Special 9: Mega Movie Myths 2-Hour Special

Air Date: September 13, 2006

The Dukes of Hazzard: A car can jump a significant distance using a pile of dirt as a ramp and land with minimal damage or loss of momentum.

busted

The car managed to jump 172 feet (51.6 metres), three feet (90 cm) short of the estimated distance of the gorge jumped in the movie. However, the car crashed nose-down and was destroyed, busting the myth (and the car). It is somewhat widely-known that stunt cars rarely survive the bigger jumps (and must subsequently be scrapped).

Big Trouble in Little China: A lock can be broken by shooting it with handguns.

busted

The 9mm pistol and the .357 Magnum failed to open either the padlocks or the deadbolts.

A lock can be broken by shooting it with shotgun slugs or high-powered rifle ammunition.

plausible

Both types of ammunition were able to disable the locks by completely obliterating them. However, the MythBusters note that this lock-busting method would be very dangerous in real life due to ricochet or spalling. Because of this hazard, military and SWAT units use a special shotgun cartridge called a Breaching round to break through doors.

Austin Powers in Goldmember: A car can be equipped with a discreet ejector seat.

plausible

A pneumatic ejector seat fitted into a car seemed to fool most of the people who inspected it, and the seat successfully launched a test dummy out of the car. However, the design of the car plays a huge role in concealability, which is why Jamie and Adam opted for a roomier, boxier car rather than one of the flashy and sleek sports cars often seen in spy movies.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: A person can fall through layers of awnings and survive.

plausible

Buster was broken into pieces during the fall, but "survived" his fall (according to the shock sensors) with less-than-lethal (but still serious) "injuries". Tory then demonstrated the movie method of using pre-cut awnings and safety wires. (Adam was originally slated to perform the stunt, but was stopped at the last minute due to insurance reasons.)

Underworld: One can escape through a floor by shooting a ring around them.

busted

Even a fully-automatic MP-5 failed to break through the support beams in any reasonable amount of time, even with the assistance of a 12-gauge shotgun. This method also wastes a lot of ammunition; Tory had to fire all of his 360 rounds of ammunition. Finally, due to the close proximity of the shots to the shooter, flying debris and the possibility of ricochets makes this method extremely dangerous.

The Count of Monte Cristo: A sword can cut off the blade of another sword.

busted

A genuine Japanese-constructed Katana did slice through the replica stainless-steel sword. It also broke another genuine sword, but this break was caused by stress fracturing rather than being cut through. Katana vs. Rapier: Rapier was bent into snapping, but not cut. Claymore vs. Katana: Katana flexed but didn’t break. Claymore vs. Viking sword: Viking sword severely nicked the Claymore. In the end, though some swords managed to break the other, none were able to actually cut through another sword.

32 Comments

  1. Andrew C. says:

    Sword Myth- This would be HIGHLY dependent on the material composition/purity, thickness, blade geometry, method of construction (how the metal is shaped), size differential, and temper of either sword as well as wielders’ relative technique, strength.

    Softer iron or bronze weapons would yield to tempered, folded blades such as the traditional katana. However, the myth could not be counted as busted since errors in forging, drawing, folding, annealing, tempering, and sharpening as well as comparative sword characteristics (geometry, temper, material, etc) all contribute to the ability for one sword to cut completely through another. In addition, many field weapons may have gone into battle fresh from the forge but after several battles and a number of field repairs to reshape and sharpen the sword, sections could become brittle or soft enough or comparatively weak enough to give under an edge-to-edge contact, which is considered the worst kind of blow deflection.

  2. Diggity says:

    It still doesn’t really cut through it, so much as it cracks it, even if its a smooth break.

  3. PinkSuzette says:

    Can u find out why all the boxes filled with donuts on TV are pink,and why everyone takes their coffee black?

  4. jamoecw says:

    cutting uses friction, not force. force would cause cracking and such as seen, friction wouldn’t as much, you would get some cutting, maybe one of the swords could cut the other (doubtful). these guys make a good show, but don’t understand some critical things about some of their myths.

  5. vespo says:

    I was dissapointed that they did not test a damascus steel sabre against a period european sword. In their time the damascus blades were almost legendary for their flexibility, cutting power, and ability to hold an edge in their time, and many of the crusade-era stories about swords cutting swords are attributed to damascus blades.

