Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 35

In the pantheon of film heroes, there is nobody cooler than the action hero. They blow all the rest away. (See what I did there?) But modern action heroes come in all shapes and sizes and some just aren’t that tough.

Who is the toughest/coolest action hero of the modern era?

Panelist: AndrewPrice

There are many choices here and I admit that Bruce Willis is probably the man. But I like being unpredictable, so I'm going with Kurt Russell! That's right, Jack Burton, or is it Snake Pliskin? Russell has never disappointed me in a film and I hear he's a Libertarian to boot! In the female division, I will play it safe and go with Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley.

Panelist: BevfromNYC

Hands down - Jack Bauer! 24 was most of time completely illogical. How did Jack get around after a nuclear attack on LA and never get caught in any traffic? Or how did he get from Queens to mid-town Manhattan in 20 minutes?? It’s just not possible. Or, why didn’t anybody care about all of the bodies that Jack killed when trying to save th world? Always filled with surprises and plot twists, perimeters set up, and thigh-shooting, Jack Bauer was “The Man” and he always saved the world from certain destruction.

Panelist: T-Rav

Bruce Willis. For me, he tops guys like Schwarzenegger because he's not a grim, vengeful guy; he's got a sense of humor and he can make you laugh/snicker, even as he's blowing villains away. Only he could have said a line like "Yippee-ki-yay, motherf@#$er!" His versatility as an actor makes his performances generally very strong, even outside the action genre. Plus, he killed a man with a samurai sword in Pulp Fiction, so there's that.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

Jason Statham and runner-up Angelina Jolie.

Panelist: ScottDS

This is a tough one, especially since I've been (re)visiting a lot of the classic 80s action films. As much as I enjoy Arnold and Sly, I think Bruce Willis wins by a hair. He's the consummate Everyman, ye he looms larger than life. He can crack wise. . . and skulls. "Welcome to the party, pal!"

Comments? Thoughts?

116 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

looks like everybody liked south jersey home boy, bruce willis. well, i do too. BUT, you did say modern era, right? since he is almost as old as myself, i just can no longer consider him as "modern." Same with Tom Cruise. I actually enjoyed Ghost Protocol. It was everything a Mission Impossible episode should be, but Ethan Hawke was looking pretty ragged. Neither is as ragged as, say, Harrison Ford, so maybe there is where the line should be drawn. Anjie, btw, was a little bit tongue 'n cheek. I love the fact she's not a flaming liberal, but I've about had it with the hot chick karate queen meme.

ScottDS said...

I thought Ghost Protocol was a blast and it was the first new movie I actually purchased in almost two years. I'll always have a soft spot for the first film but in terms of sheer entertainment value, GB might just be the best of the four. I look forward to Brad Bird's next live-action film (this was his first).

As for the topic, pretty good spread all around! I can't disagree with any of them, even though I never watched 24 (I will one day).

As for Willis, yeah, he's made a lot of crappy movies, too, but Die Hard still remains one of the best, if not the best action film of my generation. And as I said in my last review, it spawned a new genre.

I like Statham although I don't think I'm alone in wishing he'd branch out just a little bit. The Bank Job was a step in the right direction.

Joel Farnham said...

I have to go with Robert Downey Jr for male. Uma Thurman for female.

Outlaw13 said...

So something from 30 years ago is considered the modern era? Just asking because we want to keep our eras straight.

When I first read the question, I thought of characters not actors, but if you want to go that route Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on Justified is about as good as it gets.

As for the movies, I just can't get enough Ironman. The attitude that Robert Downy Jr. brings to it just works. What what I understand Ironman 3 will be about fighting terrorists...hope it's good.

One more, The new James Bond, Daniel Craig isn't bad at all. I really liked the first film he was in Casino Royale, the second not so much...but I understand that is was a rush job, so there might be extenuating factors involved.

Tennessee Jed said...

Outlaw - you and i are sympatico on the definition :) Justified a great choice. i'm beginning to think daniel craig is getting over-exposed.

Joel - I like Downey, but i honestly look at him as to diverse for me to typecast as an action hero. Uma is a great choice, though. Fox Force :)

Bank Job was fantastic, although i don't know how far he can effectively branch, Scott. Action is his niche, I think.

ScottDS said...

Outlaw -

I don't know where one era ends and the other begins. I was born in 1983 and Die Hard was released in 1988, ergo, I consider it part of my generation. Of course, I've been supplanted by a newer generation and while this is probably another conversation that needs to take place, I don't think this generation values movies as much as my generation or previous ones did. This generation's favorite action movie is most likely a video game (or one of the Fast and Furious movies, not that there's anything wrong with that).

As for the other answers, I also like RDJ and Uma and Angelina and Daniel Craig.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is also fun to watch.

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - Dwayne Johnson appears to me like a very likable hero; and yet for some reason, I have seen very little of him on film-- maybe even limited to partials randomly picked up on t.v. I don't know what to make of that except; maybe, just maybe, one's taste in genres change subtly over time. I like action adventure as much as the next guy, but actually find myself drawn to the dramas and psychological mind game films more these days. Maybe it's just a phase :)

Tennessee Jed said...

speaking of characters, I know it's television rather than cinema, but in the action end of things, I like the character played by Jim Caviezel in the new series "person of Interest." He is ex-special forces, and carries out the off the grid muscle work for the forces of good.

