Action Movie Club pt 1: Full Throttle

MKS
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 46826
"Streets of Fire" is so close to being THE 80s cult classic but it falls far short because Michael Par? is one of the worst, least charismatic actors of all time and Walter Hill is a great ideas guy but his craft is minimalist. The 50s/80s fusion of motorcycle gangs, hair metal, neon, doowop and noir archetypes is almost appealing enough to coast to success with the help of Diane Lane (was there anyone prettier in the 80s?), Willem Dafoe, Rick Moranis and Bill Paxton but the suck that is Michael Par? and Hill's stilted direction (that stripped the film of any memorable violence) bogs it down into a wonderland of what could have been rather than what is.

Had this film been given to a Scott or Carpenter or snagged Tom Cruise, as it so nearly did, I could see this being a ubiquitous cult film when discussing the decade but as is, it rightfully languishes in obscurity.

I still dug it. I'm just frustrated that it wasn't great to the point of feeling pissy.

Now I'm gonna watch the Wild One because I'm tired of seeing references to it and not haven't seen it.
Jun 24, 2017 8:05 AM
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Joined: Feb 2015
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MKSThe Sugarland Express is one underrated film. I blame it entirely on it being sandwiches between Duel and Jaws in Spielberg's filmography or the very fact that it's in his filmography at all

I think it's rated about right, which I see usually around middle of the pack, very good range. I think it's his least interesting film of the 70's (yes, including 1941!), but as you say that's a steep curve. Also, I think that you have to consider not only Bonnie and Clyde, but what it inspired into a pretty sizable subgenre. Sugarland Express is also dimmed by the proximity of films like Badlands as well.

MKS"Streets of Fire" is so close to being THE 80s cult classic but it falls far short because Michael Par? is one of the worst, least charismatic actors of all time and Walter Hill is a great ideas guy but his craft is minimalist. The 50s/80s fusion of motorcycle gangs, hair metal, neon, doowop and noir archetypes is almost appealing enough to coast to success with the help of Diane Lane (was there anyone prettier in the 80s?), Willem Dafoe, Rick Moranis and Bill Paxton but the suck that is Michael Par? and Hill's stilted direction (that stripped the film of any memorable violence) bogs it down into a wonderland of what could have been rather than what is.

Had this film been given to a Scott or Carpenter or snagged Tom Cruise, as it so nearly did, I could see this being a ubiquitous cult film when discussing the decade but as is, it rightfully languishes in obscurity.

As far as "memorable violence" goes (it is an action thread), I can see the disappointment, but Streets of Fire is legitimately a cult film. It has adherents. Personally, I just find cocaine psychosis to be terribly fascinating.
Jun 25, 2017 12:24 AM
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MKS
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 46826
Janson Jinnistan
MKSThe Sugarland Express is one underrated film. I blame it entirely on it being sandwiches between Duel and Jaws in Spielberg's filmography or the very fact that it's in his filmography at all

I think it's rated about right, which I see usually around middle of the pack, very good range. ?I think it's his least interesting film of the 70's (yes, including 1941!), but as you say that's a steep curve. ?Also, I think that you have to consider not only Bonnie and Clyde, but what it inspired into a pretty sizable subgenre. ?Sugarland Express is also dimmed by the proximity of films like Badlands as well.


MKS"Streets of Fire" is so close to being THE 80s cult classic but it falls far short because Michael Par? is one of the worst, least charismatic actors of all time and Walter Hill is a great ideas guy but his craft is minimalist. The 50s/80s fusion of motorcycle gangs, hair metal, neon, doowop and noir archetypes is almost appealing enough to coast to success with the help of Diane Lane (was there anyone prettier in the 80s?), Willem Dafoe, Rick Moranis and Bill Paxton but the suck that is Michael Par? and Hill's stilted direction (that stripped the film of any memorable violence) bogs it down into a wonderland of what could have been rather than what is.

Had this film been given to a Scott or Carpenter or snagged Tom Cruise, as it so nearly did, I could see this being a ubiquitous cult film when discussing the decade but as is, it rightfully languishes in obscurity.

