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Timeout ranks top 100 action films of all time

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:40 pm    Post subject: Timeout ranks top 100 action films of all time Reply with quote

The 100 best action movies

The world’s leading action stars, directors and critics pick the best action movies ever, including martial-arts movies, explosive stunts and the best action thrillers
By Time Out contributors, edited by Joshua Rothkopf
Mon Nov 3 2014

Well-armed and bulging at the biceps, action movies often get a bad rap. Sure, they prioritize brawn over brains, but the best ones speak to something primal about our attachment to cinema: our need for physically agile heroes, ferocious villains and ticking-time-bomb plots (or, at the very least, things exploding).

As we researched the 100 best action movies of all time, the richness of the genre snuck up on us like a swarthy henchman with a knife clenched between his teeth. Some of the earliest silent classics, from Buster Keaton’s The General (1926) to the first short film itself, “Arrival of Train at La Ciotat” (1896), explode with action. The genre has been with us since the beginning.

And while it was a joy to return to action’s ’80s heyday, when Hollywood stars ruled the roost—all those classic metal-etched surnames, from Eastwood and McQueen to Stallone and Schwarzenegger—we were also happy to quantify the global impact of Asia’s martial-arts movies, the massive influence of John Woo’s gun fu and the world-shaking cottage industry of Hong Kong’s stunt cinema.

We’ve polled over 50 experts in the field, from essential directors like Die Hard’s John McTiernan to the actual folks in the line of fire, such as Tarantino favorite Zoë Bell (the fearless stuntwoman behind Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movies). Critics and experts have weighed in—have a look at their individual ballots for inspiration. And if we’ve missed something, let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook and Twitter. Barring that, we could take a punch in the face, provided it was expertly timed and served up with a pithy catchphrase.

Produced by Vivienne van Vliet. Written by Dave Calhoun, Ashley Clark, Cath Clarke, Eddy Frankel, Grady Hendrix, Tom Huddleston, Trevor Johnston, Joshua Rothkopf and Keith Uhlich.

Tony's films made the list
#93 Bullet in the Head
#77 Hero
#4 Hard Boild
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bullet in the Head (1990)

Director: John Woo

Cast: Tony Leung, Jacky Cheung, Waise Lee

Best quote: “As long as we have guns, the world is ours.”

The killer scene: A nightclub robbery that’s excessive even by John Woo standards

Brotherhood of pain
Violence is relentless—and certainly not pretty—in this epic of curdled brotherhood released between Woo’s better-known The Killer and Hard Boiled. As three childhood friends segue from the mean streets of 1967 Hong Kong to the moral chaos of war-torn Vietnam, the mood of the gunplay changes, its previous flamboyance now anguished, almost appalled. The director’s penchant for bromance is more central than usual: Jacky Cheung risks life and limb to pay for best pal Tony Leung’s Hong Kong wedding, yet when they and wingman Waise Lee quit town for lawless Saigon, the latter’s increasing lust for stolen gold turns the trio’s seemingly undying affections into burning hatred. Woo gives us Days of Being Wild, The Deer Hunter and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre all in one movie—a deliriously sincere, operatic magnum opus with a fierce passion unlike anything else in his filmography (or anyone else’s).—Trevor Johnston


Time Out says

Highly ambitious Vietnam epic about the dehumanising effects of greed and repression. Ben (Leung) grows up in the Hong Kong slums in the late '60s with best friends Paul (Waise Lee) and Frank (Cheung). Fleeing to Saigon after a fight with a gangster, the three attempt to profit from the war, smuggling first penicillin, then gold. Their enterprise comes at a heavy price. Paul becomes obsessed with the gold, and after capture by the Vietcong, they are forced to choose between murder or death. The governing metaphor is spelled out in the title: Woo recreates the infamous news photo of a Vietnamese executed by a gun to his head, ups the ante on the Russian roulette sequence in The Deer Hunter, and puts his own macabre spin on Peckinpah's Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. The early sequences play like one of Woo's gangster films, with their heroic rhetorical imagery, slow motion, dissolves and freeze frames, but the director tightens the screw when the action shifts to Vietnam. Sometimes incoherent, over-pitched or simply painful to watch, this is Woo's most personal and political morality tale - a substantial movie all but consumed in the flames of its own madness.

Author: TCh
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hero (2002)

Director: Zhang Yimou

Cast: Jet Li, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung

Best quote: “Today you will learn the essence of your culture.”

The killer scene: Jet and Tony walk on water in an aerial duel over a picturesque lake.

The official version
After Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (see No. 36), it was only a matter of time before a Chinese filmmaker made it his mission to top Taiwanese-born Ang Lee’s martial-arts game changer. The surprise was not so much that Zhang Yimou applied his visual bravura to a movie of beguiling extravagance, but that he did so in service of a Qin-dynasty saga that played like a metaphorical endorsement of centralized political authority. Marquee names Jet Li and Donnie Yen promise fist-pummeling action, yet Zhang’s refined sensibility instead offers a dance-influenced take on combat that is all flowing robes, swathes of primary color and essentially choreographic displays of menace. Hero is utterly entrancing, if clearly the product of extensive digital postproduction, and though the overlapping perspectives of rival assassins maneuvering against an all-powerful monarch precludes any genuine emotional through line, the film certainly delivers an eye-popping showcase for China’s exquisite traditional crafts and majestic landscapes.—Trevor Johnston


Time Out says

Pomp, panache and narrative puzzles waltz their way through Zhang’s martial-arts rhapsody, a luscious whirligig of horseplay and horseshit that pitches Chinese imperial history as cartoon romantic pageant. Anyone whose reality-bell rattled when the lover-fighters shimmied over lakes and bamboo leaves in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ should walk on by now; here, to give but one example, we find Maggie Cheung serenely fencing off a hailstorm of arrows with her chiffon shirt sleeves.