T-Rav said...

I interpreted "modern" as "last 20-30 years/in my lifetime." Willis is still doing action stuff, too.

For the record, I don't know now why I called Schwarzenegger grim or vengeful, because that's not true. I guess humor is a more integral part of Willis' characters in some way.

T-Rav said...

Jed, I haven't seen much of "Person of Interest," but my mom watches it regularly and really likes it. Caviezel seems pretty good in that role, from the little I have seen.

Floyd R Turbo said...

Bruce Willis for sure since the 1970s....

Also, I'll add Christian Bale...

Batman of course, Equilibrium... Gun-fu ka-pow! Even Rescue Dawn has a bit of the action hero aspect -- and real life hero to boot.

Tennessee Jed said...

let's take another crack at what may be a good break point. The recent movie "The Expendables" is one of the worst, most embarrassing, atrocities ever released. Kind of like an "over the hill gang" vs. drug cartels. I am ashamed to say it may have been one of the first blu-ray discs I purchased 'cuz I was looking for something that would put my system through it's paces.

To my surprise, it included Stratham and Steve Austin in addition to wrinkle faces like Stallone, Willis, Dolph Lundgren, and Mickey Rourke. So, either I'm a hypocrite for picking Stratham, or (I've got it) I'll use 50 as the expiration date to play a "true" action hero. I define "true" as not an "everyman" thrust into an action scenario ala James Stewart in "North by Northwest."

Tennessee Jed said...

Floyd - interesting about Bale and Batman. I feel about him something like my comments about Downey. Great actor, almost to good and broad for me to think of as a pure "action" guy, but then that wasn't really the question posed, so that restriction was self-imposed. Still, I think I may have subconsciously put super hero guys into their own separate sub-genre keeping them from consideration. Who knew?? ;)

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - l.o.l. I get the "my mom watches it" dig. Seriously, Our generation may be the last to truly embrace dramatic series on television. We were hardwired to the days of appointment television on three networks. We can use DVR's and search for shows on AMC, but it somewhat of an unnatural act for us.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Bruce certainly seems to have been the popular choice.

I'm sick of the hot karate chick meme too. It's getting really lame.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I like Statham a lot, but would also like to see him branch out.

Willis has made a couple bad movies but often even his worst films are pretty good.

Joel Farnham said...

Tennessee Jed,

Two reasons I picked Robert Downey Jr.

First Reason, He is either apolitical and isn't interested in Politics or he knows to keep his mouth shut.

Second Reason, I like him as Sherlock Holmes. He brings a likeability to the role. Others may hate him, but I never could get into the earlier movie versions of Sherlock Holmes. I have read all the books, and the earlier movies pale in comparison.

Uma Thurman as "The Bride" in the Kill Bills was great and definitive.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I'm not a big Uma Thurman fan, but I like Robert Downey Jr. a lot.

T-Rav said...

That wasn't a dig! Really, she has time to watch stuff I would if I had time, now that she's retired, so I depend on her for commentary with some of these shows. I think you're just insecure about something. ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, It's up to people to decide what the modern era is, but I personally would say we're still in the same film era started in the 1980s as film styles are still very similar and most of the actors who became prominent them are still all over the screen today.

Plus, there hasn't really been a significant feeling change yet, like there was between the 1970s and the 1980s and between the 1950s and the 1960s. We're probably due for one though.

T-Rav said...

Bev, the real question to ask yourself about 24 isn't "How did they get from point A to point B in only 20 minutes?" but "Doesn't anyone take a bathroom break or get something to eat in these 24 hours?"

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw,

So far, I've liked Timothy Oliphant much more than his films (I haven't seen Justified). But films like Hitman and The Crazies just fell flat for me, even though I liked him personally and wanted to like the movies.

I agree about Daniel Craig. I've really come to like him as James Bond.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I've been wondering about Statham as well -- how far he can stretch himself. I watched a movie the other night 13 which was rather a surprising film. It had a lot of good stuff in it, though the main actor wasn't up to the task. Statham was in it and it wasn't really his normal tough guy role but he played it that way nevertheless and I kept thinking "play this character differently dude, here's your chance"! But he didn't.

I think he can expand, but for some reason he won't. I'm not sure why, but that will kill his career at some point.

It's the same thing with Vin Diesel. He's a guy with a lot of talent who has and can do non-action stuff, but he seems to have decided to take "the action guy route" and I think that will kill off his career.

DUQ said...

Vin Diesel. Jason Statham. Bruce Willis. Liam Neeson.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I like the Rock as well!

I judge movies eras based on techniques. As I see it, you've got the silent era. Then you've got this early black and white era, which extended into the 1930. Then you have 1940/1950s which have that whole sit/com or epic feel -- everything feels film-like. Then you've got the longer, slower, more real films of the 1970s. Then you hit the corporate era, which we still seem to be stuck in, where films were made basically manufactured according to a series of templates. (With a brief aside in the 1990s, which got swallowed by the studios.)

Tennessee Jed said...

