Terminator 2: Judgement Day is one of those action movies that all other action movies aspire to be, but few come close. Even 25 years after its release (the film celebrates its 25th anniversary on July 3), its special effects and action sequences remain impressive. There’s a lot of awesome stuff happening in the movie, like a robot with knife hands trying to kill another robot, shootouts galore, and what is easily one of the best chase scenes involving a semi and a motorcycle ever put on film. While the second half of the movie included an equally impressive helicopter chase, and Terminator 3 would see the T-800 doing battle with a fire engine, it’s T2‘s iconic motorcycle scene through the San Fernando Valley’s Bull Creek that people will remember. With that in mind, here are a few facts about that scene.
Harley-Davidsons were never meant to be airborne.
T2‘s stunt coordinator, Joel Kramer, had six weeks to develop a plan of action that would have the T-1000 chasing down John Connor’s dirt bike, ending with a fiery truck explosion. Not an easy task, especially considering that the sequence would require flinging a 780-pound motorcycle off a culvert. Motorcycle jumps are a normal thing in action movies, but they almost never involve such heavy bikes. To ensure that the bike didn’t splinter upon impact into a million pieces and send stunt rider and Terminator veteran Peter Kent face-first into the pavement, two cranes with a 1-inch steel cable between them were set up on both sides of the channel.
When the cameras began rolling, a truck in the canal bed pulled the bike at a speed of 35 mph off the culvert. An 8-foot spreader bar hooked to the steel cable between the cranes would catch the bike as it soared 85 feet and lower it to the ground. This allowed only 180 pounds of the Harley’s massive weight to make full impact on landing and provided viewers with a stunt that, in reality, would have been impossible. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the stunts that Kent is most often asked about.
“It was a nice moment. My motorcycle work and the bike jump put me in the Hollywood Stuntman’s Hall of Fame and is rated by CNN as one of the top 10 stunts of all-time. That’s something that no one can ever take away from you.”
Only cyborgs are badass enough to twirl shotguns.
Sure, riding a Harley and reloading a Marushin M1887 shotgun with a finger flip looks really cool, but it’s also a guaranteed way to blow your torso off or, at minimum, break a few fingers, a lesson Schwarzenegger learned firsthand.
On the movie’s commentary, director James Cameron recalls Schwarzenegger one day picking the wrong gun to give it a practice twirl before discovering that it wasn’t the gun he’d done the move with dozens of times already, nearly breaking his fingers in the process.
To make such a boss move possible, an artificially lengthened lever loop was added to the shotgun. A normal shotgun without a modified loop is far too heavy for the human hand to reload in such a way, which is precisely why Cameron wanted the Terminator to do it. Yes, it looks super cool, but it also shows that the guy is a machine capable of doing killer tricks no mortal could pull off.
Out of the movie’s $100 million budget, nearly half of it was dedicated to the film’s special effects and action sequences. Judging from how the film was received and its impact on pop culture, I’d say it was money well spent.
After all, it did give us that incredibly cool Grand Theft Auto tribute.
This post was originally published on July 1, 2015