I was born in 1983, which means that by the time I was old enough to watch and actually understand what was happening in movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were the 2 biggest names in Hollywood. Those two were churning out some of the greatest action movies of all time, stuff like Predator, Conan, Terminator, the Rambo series, and the Rocky movies. However, they were also rolling out crap like Cobra and Red Heat too. As young as I was, I couldn’t really tell which ones were destined to be remembered as classics and which were fated to be forgotten (Raw Deal? Lock Up?) but I loved all of them. I was just a kid, but I can remember many an evening spent on the couch with the old man watching Rocky IV or The Running Man and through that, I grew attached to the genre and its stars. The action movies of the era were totally over the top (get it?) and I couldn’t get enough.
Here is Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis back when Bruce was still wearing hats everywhere to hide his hairline. This particular one he probably got from the ‘Hudson Hawk’ set…
As the ’80s came to a close, a third action icon would emerge – Bruce Willis. His breakthrough role in Die Hard, still arguably the greatest action movie in existence, placed him rightfully in the conversation with Arnold and Sly, and for years, that was the hierarchy. But, as with every hero, age took its toll. Stallone did Cliffhanger in ’93 and Arnold had True Lies in ’94, but after that they both turned out a series of near unwatchable garbage – The Specialist, Assassins, Daylight, End of Days, Collateral Damage, The 6th Day – the list goes on and on. While Willis would find success in a few more Die Hard movies, even he started to shy away from the genre for a while. That is until 2006 when Stallone, desperate for a hit, went back to the role that made him with Rocky Balboa. At 60 years old, he proved he could still draw audiences and he repeated the feat 2 years later with a 4th Rambo movie. Suddenly, the gears started turning and the movie I had prayed for 20 years earlier began to take shape…
In 2010, Stallone started recruiting his aging contemporaries to make a star-studded action movie that revolved around the idea that they could all still fire guns and blow shit up, and it was great. Ok, so maybe not ‘great’, but it was entertaining as hell and pure nostalgia was often enough to power you through the weak dialogue and thin plot. Then on Thursday night, August 16th, at about 11:55 pm, I loaded myself into a theater seat and got ready for the sequel to begin. I was not disappointed.
This time around, we were given not only Stallone (66) and Jason Statham (45) again, as well as much larger roles for Willis (57) and Schwarzenegger (65), but we also get the return of Jet Li (49), Dolph Lundgren (55), Randy Couture (49), and Terry Crews (44). Not to mention the inclusion of Chuck Norris (72 years old!), Thor’s little brother (22), and a 52 year old JCVD! It was awesome. Norris told a ‘Chuck Norris’ joke while going by the moniker ‘Lone Wolf’ (like Lone Wolf McQuade), Van Damme did multiple roundhouse kicks as the villain named ‘Vilain’, and Dolph Lundgren’s backstory was that of his real life – a chemical engineering degree from MIT…it’s like Stallone was writing the script while watching an action marathon on SpikeTV and reading Wikipedia.
The movie also featured Nan Yu, who’s mostly Chinese resume I’m unfamiliar with. While she wasn’t bad, I would’ve gone with Maggie Q instead. With her resume already boasting adrenaline fueled flicks like Live Free or Die Hard, Mission Impossible: III, and the action-packed TV show Nikita, it just felt like a missed opportunity to grab the biggest cast they could. However, Nan Yu probably has more global pull and that could be why the decision was made. That being said, Yu did kick some ass in here.
This was a movie that didn’t take itself too serious and delivered on the action. There were a few parts that might have come off as cheesy dialogue-wise, and it’s doubtful many people under the age of 18 could really appreciate most of the references, but for me, at the wise age of 29 – I was thrilled. The Expendables 2 delivered exactly what was promised and didn’t try to be something it wasn’t. The ‘R’ rating is barely warranted as the language wasn’t super harsh, there were zero female chesticles exposed (as Aaron pointed out), and much of the violence was so stylized it wasn’t intensely gory.