Joel - no knock on Downey, Jr. He is great, although for some reason, I always enjoyed him in the film "Restoration" where he played a physician in the early 17th century. If you never have seen it, as a Downey fan, you should (hmmmn, potential guest review there.)

Rav - good. You have always been an appropriately respectful whippersnapper!

It's been a while since Jack Bauer. Loved the show the first couple seasons, although it began to go cliche for me. The huge middle finger they gave us by firing Surnow and hiring that needled marked armed skag for the last season or two pretty much killed it for me though.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, The problem with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is that he stays in a very narrow range and he basically picks bad films. He's doing the most cliche, trite, lowest common denominator stuff. That's why I've skipped most of his films even though I want to see more of him as an actor.

Tennessee Jed said...

DUQ - Liam Neesom is amazing. He has redefined the notion of geezer as action hero. If they ever do films based on Baldacci's "Camel Club" Neesom is the guy I'd cast in the "Oliver Stone" role.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed and T-Rav, I like Caviezel as an actor, but he has rarely made it onto my radar.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Yeah, I wouldn't call Schwarzenegger grim. But his characters are rather gleeful about killing. I would say that Stalone is grim.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Equilibrium is great! I've liked most of what I've seen from Bale and you're right that he has learned to do the action stuff quite nicely. I would be interested to see how he does in something more "actor-driven" like anything by Tom Cruise.

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew -As an actor, if you choose to stay in the action genre exclusively, you are definitely limiting yourself and putting a finite expiration date on your career. Sometimes, that is when they get religion, but not everyone can do that. I remember when Harrison Ford got "fired" as Jack Ryan. He fought back once, with air force one, then moved to romantic comedy and other stuff. Still, he was never quite the same. There may be a little "live by the action flick, die by the action flick" involved. Of course, women always had it worse. Despite the obvious attempt to say "50 is the new 40" does anyone think of Julia Roberts now without laughing out loud? (to me I can only see her trying to stick her tongue in Denzel's ear at the oscars anymore.)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree that an action hero must be someone who is "more" than just an everyman -- someone whose purpose in life seems to be to kick monster/bad guy butt.

I have to say that I am not a fan of The Expendables either. I know that's sacrilege with some folks, but I just didn't think it was a good movie. I loved the idea of using all these guys, but they needed something much more clever than they gave them. Something like The Italian Job (mentioned above) using these guys would have been so much better.

There was even a film released at the time called The Losers which I thought was a better movie.

DUQ said...

Jed, He really has redefined action hero and I think that's great. I love seeing an old guy who gets by on extreme competence rather than muscle.

Tennessee Jed said...

To me, the "governator" was at the top of the action film pyramid in the '80's. I always felt the man understood his acting limitations and stuck with some pretty fun action films. His trademark became the quipped one liner ala James Bond. Where he went off track, in my mind, is when he got older, started to become "the flabanator" and tried to do comedy. Never could get into him after that.

T-Rav said...

I think Downey does a pretty good job as Holmes, although I wouldn't go so far as to say he's the best. I think what he has is a different take on Sherlock, although one that's perfectly legitimate based on the stories. It'll probably be a few years before we can see how well his performance holds up.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed (and T-Rav), I have to say that I don't appreciate "television" either. I appreciate that my television provides me with entertainment, but I have zero affinity for the networks or for their programming. At this point, I basically only seek out interesting/unique shows (like Game of Thrones or Sopranos) and I don't even bother giving the cop shows, lawyer shows or sitcoms about five friends who talk about sex a chance. I would rather watch movies or the History Channel or even Sci-Fi Channel schlock.

I've noticed this is generational too. My parent will sit down and dutifully give things a chance and (this is the strangest part to me) will actually sit there glued to the television.

I'm from the multi-task, channel flipping generation. I rarely stick around for commercials, I DVR to watch things when I want, and I am usually using my computer when the television is on. The only time that's not true is when I'm watching a new movie I haven't seen or one of the very few shows I'm into.

Tennessee Jed said...

I shan't participate in the Downey as Holmes debate. Too painful. Hey, that is my cross to bear, but it's just the way it is. Jeremy is my guy. Holmes was more athletic than people realize, but still he was never an action hero. "Cerebral was his name, deduction was his game." :)

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. That's one of the things about the question of how many hours Americans spend watching television. Those questions imply that we're all glued to our televisions, but that's not true. My TV is on all the time, but I'm hardly ever watching it... it's white noise mainly.

Tennessee Jed said...

living as I do in rural East Tennessee, the sound of nothing but joyful songbirds and the sound of wine being poured from bottle to glass cannot be taken lightly.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Thurman was really good in that. I liked her in Pulp Fiction too. But beyond that, I've rarely liked her. I liked Angelina Jolie when she was younger -- now she seems to have an attitude. I like Weaver in everything I've seen her in. And beyond that.... I'm running out of names. Hmm.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, LOL! I could imagine you producing the show. "Look, he's going to use the bathroom and if we're going to show the full 24 hours, we should at least show him go into the bathroom and then the clock moving forward as he comes back out."

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Diesel and Neeson! Good calls. I like both of them a lot. They both make the films they are in better.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Whippersnapper! LOL

I have not seen Restoration. I kept wanting to, but never got around to it.

