Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here.

I kid. I know Vern can read. When we first talked all those years ago, when he was fresh out of the pen, he told me that he had to do a lot of reading in prison to break up the monotony of all the gay rape.

No, really, I kid.

Vern, buddy, thanks for doing this one. Good stuff, and my favorite read of the day:

I am here today to review a book. That’s right motherfuckers, I know how to read. The book in question is Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie (revised & expanded edition) by Eric Lichtenfeld. Our young friend Quint kindly suggested me to review the book and I was happy to check it out.

If you’re like me you’ve never heard of Lichtenfeld before, but you’ve enjoyed some of his work on special features for DVDs such as DIE HARD, PREDATOR, SPEED, and DIE HARD. Turns out he also has a really cool (but not updated enough) action movie blog called Reaction Shot http://reactionshot.blogspot.com/. And not too long ago on slate.com he declared “Yippee-Ki-Yay Motherfucker” the greatest one-liner in movie history http://slate.com/id/2168927/. So we share some interests.

I’ve read a few scholarly studies of horror movies, but I’ve never seen one on action. I know there are some action-centered review books, but as far as I can tell the serious-analytical-study-of-the-action-genre book is fairly new territory. In fact, if you type “action movie” into the amazon search engine, this book is the first one to come up. Go down the list and you won’t find another one that fits the bill until #46, Action and Adventure Cinema.

You’re especially gonna have a hard time finding an intelligent study of the genre from the perspective of a fan. Alot of people don’t take it as seriously as we do, they think it’s just supposed to be some dumb fun and they believe in that bullshit about “check your brain at the door.” And the people who don’t believe in that might be the ones that only want to study action movies to complain about their violence or their gender roles or racial stereotypes. Lichtenfeld doesn’t ignore those things, he touches on them, but he states in the introduction that he’s deliberately not focusing on them because those are the aspects of the genre that have been covered already. Instead he gives us an analytical view of the evolving themes and styles of action movies over the years.

Rather than trying to go through the movies chronologically, which would’ve been a big mess, he’s divided the genre into a series of trends. So you got chapters like “The Vigilante and Other Myths” (DIRTY HARRY, DEATH WISH), “Rise of the Killing Machines” (both literal like THE TERMINATOR and figurative like RAMBO), and then “Enter the Fists: The Body as the Weapon” which is where he gets into the martial artists like Seagal, Van Damme and Norris. One interesting connection he makes is “Into the Jungle, Out of the Wasteland: Action in the Wild,” where he finds common ground between post-apocalypse movies like the MAD MAX series and jungle-based hostage rescue missions like UNCOMMON VALOR, RAMBO and the MISSING IN ACTION series. But all that is warm up for Chapter 5, “Blowing Up All Those Familiar Places” which brings us to DIE HARD and its bastard sons.

Lichtenfeld considers AIR FORCE ONE to be the last of the DIE HARD cycle, making it in my eyes the end of the golden age of American action. Because as he shows in the later chapters of the book, the genre starts to get away from the simpler stories and iconic characters, more into complicated special effects spectacles, crossbreeding with other movies until the heroes all have super powers or are fighting against aliens or against Mother Nature herself. There are chapters on the crappy disaster movie revival of the ’90s, the sci-fi and horror influenced action movies (reaching from THE MATRIX back to ROBOCOP, with lesser stops along the way such as DOOM and VAN HELSING). And then the last chapter is on super heroes, thankfully spending some good time on BLADE and THE PUNISHER. He shows how those two came out of action movie traditions as much as comic books. But he points out that stuff like SPIDER-MAN and X-MEN is where most of the action scenes end up in American movies these days. The action movie has been crossbred so much that it’s rare to see it straight up anymore. If you do see one you gotta get it papers like a purebred dog.

Lichtenfeld skips around in time but the trends are roughly in order so you see it evolve from Dirty Harry and Paul Kersey to god damn Fantastic Four and Daredevil. So it really reinforced my sinking feeling that the sort of action I love, the type that evolved through the ’70s and ’80s, is a dying art form. Even if, say, Len Wiseman or whoever does a good job of reviving it he might just be some corny nostalgia merchant like that dude from the Stray Cats who’s always pretending he’s in a different time period. Dressing up and doing a facsimile of an art form they buried in a ditch some time after DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE came out.

But Lichtenfeld has a more positive outlook, demonstrating how the definition of “action” has been loose since day 1. He points out that Variety categorized various DIRTY HARRY movies as “Police Melodrama,” “Police Crime Melodrama,” “Crime Melodrama” and “Police Actioner.” (Only THE DEAD POOL was “Action.”) But all of these were types of action movies, the popular form of which continues to evolve over time. Dirty Harry becomes John Rambo becomes John McClane becomes Will Smith punching an alien becomes Spider-man. And Lichtenfeld convincingly shows how virtually all of these are still connected to their ancestors in film noir and westerns.

Every time I start whining about modern action movies somebody brings up SPIDER-MAN 2. And I can’t relate because to me there’s a huge difference between, say, the cars hurtling through the air for real in the MAD MAX series and a computer graphic animated to swing over a city in the SPIDER-pictures. But this book showed me how the two are distant cousins, if not creepy twin brothers who finish each other’s sentences and collect weird gynecological tools.

In fact, it’s hard to even settle on a definition of what constitutes an action movie. He chose to focus on American styles (guess he must be talking about the dubbed version of MAD MAX then) which is smart – there are plenty of books on martial arts films, Hong Kong crime, samurai movies and spaghetti westerns, so he’s able to set those aside. He chose to disqualify James Bond movies (another topic already studied to death anyway) and mentions CASINO ROYALE being in production but it was not yet released when the book was written. I’m not sure why he left out the Jason Bourne movies, which are not mentioned in the book at all. I suppose those are in the spy thriller area, but they are obviously full of action scenes and seem at least closer to the old form of action movie than FANTASTIC FOUR does.

Of course when you read a book like this one of the things you’re looking for is to see if he mentions your favorite movies and how his take lines up with yours on various issues facing the genre. So not surprisingly I was excited to see what he would say about Seagal. The big guy gets 3 pages dedicated to him, plus later discussion of UNDER SIEGE in the DIE HARD chapter. Lichtenfeld declares him “a more interesting conjunction of star persona and action film mythos” than Van Damme, so that’s good. He spends some time on the marketing of ABOVE THE LAW, with its insinuations of Seagal having a CIA background, but also touches briefly on how the politics of Seagal’s movies differed from the right-leaning genre of the time, which is one of the things that interests me about him too.

