama Alice, reckoned that he fought "several hundreds" of stunt actors throughout the action thriller, with up to a hundred individuals in one particular sequence.

"There wasn't a single day that I didn't do an action scene," he said in a behind-the-scenes video shown in the conference.

In Carter, a mutant virus has infected millions across the world and leaves people behaving in animalistic ways.

Our titular hero wakes up unable to remember who he is and a voice from a device implanted in his head tells him what he needs to do to rescue a young girl — who survived the illness and is the only person with antibodies that could save others — and bring her to North Korea.

Joo Won thought the first action sequence that follows after Carter wakes up was his most challenging.

"The beginning sequence that happens in the public bath was quite tough," he said. "First of all, I'm bare naked and put in these fighting action scenes."

Not to mention all the water present in the scene and the fact that it was a single-shot sequence.

"Because we used one-take scenes, if something goes wrong in the middle, you have to go all the way back and do it all over again," director Jung Byung-gil said.

This required Joo Won to memorise the entire two hours of action choreography in the movie, which took him almost four months.

PHOTO: Netflix

Another scene he found challenging was a sequence with trucks and motorcycles.

"That particular scene was done under absolutely no shade, a lot of sand and dust and the sun was scorching hot," Joo Won said. "So that was a memorable day for all of us."

Though he has done action roles in the past, the filming for Carter subverted all his expectations and Joo Won had the action team to thank for the well-executed fight scenes.

"Carter's action team was just incredible. I had total trust in them. If it weren't for them, I don't think I would have had this kind of bombastic action."

They would go through the sequences in detail and rehearse 10 times before each fight.

PHOTO: Netflix

Whether you like Memento with its amnesiac protagonist, Mission Impossible with its skydiving action sequences or Kingsman with its one-take action sequence, there is something for every action movie fan in Carter.

And it's not just movie buffs who will be amazed by Carter. Even John Wick's director Chad Stahelski gave his approval to director Byung-gil.

"Director Chad said he really liked the script but he asked me, 'How are you going to really film this?'" the 41-year-old said.

Most of the stunts were filmed using real-life live action sequences, requiring several shooting days to achieve. Joo Won even performed a vast majority of his stunts himself.

"We had some hand-to-hand combat, some bikes, skydiving scenes and dogfights with helicopters. We had trucks, and then we had climbing and clinging onto a bridge," Byung-gil said. "We have various different kinds of action."

"You can't stop watching once you start," Joo Won said.

Carter, which also stars Lee Sung-jae, Jeong So-ri and Kim Bo-min, is available exclusively on Netflix from Aug 5.

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drimac@asiaone.com