A cadre of Asia’s finest – Cheung, Tony Leung, Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi – submit themselves to Zhang’s paint-box prodigalities in a ’Scope-screen mock-up of third-century BC China, when the ruler of Qin sought to unify the seven warring kingdoms. Before him comes an unsung, nameless warrior (Jet Li), who claims to have rid the king of his three flightiest enemies: Sky (Donnie Yen), Flying Snow (Cheung) and Broken Sword (Leung). He spins out the story of his success – how he played off the lovers Snow and Sword by stoking dormant jealousy – but when the tale is told the king smells a weasel and calls him on it. Cue a second spin on the story, then a third and a fourth.

Zhang busies himself demarcating the rival flashbacks with screen-saturated colour-coding, painting the town first red, then white, pale blue and green: a triumph as absolute as the conquest sought by the king of Qin himself. The sumptuousness recalls Zhang’s radical early melodramas ‘Red Sorghum’ and ‘Ju Dou’, not to mention his origins as a cinematographer, but he’s a very different director these days: ‘Hero’ hangs its stylings on a proposition of national pacification-through-subjugation that would seem more gallingly fascist if it actually carried any weight. (‘Hero’s’ companion piece ‘House of Flying Daggers’, released in December, goes a slight way towards redressing the political balance.) More ticklingly, the film dishes up some of the most extravagant doodling in cinema.

Author: NB
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hard Boiled (1992)

Director: John Woo

Cast: Chow Yun Fat, Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Anthony Wong

Best quote: “You’re full of shit, you know that? There’s a toilet over there.”

The killer scene: A cop spits a toothpick faster than he shoots a bullet.

Not over easy
It’s just another day for Hong Kong policeman “Tequila” Yuen (Chow Yun Fat) and his partner, until the sting they’re overseeing at a teahouse goes very wrong. One of the lawmen lies dead. Tequila, meanwhile, blazes his way through the bad guys, putting a bloody end to one gangster with a gunshot to the face. That’s just the opening scene of John Woo’s vigorous rogue-cop thriller—one of his best bullet-riddled ballets. Eventually, an undercover agent, Alan (Tony Leung), emerges to give Tequila a run for his money, though in true Woo fashion, both men find they have similar stoic-macho codes and an identical goal: bring down the criminal syndicate led by ruthless mobster Johnny Wong (Anthony Wong).

Tequila’s love for jazz—he frequents a blues bar run, in a delightful bit of casting, by Woo himself—epitomizes this go-for-broke adventure, which moves between modes (moodily mournful one moment, fiercely kinetic the next) with the sublime confidence of a virtuoso playing at peak form. There’s a valedictory quality to the movie that seems especially poignant in retrospect, since this was the last film Woo made before he spent a decade-plus churning out Hollywood product of varying quality (see our No. 19). What a way to go out, though, especially in the astonishing climax in which Tequila and Alan infiltrate Johnny Wong’s arsenal…which just happens to be housed in a hospital filled to brimming with sick patients and newborn infants. By that point, even Hard Boiled seems too soft a title.—Keith Uhlich


Time Out says

Wed Jul 25 2007

Even if John Woo’s 1992 magnum opus consisted of nothing but the celebrated opening sequence—a ten-minute gun battle in a teahouse—followed by credits, Hard-Boiled would still be considered the last word in hyperkinetic Hong Kong action flicks. The scene is a model of perfectly choreographed Peckinpah-esque mayhem: Cops and criminals bust open birdcages full of Glocks, while cameras circle, dart and zoom into the fray with breathtaking precision. And when Chow Yun-Fat slides down a banister into instant iconography, you can practically hear fanboys everywhere clapping and hooting in eternal admiration. There’s more to the movie than just that showstopper, of course: Chow’s jazz-loving detective, “Tequila” Yuen, teams up with a brooding undercover agent (Tony Leung) to infiltrate a gunrunning operation, allowing the filmmaker to exercise his trademark mix of male bonding and ballistics, while the initial flying-lead showdown is reprised in a hospital maternity ward.

Criterion’s 1998 DVD of Woo’s masterpiece has long been out of print, and sadly, none of that edition’s superb extras make it onto Dragon Dynasty’s rerelease. But if this two-disc set doesn’t qualify as definitive, it’s damned close. HK-cinema scholar Bey Logan offers a superbly geeky commentary, rattling off filmographies like an idiot savant (at one point, he casually throws in a bit player’s birth date). Other supplements include new interviews with the director, producer Terence Chang, costar Philip Chan and actor/action coordinator Kwok Choi, as well as an informative location guide. The teahouse, by the way, has been replaced by a shopping center.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow....3 Tony-films among the 100 best action movies Smile
Congrats ! Applause
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing yitian - again Wink
I do not agree with ' Bullet in the head' ranking on 93rd. scratch It should at least be around the 50s if you ask me.
Water which is too pure has no fish.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree. Bullet in the Head should be ranked higher, 93rd is too low.
Nice list though, glad to see they put Buster Keaton's 'The General' on it.
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In The Mood For Leung

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the above sentiments.

Thanks yitian as always Smile
There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about.
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