If you’re reading a book about action movies you must be an action movie fan, so you’ve seen alot of the movies discussed. You might find yourself having already noticed what the book points out, or thinking “that’s interesting, I never quite thought of it that way” or at times “well, that’s taking it a little far.” But Lichtenfeld rarely stretches too far into pretension, or if he does then I guess I just like his interpretations. And I love the amount of research he’s done, he’s done a great service there. For example I thought it was really interesting when he demonstrated the ’80s fixation on weaponry by quoting from the press kits. Apparently they thought we’d even want the specifics of the dagger that the villain in COBRA uses: “The dagger is 12 5/8 inches long, with a blade of 440c stainless steel. The handle is made of 6061T6 aluminum which has been anodized black.” As if somebody might say, “Dude! 6061T6! That’s one of my favorite aluminums!”

Lichtenfeld mostly avoids discussing whether he thinks the movies are good or not. He’s interested in the themes of the movies, not some sort of ranking or creating a canon. I like this, because you can always read about DIE HARD or DIRTY HARRY but it’s not every day you find a book that talks about ACTION JACKSON, CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, DEMOLITION MAN, HARD TARGET, MORTAL KOMBAT. It’s funny to see forgettable movies like DANTE’S PEAK, NAVY SEALS and REPLACEMENT KILLERS immortalized in your local library.

While he tends not to point out if he thinks a movie is crap, I do get the sense that he’s as troubled as I am by the changes in action movie editing. This especially comes through in his discussion of Michael razzafrazzin Bay’s THE ROCK, for which he interviewed editor Richard Francis-Bruce and even calculated the average shot-lengths for some of the sequences. Lichtenfeld compares THE ROCK’s car chase to a car commercial, saying that Francis-Bruce even remembers being told by Bay that he would have the editors from his commercials take a pass at the movie after the film editors. It sounds like that didn’t happen, but somehow they still ended up with, according to Lichtenfeld, “an average shot length of one and a quarter seconds for five unrelenting minutes. And according to Francis-Bruce, this represents a tamer version of the scene than the one originally cut.”

It’s a good book that will make you want to run out and rent a whole bunch of movies. While reading it I ended up re-watching COMMANDO and the MAD MAX trilogy and picking up one I didn’t know about, the POW-rescue-movie UNCOMMON VALOR. This brings me to one nitpick of the book, that the copy editing could be a little better. I am definitely not one to complain about this, but I had to bring it up because I went into UNCOMMON VALOR thinking that Fred Willard would be on a team of badass soldiers hired by Gene Hackman to return to ‘Nam to rescue his son who was left behind. Of course it was really Fred Ward, and I’m always happy to see him in a movie, but it woulda been funnier if it was Fred Willard like the book says.

So anyway, I recommend Action Speaks Louder to my fellow action scholars, and I hope it is not the last of its kind. We need more of this. Also if anyone knows any other good books on the topic please mention them in the talkbacks, along with whatever other “fuck yous” or grammar critiques you gentlemen have for me today.


Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/33882

View the archived Ain’t-It-Cool-News Talkback

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 6:04 a.m. CST


    by abner pepper

    hat trick

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 6:14 a.m. CST

    Uncommon Valour

    by abner pepper

    Uncommon Valour was fantastic.I still think Swayze walks like he has shit hisself though.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 6:15 a.m. CST

    That’s for my wife, fuck you and die.

    by Musicballs

    Vern is the greatest!

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 6:20 a.m. CST

    Sounds interesting

    by knifeandfork

    Its good to see that there are people who analyse these films as much as i do. I’ll check this book out.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 7:54 a.m. CST

    Fuck you, Vern, your grammar sucks.

    by johnnyangelheart

    As requested. Seriously Dude, you rock. The University of Starbucks or whatever college you have up there in Seattle should hire you as Professor of Seagology.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 7:55 a.m. CST

    I really wanna read this book!

    by DerLanghaarige

    Unfortunately it’s been a while since I had the time to read a book. In fact: It was almost exactly one year ago and I spent a weekend in hospital then. Right now I’m so busy that I couldn’t even finish a short book for kids. (I’m not kidding! I’m stuck at chapter 3 of “Liar Of Kudzu” and not because it’s a bad book.[Because it isn’t it’s great! McCorkle & Schooley rule! {KP Megathon at Disney Channel wednesday, thursday and friday!}])

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:01 a.m. CST

    Oh, yeah, and your review was too long.

    by johnnyangelheart

    Keep it coming, buddy. The study of movies is more relevant than the study of contemporary art which 99 per cent of the population cannot relate to. You are providing a service that our colleges are neglecting. And you’re funny as hell.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:11 a.m. CST

    Dead Pool

    by ButtfuckZydeco

    stands atop all Police Melodramas With Jim Carey Lipsynching Axl Rose!!!

    Or at least makes the top two.

    I miss the likes of Commando. I watched the last half hour or so on Telemundo a few months back, just so I could hear “let off some steam.” Didn’t lose much in Spanish.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:11 a.m. CST

    Was just thinking about the decline of the action genre

    by Guy Who Got A Headache And Accidentally Saves The World

    I saw Vanishing Point recently, and I have to say I think Kowalski is a pretty badass character. Like Ed Harris in Knightriders, he’s a man with a sort of code who doesn’t really fit in with the real world. Anyway, neither of those are really action films but they have that extra badass quality that’s missing from any kind of film nowadays, action or otherwise. It’s like if they made Munich without the scene with the team walking down the street carrying their groceries, I have to wonder if they just allowed that scene because the movie took place in the 70s, and things were still allowed to be badass then so they said, okay keep that scene. Movies need those groccery scenes, they need their gravitas back.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:24 a.m. CST


    by darthhirsty


  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:32 a.m. CST

    I believe in Vern!

    by CuervoJones

    I trust this guy.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:39 a.m. CST

    You did not just diss Brian Setzer…

    by RenoNevada2000

    Sorry Vern, you had me up until you drew a very bad parallel to Brian Setzer (the “Stray Cats” dude). Sure, Setzer works with standards of a particular musical genre, as well as writes originals in that same mode, but he also infuses it with his own ideas and styles. If what he was playing was a true recreation of Big Band music, he wouldn’t be outfront with an electric guitar as lead. Setzer is no more a “corny nostalgia merchant” than the folks who recently remade 3:10 TO YUMA are. Otherwise, I enjoyed the review.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:41 a.m. CST

    Asian influence?

    by RenoNevada2000

    BTW, did the book cover the influence of Asian films had on the action genre in the 1990s?

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:44 a.m. CST

    “Dude! 6061T6!”

    by Dollar Bird

    “That’s one of my favorite aluminums!”

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:45 a.m. CST

    Sounds good

    by Loopster

    Now how about a halloween review Vern?

