Christmas is back in action this year as Santa’s been trained to fight by Filipino stunt director John Eusebio in the upcoming action-comedy “Violent Night”. From 87North’s Kelly McCormick and David Leitch, producers of bare-knuckle hit films such as Bullet Train, Nobody, John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2 and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw comes “Violent Night”, a holiday action-comedy that says you should always bet on red.
Starring David Harbour (Stranger Things) as Santa Claus and as a surprise combatant who’s about to prove why Nick is no saint when a team of mercenaries breaks into a wealthy family compound on Christmas Eve and takes everyone inside hostage. “Violent Night’s” Santa Claus is the real Santa, but in a way that we’ve never seen him before. This Santa is a protector and a warrior with some seriously bad-ass skills, but in the film, he’s become slightly bitter and tired about the otherwise merry holiday.
Jonathan “Jojo” Eusebio, a Filipino stunt director who has worked with 87North on various projects, including on the John Wick franchise delivers the action as the second unit director in Violent Night. “Jojo was one of the original members of our choreography team, so we’ve been working together a good 20 years,” producer Leitch says. “The talent that’s gravitated to 87North is beyond the physical. There’s a common work ethic and desire to make movies, and Jojo has always had that same drive in him. I have so much respect for him and love the work he’s been doing, both with 87North and without.”
The success formula for 87North includes having stunt teams that are better than anyone else in the world at their craft. “Jojo had the desire to be challenged and he was inspired by the Christmas backdrop,” producer McCormick says. “He brought a team together that had amazing athleticism and skill, and I think they all learned a lot about blending the wit and comedy with the action in the film along the way.”
David Harbour trained intensely and extensively for the role, which allowed for more specialty shots, long takes and big movements that wouldn’t have been able to be done safely without that hardcore training.
Harbour’s work added depth to Santa’s backstory and allowed the audience to find a deeper connection and empathy with the character. “When we meet him in the film, Santa is a curmudgeon who doesn’t like Christmas anymore, but underneath that, he’s a broken man,” Leitch says. “It gives the character humanity and makes him relatable, and that came from suggestions from David.”
For his part, Harbour wasn’t initially sure about the role when the idea of the film was first explained to him. “I first heard the pitch from my agent, who told me, ‘It’s a violent Santa Claus movie,’” Harbour says. “My initial response was, ‘What are you talking about?’ But then, they told me the filmmakers wanted to talk to me about it. So, they called me up and told me the general idea, and it sounded so hilarious, fresh and different.”
A Universal Pictures International feature, “Violent Night” will open in PH cinemas on November 30. Rated R-16 by the local censors board.