Geezer as action hero! Yep. He has done that thing and he's done it really well. What's interesting to me is that he never really had the gravitas he needed when he was younger, but he really grew into it.

LawHawkRFD said...

I have to go along with Willis on the big screen. Outlaw13 got to Timothy Oliphant way ahead of me. He has always been a good actor, able to play very diverse roles. But he really shines in Justified on TV.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's true and I think that's the broader problem of typecasting. Once you are known as only an action hero or only a romantic comedies person or only the bad guy in heist films, etc., suddenly no one wants you for anything else. And once the next hot property comes along or people get sick of seeing you, your career is over.

There are several people I'd really like to see expand their choice of role. Vin Diesel in particular is a truly talented actor, but is pigeonholing himself. His first role was actually as a crooked stockbroker, but these days it's just generic action films.

Statham is another guy. It would be interesting to see him in a romantic comedy or a drama.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree, Schwarzenegger was THE MAN in the 1980s. But he does have severe limits on his acting ability -- though, as you note, he was very good at staying within those limits.

Speaking of Bond, I think Arnold's best role was True Lies which was the best "Bond film" of the era.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav and Jed, While I enjoy RDJ as Holmes a lot, I really don't see the role as Sherlock Holmes. I simply can't connect the two. So I enjoy them as RDJ films... not as Sherlock Holmes films.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Willis seems to be the top choice for most people, which is interesting since he probably would barely have been mentioned in the 1980s -- even with Die Hard. Back then, his biggest credit was still Moonlighting.

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav do not diss Jack Bauer. He didn't need no stinkin' bathroom breaks. He never ate or drank anything ' cause he was saving the world, man!

Okay there were many completely implausibilities on the show. He always had cell service and his cell never ever needed to charged. He could be beaten into a coma, poisoned, shot, whatever and always won the fight within the hour. And he always found Chloe at her desk in front of computer ready to upload, hack into, or find camera in exactly the right spot.

What made it fun was live blogging on Dave Barry's Blog. He made it so much fun catching and ridiculing the implausibilities. And really you can't get around in LA on a god day. How did was he able to get anywhere he needed to be in the middle of a nuclear holocaust!?

Tennessee Jed said...

Andrew - I agree, Willis as an action hero is really a creature of the 90's which is when his position as the choice of most people in this survey was cemented. That is when the "Die Hard" franchise was created. Along with a steady flow of solid rather than great films such as "Last Boy Scout", "Striking Distance", "Last Man Standing", and "Hudson Hawk" pretty much dooted the i and crossed the t of his action bona fides.

BevfromNYC said...

That is "good day", not "god day". I doubt there are any "god days" in LA...

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Yeah, I doubt there are many god days in LA. LOL!

I couldn't really get into "24" because of the ridiculousness of it.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I think the one which did it for me was actually Last Man Standing. Until then I saw him as a likeable actor who also had the Die Hard Franchise, where he was just an everyman thrust into an unusual circumstance. Last Man Standing added a real toughness to him. And then he did other films I really liked like Fifth Element.

He's an odd sort of action hero because he often seems to lack the confidence or competence of the others, but that makes him more endearing when he finally prevails.

Tennessee Jed said...

well, yeah, Andrew; that's a great point about Bruce. I don't know if it's so much lack of confidence as a touch of realism. I mean in Die Hard, for example, he is a cop. But thrown into the situation he was, who (other than a terminator) wouldn't be fighting to keep from hyper-ventilating?? And yet, he will do whatever he has to to try and prevail. He is "that guy."

Tennessee Jed said...

BTW - speaking of the Mission Impossible franchise, obviously Tom's character is Ethan Hunt, not Hawk. And, despite my earlier negative comments about actress goddesses as action heroines, I must make exception for Paula Patton. Loved her ever since her role in one of my favorite guilty pleasure flick's "Deja Vu." Then when I realized she shares the same birthday, she received lifetime bonus points. Still, if I look at Ghost Protocol, she was much more effective as code name Venus in her pick-up moves than as the karate kid.

BevfromNYC said...

TennJed. The problem with Julia Roberts is, bless her heart, she really can't act. So she is very limited in the roles that she can play anyway. Does anyone remember her try "Mary O'Reilly"? Yipes! She tried the stage, but it was just sad.

Kelly said...

Jed, I agree with you about Willis's realism. He is believable whereas Arnold is pure fantasy. I also like Paula Patton a lot!

Tennessee Jed said...

Bev - Mary Reilly!! O.M.G. Yipes is right l.o.l. Still, she did find a way to sneak into the America's romantic comedy sweetheart slot until Reese Witherspoon (who has 50 times her acting chops) replaced her.

Kelly - Alright! :)

ScottDS said...

Bev -

Does anyone remember her try "Mary O'Reilly"? Yipes! She tried the stage, but it was just sad.

She also tried singing in Woody Allen's (underrated) Everyone Says I Love You. Yeah... she should stick to her day job. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree, it's more about being believable than incompetent -- poor choice of words. Willis is more "normal" than the muscle/kickboxing guys.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev and Jed, I agree that Roberts simply can't act. I have yet to see a single role where I thought she did anything really well, and many where just dragged down the picture.

T-Rav said...

