25 Cornerstones of Action Cinema
173 7.5 7.41. A Better Tomorrow II (1987)
So, here we go with modern master of action directing, John Woo. But you may wonder where ABT I is. Well, I can't help liking the second one better. Woo has perfected the action scenes of which the final battle at the mansion is a great example. Blood is all over the walls and the bodycount-meter is going crazy. Joseph Koo's score is tailor-made for waving guns in both hands, but nothing makes more justice to his highness, Chow Yun-Fat, than a good ole shotgun. Then we truly start kicking ass.
The sequel also makes an important character/casting change as Leslie Cheung makes room for Dean Shek. And what a delightfully weird SOB he is. First he flips out, then he recovers, and then, filled with piss and vengeance vinegar, he takes matters into his own hands and puts people to sleep like the Grim Reaper himself. However, as I understood, this is what many saw as ABT II's downfall. So, take my words with a grain of salt.
Highlight: how can I choose anything but the climactic mansion fight? Apparently fire arms weren't enough as they also felt the need to bring swords to the playpark. Cooky sons-of-guns...
165 6.1 6.22. Blind Fury (1989)
This is the most idiotic movie I've seen - and entertaining as hell. The actors are awful (except for Hauer), the script is full of brainless stuff, the ending is sugary and the action's clumsiness with the cheap effects and all that reminds me of Cannon Group's Ninja-movies starring Sho Kosugi. Appropriately though, Mr. Kosugi himself makes an appearance at the end of the movie, and I know every fan of ninja movies wets themselves when that happens.
I got to admit, though, that the idea of a blind swordsman is fascinating (based on Zatoichi) and they really make the most of it. The movie still handles the entire blindness aspect better than any Daredevil comic I've read (which isn't much). I mean it isn't realistic by any stretch, but it's believable, and it actually feels like it plays a part in the movie.
Randall "Tex" Cobb makes the role he's done whole of his life and Rutger has the wisdom of Master Splinter. That's more than I can hope for in most movies.
Hauer uses his wits to save his friend's kid from yet another assault by the crooks on a cornfield.
625 6.4 6.83. Bloodsport (1988)
What would this list be without Van Damage?
This isn't even Van Damme's best but it's certainly his most legendary. The execution is, by today's standards, horrible but by God did they put passion to it. Bloodsport has the training montage. It has Paul Hertzog's deep meditative songs. It has adrenaline-pumping sport songs. It has the EMBODIMENT OF EVIL for a villain. And of course, a personal crudge that gives Jean Claude extra power.
When all this charge of energy and build-up finally explodes into stiff fight scenes with kicks missing by a mile, I admit, it's endearing. It brings a smile to my face.
Van Damme has some really out of place friends in the movie. I mean they're in a Kumite tournament but one guy looks like he's a game designer for Nintendo and the other guy's probably the missing twin brother of Peter Jackson.
Hell, even his name is Jackson.
Van Damme does an impressive split in the middle of a fight and effectively makes his opponents bells jingle. Talk about hitting below the belt.
1112 6.5 6.74. Commando (1985)
You know why the Wachowski Bros. movie Matrix is so popular? Because of John Matrix's permission!
I'll let that joke describe Commando.
Commando deserves an honourable spot on my list. It launched my interest in action movies to start. To be precise, if that wasn't crazy enough, I'm not kidding, it started my interest in movies in general after a few years of indifference. It was, and still is, so over the top macho bullshit it's impossible not to enjoy it. And it's aware of it. Commando has it all: people impaled by pipes; scalps sliced the fuck off; axe to the groins; pitch fork in the chest... What Arnold touches, no longer exists.
And what's an action movie without the worst one-liners ever. "I lied", "Let off some steam, Bennett", "He's dead tired", "Wrong!" The dialog is nothing but one-liners, I might say.
James Horner's simple synthesizer was the first thing I loved about it since I am an 80s geek.
Most importantly, Commando made me feel like a boy again. Waving guns and being all hero when I was playing outside. Definitely one of the most entertaining movies I know. Funny stuff.