There is also something I want to give them credit for – something that seems to be a lost art form in most newer action movies – HOLDING THE GODDAMN CAMERA STILL! Ever since Spielberg wow’d everyone in ’98 with the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, directors have been shaking the camera around so much you can’t tell what is happening. Perfect example would be ALL of the Bourne sequels. This time around the camera stayed stationary long enough for us to actually see the action happen – so thank you Simon West (Con Air, The Mechanic).
Overall, while the plot was a little thin and, quite often, the characters just seem to appear out of nowhere for the purpose of delivering a one-liner, this movie was a fun ride, and I think trumped the first movie easily. I give it 4/5 Grizzlies for delivering on its intended purpose and staying fun.
Despite the movie only being out a day in its spread its seed of unabashed 80s magnificence, there are already rumors that for the 3rd movie Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, and Nic Cage are all wanted.
As sweet as Eric Roberts and JCVD were in the first 2 movies, Nic Cage could be the greatest villain since Hans Gruber if written correctly (Editor’s Note: Honestly, he’d be the best villain ever if written incorrectly, which is what I’m rooting for.-C Tan). PUT HIM IN A BEAR SUIT!!!
Personally, I’d like to maybe see Linda Hamilton or Sigourney Weaver pop up as they were the baddest ass action heroines around when I was a kid. You could also see if Uma is busy, let her do some more sword play as it will have been over a decade since Kill Bill…
And, it may just be my movie-riddled mind drawing connections where there are none – but I spotted references to all the following movies – did anyone catch one that I missed?
– Good Guys Wear Black (1978)
– Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
– Conan the Barbarian (1982)
– First Blood (1982)
– Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)
– The Terminator (1984)
– Die Hard (1989)
– Total Recall (1990)
I’m sure there are more, I just have to go see it again…
James Cameron—blockbuster film director, deep-sea diver, and old lady diamond necklace fetishist—said this in the fall of 2011 when it was confirmed that Sigourney Weaver would return in the sequel to the 2009 mega-smash Avatar, despite the fact that her character died in the first movie.
This is the latest of a whole series here at Grizzly Bomb. For each feature we will examine an individual genre and the quality of its films produced within a specific decade. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific, we used Excel.
For this topic, in addition to my list, I asked 13 members of my staff to give me a list of their “Top 10 Action Movies of the 1980s”. The action movies of the 80s, more than any other decade or genre, have an identity. Big muscles, big explosions, and witty one-liners. There are even movies that came out in other decades that you could consider 80s Action. Stuff like Point Break (1991), Cop Out (2010), and The Expendables (2010). Though we’re only counting stuff actually from the 1980s, you get the idea. Now, Schwarzenegger and Stallone of course owned the decade, but it wasn’t just them kicking ass back in the day, but several other action stars will pop up on this list as well.
Anyhow, as for the results: From the 13 people asked to make a Top Ten list, plus my own Top 10, it resulted in 43 different movies being named. I’ve tallied up the points, and I now give you the Top 25 of them…
25. Highlander (1986)
24. The Protector (1985)
23. Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade (1989) 22. Escape from New York (1981)
21. Above the Law (1988)
20. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) 19. No Holds Barred (1989)
18. The Untouchables (1987)
17. The Running Man (1987)
16. Bloodsport (1988)
15. Rocky IV (1985)
14. Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981)
13. Big Trouble in Little China (1986) 12. Cobra (1986) 11. Roadhouse (1989)
And the TOP 10….
*Something new this time around is the AFI Box Office, which is ‘Adjusted for Inflation’…
10. Tango and Cash
Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash are narcotics detectives who, while both being extremely successful, can’t stand each other. Crime Lord Yves Perret, furious at the loss of income that Tango and Cash have caused him, frames the two for murder. Caught with the murder weapon on the scene of the crime, the two have alibi. Thrown into prison with most of the criminals they helped convict, it appears that they are going to have to trust each other if they are to clear their names and catch the evil Perret.