    These swords are practically impossible to manufacture by modern methods- they were made from a special type of steel produced in india, and the methods used to forge them resulted in a swirled pattern on the blade like modern pattern welding.

    Of course, the other wrinkle is that modern stainless steel is far stronger than even the best period damascus blades. A true test would have to pit authentic period weapons agains each other to have any validitiy. Two modern replicas made of modern stainless using modern forgin techniques would produce wildly different results.

  6. RaisnCain says:

    About the topic: The Count of Monte Cristo: A sword can cut off the blade of another sword.

    Any sword can cut through another sword. Were these guys that were performing the experiment skilled and advanced swordsman? Of course not. Besides, a skilled advanced swordsman would know a technique to slice, and I mean cut off a sword completely. But, it would take a lot of skill to do, and you would have to set your opponent up for it. It wouldn’t matter what sword it is, because any sword can cut through another.

    Of course, these swords don’t easily break, but an 8th degree black belt, would know the way. Swords can deflect bullets, arrows, etc. In addition it has been shown on the Discovery Channel, that any skilled swordsman can slice through a tank.

    But, you have to be a skilled swordsman to do all of this. And, above all, if you were a swordsman that had supernatural powers, then you could definately cut through anything.

    • Riley D. Schmidt says:

      8th degree black belt? In what martial art? In most martial art, a good portion of the skill involves hand to hand, not weaponry.

      Could slice through a tank, Please do not believe everything you see on t.v. Even the history channel is about ratings more than facts. While it may be possible I sincerely doubt that it has or will ever happen.

      Any sword could cut through another. Again, not true. If you used a bronze sword and I held a Carbon Steel blade, You would never cut through the carbon steel blade. It’s not physically possible no matter how good you are with a sword.

      Swords deflecting bullets and arrows. Arrows yes because you can see where they are aiming and when they actually fire. I doubt any swordsman would ever attempt to deflect a bullet because it isn’t possible in a fight. There is too much going on in a fight to calculate the angle and timing needed. Not to mention the fact that you can’t accurately determine the speed or trajectory of a bullet as it is fired at you. Again, not in the range of human capability.

      Finally, supernatural powers…..really?

  7. voltaire says:

    there are many factors involved in cutting, force is only one of them. the motion of cutting involves using the length of the blade in a eliptical drawing/sawing motion as well as the weight of the human body and not just the arms, i think you’ll find that the overhead cut of a trained individual yields its power from lifting the lead leg as leverage on the draw back and droping your body downwards with the sword. as taught in iaijitsu.

  8. voltaire says:

    oh! and jackie chan actually did the awning drop ‘no strings attached’ in his movie project A back in 1983 and i think you’ll find that he survived the experience and episodes like this are quite insulting to the fans of jackie….

  9. norrisfan says:

    The Dukes of Hazzard: A car can jump a significant distance using a pile of dirt as a ramp and land with minimal damage or loss of momentum.

    in the dukes of hazard movie didn’t they have a large amount o f moonshine in the trunk, which may have acted as a counter weight to the engine

  10. Aaron Wyse says:

    In response to Norrisfan’s comment. No the dukes car did not have a trunk load of shine.. But did do a similar landing during filming the show. However; You are correct in that if a car is better balanced; it makes an incredible difference in how they land.
    I’ve done similar things in several of the cars I’ve owned and driven over the years. The first few times you get them off the ground; you’ll generally have a pretty good idea as to how they’ll come back down. I had a ’72 Fury that would land great from 80 & 90MPH railroad crossings. From what the rest of the cars occupants said.. We were probably doing some incredible distances. We discussed it before we ever came back down. Which was always back tires first.
    Safety note.. Do not jump front drive cars!

  11. Cole says:

    It was mentioned in an earlier comment but I would say that the sword myth needs to be retested. The Swords the mythbusters used were made of Steel, a metal that didn’t become commonly used in China till 100 BCE and was used rarely in western european society after its already late discovery of early 17th century.