You know, I purchased a DVD copy of Commando back in 2007 and was super-excited to witness its gory glory again, but what the hell happened: the toolshed scene was cut! I can't even begin to describe the hole that was left in my soul, which could only be filled by an uncut version. And I had to wait for a whole year for that.
That's how good that is - not seeing it leaves an empty spot inside your very core!
1472 6.1 6.65. Demolition Man (1993)
Everything is fine in the future. Birth control works, crimes barely happen, no drugs are used and toilet paper is replaced with three sea shells. Now, how often does that happen!
Demolition Man is a truck load of fun. A satire of a society overrun by rules that fight every bad habit man NEEDS. What's Stallone going to do when he can't have natural sex, swear, or even eat meat. What about the re-programming of John Spartan? His hobbies include KNITTING. That and the sea shells + various other things = some insane writing. For once Stallone has a sense of self-irony.
Simon Phoenix performed by Wesley Snipes is like the hidden dark side of the chaste people of San Angeles. They don't have the guts to let loose because they are afraid of disorder (I would so fit in). We naturally root for Phoenix.
I seriously don't even believe Spartan wants to get Phoenix arrested or killed. He's as much a savage as Phoenix so they're just having fun DEMOLISHING everything in sight while beating each other.
There isn't much to complain except for some aspects in special effects and set design which make a pretty cheap outlook at times. The ending is one of the most worn out clichés in action movies I can think, too. Otherwise, don't miss it.
"We're police officers! We're not trained to handle this kind of violence!"
3799 7.7 8.36. Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard sensationalized action movies with its reluctant protagonist whose strength comes not from former combat training or strategic skills in warfare, but from every man's hidden resources, survival instincts and bad attitude. In the era of Stallones and Schwarzeneggers, the hero with more will and spirit to fight than actual powers was a rare treat - and still is.
Surprisingly, the only thing I kinda wish was better, is the action. I wish they could've come up with more than five memorable kills for twelve bad guys. I would've liked to keep a countdown.
Otherwise, from its setting to its atmosphere, from characters to technical aspects (sound effects, the look), it's almost perfect.
And don't even get me started with Alan Rickman. Almost every time I've seen an action movie, I've thought: "Why couldn't this villain be like Hans Grüber?" Let that be an indication of his awesomeness.
Needless to say, Die Hard spawned numerous mimickers after its release, possibly the best known ones being Steven Seagal's Under Siege and Passenger 57 starring Wesley Snipes. Some took elements of it, others copied it from top to bottom, but the greatest of the mountains has yet to be topped.
While the kills and fight scenes were always quite underwhelming for me personally, I still gotta love the rooftop explosion. What a magnificent slow-mo shot of McClane jumping off the Nakatomi Plaza roof right before it goes Boom! - tied only to a fire hose, naturally.
Comment changed due to its downgrading tone towards the movie. I was reacting to its popularity too much instead of appreciating it on its own.
2470 7.1 7.67. Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
John McTiernan returned to direct and I guess the same director is the one to make the best Die Hards. After Die Hard 2 being entertaining but a bit repetitive from the first, Die Hard: With a Vengeance takes a different approach. While the first Die Hard was about the ultimate desperate situation in the middle of the night in a claustrophobic environment, the third one's about running around the summery city of N.Y. with Hans Gruber's brother as the puppet master. It's more in the tradition of a buddy cop action/comedy. But as one, it's waaaayy above average.
Another buddy cop film, Bad Boys, came out the same year. That movie already lost that battle when Martin Lawrence was casted.
I must admit that the idea of the Simon says game is always fascinating despite being also very old. That's what basically makes Die Hard 3 almost as good as the first.
Samuel L. Jackson is in his everyday role but the chemistry between him and Willis keeps the package joyful and the dialog delightfully rude.
Jeremy Irons can never reach the charisma of Alan Rickman but I dare say he's the only one who could even come close to Rickman's genius. And that's praiseworthy.