As far as "memorable violence" goes (it is an action thread), I can see the disappointment, but Streets of Fire is legitimately a cult film. ?It has adherents. ?Personally, I just find cocaine psychosis to be terribly fascinating.

While Sugarland may not be on par with Badlands or Bonnie and Clyde, I think it's far superior than Boxcar Bertha, yet it seems to hold similar stature to that film in Spielberg's filmography relative to Scorsese's. I've actually seen far more discussion of Boxcar than Sugarland, which while I've not seen it called Spielberg's worst, I most often have not seen it called anything at all.
Streets of Fire is cult but it has nowhere the level of acolytes as the films that inspired it. It's not even on par with Hill's other cult films, like the Driver or The Warriors and I think thats in large part due to the aforementioned lead and lack of violence. The film cries out for 80s blood squibs but it gets an approach that rejects any and all serious violence, with Hill rejecting any on screen deaths. Given the aesthetic, it feels strangely soft and toothless, especially coming from such a competent action director.
Jun 25, 2017 5:25 AM
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Stu
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 67249
Janson JinnistanAs far as "memorable violence" goes (it is an action thread), I can see the disappointment, but Streets of Fire is legitimately a cult film. ?It has adherents. ?Personally, I just find cocaine psychosis to be terribly fascinating.

In that case, how do you feel about De Palma's Scarface? Not traditionally considered an action movie, I know, but it does have one of the most iconic shootouts ever at the end, so there's that...
Jun 25, 2017 5:37 AM
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MKS
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 46826
Stu
?Janson JinnistanAs far as "memorable violence" goes (it is an action thread), I can see the disappointment, but Streets of Fire is legitimately a cult film. ?It has adherents. ?Personally, I just find cocaine psychosis to be terribly fascinating.

In that case, how do you feel about De Palma's Scarface? Not traditionally considered an action movie, I know, but it does have one of the most iconic shootouts ever at the end, so there's that...

More visually flat than most DePalma films which makes it's excessive length less digestable than desired but has moments and performances worth watching.
Carlito's Way is better.
Jun 25, 2017 6:00 AM
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Joined: Feb 2015
Posts: 13873
MKSWhile Sugarland may not be on par with Badlands or Bonnie and Clyde, I think it's far superior than Boxcar Bertha, yet it seems to hold similar stature to that film in Spielberg's filmography relative to Scorsese's. I've actually seen far more discussion of Boxcar than Sugarland, which while I've not seen it called Spielberg's worst, I most often have not seen it called anything at all.

I agree that Sugarland is better than Bertha, but I can't say that I've seen a whole lot of discussion on the latter. I've generally assumed that it was one of the lesser items in Scorsese's canon. Sugarland may have seemed ho-drum in the wake of the outlaw-lovers genre, but I've never seen anyone dog it, like some of Spielberg's worst (Always, Hook, Lost World, The Terminal, etc.).

MKSStreets of Fire is cult but it has nowhere the level of acolytes as the films that inspired it. It's not even on par with Hill's other cult films, like the Driver or The Warriors and I think thats in large part due to the aforementioned lead and lack of violence. The film cries out for 80s blood squibs but it gets an approach that rejects any and all serious violence, with Hill rejecting any on screen deaths. Given the aesthetic, it feels strangely soft and toothless, especially coming from such a competent action director.

One thing that I've noticed about cults is that it's more about passion than numbers. Not many people are into this thing, but those who are will be really into that thing. In that sense, it qualifies. I like the film OK, for being more Hill's nostalgic indulgence than anything else, but the fans of the film that I know are super fucking fans of that movie. I'm too scared to come between them.

Stuhow do you feel about De Palma's Scarface? Not traditionally considered an action movie, I know,

Is it not? I figured that any film with that kind of gunplay inevitably gets an action lapel. And the chainsaw sequence is very memorable, thank you very much.
Jun 25, 2017 6:19 AM
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Joined: Aug 2007
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So Creed was really good. I don't think it's quite at the level of the first Rocky, but it gets closer than any of the other sequels and is a pretty fitting love letter to the series while working as an engaging movie in its own right. I find it kind of interesting how both Rocky and Rambo have taken on somewhat mythical status and how the most recent entries in both series play off that, despite Stallone being in a supporting role here.

