Pathetic Action Flicks We Love
By Kristin Battestella
There are those dynamite, effects laden and car chased filled blockbuster action thrillers of which we just can’t get enough. Story, performance, and the whole lot- honestly, what’s not to love? However, we’re not talking about those gems today. Admit it. You have been up at 2 a.m. watching some crappy-ass, low budget, dated yarn that you’ve got no business of viewing once-let alone ten times. My friends, celebrate these woefully badass bad action flicks unashamed!
Chain of Command – I’ve only recently stumbled upon this 2000 political thriller thanks to its seemingly ceaseless runnings on cable. The cast is a-okay, if too nineties. Roy Scheider (Jaws) as a slick President-to-be I can accept, cool as cool Michael Biehn (The Terminator), too- but our hero is
Melrose Place and Starship Troopers sleaze Patrick Muldoon? Huh? The scenario is a little too preposterous, too, and the production values are way too low budget. And yet, there’s enough credibility, believability, acting, and suspense here for a half decent yarn. Who knew?
Cobra – Sylvester Stallone has had a few greats, yes indeed, but this 1986 vehicle written by Sly and starring his then woman Brigitte Nielson is neither Rocky nor Rocky IV for that matter. The sunglasses, the car, the silly names, oh my the music and bad punch lines-Cobra is almost in a class by itself: the so dated, so eighties, so bad it’s so dang good. At least Nielson was truly eye candy back then, and who’s really going to %^&* with Stallone, people?
Double Impact – I could just as easily cite any of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s flicks: Death Warrant, Sudden Death, Lionheart, or perhaps the slightly superior Universal Soldier or Nowhere to Run. Impact however, has the dubious distinction of using the oldest action film trick in the book. This isn’t a buddy cop movie, oh no-it’s long lost identical twin brothers from opposite sides of the martial arts! Despite the cliché, Van Damme actually gives his dual roles some personality and separation. Of course, he kicks ass and gets the girl, too, but that was to be expected- along with the French accent, Asian stereotypes, and revenge-fu.
Navy Seals – Charlie Sheen has made his share of clunkers, I grant you that, but this 1990 typical military ‘up to snuff’ flick is pretty notorious, even garnering debate and disdain in Clerks. Despite a half decent cast including resident action boys Michael Biehn (again) and Bill Paxton, this ridiculously obvious flick has so many bad turns that it’s actually fairly entertaining. I probably still have all the dialogue memorized, and if there’s a drinking game, email me.
The Rookie (1990) – This cop thriller from star Clint Eastwood is almost so bad it’s good. It’s completely preposterous and again Charlie Sheen is not at his best, but the one-liners here are so dang kitschy that they’re catchy. The all-star cast-including juicy Raul Julia and dominatrix Sonia Braga- are surprisingly good even if we’re at the bottom of Eastwood’s directing barrel. Dirty Harry himself is a little too old for the action, but that’s supposed to be the point, isn’t it? Fans of the cast, bad buddy cop movies, and car chases can always delight in this one.
Showdown in Little Tokyo – There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about a movie that unabashedly shows a dummy getting crushed in a car compactor, not to mention all the women and sushi quips and penis size jokes one could ask for. Dolph Lundgren (star of his share of bad movies like Masters of the Universe) and the late Brandon Lee (also unfortunate star of a few clunkers like Rapid Fire and really only one great film in his too short career, The Crow) do the obvious buddy role reversal here with all things Fu Lundgren and L.A. yuppie Lee. Tia Carrere and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa juice up all the good, bad, and ugly here, even if every single thing in this one is so unintentionally funny that it’s actually a joy to watch.
Toy Soldiers – Bad boys Sean Astin (that’s Samwise, folks) and Will Wheaton (Wesley Crusher, need I say more?) are going to save their prep school from seriously angry, armed, and deadly terrorists. Yeah right! Once you take that considerable leap of faith, get over the obligatory bonding with spiked fluoride, and accept the obvious attempt at colorblind casting, this one is kind of fun. The cast is both good and bad, the delinquent preppy boys really aren’t so badass at all, and yet you want to see Samwise save the day and help Frodo destroy the ring. Oh, sorry, wrong movie!
Now then, I was also going to mention a few films starring kick boxer turned SyFy Channel boy toy Olivier Gruner. However, those yarns are a little more science fiction than pure action; and in the end I decided to classify Nemesis (1992) and the not available on DVD Automatic (1995) as hidden gems, not pathetic action flicks. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love every movie I’ve mentioned here, I even own them. How bad is that?