Now it's a short scene, but all the more suspenseful. McClane is escorted to an elevator by a bunch of villains posing as security guards (or something of sort) but in this crammed space, McClane calls their bluff and deals with the situation in a way it would make the McClane from 1988 simply jealous.
3043 6.7 7.38. Face/Off (1997)
Let's think this for a minute. Would it be possible to switch faces like that? I doubt it. But it's beyond me why some people dislike Face/Off for that. To me it's important that it happens no matter how it's implemented.
I'm sure there are plot holes all over the movie but luckily I'm so simple that I can't track them down.
So, as I said, changing faces is an intriguing thought experiment and it probably makes one of the most exciting plots to an action movie ever. Not only does it provide misunderstandings concerning who's who, but it also causes moral dilemmas. For example, one wants to kill a man, but can't because it will blow their cover. The other is expected to kill a person but he can't because he's really the good guy. One can exploit the other guy's authority and the other may get his ass kicked because of who he looks like, etc etc. The possibilities are endless.
Being a fan of John Woo, I was worried first since there's no Chow Yun-Fat on this one and no violence as bloody as in their HK flicks (according to age restrictions). But man, did the action scenes win this skeptic fool over. Guns howl, sparks fly all over the place and characters crash and fall through all sorts of objects. Woo's use of slow motion, camera angles and movement haven't changed much from his HK days so all I gotta do is imagine that all the guys have Asian faces and we have a good old John Woo film!
A kid takes cover and puts headphones on while grown ups have a little shootout. The peaceful music taking over and seeing the situation from the kids (supposed) point of view is quintessential Woo.
610 7.2 7.79. Fearless (2006)
After movies like Danny the Dog and Romeo Must Die, that were quite honestly quickly forgotten, and The Expendables and Lethal Weapon 4, which were decent but only had him in a supporting role, I finally found a proof that Jet Li can both kick ass and carry a movie on his shoulders.
My initial worries with this movie were as follows:
- is it shot in high-def?
- is it edited by an ADHD patient?
- is it filled with cliché, gimmicky effects like slowing the action down, then speeding it forward?
In other words, is it trying to cover up for its lack of "punch" with advanced technology?
Well, clearly I should have more faith in Oriental cinema. They're experts in these things.
Luckily, Fearless has a modern look to it (despite being a historical tale) but it doesn't overshadow the awesomely choreographed fight scenes, in which every guy gets the chance to give all they got. Strictly physical and all talent - that's the way I like it.
The highlight of the movie for me is surprisingly NOT about two martial arts men but Jet Li's fight against WWE Wrestler Nathan Jones. That scene reminded me why I love a certain boxing related EPIC from the 1980's featuring a certain 'Thunderlips'.
1321 7.2 7.710. First Blood (1982)
For a Finn like me it's easy to relate to that autumnal feel of a little town in the middle of nowhere. Put a little melancholic Jerry Goldsmith and damn. Love it.
Oh, don't forget the golden rule: "Make your hero suffer!" That's storytelling people teach at schools. Rambo combines criticism on the bad treatment of 'Nam veterans and survival in the forest. People also tend to forget that First Blood isn't about the body count and the amount of explosions is less than, what, four? In which no one gets killed? This is downright sacrilegious!
Brian Dennehy is the ultimate asshole and, most importantly, he doesn't have an accent. I think it's no harm if I spoil mildly by saying that for once the ending isn't about explosions and massacre but a speech. Now that I think of it, sounds f'ckin boring but it's not. Stallone lets it all come out. For a guy so stiff it's not too bad!
Just for the sake of not mentioning only end battles for highlights, I'm gonna give a shoutout to Rambo's escape from the police station. Not that great in terms of explosive action, choreography or whatever, but a heroic victorious moment nevertheless.
1851 7.2 7.811. The Fugitive (1993)
After directing Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris and before his crummy Arnie flick "Collateral Damage" Andrew Davis hit the bullseye with "The Fugitive". For probably the first time an action film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture but that's not why we care about it but because it's a gripping high tension thriller with not one dull moment within its 130 minute running time.