I'm posting this in the action thread because of those long take fight sequences. On a technical level these are easily the best fights in the series (I can't speak to the choreography as I don't know much about boxing), and Donnie's flashback to Apollo during the big fight elicited some of the same chills as that moment in the first film's climax when the music flares up.
Jun 25, 2017 9:59 PM
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MKS
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 46826
RockSo Creed was really good. I don't think it's quite at the level of the first Rocky, but it gets closer than any of the other sequels and is a pretty fitting love letter to the series while working as an engaging movie in its own right. I find it kind of interesting how both Rocky and Rambo have taken on somewhat mythical status and how the most recent entries in both series play off that, despite Stallone being in a supporting role here.

I'm posting this in the action thread because of those long take fight sequences. On a technical level these are easily the best fights in the series (I can't speak to the choreography as I don't know much about boxing), and Donnie's flashback to Apollo during the big fight elicited some of the same chills as that moment in the first film's climax when the music flares up.

All the Rocky films are great fodder for this thread and Creed is no exception as they are CLEARLY the best fight scenes by far. They bested Rocky Balboa, which recently held that title, by applying visual flair to the gritty, punchy stuff that it did well. Both films had the actors use relatively real punches rather than complete pulls and it lads a lot of authenticity to what's on screen.
Both are gargantuan improvements on the "take turns punching each other in the face" fights of previous films that almost feel like turn based RPG fight scenes.
The original still stands tall and I hold 2 highly, but Creed is comparable. That said, I love the whole franchise and even think Rocky V isn't the worst thing in the world... Its well intentioned but just fails in most ways that Creed does far better.
Jun 25, 2017 10:41 PM
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Rewatched 13 Hours over the last few days. It could stand to be at least half an hour shorter, dial down the ham-handedness in its "serious film about true events" moments and better distinguish its bearded heroes, but it's safely among Bay's "good" movies and features some really strong action. I think the work it does mapping out its locations in its first act goes a long way in making its action geographically coherent. Also, someone could make a drinking game out of each time someone gets shot right as they fire an RPG.
Jun 28, 2017 1:34 AM
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The Dalf Punisher is better than the Travolta but not as good as War Zone. Reasonably stylish, although that doesn't always translate to the action (the opening and climax are pretty strong, though). If someone finally had the good sense to do a War Zone sequel, Dalf would be good as the Russian (partially because he was Drago and partially because he can do that gleeful menace quite well, like in the new Universal Soldier movies).
Jun 28, 2017 3:37 AM
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MKS
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 46826
I need to see 13 Hours. It and The Last Knight are the only Bay films I've not seen.

Dolph's Punisher is indeed 2nd best after War Zone (though the Netflix Punisher is best) and I think overall Dolph is underrated. He's the incredibly schlocky, campy hard body actioneer people think Arnold is.

Django the Bastard was the closest (next to Hateful Eight) that I've found to a giallo/spaghetti western cross over. Stiffen is not Nero's Django but with this film and A Man Called Django, I've come to accept him as very much his own thing. He's more ethereal. A spectre of vengeance rather than a badass man and this film treats him as such, drenching him in shadows and having him pick off his victims one by one in a manner that evokes Michael Myers more than any gunslinger. I wish there was a more widely available quality transfer and that the action was better, as the lackluster visuals and simplistic shootouts kept this from being a top tier entry in the genre. That said, I highly recommend it to enthusiasts.
Jun 28, 2017 6:42 AM
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I watched The Magnificent Seven remake starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke and directed by Antoine Fuqua.. The most generic movie you could imagine. A bland villain with a lame plot to mine gold. Each of the seven joining up for seemingly no reason. Starlord tries to bring some charm to his role but it all falls flat.

Just stick with the original...or Seven Samurai...or Galaxy Quest...or A Bug's Life.
Jul 3, 2017 5:29 AM
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I thought Washington and especially Hawke were pretty good, but Pratt and Sarsgaard were both awful. Pratt can be good in roles that require humour (Parks and Rec, the Guardians movies) but the second he has to play anyone conventionally heroic, he's embarrassing. In both this and Jurassic World, his idea of looking stoic is making a constipated scrunch face.
Jul 3, 2017 3:02 PM
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MKS
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 46826
I watched Hammer, which was a solid enough blaxploitation boxing film starring Fred Williamson. It contained enough solid fight scenes and the ever watchable Williamson and Vonetta McGee to justify it's 90 mins.