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 8:50 a.m. CST

    Spectacular shots in Michael Bay´s movies…

    by CuervoJones

    …are just like the big boobs of an ugly fat lady. They look good but who cares? Visual context is important.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 9:18 a.m. CST

    That IS some pretty sweet aluminum…

    by TELF

    In their defense.

    Nice job, Vern.
    If you haven’t read it already, S. Hunter’s “Violent Scree” is pretty good.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 9:43 a.m. CST

    The aluminum line

    by mr.brownstone

    is genius. Just ordered the book.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 9:46 a.m. CST

    Hey, I liked Navy Seals…

    by Sledge Hammer

    …sure it’s no classic, and it’s about as deep as a petrie dish, but it has a great cast (Biehn, Paxton, Haysbert, and Charlie Sheen before he turned into a sitcom parody of himself), and it’s just a lot of dumb fun to watch. I mean come on, any film that has a modern era Paxton with a goofy wild west mustache, Biehn stoned out of his gord on the battlefield, and Charlie Sheen just acting an absolute asshole all the way through has to get some points, surely? Hello? Anybody? Fine, fuck you all, I’m going to go off and watch some back to back Lee Marvin then. Dirty Dozen, The Professionals, Point Blank and Prime Cut should pull me up nicely. You know, that’s the real problem with action movies today, we just don’t have much in the way of convincing tough guys who can truly command the screen anymore, they all either got old, died, or otherwise moved on, apart from the odd one still around and trapped in DTV hell. Sad really. Man I miss R rated, bare knuckled, foul mouthed, no apologies action films, I really do…the breed may not be quite dead yet, but it’s definitely pretty fucking endangered at this point. I really hope that Shoot ‘Em Up is something worthwhile…

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 9:55 a.m. CST

    But isn’t Michael Bay’s style just the logical

    by comedian_x

    extension of Eisenstein’s theory of montage. Is not Michael Bay just Eisenstein reborn.
    Huh? Anybody?

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 9:56 a.m. CST

    Vern is writing a book

    by Guy Who Got A Headache And Accidentally Saves The World

    SEGALOGY. I can’t wait until it’s adapted into a movie. It’ll be like An Inconvient Truth except instead of watching slides of ice caps breaking up it’ll be power point presentations on Segal’s career falling apart and sliding into direct-to-video-ness.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 10:09 a.m. CST

    Best aspect of this review

    by RodneyOz

    (among all the usual Vern genius)
    is that he highlights the ability to talk about a film without the need to get into nitpicking about its relative quality versus the rest of the genre. Even if a film is bad or average, there can still be a lot to talk about in relation to it. The tendency to slag off reviews as “TOO LONG!” if they say more than ‘This film sucked/rocked’ (and of course those two are the only possible options) is a pernicious one. This sounds like a great book; I’ll be looking out for it.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 10:17 a.m. CST

    The Films of Cinema

    by johnnyangelheart

    I just ordered “5 On the Outside” by some guy named Vern. Probly uses bad grammar and is too long.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 10:41 a.m. CST

    Spider-Man is the evolution of John McClaine?

    by Neo Zeed

    I never understood that kind of thinking….even on a supremely juvenile level. Superheros my have all the powers in the world, aren’t allowed to kill their opponents, shoot guns (or do those cool Hard Boiled poses), use foul language, or not have a ridiculously convoluted origin that slows down the plot. If Hollywood would stop cutting the balls off non-superhero action movies, then maybe the genre can exist again. Besides, action masters like Woo, McTiernan, Verehoeven, and Walter Hill don’t work well within silly censorship.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 10:54 a.m. CST

    Since we’re all here

    by Vern

    What is the best action movie of the 2000s so far? Or can you even say there is a best one? I ask because someone recently told me that BOURNE ULTIMATUM was and although I liked that movie quite a bit I was thinking that was kind of sad if that’s the indisputable champ. If we’re not strictly American and we include martial arts movies I think HERO is definitely better, but if we go by the rules of this book I’m not sure what we got. I hope I’m forgetting something.

    Ooh, just thought of one: BLADE 2. What else is there to consider?

    Question #2: are there any other great older ones that I somehow might’ve missed, like I did UNCOMMON VALOR? Maybe a little more obscure but worthwhile?

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 11:02 a.m. CST

    1 vote for Blue Jean Cop…

    by TELF

    AKA Shakedown. Courtroom drama/action nonsense with Robocop and Wade Garrett in the leads…

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 11:21 a.m. CST

    A History of Violence

    by johnnyangelheart

    Best of the 2k’s. For obscure but worth I nominate “One False Move”.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 11:26 a.m. CST

    Or howsabout Streets of Fire?

    by TELF

    It’s kind of an overlooked gem I think.

    I can’t think of a single straight up action movie that beats Ultimatum, from the last 7 years. They just don’t make ’em anymore.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 11:36 a.m. CST

    Have faith, Vern

    by Franklin T Marmoset

    I reckon these things go in cycles. At the moment, we’re stuck in a post-Matrix, CGI goop, comic book-influenced era, but there’ll be a reaction against it at some point. Just like the punk kids rebelled against prog rock and disco, we’ll eventually have some young film makers who want to unleash more raw and realistic action films with actual blood and stunts and maybe even a boob or two. I might be a little idealistic here, but that’s what I’m hoping for.
    As to recent action films, I’d agree the only ones to stick in my mind since the original Matrix are the Bourne films. Blade 2, obviously, is a great one, but does it count as pure action? I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but Shooter’s not bad. Kind of like Bourne but with a lower IQ, and in places reminded me of older stuff like Commando. Check it out if you haven’t.
    Anyway, thanks for the review. I’ll have to give that one a read.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 11:37 a.m. CST


    by TELF

    Nice one. That one of my favorite movies and I totally overlooked it. It’s weird, “Action” is such a malleable but ill-defined genre label that it is easy to dismiss films that do actually fall into its purview. If we’re counting Dirty Harry then you’d have to count AHOV – but those two seem very different to, say, Con Air or Speed.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Bourne 1, 2 and 3

    by johnnyangelheart

    Gets my vote for best action trilogy. Sorry, Bruce. Sorry, Arnie. Fuck you, Keanu.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 12:12 p.m. CST

    Cobra’s dagger specs? Color me IN!

    by Stuntcock Mike

    sounds like a hoot.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 12:17 p.m. CST

    Banlieu 13 and Ong Bak

    by Pascal

    I’ve been saying a lot that these two have ruined action movies for me. Well, it’s arguable that action movies have ruined themselves but the point remains that these two trump any American action movie made in the last 10 (20?) years at least for me.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 12:25 p.m. CST