Not much explosions or gunfire I must say but a movie-long game of tag can make for an experience just as exciting.
Also, Tommy Lee Jones made history by outshining Harrison Ford as Chief Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard. It only goes to show how he and his team stole Ford's thunder when the semi-sequel carried the name "U.S. Marshals".
The fan favorite of course is the scene at the dam, but I prefer the foot chase in Chicago with the Saint Patrick's Day parade and all that. To me, that sequence perfectly captures the nature of a good chase: one moment it may seem like you're safe already, the next you may be found by sheer accident. And so the game continues...
1817 6.8 7.212. GoldenEye (1995)
I promised myself not to add any Bond movies to this list cause I'd have to put so many but I finally I gave in.
GoldenEye isn't even my favorite Bond but it's the one that modernized the Bond franchise and made it compatable with the likes of Terminator 2 and Die Hard. It's only gotten better with age. I can definitely feel the enthusiasm to show what new they can do with the series. New actors, new attitudes, new threats...
...and then there's the action. It's everything Bond's been known for - exponentially. Massive destruction, impressive stunts, lots of shootouts, hand-to-hand combats that really feel like hurting and exhausting (with some great "OOMF!"s and "ARRGH!"s) and chase scenes.
Talking bout chases, what's the first thing that Bond does now that The Cold War's over? Tear down the center of St. Petersburg with a tank. How nice of him.
By the way, Xenia Onatopp must be one of the most unique and strange villains ever. Imagine the direction Famke Janssen was given.
"Okay, Famke, you ready? Remember to make sex noises when you fire that gun."
583 8 7.913. Hard Boiled (1992)
The best bullet ballet I've seen. Chow Yun-Fat is at the peak of his coolness. His character, Tequila, is almost like a spoof of all the American action heroes such as John McClane and Dirty Harry. And he doesn't even need to be a gangster or wear a tuxedo. The only person who's any challenge for Tequila is Kuo Chui as Mad Dog who steals the main villain's role from Anthony Wong. What's more interesting is that Mad Dog actually has a code of honour - he really lives up to his name when innocent people get slaughtered.
Visually, the dominating color is blue (as I see it) which only fits perfectly for characters dreaming of unreachable, better tomorrow (heh). At the same time, despite the depressed mood, the overall feel is surprisingly laid-back and enjoyable. Maybe it's the jazz (or that weird jungle drum) playing...
They saved the best for last. The huge climax at the hospital starts about almost 40 minutes before the movie ends and it's all a big party for any lover of action, but you can still pick great individual moments from there too.
Here's the famous tracking shot. Feels like playing a game.
530 8 7.914. The Killer (1989)
A hitman and a cop find more in common than they could imagine. Besides having some of the best action scenes I've seen, at least half of The Killer's power is in its feel. It's bleak, sad, dramatic and dead serious. While Hard Boiled's action scenes were divided into three big sequences, The Killer offers respectively small action scenes here and there and finally culminates in a huge fight in a chapel. What sick bastard locates a fight like that in a chapel, anyway!?
It's just an example of Woo's great sense of style. The movie lacks a proper villain but I guess a bunch of Chinese men without faces will work. The Killer also proves that a b-movie star Danny Lee can be taken seriously. The leftover score from Red Heat by James Horner is in good use here.
Actually, now that I watched a clip from Red Heat, I noticed some of the music isn't leftover. I wonder why no one sued.
My guess is the people who made Red Heat saw The Killer and realized how much ass it kicks!
I should say it's the climactic fight at the church, but I'm gonna go with a shorter one, where Jeff is betrayed by his friend and assholes keep popping out behind every corner.
453 7.2 015. The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
If only there were slightly more captivating plots to some of Jackie's movies (doesn't need to be a Christopher Nolan project, just something to get invested!) I would have the list full of 'em. But purely from an action standpoint, it doesn't get much better than Jackie. Far be it from realistic, but a fantastic show is always guaranteed. Silly and over the top is what we've come to expect from him. Still, his action-making is an ode to stunt work, professionality from top to bottom, and rarely a failure to entertain.
