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Author Topic: Bad 80s action: What makes them great?  (Read 3980 times)
Jim H
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« on: April 30, 2009, 11:26:41 PM »

I was looking at a few of my favorite 80s action films, the cheesy ones.  Specifically, I was thinking about what makes me love them.

Films I'm talking about are stuff like the Golan/Globus films.  Ya know, American Ninja films, Cobra, Missing in Action, etc. 

A few of the things that make them great:

A belief that an easy-to-follow plot is more important than one that is completely coherent (it's fun playing spot-the-plothole).
Outrageous overacting.
Lots of stupid explosions.
A philosophy that says revenge is the best form of justice, and always arranges it so the hero can exact it without consequence.
Lots and lots of fleshbags for the hero to punch/flip/blow up/stab/slice/shoot.

I know there's a lot more to the appeal than this.  What does everyone else think?
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Doggett
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2009, 10:18:57 AM »

80's music montages...just can't beat 'em !

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Have to love that music ! TeddyR
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 10:36:21 AM »

sometimes you just want to see a bazooka
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2009, 12:09:31 PM »

Guys with stubble and sweaty, bulging muscles saving hot women from evil Russians backed by anthemic synth rock! Hell yeah!

80's action films are total warzones, fight after fight, until you can't take it anymore. They are just guilty pleasures that don't have to be well written or have any deep values or morals. They satisfy some of man's great urges/needs; revenge, power, pride, closure....etc....

Cobra is the perfect example: Tough guy cop out for justice on the streets and within his own department, stunning car, good looking woman, guns with laser-sights, maniac with a bad-ass knife, hilarious dialogue and awesome soundtrack. It cannot be beat.

^ I know I just rambled on there quite nonesensically, but this subject gets me giddy.  TongueOut
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schmendrik
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2009, 01:33:27 PM »

I haven't seen one in awhile so this is by memory, but it seems to me there's something satisfying about the fight scenes in these movies. Good moves, things that make you sit up and shout "Cool!" and rewind to watch it again. As opposed to an emphasis on special effects.

I've always found Chuck Norris movies to be total junk but deeply satisfying for some reason. I love them all.
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Jack
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2009, 03:04:11 PM »

Pure unapologetic cheese. 
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2009, 05:32:03 PM »

The concept that bigger is always better.  TeddyR
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Andrew
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2009, 08:16:38 PM »

I like the plentiful explosions, the really evil bad guys who are evil just because they're evil, the multitude of weapons (how many did Matrix carry around in "Commando" anyway), and the one-liners.  There are not many joys more joyful than a vengeful hero uttering that zinger one-liner as he finishes off the main bad guy, or after dispatching a dozen lower henchmen.

Recently, meaning within the last few months, I've watched quite a few of the old action flicks.  Two favs that jump to mind are "Blind Fury" and "Eye of the Tiger."  "Wanted:  Dead or Alive" was very good as well.

EDIT:  Fixing the title to correct it to "Eye of the Tiger."
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Neville
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« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2009, 09:20:17 AM »

I'll always remain fascinated with the stuff, if only because that's the kind of movies I watched in my teens, and they'll always feel special to me even if they aren't. It doesn't hurt that there are so many great forgotten 70-80s actioners, like "Driver" or "Runaway train" out there.

Some of the more mainstream stuff fares worse with time. I saw the first "Missing in action" film last week, and while the barebones filmaking felt quite refreshing (today, every punch from Chuck Norris would have its own frame and be accompanied by loud, aggresive music) the action bits per se were surprisingly cheesy. There's one scene where Norris blews up several guard towers, and yet somehow he manages to caught the guard in the last one by surprise.

But there are too many things I miss from those films, like the murky cinematography, the pulsating synth scores, the unapologetic level of violence, or the mechanic, deliberate editing, so I will probably be watching them for the rest of my life.
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Mr. DS
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2009, 03:14:05 PM »

Pretty much the standard reasons mentioned, but especially for the cheesy dialog.  Stuff like Ah-nold in Commando,
"All dat mattas to me now is Jenny..."
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2009, 04:40:06 PM »

Cheezy kung Fu!  TeddyR

...as in TNT JACKSON...(a favorite!)

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Jim H
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2009, 12:39:17 PM »

80's music montages...just can't beat 'em !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4arKx8CvQ_o

Have to love that music ! TeddyR


Great one!  Reminds me of Rocky IV - how many musical montages did that have?  Like 8?
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« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2009, 12:41:38 PM »

Pretty much the standard reasons mentioned, but especially for the cheesy dialog.  Stuff like Ah-nold in Commando,
"All dat mattas to me now is Jenny..."

Commando is another prime example. It's full of violence and action, but it's so damn ridiculous....I love it!  TeddyR
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Mr. DS
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2009, 07:43:32 PM »

Pretty much the standard reasons mentioned, but especially for the cheesy dialog.  Stuff like Ah-nold in Commando,
"All dat mattas to me now is Jenny..."

Commando is another prime example. It's full of violence and action, but it's so damn ridiculous....I love it!  TeddyR
Commando is a text book case of 80s action.  Its awful, its cheezy, its downright unbelivable but you buy it!  I mean seriously, there wasn't a single guy who could flank Ah-nold's character in that final battle and blow his brains out?
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AndyC
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2009, 10:44:19 PM »

Absolutely no effort expended on realistic, multilayered characters. The characters serve the plot and have only the characteristics they need - the hero, the villain, the henchman, the hero's girl, the hero's partner, the cannon fodder, the smartass who gets his, etc. The closest thing to character depth is giving the hero some unexpected quirk, such as a penchant for classical music or some such thing, or maybe giving him some simple emotional baggage. The movies are entirely about telling an exciting story without weighing it down with a lot of storytelling.

That and the heroes themselves play to our fantasies. Nobody messes with them and gets away with it. They get revenge. They get the girl. If the rules seem to be getting in the way of doing the right thing, they break the rules. But in the end, they get away with everything because they got the job done. Who hasn't wished the world worked like that once in a while?

The heroes of the 80s are also fascinating in that they are only slightly less psychopathic than the villains. Because they're on the side of law and order, and they have a sense of humour, we overlook that they go through the movie killing people left and right without a second thought, and joking about it. Hard to explain why that's enjoyable in a movie, but it is.
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