    Best action movie of the 00’s

    by Neo Zeed

    Running Scared from director Wayne Kramer.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 12:30 p.m. CST

    Best action movie of the 00s…

    by Alonzo Mosely

    I think the only place you will see well done action these days are in off-shoot genres like crime dramas or in stuff from outside the US… Would Stander count? It has an American star… The real problem was we had the great gritty stuff of the 70s, which made way to the same ideas, but less realistic, in the 80s through to the perfection and redefinition that was a certain Bruce Willis vehicle, which was so good, people started using its blueprint only and lost, little by little what had come before and eventually what made Die Hard special… Then people realized it was cheaper to pay nerds with computers than sweaty guys with ‘taches to make things explode and we were all doomed…

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 12:53 p.m. CST

    Best action movie of the 00’s

    by PotSmokinAlien

    spielberg’s War of the futher mucking Worlds, man. although that opinion is not gonna win me any fans here i got a feeling. but i don’t care! i thought that movie rocked

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 1:26 p.m. CST

    I really hate the Bourne movies

    by troutpencil

    And I have a whole list of reasons why but I won’t get into that here. As for the 00s, I am certain I will be forgetting some classics but the first masterpiece that comes to mind is Apocalypto. Now that was a fantastic action movie. Really your friend has no imagination to say that Bourne Supremacy is the best; The Rundown was better than that. And I don’t remember if you hated it because of its avid farts, you probably did, but Man on Fire is a pretty awesome movie, you might rewatch that fucker with an open mind, I didn’t like it that much the first time I saw it but the second time it worked perfectly. It’s really operatic and the vengeance is sweet. Another badass 00s action movie was Black Hawk Down, I don’t know what the guy said about war movies, it’s sort of a separate genre, not about a solitary badass, but that is a great action movie.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 1:37 p.m. CST

    Good calls on Man on Fire and Children of Men…

    by Alonzo Mosely

    Both have elements of what makes a classic action movie, but neither are classic action movies… That said Children of fuckin’ men is a masterpiece and even with the retardedness of the avid farts somewhere in Man on Fire beats the heart of a 70s revenge flick…

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 1:42 p.m. CST

    by the way, Vern, an action movie everyone should see

    by troutpencil

    Walter Hill’s “Extreme Prejudice,” cowritten by badass John Milius. It has the best cast ever. Nick Nolte, Powers Boothe, Michael Ironside, Rip Torn, Clancy Brown, William Forsythe, badass. It has multiple storylines, one involving badass mercenaries (actually working for the US but mercenaries are the most awesome subjects of any action movie), the other involving old friends (Nolte and Boothe), now on opposite sides of the law, one a rugged Texas law enforcement cowboy badass, the other a demented psycho drug dealer badass in Mexico. It ends in a Wild Bunch like shootout followed by a noble standoff to amend the wrongness, it’s a truly badass and manly movie. There’s a scene where Nolte is challenging Boothe to a gunfight, surrounded by hundreds of Boothe’s henchman, and Nolte makes some move for a letter or something and every single henchman jumps up and aims their assault rifles at him and Boothe settles them down, it’s truly epic.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 1:45 p.m. CST

    Also The Hunted and Way of the Gun

    by troutpencil

    The Hunted with Tommy Lee Jones and Del Toro is one hell of a fucking action movie, and I am an eternal fan of the Way of the Gun (also with Del Toro) for its badass rugged James Caan performance and his russian roulette playing friend showing these young hooligans how the old pros do it, as well as fantastic gunplay and Sarah Silverman sustaining injury, great movie.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 2:15 p.m. CST

    I love the Bourne movies but

    by SquirrelPhister

    …the cinematography and editing suffer that same hyper-active attention-deficit disorder problem that afflicts most action movies these days.

    I know I’ll probably be alone on this, but my favorite action movie of the decade so far is Miami Vice. Yeah it’s light on action, and it’s not filmed, edited or paced like a typical action movie, but that film fascinates me to no end. THAT is how you do a heavy on style, low on story action movie.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 2:15 p.m. CST

    Both are loved and hated…

    by Sebastian Haff

    …but I like them very much: Miami Vice and Sin City.

    If Children of Men is counted as action, it is _the_ best such of 00s. Also, Identity is best of Bournes, no question about it.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 2:49 p.m. CST


    by FreeKill

    Didn’t that come out in 2000? That would probably get my vote for best action movie of the 2000’s. Although, maybe it’s not strictly considered an action movie…

    Also, I really liked: Bourne Identity, Hero, Exit Wounds, Minority Report, Spider-Man, Kill Bill, Oldboy, Ong-Bak, Batman Begins, Sin City, That movie where Jet-Li was a Dog, Casino Royale, V for Vendetta, 300

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 2:55 p.m. CST

    Excellence achieved, as usual, my man.

    by Gilkuliehe

    I second CHILDREN OF MEN as the greatest. If that counts as action. A true iconic protagonist, grim as fuck and the most intense movie experience I’ve had in a while. Thanks to Vern I read MEN WOMEN AND CHAINSAWS, a study on gender in horror movies and it was a pretty good reading. Now Vern could you please review Halloween and Shoot ‘Em Up? Thanks and take care.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 2:58 p.m. CST

    robert rodriguez

    by maluquiro

    is our best action director today. once upon a time in mexico.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 2:59 p.m. CST

    i mean

    by maluquiro

    he still does old school action the best, even if it’s all in front of a green screen now.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 3:03 p.m. CST

    hot fuzz

    by maluquiro


  • Sept. 3, 2007, 3:21 p.m. CST

    The Hunted, CoM

    by PotSmokinAlien

    dude the Hunted sucked!!! everything looked like a soundstage and by the end fucking beneech was acting like he had made a bet with tommy lee jones that the director wouldn’t tell him ‘no’ no matter how exaggeratedly/laughably he phoned in his nutball act.

    i agree that Children of Men has some of the best action sequences i’ve seen in awhile— but i still wouldn’t really call it an action movie. i don’t know that you can really classify it in any genre, come to think of it. i’m standing by WotW……

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 3:25 p.m. CST

    Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Betty Burks…

    by Alonzo Mosely

    Holy shit, I look up this book on Amazon and come across this bat-shit crazy review by the great Betty Burks of Knoxville TN… Please enjoy it…

    Words Are More Important Than Noise Any Day

    Written by someone who knows this genre of movie and tries to separate it from the ‘thrillers.’ I have always preferred action from the time of the musical, ‘West Side Story,’ which had so much violence I would not let my young teenage son Justin watch it. I loved the music, Natalie Wood, and some of the story but I hated the street fighting. It was not the influence Justin needed in his young life.