    Get some Iron swords and retry. I would suspect that it would most likely be plausible if not completely possible. Iron is MUCH less dense then Steel and even earlier metals used in weapons like Bronze can be broken with very little combat wear-and-tear.
    /rantoff

  12. Robin says:

    In the original Dukes of Hazzard show, stunt people really jumped the ’69 Dodge Charger off ramps. However, weights er put into the trunk and side panels to even everything out.
    After the jump, the stunt people had to use another General Lee to film the rest of the footage of fishtailing around curves. The car that was used in the jump was too damaged to use anymore.
    Once, I went to DukesFest and watched Cory Eubanks jump a General Lee… he flipped it and the car somersaulted to a stop. More or less, the car was impossible to drive, it wouldn’t even start.

  13. Tim says:

    A buddy and i were thinking… wouldn’t it double the force if both swords were being swung. I doubt a swordsman would just stand there and hold his weapon up to be destroyed, but moving the blade to deflect, or counter the swing would add force. … suggestion, two sword swinging robots… at the very least, WOULDN”T THAT BE FUN TO WATCH??

  14. Karl says:

    To Cole: I would like to see some sources for the claim that steel was not discovered in Europe until the 17th century. You know the process of pattern welding to produce tamahagane in Japan, and the laminate construction used in their swords? This was done in Europe centuries before it was ever done in Japan. Viking swords, for example, were usually of a very high level of purity, and were laminated with a soft core and hard edges. The fuller was pattern welded (sometimes purely for decoration). All in all, sword breakage was VERY rare, because the quality of STEEL in Europe was actually quite good.

    Speaking of viking swords, the one used in the Mythbusters episode was really the most atrocious excuse for a viking sword I have ever laid eyes on. It hardly even looked like a viking sword at all!

  15. Tracy says:

    Hi, (GENERAL LEE MYTH NOT BUSTED)
    The General Lee jump has not been busted. In the show, they filled the back with concrete so it would land the way it did. If you ever get the chance to jump the car again, try filling the back with concrete. I really feel that myth has not been busted yet.
    Thank you,
    Tracy

    • MSpears says:

      No, it’s still busted… because even though they did fill the trunk and side-panels with extra weight to balance the landing out, they still had to bring in a duplicate car after the jump because the car they used to make jump was too badly damaged, as stated by Robin above.

  16. William says:

    When shooting off a lock with a hand gun. Don’t shoot into the body of the lock (not sure of the correcdt terms here!!!) But shoot down! Forcing the body of the lock off the hasp! (I wish I could draw on this.)

  17. Chris says:

    In January 1945, at the start of the liberation of the Cabanatuan Prison Camp by American Rangers, one soldier shot the lock off the gate with a 45 caliber handgun and another with a Thompson submachine gun. I thought this was impossible, especially under fire, but by all accounts this is what happened.

  18. Chazz says:

    With the Sword Myth, my friends and I while watching it had to disagree with the outcome. For several reasons from several people, but these are teh reasons.
    1. the sword angle they used was in a straight line horizontally, while an attacker generally arches the attack, and hits an opponents sword on an angle.
    2. the swords DID break, so while the myth of cutting clean through another sword is highly unlikely, most movies arent clear as to wether it was a clean and legit cut, or a shatter/break. either way it is possible to lessen the length of an opponents sword with another sword.
    3. each of the tests should have been done with fresh swords, as each time the attackers sword hit an opposing sword it wold have been dulled, there fore lessing the sharpness and there fore the accuracy of the ‘cut’.
    4th (and finally) the test did not account for the movement of the second sword. If two swords are moving towards each other or beign held by two different people it is highly unlikely that the sword will connect, straight and in the middle of the sword or even be held steady. therefore this affects momentum, and position of the cut.

    As I stated these are from varying people, but most of us have at least some experience with swords and martial art techniques. I would like to see this retested personally as well as reworded to something along the lines of, can you cut/break a sword with another sword. as Cut is rather hard to define and prove in this circumstance.

  19. Frankie says:

    The team did not try all possible ways of cutting a sword with another sword. They had the striking sword hit the target sword on its flat, and on its sharp edge. But they didn’t strike it on its back. And when you look at the clip from The Count of Monte Cristo, that is exactly how the sword was cut.

