February 14, 2013

Small Scale Action

I love my big budget actioners with cities exploding and huge set-pieces, however my favourite type of action is smaller in scale. As much as I enjoy the bigger budget fare I find the bigger the action scene, the less involving it is.

To me when two guys are fighting and just going at it with sheer rage that gets me more involved. I just find it more engaging and there’s something about tales of revenge; if you have a protagonist who is going after someone for revenge, count me in.  It’s a primal thing, like if the protagonist’s family is killed then you won’t care what he does to the bad guys because you’re emotionally invested in his story.

Martial arts movies have always been one of my favourite genres; I grew up watching JCVD, Seagal, Bruce Lee and the like. Watching their fighting skills would never fail to impress; it was genuine human talent and for me there will never be a substitute.

Upon watching the most recent Die Hard movie, it got me thinking how they totally lost the spirit of the original movie; the confined locations created extra tension and just upped the threat level. McClane cried, bled and was 100% human and that’s why audiences loved him. He has now become an invincible hero who just can’t be stopped.

Hans Gruber was a well developed villain and the fact that he is still regarded as the greatest movie villain of all time says a lot.

If you go back and watch some action movies from the 90s, let’s say Recoil starring Gary Daniels; you will witness arguably the best 20 minute action scene you’ll ever see. There is no CGI, only talent and stunt work.

It had a low budget but you wouldn’t know that from watching it; the action is stunning but you’re involved in it from the start.

One of the best action movies of the past few years is Sinners & Saints starring Johnny Strong; it is an old school action movie which still feels modern. The direction is superb with great action scenes and once again it has a low budget. You care about the characters, it has a great story and you’re emotionally engaged.

Personally I think when directors are given low budgets, they are forced to be more creative with the action scenes. They can’t just throw CGI at the movie and expect audiences to just go with it. All of the special effects in the world don’t matter if you don’t care about any of the characters or what happens to them.

So, give me a Mano-a-Mano fight over a city exploding any day, at least then I’ll care about what is going on in the movie.

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel

I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it’s a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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