    Another I loved with Michael Pare in ‘The Philadelphia Experiment’ full of action and partly science fiction, American style. He was my blue-eyed strawberry blonde duplicate of Jim Darling. Eric Lighenfeld mostly talks about some of his favorite action films. I have seen many of them, but veered away from others for different reasons. I did not see the Schwarzenegger ‘Terminator,’ ‘Total Recall,’ ‘True Lies,’ or the others he made as I did not want to struggle to understand what he was saying.

    Neither did I watch any of the Clint Eastwood ‘Dirty Harry’ movies or Stallone’s films because of the ugly violence and I don’t like to see ugliness when I pay to watch a movie. I did like Steven Seagal’s features but failed to see the ‘Death Wish’ episodes. I may have seen ‘The Matrix,’ but did not watch the sequels, ‘Matrix Revolution,” or ‘The Matrix Reloaded.’ They were just too ‘out-of-this-world violent for me. Most action movies don’t bother me except for the loud noises of fighting. I did like Mel Gibson in ‘Braveheart’ and ‘The Patriot.’

    He states that the “apotheosis of self-parody for both the genre and for Hollywood as a whole was the movie , ‘Last Action Hero.’ He shows that action films use parody over interrogation, self-deprecation over self-reflection. He should go to see ‘Serenity’ and ‘Better Luck Tomorrow.’

    I did see some he mentioned and liked ‘Daredevil,’ ‘Spiderman,’ ‘The Phantom,’ ‘The Shadow,’ ‘Dick Tracy,’ ‘The Crow’ (I loved the song, “It Can’t Rain All the Time from that feature); saw ‘Armageddon’ and ‘Independence Day’ but can’t remember whether I liked them or not. There have been more modern action films the past two years which I have seen, but apparently he hadn’t as they were not mentioned.

    Because of the loud noises and violence in this genre, it is popular only with young people (whose violent streak is being repressed in today’s society). The Fifties had many spectacles (Biblical and Egyptian royalty), but it was a violence of a different sort. Those heathens didn’t know any better, and used violence for ‘sport.’

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 3:35 p.m. CST

    who the fuck is betty burks?

    by troutpencil

    Just some random reviewer?

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 3:38 p.m. CST

    things to do in denver when you’re dead

    by Acne Scarface

    boat drinks, vern.

    speakin’ o’ charlie sheen, i seem to remember some fast/furious car chases in no man’s land.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 3:44 p.m. CST

    Betty Burks

    by PotSmokinAlien

    her review reminds me of Nell Cumpston, Neill Cumpston’s mom who reviewed Spiderman 3 for Mori earlier this summer. look it up. hilarity will ensue. like how this lady doesn’t like the matrix b/c of the violence but will overlook the insane violence in the Crow b/c of the fucking credits song??? ha

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 3:58 p.m. CST

    What about poor Justin?

    by Alonzo Mosely

    He couldn’t watch West Side Story because it was too violent… That poor fucker…

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 4:40 p.m. CST

    Old movie for Vern

    by Neo Zeed

    The Assignment with Aiden Quinn and Donald Sutherland. A really great action flick from the 90s.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 4:46 p.m. CST

    Best shattered glass scene ever in an action movie…

    by Neo Zeed

    goes to Another 48 hours!

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 6:15 p.m. CST

    thanks guys

    by Vern

    Lots of good ones there. I can’t believe I forgot Kill Bill, which I figure is my favorite movie of the 2000s period, not just action. Lots of other great movies were mentioned. I love Stander but is it action? Or just crime? I don’t know. Same goes for Miami Vice. Or Spartan, when somebody brings that up. Children of Men is hard to think of as an action movie but of course it is, all the most memorable parts are running and exploding.

    I’ll have to see Shooter and The Hunted. I’ve been meaning to see both of those.

    Gilkuliehe: I’ll have a Halloween review on geocities and probaly a Shoot ‘Em Up here, both in the next couple days.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 6:24 p.m. CST

    Almost forgot to mention

    by Vern

    Apocalypto was a great choice. That is definitely up there. Also The Rundown is a good one, but honestly I don’t think it’s good enough. I like it mainly for The Rock’s charismatic performance. I honestly don’t remember what any of the action scenes are.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 6:32 p.m. CST

    I’m not here to defend Another 48 hours

    by Neo Zeed

    I’m just sayin’ that it has the best shattered glass scene of all time.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 6:35 p.m. CST

    If you want old school action today, you have to look..

    by Alonzo Mosely

    at crime movies, it is the only associated genre that hasn’t become cgied and flashified…

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 6:38 p.m. CST


    by the_man_from_Rio

    Although it is technically science fiction, few people on this planet can deliver intense action like spielberg does…all hail INDIANA JONES AND THE STILL UNTITLED FOURTH FILM!!!

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 9:32 p.m. CST

    Action movies went astray somewhen between

    by kabong

    “Speed” (1994) and “Speed 2: Cruise Control” (1997).

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 11:03 p.m. CST

    Shocked and appalled.

    by china man

    There have been plenty of fine films mentioned in this list, but very few actual action films. The Borne movies are pretty good, but they’re not the finest action films of the era.

    Many of those listed don’t do anything new. They don’t bring anything new to the table. But sometimes there’s a film, a film that not only pushes the envelope, but it evolves the genre in every way, shape and form. And, above all, it hearkens back to the days of yore, the days of the pornographic action film.

    Because, you see, to me the action film will always be more Commando and Delta Force 2 than Indiana Jones, more Seagal than Ford.

    So. Here we go. Crank for Best Action Picture of the 2000s. And if you don’t like Crank then you’re out of the Man Club. Man, I really hope you liked that one, Vern.

    Crank is unlike any other film I have ever seen. Like Bad Boys 2 (another contender due to its ressurection of the pornographic action film) Crank took action sequences that aren’t really new and turned them up to eleven. Crank did things I have never seen before. Images displayed on the walls, Google Maps depicting Chev’s location, and just the overall premise and execution made Crank the best video game movie ever made.

    THAT is what defines a fine action film. And it’s something that has been sorely lacking in this modern era. The best double feature in recent memory was Crank and DOA (not the shitty Japanese movie, but the harshly ignored and ridiculously fun chicks fighting movie with Eric Robers and that doughy girl).

    Thanks for the review, Vern. You’re the best. Around.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 11:08 p.m. CST

    Death Sentence = best movie of the year.

    by losder

    That shit was hilarious. Almost Commando good. Actually, I take that back, the unintentional fun in Commando is mostly from not giving a shit, this is awesome because they sort of did give a shit, and it has Kevin Bacon as Robert DeNiro.

    God what an awesome movie. Vern, please please please go review Death Sentence.