I liked Roberts in The Pelican Brief, although I definitely don't think the movie turned on her performance. Her character, sure, but not her personally. And I guess maybe Ocean's Eleven, because she and George Clooney had some pretty good chemistry there. Beyond that, I can't think of anything.

T-Rav said...

Bev, I'm not dissing Jack Bauer! Why would I do that? Our parking lot isn't that well lit! :-)

Seriously, though, if I had a problem with 24, it wasn't that nitpicky stuff, it was the tendency to recycle the plot in the later seasons. Conspiracy? Yep. Is the President involved? Yep. Is CTU gonna be incapacitated by something or other? Mmm-hmmm. And for the love of God, was there ever a time when someone didn't get through the perimeter???

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I liked her a lot in Pretty Woman and that was about it. Even in Ocean's Eleven I felt that almost any other actress would have been an improvement.

Recycled plots? On television? Surely, you jest! ;)

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - your point about 24 is spot on. David Gerrold who wrote "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode for original Star Trek called this phenomenon "format degenerating into formula" and "arteriosclerosis." Basically, it is as you describe. For the most part, if you break down every season of 24 after the first, you could pretty much use the exact same outline and just change the names and situations. There would be a red herring plot that would resoved about half way through and then the "real" villain would come to the fore. Jack was always being disavowed and hunted from without and within. Still, with all of that, for the most part, it was addictive, pot boiler television that didn't blame our own military first.

K said...

Can't believe anyone hasn't mentioned Sean Connery or Clint Eastwood.

Joel Farnham said...

".....' pot boiler television that didn't blame our own military first." That I think was the main reason it lasted so long. Like Bonanza, so many of the shows were the same, one after another.

Tennessee Jed said...

K - I figured both Clint and Sean were too old to be considered modern.

Joel - you are right. Even the best shows eventually suffer from this. People, in many respects, like the comfort of knowing what to expect. As Ed McMahon said to Johnny Carson once (or was it vice versa) when you go to a Holiday Inn, you know what you are going to get and how much it's going to cost" ;)

Individualist said...

Well I am going to have to make a dubious choice in that he is not always the good guy. Nut not plays a Bad@$$ Muther like Samuel Jackson.

The others like Arnold and Stallone have screen presence but their toughness is from their physical prowess. There are others that also have his same presence based on their skill, Jena Claude Van Damme and Jet Li. Willis is good but he is more of the underdog that makes good. This is not a negative in my estimation but it limits the role.

Samuel JAckson has the kind of screen presence that comes from attitude and I think this is why it works for hiom so well on screen. Jackson has the kind of screen presence where he seems to projects toughness for the soul.
It just seems to be in him. The onbly actor I'd say had this quality at his level would be the Duke but John Wayne is my father's era not mine.

Oddly enough some others that are good but would not be included first in this list are Nicolaus Cage, John Travolta, Mel Gibson (prior to freakout) and Denzel Washington.

AndrewPrice said...

K and Jed, What's interesting is that both of those guys spanned many decades. They are both huge action stars in the 1960s with films like the James Bond films and the spaghetti westerns running up through the 1970s with Dirty Harry.

Then you have a second period with films like Outland and Red October for Connery, and Clint in a variety of projects. And Clint has even continued to the present in films like Gran Torino.

So they really are in multiple eras.

AndrewPrice said...

Isn't it say that just not hating the military is enough to make a show stand out?

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I agree. Jackson has proven to be a heck of a tough-guy screen presence -- sometimes as the hero and sometimes as the rather likeable bad guy.

Denzel is another good choice. I like his films a lot and I like his presence on screen.

Tennessee Jed said...

always liked Samuel L. Jackson. Too bad he turned out to be a racist and moron!

tryanmax said...

still kindle bound. new lappy arrives tomorrow!

my vote: Bruce Willis. too easy.

AndrewPrice said...

Congrats on your expected new laptop! Going without a computer these days is not a pleasant experience.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Tell me about it. So many good actors just have to keep opening their mouths and hurting their reputations. Ug.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, very tough. i posted on my blog today w kindle. not e z

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I can imagine. I don't know which Kindle you have, but mine has a really small "keyboard" -- more like a calculator.

T-Rav said...

Agreed about Denzel. Actually, his was a much stronger character in The Pelican Brief than Roberts.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I can't think of a time I haven't liked Denzel?

BevfromNYC said...

TennJ and T-Rav - re: 24 - the only disappointment with the show was when they had Jeannine Garofalo on as a computer tech/hateful "employee" who blamed CTU for all the ills of the world. ***spoiler alert***
And Jack Bauer didn't get to set up a perimeter, shoot her in both of her thighs, and toss her off a very high building on to an electrified fence.

Commander Max said...

I'm with you guys Willis is definitely on the top of the list. Hudson Hawk was a classic.
"But I want to do community service; I want to teach the handicapped how to yodel."

Another is Kurt Russell, it's been decades since I last saw escape from NY, I remember him more from Stargate.
Stallone for his roles in Demolition Man and Judge Dread.
I guess it's a bit of typecasting but I never found Schwarzenegger that entertaining as a hero. Or at least when he has to do a lot of dialog.
There is bunch of other guys, but for me it goes movie by movie.

