August 7, 2013

DRW Action Blog- Rock N’ Action

Welcome to the first ever edition of DRW Action Blog, I’m very happy to be part of The Action Elite crew and looking forward to writing here as frequently as possible. I was planning on doing a blog on rock/metal music in action movies but I saw a month or two ago that Eoin beat me to it! I couldn’t agree with him more regarding what he said and you should check his blog on the subject if you haven’t already. Despite this I thought I would just cover this subject in my blog anyway and cover some of the things not mentioned in Eoin’s blog.

The List:

Rocky III (1982)- Rocky III is an obvious one, it’s one of the most famous examples of a sports/action style movie backed by a rock song in this case, “Eye Of The Tiger” by Survivor, the song has been forever to the Rocky series ever since almost as much as the Rocky theme by Bill Conti in my opinion and became the band’s biggest hit.

Highlander (1986)- Another famous example is Highlander which is a sci fi/fantasy action movie for which Michael Kamen produced the score and Queen provided a great deal of the main soundtrack, not only providing the film with a great and varied soundtrack with hits such as “Who Wants To Live Forever”, “Gimme The Prize”, “Hammer To Fall”, “One Vision” and “A Kind Of Magic”. The album “A Kind Of Magic” by Queen which contains most of the songs used in Highlander became one of Queen’s biggest albums ever and led to a massive surge in interest for the band no doubt with a lot of thanks to the success of Highlander, including being a catalyst for one of their biggest tours which supported that album.

Commando (1985)- The classic 80’s action film from Schwarzenegger. Although well known for its score with a prominent use of steel drums, composed by James Horner. Power Station with Michael Des Barres provided the slab of 80’s melodic hard rock entitled “We Fight for Love” and although it wasn’t included in the official soundtrack album release, it played the important role of closing the movie with a bang and is synonymous with that film to this day.

Kickboxer (1989)- My favourite JCVD film and one of my favourite action films of all time. The soundtrack was typical of the time mostly provided by Stan Bush outside of the Asian influenced 80’s sounding score by Paul Hertzog, it was a mix of 80’s power ballads and melodic hard rock with the track “Never Surrender” closing out the film as JCVD celebrates his victory over Tong Po.

Tango & Cash (1989)- Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone teamed up in this 90’s buddy cop action movie which had a mix of rock and 80’s pop in addition to the score by Harold Faltermeyer, famous for Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun. The main song for the movie was “Best Of What I Got” by Bad English, a supergroup made up of Journey members Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Deen Castronovo and former members of The Babys, John Waite on vocals and Ricky Phillips on bass. Alice Cooper’s “Poison” and The Call’s “Let The Day Begin” also made an appearance in the film for the rock side of affairs.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)- As well as having a great score written by Brad Fiedel, one of my favourites in fact, Guns N Roses provided the signature track associated with this movie, “You Could Be Mine” which appeared briefly in the movie in a short scene as John Connor rode off on his dirt bike to the mall. Arnold Schwarzenegger would then return the favour by appearing as the T-800 in the Terminator themed live video for the song, a well known video for 90’s rock still played on rock music channels today. In addition another rock song, “Bad To The Bone” by George Thorogood and the Destroyers was made famous by this movie in the famous opening scene in the bar when The Terminator walks into a bar naked, beats everyone up then steals the clothes off a man’s back as well as his bike before riding off into the night in one of the coolest scenes from a 90’s action film.

Rapid Fire (1992)- One of my favourite action films in my younger days from Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee. The song in question this time is “I’ll Be There” by the US Hard Rock band Hardline, who also provided the song “Can’t Find My Way” in the film in addition to the asian influenced score by Christopher Young.

True Lies (1994)- Arnie’s big budget 90’s action classic True Lies was mainly complimented by a typical 90’s action score composed by Brad Fiedel, however the film did have a main soundtrack song which was a cover of the Cream classic “Sunshine Of Your Love” performed in this case by the fantastic Living Colour.

The Crow (1994)- The last movie from Brandon Lee, who died while during its making after a freak accident which lead to him being shot and killed by a real bullet lodged in a gun supposed to be filled with blanks. It is an action movie but one with a dark feel and supernatural theme only heightened by the fact Lee died during it’s making; he plays a rock musician in the film who is revived from the dead to avenge the murders of himself and his fiancée. The soundtrack matches the dark feeling with bands such as The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Pantera and Helmet contributing songs (some covers) to the film and the soundtrack that followed. Perhaps the biggest and most well known track taken from the film however is “Big Empty” by Stone Temple Pilots, which has a dark country sound mixed with 90’s alternative rock capturing the strange dark feel of the film well.