    Besides striking a blade on its back, it’s not enough to strike it at 48mph. A robotic arm swinging to a maximum speed of 48mph does not mimic the slashing action of an expert swordsman. It’s not just the speed that is important, but the acceleration. And I don’t mean plain accelerating to 48mph, which obviously was already achieved. I mean the acceleration itself has to increase.

    So, my suggestion is to rig up the robotic arm to more than one pneumatic actuator, one going off after another in an overlapping fashion, so as to not only accelerate the swing but also to steadily increase the acceleration of the swing as smoothly as possible. And aim the striking sword at the back of the target sword. Maximum acceleration should be achieved just before the swords contact.

    Yeah I know, it sounds like a great pain with lots of tweaking involved, buy hey, imagine how good it’ll feel when you cut the target sword this way. (I know how I will feel!)

    And I agree with the other comments that said that the condition and materials of the swords are also important. It sure would help for the target sword to be made of a softer material than the striking sword. Or be more brittle.

  20. Zack says:

    I would like to echo the point that in no film has anyone ever shot off a lock point-blank and at the body of the lock. Check your sources again; they will shoot down and from the side, trying to hit the joint between the body of the lock and the side of the lock ring that does not contain the locking mechanism. Not only will this give them the right angle for breaking the lock, but it will also minimize the chance of a ricochet, one of the other reasons you rated it as Busted.

    The side of the lock ring containing the locking mechanism contains a lot of extra metal pieces that will stop the body of the lock from being able to compress and separate from the padlock ring, while the opposite side is only held in by a steel pin. By forcing the body of the lock away from the padlock ring with the force of the bullet, you’re either going to rip the body off the lock, or given that the padlocklock holds, you’re going to separate the padlocklock from the door.

    Likewise, I wish I could illustrate this is some way, but I can’t using text. You’re not trying to mangle the body of the lock, you’re trying to force the padlock ring to separate from the body.

  21. Gene.K says:

    If the supports do not break or snap the sandbags will never fall.

  22. Daywalker says:

    RaisnCain, you shouldn’t express yourself, pick up a book :p. This is in regards to the swords myth. This myth is interesting because theres such an astounding amount of factors. All the information is completely trivial, however. All of the swords that were shown in the test were made to kill people. There have been weapons in the past that were in fact made to cut other weapons, say why not use some of these! Swords that have a serrated or course blade have been created both in the past and by custom blacksmith. To strike 2 weapons together at the blade is sacrilege! I winced at the destruction of the handmade weapons on the show. It’d be like chopping a tree down with a wooden axe. Anyone who knows how to break blades of their opponent doesn’t do it with another sword *cough* ninjitsu.

  23. Peter says:

    for the sword myth… i’ve never seen the movie, but when i hear about that i thought it was cut as if in a swordfight where the sharp parts where hit together… so i think that it should be retested with both swords swinging and both swords hit on the blade…

  24. Takekaze says:

    Sword myth:
    Also highly depends on the skills of the fencers. A ken-jutsu instructor, like the one I know in Osaka, is different than John Smith who just waves his sword around.

    “A genuine Japanese-constructed Katana” is what? They used what steel? What technique to forge it? Same for the other swords.

    Daywalker, ninjutsu is a joke these days (by rights it shouldn’t even be called ninjutsu anyway). All you need to break a sword is a jitte (was used by policemen in feudal Japan to disarm brawling samurai). Works perfectly.

    The only way such a test would really work would be by getting some really good fencers with decent weapons. Problem is, you won’t find either (horrible waste).

    One thing made me curious. What about arrow cutting? Mythbusters should try to bust that. Cause… it works. Seen it myself. But in order to do it one doesn’t need robotic arms and inferior machines. You only need a ken-jutsu instructor who has achieved the mutô (and that’s a handful of people on this planet, literally).