Anonymous said...

Jason Statham if you count modern as the last 15 odd years. He is the most prolific action guy at the moment, he looks good doing action, looks tough and can act. But I do agree that he needs to expand his roles to draw out his career.

If you got for the last 30 years then for me it would have to be Chow Yun-Fat. The guy is action movies to me, he looks believable and cool at the same time. A Better Tomorrow, City On Fire (Reservoir Dogs was virtually a reboot of this movie), The Killer, Hard Boiled, The Replacement Killers (underrated), Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and others. He does action, drama, even a buddy cop movie and along with Jet Li, Jackie Chan & John Woo they had a big influence on Western action movies.

With hat tips to Gibson (only one mention?), Willis (loved Hudson Hawk), Arnie (he was the biggest for ages), Jackie Chan (action and comedy with some drama) and Jet Li (again only one mention?).

Normally I don't like female action hero's, the idea of a small women taking out a room full of large men is laughable. But Milla Jovovich kicks ass in the Resident Evil movies and has a reason why she is able (t-virus), not to mention The Fifth Element and a few other action movies she has made.

Andrew I also really liked The Loser, it was grossly underrated or just plain ignored.

Scott.

rlaWTX said...

I have only read the panel's choices and I have to say YAY Jed!!!!
[disclaimer: I totally have a crush on Jason Statham - shocking news, I know.]

on to the discussion...

rlaWTX said...

OK - finished reading.
Bruce Willis is actually the King. Die Hards, Fifth Element, REDs... who knew all that was in that guy on Moonlighting? Good thing somebody did!

I saw Lara Croft 2 this weekend - corny movie, but AJolie can actually sell the character for me... So, I guess her for female nominee.

I have to agree with the mighty Statham's limited roles. However, I just really like him. The only movie of his that I haven't finished when I stared it (and I still have several to see for a complete review) was Crank 2, and it was just too MUCH (skin [hers not his), language, insanity, ...). And I am sure that I'll see "Safe", which opens this weekend.

I must admit that I am one of those bizarre people who love The Expendables. I loved the over-the-top nature of it, the corniness, the sheer testosterone, the good guys blowing the crap out of the bad guys (I also really enjoyed Eric Roberts' top bad guy)...
[also saw and liked the Losers]

Timothy Oliphant as Raylan Givins is one tough guy, but he's not really an "action hero" to me... I never appreciated The Gov other than Terminator 2. Never got into the Predator movies.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, It goes movie by movie for me as well. The only one that comes to mind that I don't like is Steven Segal.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott,

I like Chow Yun-Fat a lot as well. He's got a great screen presence and has done some truly inspired films. I wish Hollywood had used him more.

I'm not generally a fan of female action heroes either. I find the idea ridiculous that a 5' 2" woman could beat up a bunch of trained mercenaries and soldiers.

I don't know what happened with The Losers? It seems to have been ignored, which is too bad because it was a fun movie.

Thinking about how many movies Statham has done recently, I'm honestly not sure there's anyone else who can compete with him right now? I would say Vin Diesel, except he's only done a couple movies. Beyond that, I just don't see anyone at the moment? I'm not complaining because I like him, but it's kind of funny there just aren't any other really big action heroes at the moment.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I don't see Oliphant as an action hero either. I see him as just an actor.

I like Statham a lot and I've liked his movies. I do wish he would expand his roles a bit, but I won't complain about the films he does.

ScottDS said...

I'm surprised to see so much love for Hudson Hawk! I understand it didn't perform well at the box-office and pretty much put an end to Bruce Willis' producing career.

Having said that, I saw it for the first time last year and I kinda liked it. I appreciated where they were trying to go with it and there are gags I enjoy (including some bizarre cartoon sound effects) but it's a bit of a mess, too.

EricP said...

As always, late to the party (for better and worse, away from computers on Sundays), so nothing much to add except a nod to Sir Michael Caine in Harry Browne. Liam Neeson bad-ass? Nah, but still impressive for a guy his age.

EricP said...

Re. Hudson Hawk, God knows I love 'em, but Daniel Waters' scripts are sometimes too smart (and smart-alecky) for their own good.

Kit said...

There is only one action hero who stands above the rest and has done so for many years:

The Goddamn Batman!

Especially during Nolan movies and the Animated Series.

Of course, Year One's line "You're the one who shot the cat" was awesome.

Kit said...

Okay, I was being a bit silly. But I am a huge Batman fan so He would be my number one.

I can't think of any action actors in the past 10 years.
Bruce Willis sort of rose up before my time.

In my time there are actors who play action roles such as Christian Bale, Robert Downey Jr. (after his comeback), Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, etc.

Kit said...

Furious D has some good stuff on the subject of action heroes:

Die Hard
http://dknowsall.blogspot.com/2008/07/cinemaniacal-action-action-action.html

"Where have all the tough-guys gone?"
http://dknowsall.blogspot.com/2010/06/cinemaniacal-where-have-all-tough-guys.html

He points out that Bruce Willis appeared in the age of Ahnuld, Van Damme, and the rest of the steroid-filled, muscled-up heroes and "Bruce Willis made himself stand out with a more everyman caught in over his head image".

Kit said...

