MOVIE NEWS – The explosive Dragon’s Breath ammunition has become a much talked about element of John Wick: Chapter 4, but does this extravagant weapon really exist?
John Wick: Chapter 4 gave the title character another opportunity to wreak havoc, this time with a particularly formidable weapon: the Dragon’s Breath shotgun. In a spectacular apartment shootout, the assassin played by Keanu Reeves shoots explosive beams of light and disposes of his attackers by not only shooting them, but setting them on fire. Throughout the hyper-violent franchise, John Wick has managed to make weapons out of even the mundane objects around him. There is, for example, the wooden pencil soaked in blood in John Wick: Chapter 2, or the hardcover book held between the teeth of the character of the Serbian basketball player Boban Marjanovic in the film John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
When it comes to guns, John Wick is easy to kill. After wreaking havoc on the streets of Paris in John Wick: Chapter 4, he finds himself cornered in an abandoned apartment, where his assailants rain a barrage of bullets on him. However, John manages to save his own ammo by quickly picking up the weapons of each enemy he kills. This is how he gets his hands on an assassin’s aptly named Dragon’s Breath shotgun. The scene is overseen by director Chad Stahelski from a voyeuristic overhead angle, and John brutally burns his enemies with this iconic weapon, which immediately became the talk of the 2023 blockbuster.
John Wick 4 Dragon’s Breath ammo can be found in real life
Aside from his fists, the Dragon’s Breath rifle and its explosive rounds are definitely among John Wick’s best weapons. Although the shotgun used in the John Wick: Chapter 4 scene is a traditional model, it’s the ammunition that seems extravagantly over the top. Interestingly, these exploding cartridges that leave a flash of fire when released are very real and are mostly used illegally in different parts of the world. Rather than being factory made, Dragon’s Breath ammo is mostly custom made. That said, Chad Stahelski’s crew didn’t use real bullets on set (via Vulture ), instead using some visual tricks.
Dragon’s Breath ammunition is banned in many US states and is restricted from shipping due to its fire hazard
Considering the illegal nature of Dragon’s Breath, and how explosive real Dragon’s Breath ammunition could have been during filming, it’s obvious why the stunt team refrained from insisting on authenticity. Still, the scene was made as realistic as possible, thanks to John Wick: Chapter 4 cinematographer Dan Lausten and the VFX team. As reported by Vulture, Lausten and his assistant operators used a flame gun in the apartment shoot to create a color reference for post-production. The VFX team quickly jumped on board with the extra flares and sparks to make the Dragon’s Breath ammo live up to its name.
As for the unlucky stuntmen being set on fire by Dragon’s Breath projectiles, Chad Stahelski shared how that happened in an interview with IndieWire. He revealed that the stuntmen were covered in combustible fuel and the projectiles fired at them were propane bullets. So as each bullet touched the stuntman’s body, it hit the bullet on his body and burst into flames. The fact that the impact of the Dragon’s Breath ammunition was practically done by the stunt team is impressive and shows how much work it was to create the sharply edited chaos of John Wick: Chapter 4.