Sifu Benjamin Colussi’s Inverse Magazine Interview. For the full article click here. YEAR IN GAMES 2021
SHANG-CHI VS. SIFU: HOW ONE 2022 GAME HOPES TO FIX A MAJOR KUNG FU PROBLEM Most depictions of kung fu are inaccurate, but ‘Sifu’ will be an exception. Choreographer Benjamin Colussi discusses how it fixes kung fu. Kung fu master Benjamin Colussi tucks a small pipe behind the back of his arm. By loosening his grip, he slides it down the length of his forearm to grasp it with his hand, readying for a strike. I flinch as he whips it towards the camera, and I’m thankful this is over a Zoom video call. “The Slide,” he calls it. Colussi worked as the choreographer on Sifu, an upcoming kung fu action game grounded in realism. It tells the story of a martial artist on a quest for revenge against the assassins that killed his family. A visceral, realistic approach elevates Sifu far beyond its canned basic premise. Colussi says that when he showed Lead Animator Kevin Roger the Slide, Roger was in awe and worked the maneuver into the game. How the player incorporates concealed weapons into combat is now a major part of the experience.
“The movement of the main character is inspired by my movement,” Colussi tells Inverse. “I have a lot of ideas, so we really push the boundaries of the fight choreography. Sloclap doesn’t say no. They say, ‘Oh, that was great. Show us what to do.’”
“Sifu” translates slightly differently across various Chinese dialects, but it often means “master” and/or “teacher” in martial arts. In this case, Colussi is quite literally the sifu, and the game’s protagonist is meant to be one as well.
Kung fu as most people know it is largely defined by fighting video games and action movies, but Colussi stresses that Sloclap wanted Sifu to aim for something more realistic than Mortal Kombat or Shang-Chi.