This movie so full of one-liners and unnecessary violence it amazing Schwarzenegger isn’t in it.
This one is where some debate came in, mostly from Rev Kaiser who argued this movie was more Sci-Fi than Action, but to me there are just too many great Action elements present to leave this off the list. That, combined with Kaiser’s main motivation for his argument being he wanted Roadhouse in the Top Ten, he was outvoted. Aliens is so much more than just Sci-Fi, as Alien delivered us one of the greatest horror/thrillers ever, here we were given some of the most heart-pounding action scenes ever filmed.
Best Quote: “We’d better get back, ’cause it’ll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night… mostly.”
Trivia: The Alien nest set was kept intact after filming. It was later used as the Axis Chemicals set forBatman. When the crew of Batmanfirst entered the set, they found most of the Alien nest still intact.
‘New Detroit’, a hell hole spawned by the predicted progression seen in the 1980s real Detroit. It was only logical in the late 80s to assume Detroit would get worse, and so it made sense that one day they would look for an answer to crime though technology. Hence Robocop. The fact that Officer Murphy is killed and then resurrected in a Jesus like fashion to right the wrongs of the city, is only made sweeter by the fact that his killer was Red Foreman. This is a story about corruption at the highest levels and an underdog desire to do whats right and fix a once great city. And the fight was so bloody and violent, this marks the first time ever that a movie was rated X for violence. Oh how I miss the 80s, I‘d but that for a dollar!
US Release: July 17, 1987 Director: Paul Verhoeven Notable Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Leeza Gibbons, and Ray Wise. Oscar Wins/Nominations 1/3 (Sound Effects Editing) US Box Office: $53,424,681 (AFI: $108,762,266)
Best Quote: “Bitches, leave.”
Triva: The repeated line ‘I’d buy that for a dollar!’ comes from Cyril M. Kornbluth‘s short story ‘The Marching Morons’, which presents a similarly cynical view of an over-commercialized future that’s desensitized to violence and war. A radio game show in that short story uses the line ‘I’d buy that for a quarter.’ as its signature phrase.
7. First Blood
In a departure from the source material, which saw John Rambo ultimately killed in the end of the book, this ended up being the franchise that saved Stallone’s career. And the funny part is, after shooting he hated the movie so much he tried to stop its release. This movie turned into a direct message about the treatment of soldiers returning from Viet Nam and say what you want about Stallone’s acting ability, but the end scene in which we see Rambo break down and cry in front of Col. Troutman is both powerful and moving. That, combined with one man, manhandling an entire police department made for the birth of a pop-culture icon. “Rambo” is now synonymous with ‘Badass”.
TONI X: “I’ll be the first to admit that Die Hard is a better movie, hell, it’s the greatest action movie of all time – But Commando is the 80’s. It has a fantastic soundtrack that is all about the decade, slick cars, slick scumbags in slick clothes, a pre – Who’s the Boss? Alyssa Milano and most importantly – It has Schwarzenegger in it. No movie can be the definitive ’80’s Action Movie’ without Schwarzenegger. Not only this, but Schwarzenegger starts this movie by carrying a tree – for reals. They had to show this dude being such a beast in his first goddamn shot just so you know he means absolute business.
Commando also created the Schwarzenegger archetype, granted, there were other movies where Arnie showed superhuman feats of strength, but in those flicks he was playing either a macho fantasy warrior, a killer cyborg or Hercules himself. Commando implies he was just a human being who could rip a pipe out of a wall and impale Wez with it. This is the starting point for the now classic Arnold one liners and insane logic bending shootouts.
Not only that, but every great 80’s action movie trope is here-the pointless nudity just for the sake of it, the hardass military brass trying to recruit Arnold, the country of Val Verde, a palatial mansion where all hell breaks loose and Bill Paxton – Straight Up 80’s.