  • Sept. 3, 2007, 11:57 p.m. CST


    by Yeah I Wrote That

    Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was one of the best. Also, I don’t think Vern would name a book about Seagal Segalogy. For one, in its current form, it sounds more like it’s about Sega. And two, Vern would come up with something better than an ology. Fuck Seagalology.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 12:58 a.m. CST

    Fuck Seagalogy? No. Fuck

    by china man

    Fuck Seagalogy? No. Fuck YOU.

    Also, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was my favorite film of ’05, but was it an action movie? It was written by the creator of the modern action film, but there wasn’t all that much action. It certainly had everything else, though.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 2:28 a.m. CST

    China man

    by Vern

    I’m sorry to say we’re gonna have a philosophical difference here. BAD BOYS 2 and CRANK are two text book examples of why I don’t like most of the modern action movies. CRANK is more clever and had some goofy parts that I liked, but both of them have directors that try to throw every god damn thing they can think of at every frame of film without any sense of rhythm, geography, tension, atmosphere or storytelling. It’s like I said about DOMINO I think… imagine jumping up and down on a trampoline while banging yourself on the head with a pan for 2 hours, that’s the style of filmmaking here.

    CRANK takes things that are inherently exciting and then makes them not exciting by kicking you 22 times in the face per second with freeze frames, x-rays, black and white, whip pans, avid farts, avid diarrhea, avid heart burn and every other stupid fucking gimmick those sugar swilling hyperactive idiots could find in a TV commercial and duplicate. There are two directors credited and my theory is they both separately directed the movie blindfolded without being allowed to communicate and then used a computer program to edit their footage together without judgment.

    Plus it didn’t help that they have a rape scene played for laughs and in his review Harry said it was super hot.

    But hey, I’m an old man, my brain can’t translate that video game shit into movie. If you enjoyed it more power to you. I like the premise and the part where he makes a phone call while plummeting to his death.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 2:44 a.m. CST

    I can see that, but the

    by china man

    I can see that, but the thing that excited me about both those movies (and to a slightly lesser degree, The Rundown) is that they were over the top, super violent action movies, which is something that just doesn’t happen anymore. The action movie genre has become a shadow of its former self, and there are very few modern action films that aren’t dumbed down and cut for rating. One of the biggest dissapointments in recent memory was MI:2, an action movie with toys directed by John Woo. That should have been the finest action movie of my adult life, and yet? And yet.

    There was supposedly a line cut from Commando where Arnold tears a guy’s arm off, hits him with it and says “Stop whining.” In 1985 that was too much. But today? Today is the time for that line, and far too few directors are running with it.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 2:46 a.m. CST

    “THAT is what defines a fine action film”

    by Alonzo Mosely

    Vern has already covered it, but Crank is a text book example of ‘new’ action, and us old farts were in a discussion about how we wished we could get good ‘old’ action…

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 3:06 a.m. CST

    Perhaps I’m just thankful

    by china man

    Perhaps I’m just thankful for anything that reminds me of that thrill I first discovered twenty odd years ago. A ridiculous, thrilling action movie is rare these days, now that studios and market research does more directing than the directors do, so I’m willing to forgive the flaws in the modern ones if they can remind me why I first became fascinated by the standard bearers.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 3:58 a.m. CST

    The Nest

    by Knochenbrecher Joe

    If you havent already seen it, check out Nid de guêpes aka The Nest. Definitely one of the best action movies of 00s. Basically a remake of Assault on Precinct 13. Group of people in a warehouse against an endless army of faceless cannonfodder. No bullshit 1 second cuts here, no idiotic matrix moves, no romance for the women or forced on character development, they just fight to survive. Once the action starts going (20 minutes in) it never slows down and its all absolutely beautiful shot and choreographed. Watch it!

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 3:58 a.m. CST

    Vern should review ROCKULA

    by JackTheMime

    It’s not an action movie, but I seem to remember a lot of music and dancing, which are physical actions. Also, the interaction between the mother and son vampires has some weird incestuous undertones and there are some silly POLICE ACADEMY 17-style sound-effects. Plus, you can’t go wrong when your main character is a vampire rock star (excluding QUEEN OF THE DAMNED). And maybe there was some shit about a curse and a pirate with a rhinestone peg-leg and a ham bone. It’s one retarded-in-an-almost-tolerable-way kind of movie. Look it up, kids.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 4:10 a.m. CST

    Speaking of rape scenes …

    by eraser_x

    For a period of years, every time I watched a Clint Eastwood movie, I was afraid there would be a rape scene involving Sondra Locke.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 4:29 a.m. CST

    Best action movie of the 2000’s

    by eraser_x

    The best one I can think of so far is Jet Li’s Fearless (2006). It is good in many of the same disillusioned-with-violence ways as was Unforgiven. I prefer the very “raw” fighting in Fearless to that in Kill Bill (impressively raw but performed by too many poser actors) and in Hero (impressive and likeable but hyper-stylized and exaggerated to an extent that it resembles a CG The Matrix or Spiderman and is not pure enough anymore an action movie). Apocalypto was very good, too. I haven’t seen too many movies the past few years, though.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 4:30 a.m. CST


    by JackTheMime

    …involving Sondra Locke scares me.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 4:40 a.m. CST

    Well, actually…

    by JackTheMime

    The scene on the train in THE GAUNTLET is kinda hot. I mean, I knew Clint was gonna bust those guys up before shit got rough, so it’s okay when she whips her boobies out and gets man-handled.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 4:40 a.m. CST

    Well, actually…

    by JackTheMime

    The scene on the train in THE GAUNTLET is kinda hot. I mean, I knew Clint was gonna bust those guys up before shit got rough, so it’s okay when she whips her boobies out and gets man-handled.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 4:42 a.m. CST

    Vern, I’m surprised you like Kill Bill so much.

    by eraser_x

    I would’ve thought that (1) the smirkiness and smugness of Kill Bill’s characters and their poser-boy dialogue and (2) the evident lack of natural physical prowess and “badass”-ness in the Kill Bill actors would have made Kill Bill merely entertaining and fun but not “Badass” enough to be considered by you a top action movie. In other words, Kill Bill seems to lack the type of “authenticity” that Clint Eastwood movies have.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 4:45 a.m. CST

    Fuckin double posts

    by JackTheMime

    They should be taken out behind the shed and shot.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 4:54 a.m. CST

    I agree, eraser_x

    by JackTheMime

    While entertaining, KILL BILL is nothing but a collage of hundreds of real movies that had to pay their dues by being original works and earning our love and admiration, I guess. Then Tarantino came along and turned them into film-geek spank material. Still, it’s entertaining.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 5:30 a.m. CST

    A rape scene in ‘Crank’?

    by DerLanghaarige

    Did I watch a different movie?

