Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Action/Adventure - Dan Budnik ""

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Underrated Action/Adventure - Dan Budnik

Dan Budnik is co-author of the book Bleeding Skull!: A 1980s Trash Horror Odyssey. He is currently working on another book containing 100% more Dudikoff.

1) Mister Nice Guy (1997) – A very entertaining Jackie Chan film released right after he almost conquered America withRumble in The Bronx, Supercop and First Strike. Mr. Nice Guy was Jackie’s first Hong Kong action film shot entirely in English. Made in Australia, it was directed by the great and mighty Sammo Hung. And, it kind of passed byunnoticed in the States, which is too bad because it is, more or less, 90 minutes of great action scenes. (The construction site free-for-all is one of my favorite Jackie Fights of all-time.) Jackie kicks ass. Sammo’s action direction isawesome, as always. (Have you seen Eastern Condors?) The film is let down slightly in the ripe acting and perfunctory dialogue departments but don’t let that deter you. (Maybe watch the film in another language with English subtitles?) This one moves and it’s exciting and it’s funny and Jackie’s great. What more do you need?

2) Rescue Force (1989) - Frenetic, late ‘80s nonsense action. People assemble in the desert. They shoot at each other. Someone edits it all together. In the end, the good guys win. Charles Nizet’s masterpiece is semi-incoherent excitementthat features the assembling of a squad of commandos to rescue some guy and his daughter. Phone calls are made. Numerous captions appear on the screen giving us a series of times and locations that become more and more tenuous. Then, the shooting begins and it is an orgy of righteous awesomeness. 

3) American Ninja (1985) – This film just has the sort of title that I giggle at and then ignore. Well, last week, I watched it and loved it. It’s so much fun. It’s a well-made, action packed good time set at an army base in the Philippines. Michael Dudikoff plays Joe, an American Ninja. There’s local corruption and jerks who like punching people. The commander of the base has a lovely daughter who keeps getting kidnapped. It’s simply an entertaining action film. I would guess it’s a great one for watching on the big screen and cheering a lot. And the commander’s daughter is played by Judie Aronson who gets kidnapped as the Mayor’s daughter in the Sledge Hammer! pilot not long after this.

4) The Violent Professionals (1973) – This is my favorite Poliziotteschi film. I actually haven’t seen it for a couple years and I’ve never seen it in a good print. But, it has thatrough, raw, slightly confusing feel to it that all the ItalianBullitt/ French Connection rip-offs from this time period have. A tough cop is suspended and goes after some bad guys. There are scenes of great violence. Some of them hilariously inappropriate. And, yes, there are car chases. I love a good car chase and this has several. All of them shot in that no-nonsense style where there is zero Hollywoodsheen to them. No gloss. I always imagine whole neighborhoods in absolute chaos after the production crews left. Wrecked cars and fruit carts everywhere. It’s all real! (That probably didn’t happen though.) If you like an action film that will leave grit in your teeth and Martine Brochard in your mind, hop on this one.

5) Chasing Choo Choos (1927) 20 minutes of silent movie thrills and that’s it. Monty Banks made a movie called Play Safe, a Harold Lloyd-style comedy that segues into thrills at the end. It bombed. So, he removed all but the last 20 minutes. Those minutes consists of a wild silent movie fight scene and a ton of hair-raising stunts on and around a train. I’m not sure if Play Safe still exists. But, ChasingChoo Choos may be all you want or need, as Banks doesn’t seem like much of a comedian. He’s great with the stunts, though. There were so many “nice guy races to the rescue”films in silent times (Girl Shy is a favorite) that creatingone that eliminates everything but the race seems like the smartest thing in the world.

Honorable Mentions:

Freebie and The Bean (1974) – Richard Rush can direct action. The car chases in this one are superb. Especially the one that begins on the streets, then gradually becomes two cars smashing into each other until they can’t go anymore and ends in the kitchen of an Italian restaurant. There’s some humor and a decent plot in here too.

Game of Survival (1989) - The man who starred in Alien Private Eye plays another alien in this film. A bunch of fugitives from outer space are sent to Earth to fight for an orb of some kind. Whoever has the orb at the end wins their freedom. Cheap, yes. Wacky, you got that right. Filled with fights, oh yes. This one is, basically, fight after fight between all different types of strange looking guys. There’s a brief romantic interlude section but no one seems terribly interested. Don’t let that get in the way of your action, friends.

Jungle Hell (1955) – Sabu the Jungle Boy, elephants, UFOs, radioactive rocks and more stock footage than you can imagine. This is a classic of non-adventure. Not much happens in the jungle here. But, I always get the feeling that something should be happening. Watch it and see if you can spot the action. If you do, feel free to be smug. I won’t complain.

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