Links:

Die Hard turns 20

"Where Have All The Tough Guys Gone?"

Backthrow said...

I'd have to go with Mel Gibson, followed close behind by Willis, then Kurt Russell.

I like Statham, and he seems to be the hardest-working major action guy in Hollywood these days, but so many of his films are --while not especially 'bad'-- pretty formulaic and forgettable. I do own the first CRANK and THE BANK JOB, but it's like he has all the raw materials present, and yet no one in La-La Land gives him an iconic, original vehicle to put him over the top, like Clint, Mel, Bruce, Kurt, Sly, Arnold and co had (often multiple times). Even though he's been in three TRANSPORTER movies, and two CRANK films, when I see him in things now, I still think of him as Statham, and never as the continuing characters he's played. Contrast that to the names I just mentioned, where you immediately flash to Harry Callahan, 'The Man With No Name', Mad Max, Martin Riggs, William Wallace, John McClane, Snake Plisskin, Jack Burton, Rocky, Rambo, Conan, Dutch, the bad/good Terminator...

Instead, he's got a modern-day Chuck Norris/Jean-Claude Van Damme type of action career, though part of that is because so many action films today are slick-but-inferior remakes of past action films.

I like Denzel Washington, too, but I always get the sense that he's being wasted in most of the films he does (apart from some bright spots, like GLORY, MAN ON FIRE and THE INSIDE MAN). He's always better than the material, especially when the material is stuff like JOHN Q and the remake of THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE.

Samuel L. Jackson is great (on-screen) as well, but he seems to play villains as much or more than heroes. In a way, he's a bit like this generation's equivalent of Lee Marvin, though less of a stoic figure than Marvin usually was. On the other hand, going head-to-head, Marvin could probably twist Jackson into a pretzel, drunk or sober. lol

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I kind of liked Hudson Hawk as well, though I like the idea more than the execution.


Eric, Better late than never! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Batman is cool.

I think that's true about Willis. He appeared at a time when action heroes had gotten to be kind of goofy. They were all musclebound and way over the top -- Schwarzenegger, Stalone, Dulph Lundren, Van Damme, etc. Compare that to the normal guys from a few years prior, when you had Lee Marvin, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, etc. -- who were all tough guys because of their attitudes rather than their muscles.

I think Willis was a return to the older era and he opened the door for guys like Statham who are tough because of their personalities rather than their muscles.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, I agree entirely. I think Statham, like Denzel, is much better than the films he is getting. Everything he is getting is formulaic and simplistic. There is no Dirty Harry or Terminator or Snake Pliskin in the mix to make them iconic... just Statham/Denzel playing the same character we've seen many times.

I don't know how to change that in this age because there don't seem to be any iconic films coming out. But it would be best for both if they could find such a film before their careers simple run out of steam. Indeed, at this point, I can barely name any of their films, and I suspect that problem will be amplified in the future.

Kit said...

Batman is indeed cool, Andrew.

He even has a twitter account.
http://twitter.com/#!/god_damn_batman

Kit said...

"The Batman doesn’t have heroes. Heroes have The Batman."

"Earth Day. You plant a tree. I plant a left hook in Riddler’s sternum. That “green” enough for you?"

"I claim a lot of dependents. One for the ward. One for the butler. And about 9 million for the entire population of Gotham City."

"If you’ve never owned a car you can jump into from 12 stories up you haven’t lived."

"Zuckerberg buys Instagram for $1 billion. Hey Mark, next time try buying something worthwhile. Like a $1 billion top-secret cave hideout."

His Passover Tweet "Why is this Dark Knight different from all other Dark Knights...?"

"It's not the scars. Or the stiff joints. It's realizing your sidekick doesn't remember Titanic coming out because HE WASN'T BORN YET."

On the release of Hunger Games:
-"Thanks, but the odds are already ever in my favor."
-"I’m making Robin see Hunger Games. As long as he’s going to fight like a girl, he might as well learn how to do it well."

"Tebow isn’t the quarterback the Jets need. But the one they deserve."

"Groundhog Day reminder. If you see my shadow, you can expect six weeks of traction."

"I don’t have Facebook “friends.” I have Facebook “uneasy allies with contingencies in place to take them down in case they go rogue.”"
(That is actually true. He has/had plans for taking down each member of the Justice League -just in case)

And his Oscar tweets:
-"Planning my Oscar party. For next year. When Dark Knight Rises is eligible and I actually give a crap."
-"It’s great how DVR lets you skip over the boring parts. Which means selecting the entire Oscar telecast and hitting “delete.”"
-"Hey Academy, how about a new Oscar category for “Best Picture Anyone Actually Saw.”"

Kit said...

Oh, and this one: "For your consideration: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES TRAILER FOR BEST PICTURE."

Who would've thought a trailer would be one of the best things one saw at the movies?

Anonymous said...

I see people mentioning Timothy Oliphant, Denzel, Samuel L. Jackson & Liam Neeson but to me they are actors that have done a few action roles (and done them well). But they are not "action hero's" and Batman is a character obviously.

I guess most people never watched as many Hong Kong Action movies as I did, with only a passing mention of Jet Li. Someone mentioned Willis is good as he is an everyman not the muscle bound guy. Virtually every HK action movie had everyman as their leads, plus they could pull off the fight scenes a lot better.

