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Interview: Elodie Yung talks ‘Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ ‘The Defenders’

Following her stunning turn as Elektra Natchios on the second season of the Netflix series “Daredevil,” Elodie Yung is in high-demand in both film and television. And as luck would have it, Yung has not one, but two projects coming out Friday. She will return as the newly-revived Elektra in Marvel’s superhero mashup “The Defenders, ” and in a pivotal role opposite Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the high-energy action comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

A French actress whose work includes supporting turns in director David Fincher’s remake of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Yung’s breakthrough role in American cinema came as the lethal martial artist Jinx opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” With her skills and a burning charisma, Yung was also able to showcase her talents in “Daredevil” opposite the titular character played by Charlie Cox.

More: Elodie Yung talks ‘The Defenders’

In a phone conversation from Los Angeles Tuesday, Yung said she’s certain her role in “Daredevil” and reprisal of it in “The Defenders” had something to do with her being cast in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” but not necessarily for the kick-ass skills she’s known for.

“One project is always linked to the previous one, but I’m not sure really how this is, but I guess the producers were aware that I could handle a physical part, although the part I have in ‘Hitman’ is not as physical as what I had to do as Elektra,” Yung said. “But I got that part, and I’m glad that I was part of a comedy, as well, which is a bit of a change for me. Still, I got to run and shoot people on this one, which I don’t do in ‘The Defenders’ because I use swords and sais for weapons.”

Yung stars in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” as Amelia Roussel, a French Interpol agent once romantically involved with ex-CIA Agent Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds). When her transport of a world renown hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) was asked to testify against a Russian dictator (Gary Oldman) at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Amelia calls upon her ex-boyfriend (now a freelance “AAA-rated executive protection agent”) to guard and transport Kincaid to the trial.

The problem with the transport is Bryce is still in a personal and professional tailspin from the breakup with Amelia. He’s also dealing with the fact that he was fired from the CIA after botching a major assignment, and maybe most troubling, the infamous hitman he’s guarding has tried to kill him 27 times before.

Perhaps the biggest departure on “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” from Yung’s previous work was not only that the film was a comedy, but that she had a chance to help create the laughs. Because Reynolds and Jackson are masters at improvisation, director Patrick Hughes and the actors invited Yung to be a part of it.

“It was great. A week before we started shooting, we had some rehearsals. Patrick said, ‘OK, we’re going to change a few things,'” Yung recalled. “But as we were going through things, we realized that we were pretty much changing everything. I realized, ‘This movie is going to be a whole different game and I’ll go with the flow, and I’ll have to be prepared to respond and go back and forth with my partners since I have the freedom to do whatever feels right for my character.'”

For her part, Yung said Hughes allowed her the freedom to speak in her native French, even using words to rival Jackson’s prolific use of the mother F-bomb.

“When I got the part, they didn’t ask me to have an American accent. They were very happy with my own voice. So, when Amelia gets into an argument with Bryce, I was like, ‘Listen, Patrick, if you really want me to be upset, and since we’re assuming Amelia is French, you have to let me swear in French. Let’s just try that. Let me be as I am when I’m in an argument with my boyfriend,'” Yung recalled with a laugh. “It was French swear words coming out of my mouth, which they thought was really funny, so we kept that running thing throughout shooting to make my character more real — I probably didn’t match Sam in the movie, but I still had the chance to say some fun French words.”

Photo: Netflix

While the swear words were flying between Reynolds and Jackson in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (along with blood, bullets and a lot of punches), in reality, Yung said, you couldn’t find a pair of nicer guys to work with, which made her experience on the film even more enjoyable.

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“I felt very comfortable with them straight-away because they’re gentlemen and because they love their craft,” Yung, 36, said. “We have these ideas of actors being very famous and we put them on pedestals and are scared of that, but really, they have their careers because they love their job and love their craft and they are constantly looking for ways of improving a scene, but in a generous way. It’s not just about their characters, but about a scene. It was about everyone working together, and I was very comfortable voicing my opinion and trying things. It was a very safe and sharing work environment.”

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Movie review: ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (R)

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson breathe some much needed life back into the summer movie season with “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” a high-octane action comedy that isn’t exactly original, but very entertaining nonetheless.

The plot is relatively straight-forward – Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a down-on-his-luck executive protection agent (which is a fancy name for a bodyguard) who is called upon to transport one of the world’s most notorious hitmen in the world, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to an international court of law to testify against brutal Russian dictator (the always great Gary Oldman). But since the dictator could be put away for life, he’s doing everything possible to make sure Kincaid gets dead before he has a chance to testify.

There’s no doubt that “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has a “Midnight Run” feel to it – Bryce and Kincaid are constantly squabbling, mainly because the hitman has tried to kill Bryce 27 times before – yet the film still manages to hit the mark on many levels. To start, it has great chemistry between the Reynolds and Jackson and a great supporting cast (including Hayek as Kincaid’s wife and “Daredevil” and “The Defenders” star Elodie Yung as an Interpol agent who has a romantic past with Bryce), to intense action and thrills, and hilarious, mother F-bomb-dominated dialogue.

Interview: Elodie Yung talks ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

While we’ve seen these characters from Reynolds and Jackson before, they’re both outrageously entertaining in the film. Reynolds is great at the wiseass thing and it’s certainly the best thing Jackson has done in a long time (can anyone say the mother F-bomb better?). But as good as the actors are in the movie, the person who nearly steals the show is Hayek, who as Kincaid’s kindred spirit is laugh-out-loud funny as she throws out the mother F-bombs in a fast and furious manner.

Topping off “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is the expert direction by  Patrick Hughes, whose biggest credit before this was “The Expendables 3.” He really puts together some dazzling, action sequences, sometimes that reminds me of the elaborate chase stuff you’d see in a James Bond movie. All told, the film is hardly a dull exercise in action filmmaking. Everybody is clearly putting effort into this movie, and it shows.

Lammometer: 7.5 (out of 10)

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