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 6:50 a.m. CST

    Pretty cool interview with the book’s writer:

    by TELF


  • Sept. 4, 2007, 9:25 a.m. CST


    by maluquiro

    no love for robert rodriguez?

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 9:28 a.m. CST

    rape scene in crank

    by maluquiro

    it was where he’s with his girlfriend and he decides the only way he can keep his adrenaline up is by having sex with her. at first she’s resistant, but he’s so persistent that she gives in and starts to enjoy. and then the bus full of asian schoolgirls drives by, and he answers his cell phone, etc. that movie was so dumb.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Sounds like an excellent book. HARD TARGET!!! YES!!!

    by messi

    I hate books on a subject and you notice holes that the dude writing it didn’t do all his research or wasn’t being objective like American Hardcore but this dude knows his shit.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 12:32 p.m. CST

    Uh, mode_7

    by eraser_x

    If you want to disagree with my OPINION of Kill Bill, maybe you can be a bit more relevant and specific. Especially given that this talkback is regarding a “serious-analytical-study-of-the-action-genre book”. By the way, I did not say anything about Kill Bill that would make it impossible for even me to say, as you did, that it was “a GREAT fucking movie and the best time I ever had at the movies”. So, how can I even tell in what way you and I disagree about the movie? My only inference is that you don’t like serious analytical study of the action genre, which in itself is odd. Don’t make me try to read your mind, please. Thank you.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 12:41 p.m. CST

    By the way, Hero

    by eraser_x

    is not pure enough an action movie, in my opinion, because it is too close to the Fantasy-type of martial arts movie, which of course has a long tradition, but which is nevertheless a somewhat cross-bred form of action movie. Kill Bill, despite its mature themes and elements, has a cartoony, infantile streak. Sure, that streak is intentional, in a grown-men-like-to-watch-Speed-Racer sense, but that streak also makes Kill Bill less of a pure, adult action movie.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 12:42 p.m. CST

    Uncommon Valor

    by Lone_Wolf_McQuaalude

    I always tear up at the end of UNCOMMON VALOR. Tex Cobb is brilliant. And so is Yor, Hunter from the Future

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 1:04 p.m. CST

    “Streets of Fire”??? hells yeah…

    by sonnyhooper

    …how can you go wrong with a movie that has Michael Paré fighting Willem Dafoe under an elevated train track with sledge hammers? and directed by walter fucking hill to boot? plus it has the best song ever written by mortal man….”i can dream about you”. how this film didn’t clean up and the box office, i’ll never know. thought i was the only one who remembered that movie. good call TELF.

    as for the best action flick of the 00’s is the jury in yet of “shoot ’em up”? just going on the ad’s i’ve seen so far this HAS to be the closest thing we have seen yet to the “old school” action flims, no?

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 1:36 p.m. CST

    What No Transformers?

    by messi

    I can’t think of another ‘Action’ Movie in the 00’s with better action scenes in it. I don’t really count Children of Men as an action movie. But Transformers takes the cake because of scenes such as when Starscream comes down and takes out both Ironhide and Ratchet, Starscream’s air battle, Prime coming into the city and getting straight into fighting Megatron. The Framing, pacing, composition of those shots was amazing. The only other ones that stand out are Ong Bak and Spidey 2. Wait when did Equilibrium come out? Bourne Ultimatum, I don’t get why there is so much love for this movie. Nothing really new or groundbreaking, or that hasn’t been seen or done before.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 1:54 p.m. CST

    The thing I like about Walter Hill’s action scenes…

    by Neo Zeed

    is how everyone flies back when shot. It’s like they like got hit by a fucking train. That is awesome. And the gunshots are LOUD, unlike the little sounds we get today. He makes you fear and respect the power of the gun.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 2 p.m. CST

    Here’s a youtube clip of what I’m talking about!

    by Neo Zeed


  • Sept. 4, 2007, 2:02 p.m. CST

    Kill Bill

    by Vern

    (I wrote this post before but I don’t see it anymore… sorry if it re-appears and I am repeating myself.)

    I get what you’re saying, Eraser X. There is a big difference in tone between the more exaggerated martial arts movies and, say, a DIE HARD or a Charles Bronson movie. So if you want to say KILL BILL is a different genre I understand that. But whatever genre is it’s a masterpiece of. What I love about the movie is that it has numerous classic fight scenes (Beatrix vs. Elle Driver in the trailer is my favorite), classic iconic characters, top of the line storytelling (cutting from Beatrix buried alive to her Shaolin-style training to explain how she’s gonna get out being my favorite storytelling move) and even though it’s made up of homages to Shaw Brothers movies, Sonny Chiba samurai stories, spaghetti westerns, giallos and a million other things the sum total of the parts is something completely unique. And at the end I am genuinely sad that she kills Bill and touched when she’s crying on the bathroom floor, elated to have her daughter back.

    It’s a great movie with great action in it. I don’t think it should be punished for being different from what everyone else is doing. Especially when the crop of traditional straight ahead action is so small in this era.

    And Messi, I’m gonna pretend you didn’t just write that “the framing, pacing, composition of those shots” in TRANSFORMERS was “amazing” just to avoid raising my blood pressure. I will just mention that it would be a huge understatement to say that I disagree more than any man has ever disagreed on anything in the history of the entire universe and leave it at that.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 5:09 p.m. CST


    by TELF

    Nice one. I thought I was all alone with that one. There just aren’t enough sledge hammer duels in movies today.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 5:23 p.m. CST

    Mode_7 and the choking back of the tears…

    by TELF

    in action films:
    Yup KB2 is a beaut, but honorable mentions should go to Die Hard (John telling Al to explain to Holly that he is sorry), Arnie choosing to be dunked in molten steel in T2 (I was in bits when i saw that, it was like ET or Shane all over again), and the very last shot of A History of Violence, where Viggo is silently let back into the family, maybe.
    Oh shit, Chow and his girl reaching blindly for each other at the end of The Killer. So SAD.
    The inclusion of this type of material might even be a kind of sub-rule to Vern’s Law of Bad Ass Juxtaposition…

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 6:12 p.m. CST

    I’m the author of “Action Speaks Louder.”

    by Eric Lichtenfeld

    Hi, all.

    Hard to say what the best action movie of the 2000s has been, but I’m digging many of the ideas folks are posting.

    I do know what the best action movie *would have been* if it had actually gotten made: “Mad Max Fury Road.” No doubt in my mind.

    Thanks to everyone whose shown some interest in my book. If you’re into action movies and their weapons, or just 6061T6 aluminum, I think you may like the book.