Jackie takes on Chinese Clark Kent, his own personal bodyguard, in the film finalé. Just watching that footwork makes my head spin. That scene alone should've been called "The Greatest Show on Earth" but some assburger already made a movie of that title.
3956 8.3 8.616. Léon: The Professional (1994)
I'm a little on the fence about this, as Léon contains pretty little action to be honest. But quality over quantity. Despite being socially awkward and slightly simple-minded, Léon definitely knows how to clean. He seems to move like a shadow and he can attack from anywhere.
The drama between Jean Reno and Portman works like a charm even though it gets quite dubious sometimes.
And I just gotta appreciate the way N.Y. is made to look like sunny Paris or some other European city.
Reno gives a superb performance as "The little cousin of Rocky" as I like to call him but the greatest and the beautiest show steeler is Gary Oldman. I don't think he's supposed to be there. He just ran off from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. All that trouble with concentrating, babble about Beethoven and Mozart, that creepy "snapping" thing when he takes his "medication," he's just one nerve-racking dude.
I'm sure the title of the movie isn't about the main character. It's about the people who made this. Truly professional.
Not much action scenes to choose from, but the final ambush is really something once you've started to care about the heroes.
Honestly though, Gary Oldman makes it. If you fail to bring EVERYONEEE!!!, you're in deep shit.
1884 7.1 7.617. Lethal Weapon (1987)
Before Martin Riggs became a wise-cracking clown, he was a wise-cracking but also suicidal lunatic. And honestly speaking, I like Mel Gibson as Riggs a lot more than his depictions of historical events. So, Lethal Weapon does good job in mixing up some dark tones with action and comedy.
In addition, I can't help feeling this was ahead of Die Hard in many little details (or they were just similarities); Michael Kamen is the composer, the events take place in L.A. at Christmas and the ending had an absolutely same twist. Even one of the henchmen is the exact same Chinese fellow who was in Die Hard.
Being a sucker for 80s, I must also love David Sanborn's sax music.
(Actually, I don't know if it's Sanborn but he did some music with Eric Clapton for the sequels I think. Sooo... maybe for this too? IMDb doesn't give him much credit though)
What I can't understand is that fist-fight in the end between Riggs and Joshua. What's the purpose? Apparently, it was so personal that they had to have the last fight but they could've arrested him, right?! It would've been anti-climactic but not that out of place.
Otherwise, LW's definitely the grandpa of the buddy cop films and worth seeing.
1483 6.6 7.218. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
I was in a very "critical" mood when I first watched this. Ready to smash it thinking it can't possibly be better than the first.
When the credits rolled I was instantly a sucker for this movie. I couldn't help loving it. It's not better than the first but it got better by minute. It clearly ripped off many aspects of Die Hard (German villains, the hand-to-hand combat in the end, etc.) but I was ready to forgive it when I realised the action scenes were convincing, more comedy was added yet still keeping the seriousness, and the relationship between Riggs and Murtaugh had got so heart-warming. C'mon, you know they're the only real married couple in the movie!
This was also the part to define the rest of the series. That is, Riggs became nice and funny. But that's a part of the character development. Joe Pesci came along as Leo Getz who's surprisingly not too bad but not later than when Rika appeared I found out I was hooked. She's basically just eye food but when she was found dead I could honestly feel for Riggs. Now how the fuck is that possible?! I take back what I said. Besides being eye food with a personality of sand paper we care about her because of the guy with a mullet. If something happens to Rika, what's gonna happen to Riggs?
That's the power of Lethal Weapon 2.
Not really an action scene, but I enjoy Riggs's encounter with the German at the embassy tremendously. Only 1 shot is fired but the tension in that situation is very high as Riggs (with his Evil Knievel attitude) is up against 4-5 guys and has to make some kind of a move. It may not end up in bloodbath, but the result is definitely Riggs-ish.