I also watched the Italian Job. Hard to say anything that hasn't already been said but it's just a brisk, fun crime caper with cool cinematography and performances. I feel like Guy Ritchie and Edgar Wright are highly influenced by VERY different parts of this movie. I dug the ending and wish there was a sequel.
Jul 4, 2017 7:11 PM
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Marked for Death seems to be playing up some weird racial shit about Jamaicans and then tries to call itself out on said shit to confused results. Anyway, it's a reasonably entertaining affair and the action is pretty well done. Seagal comes off like an aikido-chopping Charles Bronson doing a Christopher Walken vocal impression, but mostly avoids embarrassing himself. Keith David would have made a better lead than the Ponytail.
Jul 7, 2017 2:39 AM
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Stu
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 67249
^The only Seagal movie I've seen in at least the past decade was Under Siege, which wasn't a great action movie, and of course, good ol' Stevey is no one's idea of a good actor or a good replacement for John McClane, but Andrew Davis's relatively taut direction still made it one of the better Die Hard wannabes nonetheless.
Jul 7, 2017 6:37 PM
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Stu
Joined: Aug 2006
Posts: 67249
Also, Baby Driver has the best action scenes I've seen so far this year, and some of the best I've seen since freaking Fury Road, even; Wright really is an underrated director of stuntwork, and I'd be interested in seeing him take a future movie in this sort of visceral direction again.
Jul 8, 2017 6:18 AM
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MKS
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 46826
Vanishing Point- solidly acted and directed car flick with an existential angst that harkens Easy Rider. It's not nearly as audacious, affecting or well thought out as ER but it has enough cool things to sustain it's run time for the most part.

Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry- groovy flick with some jaw dropping stunt driving. The plot is typical B grade schlock and the acting is bordering on theatrical, which clashes a tad bit with the gritty aesthetic, but that matters minimally. The car chases are tops and superior to VP, even if it isn't trying to be nearly as high minded with their purpose.

Live Like a Cop, Die Like A Man- it's fun and audacious, with an amusing degree of homoeroticism between the two leads, making this the earliest bromance buddy cop flick I've seen. It's violent, bordering on fascist authoritarian, and misogynistic but I think that just let's you know you're watching a poliziottesco flick. That said, of the few I've seen in the genre, this would be my least favorite of them. This is likely due to Deodato not being as good of a director as Castellari and the two leads lacking the talent or charisma of Nero or Testi but I just found myself tuning out until the next action scene, of which there were fewer than I expected. The climax is also a bit of a shoulder shrug but I think that is just to set up a punchline so I'm okay with it.

Rock, Marked for Death is a masterpiece of sweaty 90s grit best paired with Predator 2 and Code of Silence.

Oh yeah, I forgot to talk about Silent Rage and Blind Fury... Another time, I suppose. Also, Spider-Man Homecoming is wonderful.
Jul 9, 2017 10:13 PM
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Vanishing Point ain't bad. Avoid the remake with Viggo Mortensen like the plague.
Jul 9, 2017 10:32 PM
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Eh, I kind of just shrugged my way through Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry. The stuntwork is impressive, but I don't think the movie's nearly tense enough for an extended chase picture. Also, Peter Fonda is a fucking awful leading man. I rewatched Easy Rider last night and it's remarkable that he comes off as decent in that (Hopper was smart enough to barely let him talk).

Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is the only thing I've liked from Deodato as its the only when where is psychopathic worldview actually makes the picture more fun. The villain is the weakest part, but part of the fun is that the heroes actually seem more dangerous to the public than the villain.

I liked Marked for Death just fine, but couldn't muster a whole lot of enthusiasm for it. I've never watched Predator 2, but Code of Silence has that nice gritty street-level feel and a pretty nuanced whistleblower subplot that makes up for its lame finale. Between that and Under Siege, Andrew Davis seems to be able to get good performances out of wooden action stars.
Jul 9, 2017 11:46 PM
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