I never really liked how they turned Jack into a coward and bumbler. I saw an interview with Matt Ashford once where he said he liked that Jack wasn’t a typical hero, and at the first sign of trouble would faint, or run away, or offer to stay behind with the ladies (this when the ladies were usually clamoring to go along). I can see his point — I too like that Jack is unique — but when it slips over into slapstick it is usually too far for me.
Plus, I can never quite forget this guy:
Sure, he tumbled off the roof in the end and needed a new kidney, but until then he was giving as good as he got. This scene is impressive just from a staging standpoint — all that fighting up and down stairs, including Steve’s great jump/drop kick at one point. I’m guessing that Matt and Stephen worked hard rehearsing this to make it look real. Also, I know this scene is Very Serious and I definitely watch it as such, but somehow it is also a bit comical how Kayla keeps trailing after them getting in the way, forcing Steve to constantly stop fighting and grab her and tell her to go inside — which she never does.
At any rate, I recognize that I am attached to evil Jack partly because I am such a Steve and Kayla fan. In order for the whole Jack/Steve/Kayla storyline to work, we have see evil Jack as a genuine threat. I also know that the transition to “coward Jack” was, in part, a deliberate reaction to how evil he was before, to counter the memory of his bad deeds and make him acceptable as a leading man. But sometimes I think they end up undercutting evil Jack a little too much — I want to see the the threat sometimes, to see the monster that Jack is afraid of.
But, I’ll give the show credit. By setting up Jack as the coward-who-faints, they can turn around and surprise and delight us with a scene like this:
This is great. What I like particularly about it is that Jack is still Jack — the Jack we know now, anyway. It makes sense that Jack would know how to fence, given his privileged background. Besides, if Jack is going to be skilled at any kind of fighting, fencing is just the kind of impractical, semi-esoteric type that it would be. And I just love the surprise of the “I’m not right-handed” moment (bonus points for referencing The Princess Bride!). I knew Jack was left handed but it didn’t register until he said it. Perfect.
(The fangirl in me also loves that what that gives him Jack his final impetus to win is that Lawrence taunts him about Steve!)