1113 6.7 7.219. Point Break (1991)
When for the first time I heard the words 'surfing', 'bank robbers', 'Keanu Reeves' and 'NOT a comedy' in the same sentence, I couldn't believe my ears. But it's true: the story of a cop chasing a bunch of surfing bank robbers proved to be not only an adrenaline-filled roller coaster ride but an effective drama too, as our hero Johnny Utah actually develops a taste for the criminals' lifestyle and befriends their charismatic head honcho.
Lots and lots of 90s trademarks (even older ones with storytelling when it comes to cop movies) can be found from the film but there's an attractiveness to that too if you can appreciate those things. Gary Busey's role as Utah's rugged partner is a definite show-stealer and a proof that Busey can be a likable good guy too if given a chance.
There's a chase scene that's shot from Utah's point of view as he's sprinting after one of the robbers. You really get the sense of need to react fast as various obstacles, like fences, doors or even DOGS, come in your way. Running through crammed houses and narrow backyards turns out to be quite a challenge.
2211 7.3 7.820. Predator (1987)
I love the little things here. The Predator is introduced very much in the same way as Bruce the Shark in Jaws - bit by bit. Therefore there's this mysterious feeling in the air until that ugly muthafucka reveals his face.
What I also liked about Predator is that it's not just an Arnie flick. There's this same kind of macho crew as in Aliens, all soldiers brought to life by actors who are, not exactly Oscar-worthy, but fitting for their roles and definitely not in Arnold's shade.
Another similarity to Aliens is that this team of gorillas is isolated in a different kind of "space" and, as funny as it is, everyone gets their asses handed to them after being so tough guys and the world's best commmandos.
You know, Predator has some serious skills in hiding its 80sness. Well yeah, one-liners and macho attitude, but I mean there isn't any synthesizer music or hair metal or hard rock playing in the background. No colorful clothes or hair styles. It remains fairly fresh throughout the years. The major aspect that gives away its production year is that Arnie is in his best age.
Everyone loves it when Bill Duke starts mowing down half the rain forest with "Ol' Painless" but I'm gonna have to go with the final fight. It's quite interesting how the movie starts off as an action movie, then after 30 minutes or so it turns into a thriller and finally, it comes to one of the wildest animalistic showdowns as we witness Ahh-nuld turn into Tarzan and showing this ruthless hunter from outer space he's not going down without a fight. Who would have thought Arnold might actually get beaten?
2295 6.7 7.521. RoboCop (1987)
If RoboCop was the sun, it would shoot ultraVIOLENT radiation.
Raiding the cocaine factory is a nice example of what the action in RoboCop is all about. When RoboCop is in action he's the king of the world. 30+ thugs start shooting RoboCop with everything they've got, but RoboCop just walks through the place wiping the scum out of his way. Needless to say, he doesn't need to jump or dodge bullets or even run. Action scenes are accompanied by Basil Poledouris's kick-dick score.
Peter Weller is the one and only RoboCop. No other choice, he has that metallic voice even when he's 100% man. Miguel Ferrer is exaggeratedly egocentric bastard and for some reason always one of my top choices if I got to make the movie of my dreams.
But Kurtwood Smith is the f'ckin King. He looks like the basic dad next door but he's such a malicious weasel you can't help but love how disgusting he is. I mean, he's not even any cliché military bad guy or a business suit villain. He's a street wise criminal (and a business man) who doesn't pretend to be anything else. If Boddicker aiming at you with a shotgun, while making a nasal "NA-NA-NA-NA" voice as he's deciding where to shoot you isn't absolutely crazy in the most horrifying way, I don't know what is.
The drug factory scene. Seriously, you should check it out:
4738 7.3 8.122. The Terminator (1984)
It's easy to say that The Terminator hasn't been worth shit since T2 came out. I still consider the first Terminator to be one of its kind. It's dark and cruel, almost a horror-like nightmare. Sarah Connor is living without a worry and all of a sudden this enormous, unstoppable dude wants her dead.
Brad Fiedel and his synthesizer + various bands are responsible for the 80s music and feeling. One might call it the factor that really makes the movie outdated but fortunately, that's totally my weak spot.
