With the recent arrival of yet another poorly received action film, this time Executive Producer Martin Scorsese’s Revenge of the Green Dragons, we can and should take this opportunity to ease our minds and reflect on some classics.
You can leave generic plotlines and shallow protagonists behind with the following old school films:
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Written and directed by John Carpenter, Assault on Precinct 13 remains one of the lesser known action thriller movies. Although it initially received mixed critical reviews and unimpressive box office earnings, it is arguably one of Carpenter’s best works. The movie centers on a police station under attack by a gang known as Street Thunder. The gang initiates an attack on an ice cream truck, resulting in the death of a young girl, whose father becomes set on getting revenge. The blatant violence in this scene showcases the tone for the movie from that point onward. Violence precedes violence throughout this film and makes for one grimy and brutal classic. The whole film is posted on YouTube, but you can also find it on Netflix.
The Terminator (1984)
The film that Arnold Schwarzenegger is most known for is also one of the top action films of all time. The Terminator is a sci-fi action film that doesn’t disappoint, even years later. Schwarzenegger stars as a cyborg assassin sent from the year 2029 to 1984 to kill a waitress named Sarah Connor, whose unborn child is to become a postapocalyptic savior in the future. Although not much was expected from the film at first, The Terminator topped the American box office for two weeks after its premiere. The film is packed with sci-fi action goodness, but perhaps the most noteworthy aspect is Schwarzenegger – the Terminator himself. The emotionless muscleman completely embodies what a futuristic cyborg is supposed to be. The Terminator received so many positive reviews that they subsequently made three sequels, with the newest installment coming in July 2015, adding new meaning to the terminator’s words, “I’ll be back.” You can find The Terminator and all of its sequels streaming on DirecTV.
Lethal Weapon (1987)
With three sequels after the original, it’s no wonder Lethal Weapon is one of those movies that deserves to be watched over and over again. Starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as two homicide cops who chase a gang of drug dealers, the action in this movie never stops. Although we are hit with action scene after action scene of car chases and shootouts, the movie makes sure not to forgo character development. Glover as Roger Murtaugh is a family man, responsible and safe while Gibson, as Martin Riggs, is a crazed and emotionally unstable character, indifferent to death. Our two protagonists work well together as each others’ counterparts, making the danger they constantly get themselves in seem fun to us in the audience. You can watch Lethal Weapon on Amazon streaming.
Die Hard (1988)
The original Die Hard was based on a novel called Nothing Lasts Forever, a sequel to Roderick Thorp’s The Detective, which landed its own movie starring Frank Sinatra. However, Die Hard was the film that spawned four other movies, video games, and a comic book in its franchise. Bruce Willis stars in this 80s action film as a police officer who faces international terrorists, bent on holding everyone in an office building hostage – including his wife. While Die Hard received positive reviews, Willis as John McClane really made the movie. In fact, he was so well suited to the role that he became one of the most well known action stars in film today, especially after starring in all of the Die Hard sequels. You can stream Die Hard here. Die Hard is easy to find online these days.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
As the debut film of director and writer Quentin Tarantino, Reservoir Dogs became a classic in independent film. It featured many of Tarantino’s signature themes such as violence, profanity, and lewd jokes – all of which are what really makes Reservoir Dogs so great. The film focuses on a gang of thieves carrying out a diamond robbery. Each of the thieves are strangers to each other, given fake names, and hired to carry out the perfect crime. What they don’t know is that there is a police officer undercover within the group. The nonlinear storytelling of this film unveils the plot slowly as we get sucked in through the blood and guts. The film received generally positive reviews when it premiered, but became even more popular with the release of Tarantino’s second film Pulp Fiction. Tarantino also became a well-known action thriller director with his pop culture references and blood. Lots of blood. You can watch Reservoir Dogs on Netflix.