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Jason Statham’s stunts in ‘Parker’ are a death-defying reality



Jason Statham in “Parker.”


'Parker' Red Carpet With J.Lo, Statham

Casper Smart and  Jennifer Lopez arrive at the premiere of her film Launch slideshow »
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Jason Statham at the premiere of his film "Parker" at Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013.

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Robin Leach and Jason Statham at The London Club in Planet Hollywood on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013.

There’s a heart-stopping moment in the new actioner “Parker” when British actor Jason Statham goes over the side of a skyscraper apartment building at the end of a brutal fight scene. Seconds earlier, a hired killer and he bloody it up in bathroom violence where, to save himself, Jason grabs the porcelain top of a toilet tank to whack his assailant into a marble bathtub.

But even that aggressive assault doesn’t finish the scene. This is more violent than an MMA knockout. The assassin comes back for more but winds up over Jason’s shoulders on the balcony, and both men go over the edge. Jason must be 50 floors high, and it’s for real. It’s not a stuntman stand-in. He’s hanging over the edge in a death-defying moment that has moviegoers open-jawed.

“Yes, that’s really me,” he said recently at the premiere of the film at Planet Hollywood. “It’s the toughest scene in the film. It’s the favorite scene with filmgoers when I go over the balcony. It’s a sure crowd-pleaser.” I asked if he also went headfirst from a speeding car in the middle of a gunfight to escape the firefight. “Yes, really me. Right onto the road at 40 mph,” he answered.

“I do every one of my own stunts. Call it crazy, but I feel if I didn’t do them myself, I’d be cheating the audience.” And referring to a short period of his earlier life when he was a hustler pushing questionable goods in the roving markets of England, the heartthrob added: “I don’t cheat anybody anymore. I did enough of that!”

Jason stars in the film with Jennifer Lopez. She’d just decided to get a divorce. “It was the worst time in my life, so I was being very real, too,” she said. J.Lo decides to get involved with Jason, who plays a Robin Hood thief double-crossed by five thugs connected to a Mafia kingpin.

Jason sipped a beer in a high-roller room at Planet Hollywood’s London Club as we chatted. He told me that he needed nearly a month to heal from the beating he took in the bathroom fight scene. He admitted that he’d had a safety wire as a precaution but wanted to hang over the edge without it. Film execs nixed that.

Jason believes that the success of his films is because he’s the real guy doing the real thing, and it’s not a special effect. Watch “Parker” after knowing that, and you feel sorry for the beatings he took in all those spectacular stunts as the ultimate smooth criminal.

“I’m not afraid of heights, so I would have done it. But the harness and the wire sort of hurt your arms. The stunt team was great, and they know what we’re doing. I just try to make it look good. There’s an excitement, adrenaline in doing it myself. If I didn’t have that, I don’t think the guy watching it would have it.

“It’s a thrill. I’m not afraid of the challenge. You test your skills. You face your fears. You push yourself. I do enjoy it, and I’d hate to rely on somebody else. I look at what we did on the screen, and you get a sense of achievement.”

Jason, 45, faces more incredible action in his third “Expendables” film with Sylvester Stallone. He almost made me spill my wine when he said that he’s never turned down a stunt, including the revelation that was him hanging 3,000 feet above L.A. from a helicopter.

A one-time member of the British Olympic diving team, he remains a specimen of super fitness. This generation’s box office action hero has triumphed through explosions, fights and gun battles in films including “The Transporter,” “Crank,” “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “The Mechanic.”

From his many visits the past five years to Planet Hollywood, he’s become a good U.K. mate, and as violent as he is onscreen, he is as gentle offscreen. Only when you watch Jason in “Parker” do you realize his toughness.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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