Universal Soldier: The Return (1999): As part of Megadeth’s experimentation into the mainstream, they licensed their song “Crush Em”, which showed off the new commercial direction the band were taking for Universal Solder: The Return, which starred Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White and Bill Goldberg; they even went as far to make the video for “Crush Em” with Van Damme and Goldberg appearing as their characters from the film as well as the song being used as Goldberg’s theme in World Championship Wrestling, Megadeth even performed the track live on an episode of WCW Monday Nitro. Bands like Static X, Fear Factory and Ministry also contributed songs to the movie’s soundtrack.

Mission Impossible II (2000)- As Eoin mentioned in his article on the subject, Limp Bizkit provided their own version of the famous Mission Impossible theme for Mission Impossible II in addition to the score written by Hans Zimmer. However the whole movie had a rock/metal theme to it with not only Limp Bizkit providing their famous version of the Lalo Schifrin theme, of course Metallica provided the track “I Disappear” exclusively for the movie in their first original release since their 1998 album Reload. A soundtrack album was also released called “Mission Impossible II; Music from and Inspired by” which contained tracks from bands/artists like Buckcherry, Foo Fighters, Rob Zombie, Chris Cornell and Godsmack proving the heavy link with rock/metal music to this movie.

XXX (2002)- One of the best examples of an action film with an inseparable link to rock/metal is Vin Diesel’s XXX. The theme of this style of music is tightly woven in and heavily featured throughout the movie influencing scenes and characters. The movie opens with a live performance and appearance by Rammstein performing their track, “Feuer Frei!” as a man is chased down and assassinated and the theme of the movie “Adrenaline” is performed by Gavin Rossdale of Bush. This film became synonymous with the rock/metal music featured in it and even though the first film had some hip-hop/rap music in it also, fans were disappointed when the XXX brand returned for a second installment starring Ice Cube in which the music included was mostly in a hip-hop style, moving away from a key element that captured a style which helped the first film to become as successful as it was, as such the second movie was considered a disappointment in many ways. A soundtrack from the first film was also released with a heavy metal side and hip-hop side, the heavy metal side contained music from Rammstein, Gavin Rossdale, Queens Of The Stone Age & Drowning Pool.

The Condemned (2007)- In Steve Austin’s first starring role for WWE Films and first true step into action movies, the Battle Royale style concept co-starring Vinnie Jones includes the music of Spiderbait with their famous modern re-working of Ram Jam’s classic “Black Betty”, several tracks from the likes Black Stone Cherry, Sevendust & Buckcherry, ending with a modern power ballad provided by Nickelback in the form of “Savin Me”, all of this in addition to a score by Graeme Revell.

12 Rounds (2009)- Another wrestler makes his move in movies courtesy of WWE Films here as John Cena in his second starring role (after The Marine) takes on the role of Danny Fisher, a New Orleans cop who powers through challenge after challenge to save his kidnapped wife from a terrorist. The Die Hard style movie is backed by a score from former Yes guitarist turned film composer Trevor Rabin and modern alternative rock/metal music from Rise Against and Crumbland.

The Expendables (2010)- Although not containing as many rock songs as you would think for an action film of this magnitude, the first Expendables film is closed out in awesome fashion with a live version of “The Boys Are Back In Town” by Thin Lizzy taken from their landmark Live and Dangerous record. It fits in perfectly with the feel and concept of the whole movie as well as the ending of the whole team riding off on their bikes together.

The Avengers (2012)- The Avengers is one of the most recent examples along with Iron Man 2, of a big budget action/superhero movie having a rock/metal soundtrack with famous bands contributing songs. In addition to a score by Alan Silvestri, the main song of the film “Live To Rise” is provided by Soundgarden, also Indian rock band Agnee provided the song “Hello Andheron” for the Indian release of the film. A soundtrack called “Avengers Assemble: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture” was also released in conjunction with the film and included tracks from band’s like Buckcherry, Shinedown, Papa Roach and FIve Finger Death Punch.

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