  25. John Harris says:

    My opinion is that this attempt at a busted is not anywhere near proved.
    1. As previously stated what type of steel was used? I would recommend a traditional crafted tamahagane steel blade, not factory forged or made of new types of steel. New steels compare but do not match the quality of a hand forged man slayer of the Samurai time. Another difference is that the steel makes is that swords now are made depending on how they are used. Today for use in a “dojo” sword can be made harder therefore more likely to break instead of being cut.
    2.The forging itself is also an issue. If it was hand forged how many times was it folded? Also as the show was a little while ago, were they sure it was even a Japanese katana? You’d be surprised the difference it makes. It could very well have been a Jing-gum which is Korean. There are differences in the sword. The jing gum is straighter than a curved katana. It could change the result who knows?
    3. Another factor that I think of as a second Dan black belt in the Korean Hai Dong Gum Doe is the type of cut used. From what I remember they used Pandum-Begi a horizontal slash at waste height against another motionless blade.
    4.Perhaps the motion in the other blade would contribute to a more reliable result. Horizontal cuts are the most difficult in my opinion to pull of a clean cut nonetheless cutting through steel. It is much easier to cut downward at an angle than left to right. I would recommend using several different swords with several different cuts up and down and up etc…
    5. Also a legitimate grand master of a man slaying sword style not “John Smith’s” few years of Americanized training
    6. Did they consider the portion of the sword use in cutting the other? I was always taught to use the top 5 inches at most to perform the best cut. At that “sweet spot” maximum speed and force is reached.
    7. Another thing that concerns me is the fact that they only relied on force when using the robot arm. You can take the sharpest thing you want and press on it as hard as you want it will always take more force to push through with a hit like the one the robot would make. The arm just bludgeoned the swords together! It’s no wonder the swords just broke. There’s a reason they call it slicing!
    8.As said before they hit the flat of the sword and while it is the recommended blocking technique it is not always a choice try blade to blade or blade to back

    I could probably continue but I think 8 points is enough to doubt the results. I recommend not only using the tamahagane but 2 grandmasters in a sealed room to help determine it cut, chipped or breaks. If it did anything but cut there would be shards no? Try to find the most reasonable answer with the best quality of real swords not ‘replicas’ or swords forged in new techniques. Just try to be fair to all the aspects by using all the best conditions.

  26. John says:

    For the Awning fall myth they should’ve confirmed it. Look at Jackie Chan.In the movie Project A Jackie Chan fell though two awnings with no wires or anything. I remember watching that myth on T.V. and immediately thinking about Jackie Chan. If you want to see that stunt go to youtubes Cinemassacre’s Top 10 Jackie Chan Stunts(it’s #2).

  27. Dragonfyre says:

    Not sure if someone saw this about the cutting a sword myth, but during the scene that they show from The Count of Monte Cristo, the sword is BROKEN, not CUT. If you don’t believe me, watch the scene, and pause it when the swords make contact…there is a large space between where the sword makes contact, and where the target sword fails.
    Aside from that, metal will break before it’s cut…doesn’t matter if it is period or modern, the result is the same. Thin swords, while they may seem easier to cut are possibly more difficult, because when a larger sword makes contact, they bend out of the way, which could make them snap, instead of being sliced. There ARE instances where metal can cut metal, but that’s flat sheets heated to the extreme; sword blades are highly tempered steel, and they will only snap at their weakest point when they fail.

  28. felixnoir says:

    Jackie Chan discusses one of these stunts in his autobio. The awning stunt in more than one movie was genuine, no strings attached, but the awnings were pre-cut and carefully tested with weights. I believe he was slightly injured. The problem is that if the awning does not break, you can be bounced out into the street.
    Jackie also did the knife/sail stunt for real, but I believe he said the knife was actually a stunt device with a guard or guide on the other side, the blade only being short.
    It’s a pity Mythbusters couldn’t have Jackie on as a guest. After all, he knows more about movie stunts than any person in history.

  29. Bjorn says:

    How to test the sword myth properly: get rid of the robot, use a human. The method of testing sword speed is wrong: the fastest moving part of a sword is the tip, time THAT. Once again, use a human. Robots cannot effectively reproduce the results of a sword swing by a human.

    I was in a theatrical combat troupe for 5 years. Theatrical weapons are designed to be tougher than historical weapons in order to withstand constant contact with each other. Only the nobility would have had resilient weapons, the peasants got the mass produced ones.

    I think they were being anal about cut meaning “clean cut”. Anyone could have told them that would not happen.

  30. John says:

    There really is no myth to the Dukes of Hazzard cars. It is well-documented that over 300 cars were the General Lee. The show depleted the available supply of 1969 models. They had to start buying 1968 models and making the minor changes to make them look like 69′s. Many cars were completely destroyed.

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