Berry plays a fighter called Jackie ‘Justice’ in the film, a down-on-her-luck fighter attempting to pursue a career in the limelight once again while rekindling her relationship with her six-year-old son. Shevchenko plays the antagonist in piece, and as such, filmed several fight scenes alongside the A-Lister – some of which more than left their mark.
“I broke some stuff on this one,” Berry explained to late night television host Jimmy Fallon during an appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’.
“It’s OK, I always get hurt but I realized that when you go hard, you’re bound to get hurt. When you do your own stunts, you’re bound to get hurt.
“In this movie, I was fighting the real UFC flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko, and you know what?
“She had to throw some real kicks and I had to really take them and that really broke some bones. She’s a beast but I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher, a better scene mate, a better fight partner.”
Fight scenes in movies are historically notoriously difficult to recreate without significant training and preparation. Robert De Niro underwent months of fight training for his role as Jake LaMotta in ‘Raging Bull’ while Daniel Day-Lewis ‘could have been a contender’ according to former world champion Barry McGuigan, who was tasked with training him for his role in ‘The Boxer’.
For Berry, Shevchenko’s influence was every bit as important.
“She just brought so much reality to it for me. At times, I felt like I was really fighting,” Berry said.
Speaking to US website MMA Fighting, Shevchenko also outlined the positive experience she had making the movie.
“Of course when I get this opportunity from Halle to be part of her movie, of course I thought it’s a great idea,” Shevchenko said. “I read the script and it was a very inspirational story about a mixed martial arts female who is struggling, not only about the sport about also about making herself better, her life better and I thought this is a great opportunity.
“It was an amazing experience. Halle, she’s really a wonderful person. It’s very easy to work with her. Like example she wanted something from me and she knew the exact words to make me work as necessary for the movie for my character. I can’t wait for it to be released. I think it should be something very great.”
Such was Berry’s fondness for her co-star, she was pictured attending Shevchenko’s most recent title defence against Katlyn Chookagian where she embraced the victorious Shevchenko moments after the win.