Monday, March 23, 2015

Lights, Camera...

If you’d asked me yesterday I would have said I like action movies... okay. At their best (Die Hard, Predator and my personal favourite Terminator 2: Judgment Day) they’re a perfect mess of fun, violence and jokes. At their worst (too many candidates to mention) they’re too dumb, dumb, dumb and too loud, loud, loud.

But this very enjoyable (and long so you need to commit) Grantland article on the mythical “Action Movie Star Championship Belt” makes me realise just how many action films I still quote on a regular basis and/or would happily plop down in front of tonight, if the opportunity presented itself. It has also made me think about the career of Vin Diesel and Sly Stallone in far greater detail than I had… ever intended to.

The premise is thus: Steve McQueen’s role in the classic film Bullitt makes him worthy of being the first-ever Action Movie Star Championship Belt recipient.
After McQueen (spoiler alert!) kills the bad guy at the end, he should have hoisted the first-ever Action Movie Star Championship Belt. How many actors won that thing? How can we figure this out? And is this piece a convoluted excuse to celebrate the surprisingly awesome Liam Neeson era — which peaked yet again with the recent success of Non-Stop? To that end, I sketched out the past 46 years using a complicated set of guidelines I created three minutes ago…
The article then wallows in the subsequent decades of action movies to decide which other stars deserved to wear it.

There’s Stallone:
On the heels of Rambo: First Blood Part II, we didn’t care if Cobra was about cops, snakes or a cop named after a snake. The movie’s confusing trailer promised us machine guns, car chases, bullets, explosions, and a toothpick-chewing Stallone wearing sunglasses. Wait, he was playing a cop who didn’t play by the rules and cut his pizza with scissors??? Even better! I knew this movie was released in May 1986 without looking it up. Why? Back in high school, me and my buddies were counting down the weeks until it came out. In a related story, there wasn’t a girlfriend to be seen at the time. Not a one. Anyway, Cobra was legitimately incomprehensible; I’ve seen it 20 times and still couldn’t tell you what happened. The screenwriter should have just been credited as “Written by 200 Pounds of Cocaine.” We didn’t care — again, Sly was wearing sunglasses, chewing a toothpick and blowing people away. What else did you need?
There’s Schwarzenegger:
This wasn’t an apex, this was an a-fucking-pex. In two years, Arnold somehow crushed the science fiction, action comedy, summer blockbuster, three-boobed women, special-effects nerd-vana and “It’s not a toomah” corners. Everything peaked with James Cameron’s breathtaking T2, which left us stumbling from the theater like we’d just watched a UFO land. There had never been a cinematic experience approaching T2 before. And this was coming off Total Recall, a movie that EVERYONE loved. Amazing. In 1992, a rattled Stallone waved the ceremonial white flag with Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Our enduring action-hero scoreboard: Arnold > Sly.
Hey it's JCVD:
Even more incredible, JCVD had to “act” differently as the two twins: One was a good guy and the other was a woman-slapping drunk, but you knew they were both Van Damme because neither one of them could act
Even Swayze makes an appearance:
Everyone discovered Road House on their own timetable. My moment happened during my sophomore year in college, when Nick Aieta and I rented Road House from Blockbuster just because the VHS cover cracked us up. Is this a comedy? Is it an action movie? What is this?
And many many more. It’s a great read. Get on it.

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