Arnie is magnificent. Plain and simple. He doesn't need to act and yet his performance is priceless. Just stand there and look threatening. Michael Biehn is the perfect "rescue ranger" and God knows why he never became a big action star!
The logic of the time travel is confusing as hell but hey, it got me thinking. The movie as a whole taught me that the best answer to anything is "Fuck you, asshole."
Guys from the future meet at Tech Noir. Simply for its unusual battle ground.
4618 7.7 8.523. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
"Wow. Did I buy Terminator 3?" was the first thought in my mind when I first watched the first 20 minutes of T2. That's many firsts. It didn't look outdated one bit. That goes for the rest of the movie. Special effects are mind-blowing but the best thing is they didn't drown the movie in them.
Arnie is once again perfect (duh!). The small-talk isn't most convincing but he can still make that "I'll make mincemeat out of you!"-expression that made the first Austrian cyborg so incredible.
The action scenes are massive and inventive. As a matter of fact, I could watch Arnold blasting that shotgun alone and I would be satisfied since shotgun is such an awesome weapon. But moreover, we get Connors & T-800 destroying the Cyberdyne house, escaping from an insane asylum (injured asylum workers), a great helicopter/van chase and... oh, see it for yourself.
I don't even know what to say. It's just that Jim Cameron knew exactly how to balance action, drama, seriousness, visual style and the feeling of the destruction of humankind. When night falls and T-800 with the Connors are about to change the future, it's a beautiful mixture of atmosphere, visual style (very blue) and action.
The Skynet building is surrounded by cops and SWAT teams, but Arnie just drops a desk from the nth floor window and brings out his gatling gun to, umm, make everyone take a few steps back. No one's even killed, but T-800 does it with such theatricality, that it doesn't even matter. What can I say? Cops don't like T-800, so T-800 doesn't like cops.
2102 7 7.524. Total Recall (1990)
I can't believe Total Recall isn't advertised as an action comedy. Arnie gets his balls tortured at least twice, one-liners are never-ending and he yells: "Gif dis peepl aeae."
But in fact, I think Total Recall would work fine without Arnie. I often consider it a (divorce, WHOOPS!) sequel to RoboCop, since it takes place in the future, Verhoeven's direction is violent as shit, and Ronny Cox is, once again, the bad guy. And, I gotta say there's something that reminds me of Matrix. Like, is Arnie's character really a secret agent or is it all part of the souvenir? Open for interpretation.
Total Recall is top-notch entertainment and I got to raise my hat for the special FX crew. This has to be among the last good movies to have those old school effects.
Quaid in a subway:
3247 6.6 7.225. Speed (1994)
I've seen this a couple of years ago and liked it but I never added to this list because of vague recollections.
Now that I've watched it again, I can say it has lost some of its charm but it still remains very good, very much due to its plot.
That is, Jack Traven played by Keanu Reeves tries to save a bus full of people, but the bus cannot slow down or it will blow to smithereens. So, it isn't one of them "shoot everyone up" movies but more like problems I could see John McClane dealing with. And boy, do they face every fucking trouble one could think. Panicking minor offender, kids crossing the street, leaking gas, unfinished road etc etc... It pushes the boundaries of plausibility maybe a little too much (yeah, and I'm doing a list for best action films).
What makes it even shittier a situation, or as I like to call it "a shituation", is that keeping a bus running non-stop seems to cause more damage to the city than it would to the passengers. Maybe it would save more lives to let the bus explode than put everyone else in the city to a danger. The airplane blows up with the bus. How many do you think died there?
When Reeves opens his mouth he is, as usual, more wooden than Pinocchio but with his looks and physical abilities he's a refreshing change after "the bodybuilder boys" who always save the day.
Hopper makes a solid performance but his evil laughter is a bit too much. It's not like he's the devil. I mean his motive is money, not spreading anarchy or terror or anything.
Speed will not give you a moment to breathe but time sure flies. Or at least rushes at a speed of a bus that's carrying a bomb.
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