But the most significant reason that Commando trumps Die Hard as an 80’s action movie is this. Die Hard is actually an adaptation of a novel called “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp, Hollywood initially adapted the novel into a screenplay as a sequel to Commando. If it wasn’t for Schwarzenegger turning down the role and retooling the script for Bruce Willis – Die Hard would have been Commando 2. Commando is not only the greatest 80’s action movie of all time, but it is responsible for the greatest Action Movie of any decade. That’s why it’s number one in my book.”
Best Quote: “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last? I lied.”
Trivia: Arius (Dan Hedaya) is said to be a deposed dictator from the country of Val Verde. Val Verde was a fictionalized South/Central American country used by Hollywood from the 1980s to early 1990s to depict a Spanish-speaking country similar to Cuba or Nicaragua without encountering diplomatic problems. It is also referenced in the films Predator, Die Hard 2, and the made for TV movie Deadly Enemies (Pilot).
5. The Terminator
Arnold was already known in some circles. Multiple winner of the ‘Mr. Universe‘ competition 4 times, and he had just stared twice as ‘Conan the Barbarian’, but it wasn’t until he played a near unstoppable killing machine in 1984 that he became a household name. The movie itself changed the genre forever, and kick started the career of James Cameron. The mythology sprouted from this movie led to 3 sequels, a TV show, and countless comic books and parodies. The Terminator is sent back in time to assassinate the mother of the still unborn leader of the future’s human resistance. That’s badass. This was a bad day to have middle name starting with the letter ‘A’…
US Release: October 26, 1984 Director: James Cameron Notable Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Dick Miller, Bill Paxton, and Brian Thompson. Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0 US Box Office: $38,371,200 (AFI: $90,903,200)
Best Quote: “Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”
Triva: O.J. Simpson was considered for the role of the Terminator, but the producers feared he was “too nice” to be taken seriously as a cold-blooded killer. In 1990, (years, ironically, before Simpson’s first trial) Dark Horse Comics printed issues using his likeness.
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones is one of the greatest action characters of all time, and Raidersof the Lost Ark was fresh and exciting, and it achieved that by looking to the past for inspiration. George Lucas wrote this movie based of the old serials he would watch as a kid. Constant action throughout, from fleeing booby traps to fighting Nazis to poisonous snakes and ancient desert prisons, Dr. Jones time and again beats the odds and achieves the impossible. And unlike most of the movies on this list, this was actually marketed to the whole family, so I think people in their late 20s and into their 30s have a special nostalgia attached to these movies having grown up on them. It’s as good as an action movie can be without gratuitous boobs and swearing. US Release: June 12, 1981 Director: Steven Spielberg Notable Cast:Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, and Alfred Molina. Oscar Wins/Nominations: 5/9 (Art Direction, Visual Effects, Editing, Sound, Sound Editing) US Box Office: $242,374,454 (AFI: $693,993,041)
Best Quote: “The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste in entire regions. An Army that carries the Ark before it… is invincible.”
Triva: Renowned British wrestler Pat Roach gets killed twice in this film – once as a giant Sherpa left in the burning Nepalese bar and once as the German mechanic chewed up by the plane’s propeller.
3. Lethal Weapon
The pinnacle of Buddy Cop movies, this is the king of mismatched partners at the start – the suicidal young hot-shot cop, paired with old crotchety about-to-retire veteran. This is the movie that created the clichés we now recognize in almost every cop movie released in the last 20 years. Riggs and Murtaugh investigate the apparent suicide of a friend’s daughter, and end up getting sucked in for more than they expected. The whole case culminates in a Christmas season street brawl between Riggs and Mr. Joshua (Busey) in a hydrant downpour out in front of Murtaugh’s house. The movie would spawn 3 more sequels and prove to make Mel Gibson one of Hollywood’s biggest stars over the next 15 or so years. US Release: March 6, 1987 Director: Richard Donner Notable Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitch Ryan, Grand L. Bush, and Al Leong Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/1 (Nom. – Best Sound) US Box Office: $65,207,127 (AFI: $132,749,036)
Best Quote: “Well, I’ll tell you what. You make it through tomorrow without killing anybody, especially me, or yourself, then I’ll start trusting you.”
