Since the start of “Hawaii Five-0,” the one element that tends to be best recognized is the high-octane action at the core of the show.
Stunt coordinator and director Jeff Cadiente has been at the helm since the start, and his three Emmy nominations are a testament to his level of professionalism as well as his leadership of a very talented crew. Cadiente never takes sole responsibility for the success of the action and stunts; he always gives credit to his stuntmen, stuntwomen, drivers and stand-ins, as well as the the actors who sometimes complete their own stunts, fights and action scenes with his guidance.
Yet after seeing the consistent level of the amazing visual impact of the various stunts executed over the last five seasons, credit needs to be given to his talent and abilities.
This week I’m taking a look at the most amazing stunts and scenes from last season. I chose six episodes I felt had amazing stunts, and in most cases, included more then just one type of stunt within the episode.
“ʻAʻOHE KAHI E PEʻE AI” (“NOWHERE TO HIDE”)
Of course the first episode of the season has to make the list right? And while I thought the CGI business of drones and planes landing on Kalākaua Avenue was a bit much, the physical stunts, car chases and shootouts were pretty darn cool.
I especially loved McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan) chasing the bad guys, guns blazing, down empty Waikīkī streets.
The best stunt had to be when Danno went one-on-one with one of the escaping terrorists in a stolen car. He walks toward the oncoming vehicle, reloading on his hip as if it were high noon, then jumps onto a parked car so he won’t be smashed into a Danno pancake before shooting the baddie. Car stunt mixed with a good gun fight is always a win for me.
“INA PAHA” (“IF PERHAPS”)
The 100th episode will be remembered for years to come, as it was not only well-written and showed an alternate version of McGarrett and the Five-0 team’s lives, it was probably one of the most violent episodes presented by the show. But the action was needed in order to tell the story of McGarrett and Wo Fat’s (Mark Dacascos) connection, and as we have seen in the past, Wo Fat has never treated McG with kid gloves.
The fight sequences between McGarrett and and his faux brother Wo Fat were almost balletic, as Dacascos is a well-known martial artist and O’Loughlin is well-trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Both men’s skill and experience probably made Cadiente’s job of choreographing the intense fight scenes easier than they looked on screen.
In the alternate version story McGarrett and happy-to-be-here Danno chase Wo Fat to the docks to confront him, and McGarrett has much the same stand off with him as he does in real time. While the fight scenes were the focus of this episode, I did appreciate a good chase sequence mirrored after the original gunfight with Victor Hesse in the pilot.
Overall, the action and stunts in this episode seemed far more personal than in other episodes, which helped make this one worthy of its special status as the 100th episode.
“LA PO’INO” (“DOOMSDAY”)
Seriously, any time you come up with a stunt involving a wreaking ball, it’s got to be a good scene played out on your television. Sure, there was probably a bit of CGI mixed in, but the car flipping over and McG’s subsequent shootout and motorcycle chase after freeing himself from an upside SUV was not computer enhanced. That’s all careful stunt planning and awesome action rolled into one.
The entire episode was a race, and that was clear in how the car, motorcycle and truck stunts were handled. The ending truck stunt with Joe White on the back of a delivery truck filled with infected bees was pretty cool. His driving it off a pier into the ocean and then bobbing up to the surface with a huge grin on his face made for a perfect ending.
There was quite a bit of action and definitely some intense stunts in this episode. Fire is always scary, but it seemed as if the Five-0 crew handled it well, as we’ve seen them use fire in other episodes, like when McG and Odell (Michael Imperioli) used homemade molotov cocktails in “Kahania”.
Cadiente is no stranger to a myriad of stunts and types of fiery action, so I’m sure his confidence helped make this episode come off without a hitch.
Along with all the fire stunts, viewers saw McGarrett jumping between hotel balconies to help save ATF Agent Kathy Millwood (guest star Melina Kanakaredes) from serial arsonist Jason Duclair (Randy Couture). There was also a big fight scene between Danno and Amber’s (Lili Simmons) abusive ex, who showed up to their romantic getaway with a knife. Little did he know Danno knows how to fight back and Amber understands how to use a car to keep a crazed man down.
These stunts, while they were a bit scary, all helped to create an episode that added to the characters and their relationships. Sometimes it’s not only about the story; sometimes the action helps move the storyline along as well.
“MOʻO ʻOLELO PU” (“SHARING TRADITIONS”)
It was no secret that I loved this episode, and while Kono (Grace Park) is no stranger to water stunts (like when she fights with the surfer girls while on surfboards in “Ka Nalu Hope Loa”), this episode was unlike any other.
While Park had a stuntwoman who worked with her in the scenes, it was still pretty brutal. I suppose even pretending you’re in a storm at sea would be rough and what Kono goes through in the ocean, both physically and spiritually, was beautiful and awesome to watch.
Fans might think of only the character work Park did as the strongest part of this episode, but it was the action and the physicality of the scenes that helped push it to become one of the best of the season.
“A MAKE KAUA” (“UNTIL WE DIE”)
I suppose the season closer is another must on the best stunts of the season list. While the finale was two episodes back to back, the second hour was the more action packed.
From a military convoy being hijacked for a nuclear weapon to a chase sequence and gunfight at the docks in search of said nuke and a Waikīkī Trolley standoff, plus a helicopter scene complete with bromantic banter and CGI nuclear explosion — let’s just say the stunt team was super busy during this episode.
While there was a lot going on, it was a great way to end th longest season of “Hawaii Five-0” to date. I know everyone is wondering how they’ll top ending the season with the destruction of a nuclear warhead 50 miles off the coast of Hawai’i, but I’m sure they can come up with enough action and drama to keep fans continually interested in season six. And a seventh season. And an eighth. And so on.
Well, we can only hope.
REDUX SIDE NOTE
Shooting starts for the sixth season of “Hawaii Five-0” on Wednesday. The first day of shooting usually includes a traditional Hawaiian blessing, but details are usually not released to the general public.
The show’s writers released a photo on Twitter that features the cover of the script for the first episode.
— H50_Writers (@H50_Writers) June 26, 2015
The title looks like the ʻōlelo noʻeau (Hawaiian proverbs and poetical saying), “Mai hoʻoni i ka wai lana mālie,” which means, “Do not disturb the water that is tranquil; let the peaceful enjoy their peace.”
Of course, viewers won’t really know what the title means until the season opener airs on Sept. 25. There has also been no news of a potential Sunset on the Beach premiere, either. It looks like fans will once again have to hang on for most of the summer to hear if their favorite stars will walk the red carpet in Waikiki once again this fall.
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.