Pasha Patriki on Black Water and Van Damme Image

Legendary action stars Jean-Claude Van Damme (Bloodsport, “Jean-Claude Van Johnson”) and Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, The Expendables franchise) once again reunite in this action-packed thriller underseas as they are held captive in a submarine filled with CIA agents. The duo is mostly known for their opposite roles in the Universal Soldier franchise. This marks the first time both action movie icons play for the same team. Other significant cast members include the likes of veteran actors Patrick Kilpatrick (Minority Report) as Ferris and Al Sapienza (“Person of Interest”) as Edward Rhodes, featuring two rising actresses in Courtney B Turk (Assassination Nation) as Melissa Ballard and Jasmine Waltz (Demon) as Cassie Taylor, and introducing Kris Van Damme (Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning), son of Jean-Claude Van Damme as Kagan. Black Water is written by Chad Law (The Shadow Effect) and directed by seasoned cinematographer Pasha Patriki (Gridlocked).

After a failed mission, CIA undercover operative Wheeler (Van Damme) is suddenly abducted, captured, and thrown into the cell next to prisoner Marco (Lundgren) inside the submarine deep within the ocean. The CIA agents go to any necessary means to retrieve this vital data from within Wheeler, but he is reluctant to give up the information. As Wheeler is outnumbered by all the CIA agents aboard the vessel, he then has no choice but to team up with mysterious prisoner Marco to even up the odds.

I was not looking specifically for a submarine action movie but…in a way the movie found me.”

Every director comes to a project in one’s own and unique way. Patriki explained, “I was not looking specifically for a submarine action movie but could probably say that in a way the movie found me. Two previous projects I worked on as cinematographer were also about shooting in a confined environment. Gridlocked, about a team of NYPD officers who are under siege inside a small police training facility and The Sound, a horror film that takes much of the action into the abandoned subway tunnels of Toronto.”

Some of the submarine footage was filmed in an actual submarine. “The war museum and National Park in Mobile, Alabama has two Battleships from World War II transformed into museums – USS Drum and USS Alabama. The USS Drum submarine is quite small, and the exterior of it looks nothing like the Ohio-Class or Virginia-Class submarine that we wanted for the story. The interior of it was so tight that shooting there was almost impossible. We used many rooms and hallways of Battleship Alabama as sets of our submarine. In addition to these locations, we also built several sets – like the prison chamber, the interrogation room, and the command room, where the climax of the movie happens,” expanded the director.

“…both Van Damme and Lundgren…has a very different approach to their work. It was humbling to witness the process of their preparation and work…”

Action movies often deploy an added layer of filmmaking with the integration of fight sequences. “We had a stunt coordinator, a fight choreographer, plus many qualified people – including JCVD himself – who new stage combat well; thus, allowing us to design good looking and realistic fights. Much of the action sequences weren’t designed until after we walked through the USS Drum and USS Alabama locations. We picked the rooms and corridors first, took hundreds of pictures, created color-coded maps, and then started drawing out on paper what action would happen where. Sometimes we would go back to the battleship and start blocking out the fight right in the space that would be our set later,” the director added.

Black Water showcases two legendary action stars in Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in this undersea thriller with fight choreography from JCVD himself and guidance from director Pasha Patriki as he instills his previous experience in shooting in tight spaces.

Patriki concluded, “It was a great experience for me to work with both Van Damme and Lundgren. Each action hero has a very different approach to their work. It was exciting and humbling to witness the process of their preparation and work on their roles.”

Black Water (2018) Now on VOD.

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  1. Tee says:

    My family and I watched it while home during the social-distancing for COVID-19. I immediately recognized the submarine and battleship in Mobile, from a trip with my sons Boy Scout group. Loved the fight scenes in the tight spots…

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