Action Movies Essay Research Paper Simply by — страница 7

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Schwarzenegger plays what is literally a killing machine in a hybrid of biological and technological matter, unfeeling and unstoppable. In Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), the Terminator has become an agent of good, who, sent to save Sarah and John Connor (Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong), eventually demonstrates even better mothering skills than Sarah does. Perhaps most symptomatic of the country's anxieties about the President's anti-war record (though Reagan never served in the Armed Forces either), there have been a number of action films in which the hero is the American President himself, Clintonesque in policy and warm, fuzzy accessibility, but revised in the imaginary world of the action film so as to be simultaneously capable of physical force, with the military

record to prove it. Bill Pullman not only inspires his troops in Independence Day, he also hops into his jet fighter, as the film tells us he did in the Gulf War, and leads them into battle. In Air Force One (1997), U.S. president Harrison Ford protects his Hillary-esque wife and Chelsea-esque daughter from rogue terrorists (in American action films, an eminently reliable and repeatable adversary), reaching back to his experience in the field to become an indignant one-man army ("get off my plane," he tells arch-villain Gary Oldman, as he tosses him whirling into the atmosphere).The '90s have brought inevitable twists and tinkering to the action film genre. Certainly there have been forays into feminizing the genre, starting earlier with Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in

Aliens (1986), who is far less contemplative than she is in the first film (Alien, 1979). Point of No Return (1993), starring Bridget Fonda, was based on the French film La Femme Nikita (1990), starring Anne Parillaud, and it has since become a successful syndicated television serial. Most cartoonishly, Pamela Anderson starred in the comic-based Barb Wire (1997).But if there is a new classicism to the genre, it is to be found in the work of John Woo. Largely as a result of the American "discovery" of the work of Woo and director/producer Tsui Hark, Hong Kong Action Cinema (itself profoundly influenced by American action films, Westerns, and even melodrama, as well as Cantonese theatre and martial arts films) has made its mark on some of the most successful recent action

films. John Woo's first American feature, the Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle Hard Target (1993) was not particularly successful, but an increasing familiarity with Hong Kong Action films, as well as the popularity of some of its stars (Jackie Chan and Jet Li, as well as Michelle Yeoh) has led to an increasing intermixing of the two cinemas. Jackie Chan's features have been dubbed into English, and also made here (Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop, Who Am I?). Rush Hour, in which he co-starred with Chris Tucker, was one of the most successful films of 1998. Michelle Yeoh was an unusually independent and self-sufficient Bond Girl, playing opposite Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies (1998). After his success playing a villain in Lethal Weapon 4, Jet Li's first feature with United

States first-run distribution, The Black Mask was released in the summer of 1999.Woo's second U.S. feature, over which he retained considerably more creative control than Hard Target, was Broken Arrow (1996), with John Travolta in his first explicitly villainous role. This was followed by Face/Off (1997), in which the starring role is split by Travolta and Nicolas Cage. That Travolta is the good guy and Cage is the baddie is complicated by the fact that they assume each other identities, and in this they are typical Woo protagonists: one cop, one gangster, both stretching the limits of their professions, both, by the end, indistinguishable from one another, and often as close as brothers. In many ways, Face/Off is in fact a re-treatment of an earlier film Woo made in Hong Kong,

the Chow Yun-Fat vehicle The Killer (1989). Woo's internalization of a variety of American film genres also makes visible the ways in which action films have, at least in formal terms, replaced the one genre that seems to have almost no place in American film today: the classical song and dance musical. The action sequences, so carefully and often balletically choreographed, take the place of musical numbers, and the climactic action scene which audiences have come to expect as the grand finale (which could be no more emphatically or offensively punctuated than the reunion kiss between Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in front of a nuclear mushroom cloud in True Lies, is not unlike the closing number of a musical, in which no punch is pulled, all the dancers are on the stage,