Triva: Film’s soundtrack includes Elvis Presley song I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Darlene Love, who plays Murtaugh’s wife, was background dancer in Elvis’ production Elvis.
After The Terminator made him a star, and Commando created his archetype, then it was Predator that made him an icon. The story of an elite group of commandos that are sent into the jungle on a rescue mission, only to soon discover they were sent there under false pretenses and find themselves under attack by an unseen assailant. It is here, even more so than in Commando, that we see Arnold Schwarzenegger in the fight of his life. This movie is all about survival and it was a shocking experience in ’87 to see something hunting Arnold, and not the other way around. From the gratuitous bicep closeups to the frequent use of mini-guns, this is about as “Guy Movie” as it gets.
Triva: Shane Black, who plays ‘Hawkins’, is far more famous for his screenwriting than his acting. His writing credits include stuff like The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and our #3 on this list – Lethal Weapon.
1. Die Hard
This is, sure-fire, without debate, the single greatest action movie of all time. Due on to the fact that this came out in 1988 and not 1990 that Predator misses out on topping our list. The ultimate story of the wrong time – wrong place, this time it was the right guy. A seemingly average cop from New York, without the muscles and armory of Schwarzenegger and Stallone (both of whom are referenced in the movie) John McClane must save his wife and her co-workers from a group of terrorists, and he has to do it barefoot.
John McClane has become the standard for actions stars since, and this is the movie that ushered in the beginning of “90s Action”. After this, even in Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies, it was no longer about shirtless bodybuilders cutting down trees with bullets. This was a cop, with kids and marital problems and he was forced to handle a situation. He wasn’t called in because he was the best (IE: Predator, Rambo II, ect…), he just happened to be there.
Now with the announcement of a 5th Die Hard movie coming, the franchise is still relevant over 20 years later. This movie made Bruce Willis. But who doesn’t get enough credit is Alan Rickman. A hero is often times measured by the strength and quality of his villain, this is maybe what hurts Commando’s legacy. This was Rickman’s film debut, and he delivered one of cinema’s all time great villains. It was Hans Gruber than made John McClane great, and that is what spawned the sequels.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/4 (Nom. – Film Editing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Sound) US Box Office: $83,008,852 (AFI: $160,766,536)
Best Quote: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf–ker. “
Triva: Bruce Willis was also shooting Moonlightingconcurrently which accounts for why nearly all of McClane’s scenes take place at night. Willis would shoot his TV series during the day and then come to the Fox lot in the evening to work on this film.
One of the perennial classics of my childhood, a movie I’ve seen over a hundred times and continue to enjoy, is Ghostbusters. For those uncultured enough to who have never seen this opus, it chronicles the misadventures of four men who set out to make a living off the dead. More accurately, removing the dead from places they are unwanted. This group of hero entrepreneurs consists of 3 scientists, and a 4th, oft-forgotten member with no real background in science, but who offers a touch of faith. These 4 men (or 3 white dudes if you look at any poster for the film) embark on a marathon session cleaning up New York and ridding it of paranormal activity.
So let me start off by saying that I hate Twilight pretty badly. The same goes for the majority of the actors involved, because they are mediocre at best. None more so than Taylor Lautner, the always shirtless werewolf kid who is attracted to the rat faced looking Kristin Stewart. I always thought to myself: How about this kid does something else other than Twilight movies? Maybe he wouldn’t be so bad in something else.
It looks like he’s still a pretty stagnant actor, but the trailer for his new movie Abduction definitely looks promising. Check it out below:
Now I didn’t see him with his shirt off once in the trailer, which is good because I’d have to instantly boycott the movie. That’s not to say he won’t run around shirtless for an hour in the movie (Much to the enjoyment of the ladies), but I’m hoping all of the seemingly constant action will help move us past that. Lautner may be a pretty shoddy actor, but it looks as if he will be surrounded by a pretty talented group of co-stars. The most notable of these actors would be Sigourney Weaver of Alien franchise fame, and many other movies since. Alfred Molina is in it as a government agent bent on capturing Lautner’s character. You may remember Alfred Molina for his turn as Doctor Octopus in Spiderman 2 and his most recent movies Prince of Persia and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Also starring, albeit briefly, are Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter) and Maria Bello (History of Violence).
