The JOES are back and they are badder than ever! This month we preview G.I. JOE RETALIATION and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who has had a hand in some of the most successful film franchises to date, including the billion dollar franchise Transformers, felt that the first film’s conclusion left the door open to explore more within the G.I. JOE world.
“I thought that ending the first film with the suggestion that there was an imposter in the oval office was something that was completely unique and would be an interesting thing to examine… It was important to find a director who would really own it completely and be able to take all the multi-layered characters and treat them with gravity,” says di Bonaventura.
Let’s do a quick roll call and find who’s back and who’s new in the world of JOES!
Duke – Channing Tatum
Returning from the first installment is Duke, the young all-American soldier who leads his team with confidence, precision and a great deal of pride. Duke, dedicated and loyal, will do anything to protect the soldiers under his care and strives to bring out the best in each one of them.
Reprising the role is actor Channing Tatum, who brings ease to a character who appeals to a varied audience.
It’s been so fun to be back playing the biggest make-believe game of all time.
Roadblock – Dwayne Johnson
With Duke as the head of the elite unit, the spine and backbone of the group is Roadblock, his second in command. Roadblock is a mountain of a man who helps lead the team with experience, honor and an unbreakable dedication to his unit and country.
He is one of the most loved characters in the G.I. JOE world and we knew we wanted Roadblock to be a part of the movie.
Director Jon M. Chu
When casting a character known for his extreme physical dominance and legendary size, filmmakers were put to the task of finding an actor who could match the character’s physicality while embodying his internal strength and fortitude.
“There is only one person I can think of in the entire world who could ever embody this character and Dwayne Johnson was that guy,” says Chu. “Beyond the obvious fact of his physicality, Dwayne understands what it means to be a soldier and a leader. He brought an honor and grounded humanity to the role.”
Flint – DJ Cotrona
Another beloved character of the G.I. JOE mythology introduced to the film franchise is Flint, a solid and strong-willed soldier who has a bit of a rebellious streak. “Flint is the guy who is really good at what he does, but is a bit of a renegade,” explains di Bonaventura. “He doesn’t want to follow party lines, which doesn’t always go down particularly well in an organization like the G.I. JOE team.”
Casting the role meant finding an actor who could hold his own, fighting side by side with co-stars Dwayne Johnson and Channing Tatum, and exude enough confidence to not want to always follow the path laid out. The filmmakers found their FLINT in newcomer D.J. Cotrona, who had the right combination of strength, charm and slight cockiness.
Lady Jaye – Adrianne Palicki
Another new character introduced in the film is Lady Jaye, the only female in the squad and never one to back down or be intimidated. An expert marksman who also handles intelligence, Lady Jaye is an integral part of the unit who fights alongside her male counterparts with equal passion and strength.
The search for an actress to embody a character with both beauty and muscle was not an easy one nor taken lightly. The filmmakers found their Lady Jaye in actress Adrianne Palicki whose previous credits include Red Dawn and the television series “Friday Night Lights.” She had also been cast as the lead for the “Wonder Woman” series.
She has a bit of sass to her and a strength in having to constantly prove herself, She’s a gun specialist and the intelligence of the group and has multiple qualities that they need.
Adrianne Palicki on her character
Snake Eyes – Ray Park
Also returning to the franchise is Snake Eyes, a fan-favorite and one of the most iconic G.I. JOE characters in the mythology. “We knew we had to bring back Snake Eyes, says Chu. “Throughout the film, he discovers a lot about himself and the truth of his past.”
Reprising his role for a second time around, actor and martial artist Ray Park suits up again as the deadly ninja. A dynamic physical performer who has found great fanfare from his work as Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and X-MEN, Park has a reputation for his ability to breathe life into characters with little or no dialogue.
Ray is able to communicate a lot with a nod or look and really brings SNAKE EYES to life without a single line of dialogue.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura.
A major storyline in G.I. JOE: RETALIATION focuses on the relationship between Snake Eyes and his arch-enemy Storm Shadow, who was presumed dead at the end of G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA. When we first meet Snake Eyes again, he is on a search for peace within himself after retreating to the Arashikage to train with the Blind Master. It is there that Snake Eyes learns that Storm Shadow is still alive. “Snake Eyes is set to the task of finding Storm Shadow and bringing him to the Blind Master to face judgment and accountability for his actions,” explains Park.
We really wanted to explore where the human and ninja collide, where the anger and jealousy start to take over. That’s where we find both these characters.
Director Jon M. Chu on the emotional storyline of the ninjas
Storm Shadow – Byung-Hun Lee
Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee, who reprises his role of Storm Shadow, was excited by the possibility to explore the more internal side of the character. “I am really glad to be back in the role and was excited to show more of Storm Shadow and his different sides,” says Byung-hun Lee.
Jinx – Elodie Yung
Introduced to the film franchise, but a well-known character within the world of G.I. JOE is Jinx, a female ninja and cousin of Storm Shadow. “Jinx is one of the characters I’ve always wanted to see on film,” recalls Chu. “She is sort of the princess of the Arashikage world, but doesn’t want the title. She hates it and wants to fight and do what Snake Eyes does, but has always felt put in the corner.”
For the role of JINX, filmmakers found their first female ninja warrior in actress Elodie Yung who appeared in the French parkour film District 13: Ultimatum and most recently in the David Fincher-directed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Elodie made a huge impression and we just knew she would be perfect for Jinx. When she came in, she exuded such a strong presence that made it pretty clear that Jinx was already alive in Elodie.
Director Jon M. Chu
The classic saying that big things come in small packages certainly applies to Yung, who attacked the role with extreme focus and passion.
Not quite the President we thought he was
A major point of the film involves the fate of the United States Presidency and the highjacking of the Oval Office. Fans of the first installment will recall the President suspiciously whistling Zartan’s signature tune at the end of G.I. JOE: RISE OF THE COBRA. This installment confirms that evil forces have taken over the White House and have somehow gotten inside the Presidency. Literally.
Acclaimed actor Jonathan Pryce reprises his role as the American President and was set with the extraordinary task of playing two different characters on opposite sides of the spectrum of good (the real American President) versus evil (the villain posing as the American President).
Call him Joe
Joe Colton – Bruce Willis
In an exciting turn that is sure to thrill G.I. JOE enthusiasts, the filmmakers sought to pay homage to the heart and soul of the G.I. JOE brand by introducing the original Joe Colton to the film franchise. “We wanted to connect all those different incarnations by bringing it back to where it all started with the original 12” action figure Joe,” explains Jon M. Chu. “Joe Colton coming back into the picture was something we thought was really exciting.”
International box-office superstar Bruce Willis makes an appearance in the film as none other than the original G.I. JOE himself, Joe Colton. Producer di Bonaventura felt that there is no other actor better suited for the role. “The original G.I. JOE was an iconic concept and Bruce is an icon in his own right, so putting them together is exciting for those in my generation and those older than me. Bruce was a huge fan of G.I. JOE growing up and played with the action figures, so it couldn’t have made more sense.”
G.I. JOE RETALIATION opens in cinemas 28 March
Images courtesy of United International Pictures Singapore
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