Stream Police: Action Speaks Louder Than Words
Hello again dear readers! I may be running low on streaming suggestions, but not so low that I can't lob another chunk of suggestions over the plate in the hopes that you all hit a home run with your Netflix viewing experience. This week I'm going with action movies. They run the gamut from war to sci-fi and everything in between, so if you're looking for some good old fashion ultra-violence, check out the suggestions on my list below. Keep in mind that none of these movies have won Oscars, or are particularly noteworthy as far as critical acclaim is concerned, but they're all entertaining and fun ways to while away the hours between your next shoot out.
Tears of the Sun
Tears of the Sun is a film from 2003 that stars Bruce Willis and Monica Bellucci. Willis and his team of bad-ass motherfuckers are sent in to the Nigerian Jungle to save Monica Bellucci's doctor character from encroaching hostile forces. When they arrive at the doctor's location, they find a horde of refugees whom the doctor refuses to abandon. In order to accomplish their mission, the highly trained soldiers must escort 70 refugees and one angsty doctor through the jungle while being chased by a murderous militia of Nigerians.
It's an entertaining film, with both feeling and action in equal measure. The story is a bit cliché if you're a big fan of war movies, but with the jungle setting, the more up to date visual effects, and the performance by Bruce Willis as the leader of the soldiers, it's well worth the time if you're looking for a serious action film.
If you're a fan of Jean-Claude Van Damme, then you've probably already seen his film from 1998, Bloodsport. Bloodsport follows Frank, a veteran and martial artist, as he leaves the military to take part in a brutal Hong Kong fighting tournament in which the contestants can, if they choose, fight to the death. JCVD teams up with Donald Gibb, who's character Ray "Tiny" Jackson is the most stereotypically 1980s American fighter you could ever see until Kung Fury got out on you tube.
That, along with the interesting characters portrayed by Leah Ayres, Bolo Yeung, and Forest Whitaker, make for an entertaining cast of characters.
With a definite 80s feel, a tone that can only be described as a JCVD action-style, and an intense assortment of martial arts styles, Bloodsport may not be the most critically acclaimed movie ever made, but it sure as hell is entertaining.
While The Punisher was seeing his first release in the Marvel Comic Universe as a bad guy in the Spider-Man comics back in 1974, Charles Bronson was busy playing one of the forefathers of the publicly consumed vigilante character in Death Wish. The film follows the story of Paul Kersey, played by Brosnan. When his wife is killed by street hoods, Paul takes it upon himself to kill and maim his way through the criminal underworld of his neighborhood. The film started a franchise that lasted for five feature length films, each more violent then the next.
Death Wish may not meet the standard for high octane violence that modern day cinema pumps out with films like John Wick or The Equalizer, but Death Wish is not only an interesting look at the origin of vigilante films, but also manages to be an entertaining and violent character drama.
If you're a fan of action movies and sci-fi films and you haven't seen Equilibrium, I'm surprised at you. It's got Christian Bale, Dominic Purcell, Sean Bean, Sean Pertwee, Angus Macfadyen, William Fitchner, and Taye Diggs. It's action is fast paced and heart pounding, with visually interesting choreography. The combat is done in a "gun-kata" style, which is essentially combining martial arts, trigonometry, and bullets. The film doesn't fail to provide an awesome Sean Bean death, and the rest of the talent provides excellent performances.
The film also deals with a classic standby of science fiction. In a futuristic world where human emotion and passion are subdued in favor of peace and prosperity, a subset of mankind fights a losing battle to defend the arts and culture of civilizations of old. It's nothing new if you're an avid sci-fi aficionado, but it's still an entertaining backdrop for one of the cooler action films of the genre.
If you haven't seen Battle Royale, you've seen the story told in more recent versions. The Hunger Games, The Condemned, or any film where unwilling participants are forced to kill each other for the joy of others are all derived from the same vein as Battle Royale, except that BR does it better. BR is a movie about a group of Japanese school children that are gassed, taken to an island, provided with random weapons, and then forced to kill each other in terrible, violent ways. This is all then televised by the government of Japan in order to teach future students that talking back to your elders is bad. It's a crazy film, with some really in depth character interactions, as the class mates try to work together, turn on each other, and even commit suicide to avoid killing their friends.
The only possible downside is that it has no English dub, so you have to read the subtitles, but that's not a real problem if you're willing to read in exchange for a legitimately well made film. If you like the popcorn pulp that is The Hunger Games, you'll really enjoy the version that gives you full access to all the blood and gore. You'll love Battle Royale.
p.s. - the sequel is available on Netflix as well. It's a little different from the original, with a worse storyline, but much faster paced action that focuses less on character interaction and more on kids having their heads blown off by explosive shock collars.