Photo: Universal Pictures

It seems like a long time since the greatest feud of our generation—the Dwayne Johnson-Vin Diesel dustup that occurred during filming of The Fate Of The Furious—was quashed, or at least reduced to a simmer on the back burner of America’s collective oven for beefcake man-feuds. Instead, we must dwell in the past, longing for the days when Johnson publicly called out Diesel for being a “candy ass.” But as a new report in The Wall Street Journal makes clear, it may not just be Diesel whose ass is constructed entirely of candy.

In the waning light of an era before the greatest film of year, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, is released upon a rapturous public, the Journal has investigated behind the scenes of the franchise only to discover the top-billed male stars of the series may in fact all be candy asses, based on the terms of their contracts. It’s been an open secret for years that the stars of the global action series won’t ever lose an onscreen fight, which definitely suggested some very macho egos were insisting on that state of affairs. And producer Michael Fottrell made it official when journalist Erich Schwartzel asked if vanity played a key role in the reason for no leads ever losing a fight. “No comment,” said Fottrell, only to immediately add, “Of course it does!”

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Turns out, each of the leads has negotiated with the studio to ensure they never look less badass than any of their costars for even a single round of ass-whooping—whooping we now know disturbs the precious candy serving as the basis for said asses. Statham has a signed document detailing how badly he is allowed to get beaten up onscreen. Johnson employs several producers, editors, and fight coordinators to make certain he’s never out-macho’d by someone else. But the best of all might be good old marble-mouthed Diesel, who has hired his sister Samantha Vincent to count the number of punches he takes in every brawl sequence and affirm that he’ll always deliver at least as many. “He’s falling down right here,” Vincent reportedly called out during one scene. “Is he going to get his licks back in?” Thereby suggesting she knows the famed exact number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, because the ass in question, comprised of such candy, will deliver that same number in return.

This extends to all forms of man-on-man altercations. Schwartzel notes that when Diesel throws Johnson through a wall in Fast Five, it’s only eight seconds before Johnson returns the favor. Similarly, there’s an excellent gif showing that when Statham kicks Johnson through a glass pane in Fast & Furious 7, Johnson quickly turns around and punches Statham through glass in turn. Hilariously, at one point Diesel suggested a points system for various kinds of attacks—2 points for a punch, 5 for a roundhouse kick, and so on—but it was dismissed for becoming far too complex. The whole piece is worth a close read, the better to savor the absurdity of it all; including the brief mention of Michelle Rodriguez, whose lack of candy-ass and self-evident badassery is made plain by the brief assurance that “there are fewer concerns about scorekeeping in the women’s fights.” Almost as though she wasn’t concerned about measuring anything in a fragile display of ego, or something.

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That said, the first hour of Hobbs & Shaw is pretty damn fun.