The first episode of The Witcher on Netflix features an extended fight that Andy Kelly said in his recap is what convinced him that Henry Cavill was "born to play the role" of Geralt. In a fast single take, Geralt drops eight local goons, barely breaking a sweat, before his final faceoff with Renfri. "This is a brilliantly choreographed fight scene," he wrote. "And a surprisingly gruesome one too."
If you've ever been curious how this sort of thing is pulled off—how a guy can so effortlessly (and gruesomely) off eight guys without a single cut or accidental maiming—Henry Cavill is here to explain.
He begins with a fun little flex to remind everyone that he's a Real Fan, then sets the scene: Geralt is in Blaviken, looking for Renfri ("Or Shrike, as you may know her from the books, if you're a fan of the books," and not some filthy casual who just wandered in off the street), and he's been confronted by a group of her flunkies.
Then, to the action. One of the secrets to Geralt's success in this clip is that he's using a shortened sword (as are the other performers), which enables him to swing it "through" enemies without actually murdering anyone.
"The difficulty is, we all have to perform like the sword is full-length, rather than half-length," Cavill explains in the video. "When you're moving at full speed and your adrenaline is up, and you're doing take after take after take, sometimes that can be tricky."
All the other pieces have to fall in place as well: The camera operator has to capture it all while walking backwards without tripping or running into anyone, the stunt performers have to hit their marks without hitting anything else, and it all has to happen in one smooth, unbroken flow—or everything resets to the beginning and they do it all over again.
"There's no time for mistakes—there's no space for mistakes," Cavill says.
Despite the brawl's inevitably tragic conclusion, it's fun to get a glimpse behind the curtain to see just how much effort goes into making all this happen—for a scene, by the way, that from trigger pull to decapitation lasts 44 seconds. You can enjoy the fruits of that labor in the Geralt-vs-gang video (which, in case it needs to be said, is very bloody) down below.