So it would seem like a monkey could do a good job in a movie surrounded by talent like that, so I’m willing to give teen-wolf Lautner a chance for this one. Plus the movie is directed by John Singelton, whose last movie, Four Brothers, definitely kicked some ass… even though it was almost six years ago.
So what does everyone think? Yay or nay on this movie being any good? I’m hopeful because some of these pretty boys need to break out of being type cast as the teenage heartthrob in everything. I might be able to stand them if they started doing some dumb action flicks instead of dumb romance movies. Leo Dicaprio did it, so can you wolf-boy!
Abduction is released in theaters September 23rd, 2011.
The other night I saw the new Simon Pegg movie Paul. Wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (both Simon Pegg movies) were both good enough to make me give this a chance. Not that I normally need such a track record to see a Sci-Fi movie…
This is the story of a little green man, and his escape from our Government. All he want’s to do is go home, you know, like another little spaceman we met in the 1980’s. During his escape he happens upon a couple of sci-fi geeks from England whom he convinces to give him a lift, and obviously ends up bonding with.
The premise is simple, it’s basically a ‘road trip’ movie for the Science Fiction genre, and that’s a movie with a very specific target audience. But one that has the potential to appeal to a much broader set. Sure, it geeks it up. It was full of references to comic books and other movies, but for the most part, they are references everyone will get. You’ve seen E.T. right?
The thing that really surprised me though, was for a comedy, how good the visuals really were. The character of Paul himself was excellent. Like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, but more natural looking, more fluid. I suppose they’ve improved on the technology since 2003, but I was honestly impressed, and special effects are not so easy to impress me with anymore. I think it comes back to expectations, when you see a Battle LA or something like Tron: Legacy, you know the effects are going to be great, so the only way they can ‘wow’ you, is in a bad way. If you notice them because they suck. But for a comedy? These far exceeded expectations, to the point you almost forget Paul isn’t really there with the actors, but instead its Joe Lo Truglio on his knees, covered in motion capture sensors.
Speaking of the cast, it was outstanding. In addition to my main motivations for wanting to see this: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, the movie also features multiple alum from Arrested Development – Jeffery Tambor plays ‘Adam Shadowchild’, a famous Sci-Fi writer, and Jason Bateman is the lead G-Man that’s chasing our protagonists.
Then borrowed from the current SNL cast, we get Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. Wiig plays the one-eyed love interest for Pegg, and Hader, along with the aforementioned Joe Lo Truglio, play Bateman’s underlings. Then, the behind the scenes antagonist, whose voice should be immediately identifiable to Sci-Fi fans, is played by Ellen Ripley herself – Sigourney Weaver.
Now I’ve already mentioned that Joe Lo Turglio actually played Paul, this is because the heavily advertised star handling Paul’s voice – Seth Rogen, was busy filming The Green Hornet. He later added the voice work. Now, I’ve talked to a few people lately that said they were just burnt out on Seth Rogen, and for that reason they didn’t really want to see this, but I have to tell you, I thought he did an excellent job. The voice, for me at least, came off a natural and I really enjoyed it.
The movie, ended up actually being more touching and heartfelt than expected too, but not in an overly cheesy manner. Director Greg Mottola (whose resume totally explains how he was able to land this cast) flew under the radar a bit here. He wont get the attention or credit he deserves because of the subject of the movie, but this turned out better than I expected, and I certainly enjoyed it more than his most acclaimed film – Adventureland.
I’m gonna give this movie a very strong 3.5 Bears. Not the funniest comedy I’ve ever seen, and it starts off a little slow, but it is definitely worth a watch.