Mel Gibson seems to have ruined his legacy as only two other people mentioned him but at one time he was one of the biggest action hero's. Another normal sized guy who could fight, could act and was good with a one liner.

I really liked Hudson Hawk, it had major problems but at lot of my love comes from the fact it is fun and they were trying something completely different. Also the historical back story of it was interesting and I liked the use of music in the robbery scenes and the running gags (coffee).

And I did like The Expendables, I looked at it as a throw back and not a modern action movie. Plus I liked how they included MMA moves (especially with Randy Couture in the movie) in the fight scenes to give them more credibility and a freshness.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, It sounds like someone has a lot of time on their hands! I wonder if that's a studio twitter or if someone just took in on themselves?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I agree that they aren't "action stars" in the tradition sense, but I think Neeson has really carved out a solid action portfolio lately. And Denzel is probably mainly an action hero, though he doesn't seem to get involved in big studio projects. He's just not as flamboyant as a guy like Stalone or Statham or Cruise on screen and I think that keeps him from getting noticed by wider audiences.

I've seen a lot of Hong Kong action films, but only four names have made it over here -- Li, Fat, Chan and Michelle Yeoh. And even then, none of them have made it big. I think the problem is that they've always been packaged as foreigners who come to the US for the purpose of the plot. That restricts their appeal and makes it hard for Americans to like them. It would be better if they just made them pretend Americans.

I agree about Hudson Hawk, I like that they tried something new, though the movie itself wasn't great.

Anonymous said...

Andrew I agree about them not making it in the US, I think they didn't make their characters American is due to the accent. I generally prefer their Asian movies anyway as they don't water them down to get a lower rating or for political correctness.

There are plenty of other great Asian action stars that never made a move to Hollywood that make JCVD & Segal seem like martial arts chumps and they are just as good if not better then Gibson, Willis etc in the straight action movies and they generally have the added bonus of being able to do drama and comedy.

I just love action movies, along with comedies they are my favourite genre of movies.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I've liked a lot of what they've done in Hong Kong, though my favorite is easily Hero which was somewhat popular over here.

JCVD and Segal always rubbed me wrong. JCVD seems to end everything with a single kick and never really shows off his skill (like he's showing off) -- plus he keeps remaking the same movie. Segal just strikes me as an ass, and a lazy one at that. I always get the sense he was too lazy to do anything more than lean into the bad guys and that somehow brought them down.

For my money, after Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan wins the martial arts crown hands down -- even though he's usually more comedy than serious, his moves are just phenomenal!

On the accents, that's probably why they did it, but I don't think accent is a killer here. Americans are actually pretty cool with accents. Look at a guy like Antonio Bandares, for example. He's got a strong accent (at least originally) and that helped his appeal. Ditto on a lot of the British actresses. Interestingly, they dubbed Mel Gibson when they shipped us Mad Max because they thought his accent would turn us off. How funny is that?

That said, the one accent I cannot take is the low-class British accent. A lot of the British heist films use this and I simply can't understand it and yet they don't subtitle it because it is technically English. Hmm.

Kit said...

Andrew,

From what I know he is just some Batman fan who tweets a tweet a day.


I'm with Klavan on the idea that we are in a Golden Age of television.

When I think of screen heroes in the past 10-15 years that are memorable and not comic book-based I can only think of tv heroes such as Gibbs, Dinozzo, Angel, Col. Jack O'Neill (Anderson), Col. John Sheppard, etc.

Kit said...

Maybe in movies: Harry Potter?

rlaWTX said...

Honestly, my biggest exposure to Jet Li was The Expendables. Watching him kick Dolph's butt was pretty great ("I woulda win").

I can't believe I forgot Wesley Snipes - Simon Phoenix. He was a bad guy, but a serious one! And Snipes was neat to watch in that. He was on a roll there for a while then - kaboom.

Kit, I like your TV choices!

Anonymous said...

rlaWTX, I too forgot Wesley Snipes he never quite got to the top but could have. He had some great action movies, Blade, Demolition Man, US Marshals etc but then he started to do more direct to DVD movies then had his IRS issues. With him in jail now he is thought of more as a punch line then a guy that could really kick but.

As to Jet Li if you are interesting check out Once Upon A Time In China an epic historical movie based on the Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung. It is Epic. Also check out Fist Of Legend which is a remake of Bruce Lees Fist Of Fury (The Chinese Connection) which I think is better.

He is also great in Fong Sai Yuk, Hero, Fearless and some of his early American movies are pretty cool such as Romeo Must Die, The One, Kiss Of The Dragon. Not all his movies are great and some of the Chinese ones have very weird senses of humour but the action in them are great.

Oh and check out Chow Yun-fat in A Better Tomorrow, Hard Boiled & The Replacement Killers.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, At one point, I had A Better Tomorrow and Hard Boiled on DVD, but I lost part of my collection.

Anonymous said...

Andrew that must hurt losing great movies like that. I lost my Firefly box-set and had to buy another (I watch it virtually every year) and then two days later I found it.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I don't like losing anything. :(

Kit said...

"then two days later I found it."

Hate it when that happens.

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