Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Action/Adventure - Black Hole Movies ""

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Underrated Action/Adventure - Black Hole Movies

Mark Hodgson lives in London, writes the Black Hole Movies blog and Twitter feed, and has recently rediscovered a love of Lego. A love that lay dormant for forty years.

Okay, I've tried not to repeat any recommendations that have already been highlighted and been strict about my choices qualifying as action and adventure... Let's get chronological...


TARZAN THE APE MAN (1931) 
This attempts to be faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs' books while delivering an epic adventure. Thankfully it skips the long-winded 'origin' story which most subsequent versions default to. It's a throwback to when explorers travelled far and wide in search of treasures to plunder and shot anything that looked dangerous. I'd seen quite a few Tarzans before the chance to catch this one, but it impressed me as the best take on the story. It may be an old film, but it had a big budget for the time and, being 'pre-code', still surprises with its violence, which pushed its transmissions on British TV back to late night, even fifty years later). Not to mention its moments of downright weirdness (little cannibals and imaginary animals). 


THE THREE MUSKETEERS and THE FOUR MUSKETEERS (1973, 1974)
Another definitive version. Action and adventure means swashbuckling, and here's plenty of it. Authentic swordfighting where the cast have to fight their own fights (meaning injuries on set, including Christopher Lee's wrist getting run through). The authentic historical detail in the costumes and age of the locations make this all feel like time travel. But while the background history is accurate, there's a wealth of humour, drama and regular swordfights, each one with a fresh twist. The two films were shot back to back, making a complete four-hour story. The calibre of the cast make the time fly past. With Faye Dunaway, Oliver Reed and Charlton Heston heading the huge ensemble cast.


THE DEEP (1977)
Of course Peter Benchley's first novel after JAWS was hotly-anticipated, but how could the movie version be better than one of the best ever? It couldn't, but they tried damn hard. THE DEEP is about sunken treasure, Jamaican gangsters and a killer eel, with the director of BULLITT ensuring there's also a wide variety of suspense above the waterline. The brutal fistfights and voodoo assault were often excised completely from TV showings.

THE DEEP needed the largest ever and most complex underwater set until THE ABYSS washed up. Robert Shaw plays a treasure hunter who could easily be a relative of JAWS' Quint and there's spectacular interaction with a lot of sharks in one scene, but that's where the similarities end. Apart from Benchley's inspiration being based on a ton of research. Also stars Nick Nolte when he was young and hot, Jacqueline Bisset, Lou Gosset Jr., Eli Wallach and Robert Tessier flesh out the cast of a truly underrated thriller.


SUKEBAN DEKA - THE MOVIE (1987)
This is a TV spinoff, so the first series of 'Delinquent Schoolgirl Detective' has already dealt with the silly origin story so that the movie can plunge straight into the action. Japanese action movies haven't the budget to compare to American action movies, but any story of a team of schoolgirls with killer yo-yos (not a euphemism) tackling the fortress of an evil genius cannot be dismissed. Or ever forgotten.


THE ROCKETEER (1991) 
If this had been a hit we might have had a franchise! From the same era as RAIDERS OF THE LAST ARK, but more respectful of pulp fiction from that time. It recalls 1930s' Hollywood, rocket man Commander Cody serials, Errol Flynn swashbuckling and even The Creeper. Tongue in cheek and big big action. Bill Campbell. Jennifer Connelly, Alan Arkin, Timothy Dalton and Terry O'Quinn.


AZUMI (2003)
Director Ryuhei Kitamura (VERSUS, GODZILLA FINAL WARS) tones down his usual wackiness to deliver an epic adventure set in the time when Japan was divided up among feuding warlords. Azumi is a young, female samurai who racks up a legendary bodycount on her increasingly complex assassination missions. The swordfights are almost as over-the-top as the cross-dressing baddie.


1 comment:

Francisco Gonzalez said...

Agree on The Rocketeer, so old school, love the hell out of it. It was simply misunderstood because its an older superhero. The same fate fell upon The Phantom, The Shadow and The Spirit movies, they all failed at the box office because young audiences couldnt connect with them, well, in the case of The Spirit, the movie simply sucked...But The Rocketeer? Solid in my book!

I need to see The Deep already, thanks for the reminder!