  • Sept. 4, 2007, 8 p.m. CST

    Holy Mother of God the power of Vern strikes again…

    by Alonzo Mosely

    I mean he may not be as insane as Demon Dave or the A lister that is Bruce Willis, but yet again Vern shows his ability to summon anyone he writes about… Greetings, Eric Lichtenfeld…

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 9:32 p.m. CST

    my 80s action film that noone seems to know

    by Bloo

    is an old Fred Dryer film at the height of his Hunter popularity called “Death before Dishonor”. I could be wrong here but i remember a bunch of Arab terroists kill someone close to Fred and he goes in and kills them
    that’s the revenge/action movie formula and it’s so simple I don’t know why more don’t follow that pattern. The closest to *THAT* pattern I can think of is the wretched WWF movie, “the Marine” or “Shooter” which I didn’t think would be that good but supurisingly was.
    the best acion film of he 00s is tough because we haven’t really gotten a stright up action film. they’ve either been cut and cut and cut and cut until there is nothing left or they’ve added to much stuff. And while I know 300 was computer background generated, there is something in that movie that just stirs me up and makes me want to go into battle. But we haven’t gotten any Die Hard’s/Death Wish/Dirty Harry movies

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 10:37 p.m. CST

    forgotten classics

    by doodler

    The Way of the Gun, First Blood, Sorcerer (action or suspense?), To Live and Die in LA (if Dirty Harry counts…), The Driver (and a lot of Walter Hill movies), Tombstone…

    as for the 2000’s? Gotta love Michael Mann, along with Bourne (and therefore Shooter, an unabashed clone), and Kill Bill.

    Michael Mann’s movies have the best shot and most realistic action. Dir.Cut of Miami Vice, Heat, and Collateral are all awesome. Don’t know if i’d consider them action movies – they have great action in them, certainly.

    You mentioned The Hunted. It’s an *excellent* action movie, Friedkin’s legacy is completely redeemed by it. Don’t believe your tendency to call bullshit on some of it, either, it’s all realistic as hell. it would be perfect if they eiminated Connie Neilson’s character.

    (kind of like how 3000 Mile to Graceland would be a great OTT actioner if Courtney Cox wasn’t in it).

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 10:39 p.m. CST


    by doodler

    dammit, how does one make paragraph breaks?

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 10:48 p.m. CST

    Shooter & Definition Question

    by Colier Rannd

    I might be alone but the closest to an 80’s action movie in the last few years seems to be Shooter. It reminded me of the old Arnie movies.

    Now here’s a question for everyone. Does anyone else make a clear distinction in their viewing between”action” and “adventure”? For me this is all about tone. The Indy movies, Flash Gordon, etc…these are adventures. Action is usually more brutal and seems to involve weaponry more. I’d especially like to know Vern and Eric’s thoughts on this. I mention it because it seems to all get lumped in together.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 11:12 p.m. CST

    Action (vs.) adventure; Death Before Dishonor

    by Eric Lichtenfeld

    I agree, Colier, there is a difference–a subtle difference in tone. Also, action tends to take place in the here and now, whereas “adventure” is more often confined to the past. Boo–I don’t think “Death Before Dishonor” is a good movie, but I was glad to see you reference it. I wrote a little bit about it, but it was very satisfying!

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 11:13 p.m. CST

    Oh, and thank you…

    by Eric Lichtenfeld

    …to Alonzo for the welcome.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 11:24 p.m. CST

    You’re welcome Eric…

    by Alonzo Mosely

    Just don’t threaten Vern to a cage match, that’s passe… Don’t worry, that isn’t supposed to make sense…

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 11:27 p.m. CST


    by maluquiro

    was way boring.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 11:30 p.m. CST

    Colier Rannd

    by Neo Zeed

    I agreee with the distinction between action vs adventure. Something like Sahara or the Mummy are adventures, while Lethal Weapon or Face/Off is action. I would say superheroes fall into the adventure category or it’s own “superhero” category…but not action.

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 11:42 p.m. CST

    doodler, you put a p between < and > to break

    by kabong

    Other good action maybe not mentioned:

    Passenger 57

    Drop Zone

    The Art of War


  • Sept. 4, 2007, 11:48 p.m. CST

    Vern what’s your take on the Bourne action scenes

    by Neo Zeed

    I know that many people Bourne fever, but I couldn’t understand what was going on half the time. Now I read that Bond might go shakycam, and I’m really dissapointed. What do you think?

  • Sept. 4, 2007, 11:53 p.m. CST

    kabong’s picks have me wondering…

    by Neo Zeed

    What the hell happened to Wesley Snipes?! Is he in jail because of that Tax thing or what?

  • Sept. 5, 2007, 12:08 a.m. CST

    Wesley Snipes is still kocking out direct to dvd…

    by Alonzo Mosely

    classics, and I keep watching ’em, I have a bit of a Snipes addiction, and I don’t know why… I know I am no Vern, Neo Zeed, but I think Bourne has gotten too easy a ride. Shaky cam is annoying and spits in the face of the great action directors who made fights brutal and action packed and yet always easy to follow. If cheapass drive-in movies from the 70s could get fight scenes right, what excuse do you have in the hundreds of millions of dollars franchise era…

  • Sept. 5, 2007, 1:15 a.m. CST

    Bourne / Shakycam

    by Vern

    Neo Zeed – I’m kind of in the middle on that one. I agree, I don’t like the shakycam. However, I do think the Bourne movies are well-executed as far as shakycam goes. Alot of those chases are exciting despite being sometimes disorienting for me. There are other movies where the camera and editing completely takes me out of the action so I don’t feel involved at all. I also thought some of that opening chase in 28 WEEKS LATER was intense despite the camera being practically swung around on a rope. But then by the end I couldn’t even tell which characters were dying.

    With the Bourne movies I think it got progressively worse. I don’t remember the camera being that shaky in the first one. The third one, while I liked it, was the first one where it really started to bother me. It just seemed too much, like even if it was a real documentary the camera wouldn’t be shaking that much. I still enjoyed the movie but it is not my preferred style of action.

  • Sept. 5, 2007, 5:27 a.m. CST

    Vern, surely Mindhunters best 00’s action!

    by bender7

    I guess we know what his weakness was. Bullets.

  • Sept. 5, 2007, 10:31 p.m. CST

    The Marine!

    by Mr Glass

    Kiddin’. Huge guilty pleasure for me, but not the “best” of anything. Kill Bill IS the top contender… Maybe A History of Violence… Or The Lord of the Rings if we’re really stretching the definition.

    PLUG: An old article about the history of action movies I wrote:


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