Guest Column: DTV Action Is Our Salvation – ManlyMovie

Guest Column: DTV Action Is Our Salvation

DTV Action Films Are Our Salvation.

It’s been said many times before and it’s going to be said many times again, but the R rated action genre is a dying breed.  At least theatrically, anyway.  Of course there are the exceptions, but for the most part the box office is dominated by PG-13 CGI shitfests riddled with cardboard cut-out superheros that are “the best movie ever made” until the next one comes out a week later. The majority of casual movie goers are probably under the impression that the days of the hardcore, balls-to-the-wall one man army action vehicles are long since gone and are unlikely to make a comeback any time soon, and they couldn’t be more wrong. It’s true that you’re unlikely to see much of that on the big screen these days, but the smaller, much more comfortable screen at home is always happy to accommodate your testosterone-fuelled needs.

Straight off the bat, even the casual hard R action lover will probably know that Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren made the transition to the small screen quite a while ago, and with a few exceptions (The Expendables series), there they have stayed. The general consensus is that these direct-to-video (DTV for short) releases from these once great action stars are all pushing mediocrity and work best as a coaster for your beer.  However, delve through the shit for long enough and eventually you’ll find your fiancé’s $5000 engagement ring your mangy dog ate.
Universal Soldier: Regeneration and Day of Reckoning are two of their more recent efforts in DTV-land and they are both exceptional displays of everything you expect from a manly action film. They are both beautifully shot, wonderfully choreographed and riddled with more guts and chunks of brain than a slaughterhouse. The added bonus is that they’re actually quite clever too and full of emotion and symbolism, for those who like veggies with their steak.

If you prefer original work over sequels to old ’90s movies most people have forgotten about, check out the Scott Adkins charged Ninja, an outstanding display of manliness with a breathtaking swordfight played out in the one take, with no cut away edits or camera switches. Prefer more gun action and less swordplay? Check out The Marine 2; a bit of a Die Hard rip-off , but if we made a list of those we’d be here longer than the time it takes to make two bloodless films about kids killing each other for entertainment (Hint: Fuck off The Hunger Games and chuck on some Battle Royale or Lord of the Flies). Want to avoid sequels in general? Bridge of Dragons is one big, stupid pile of crap that is so unbelievably magnificent in its manliness that it needs to be seen to be believed.  Love car scenes in your action films? Throw on Death Race 2 or Death Race 3: Inferno, two DTV sequels that are actually quite on par, and sometimes surpass, their big screen, theatrical predecessor. Want more run-of-the-mill, one man army-esque material? Check out Donnie Yen’s Flash Point, a cool little gem about a pissed off cop killing a shot load of gangsters in Hong Kong with nothing but his bare hands. Loved Van Damme in The Expendables 2? Check out Enemies Closer, the third team up between Van Damme and director Peter Hyams (Sudden Death and the exceptional TimeCop being the other two) sees Van Damme play another badass villain role.

I could go on for days (see The Hunger Games comment), but why would I when you could be renting one of the very movies I just mentioned right now in the comfort of your own home? It is indeed a sad reality that the big-budget hard R action film is fading from our screens more and more with every passing day, but that ship has sailed and until the teeny boppers fuck off there’s not much we can do about it but not buy the studio’s PG-13 shit.

Speaking of Hollywood and their shitty movies, Scott Adkins summed up the industry’s current position perfectly on the topic of his fight scene with Jason Statham in The Expendables 2: “Well, it was frustrating because we only had a day to do it. I’m there thinking ‘Surely people want to see a good fight here. Isn’t that what people want to see? Me and Statham going at it and have a good fight scene?’ But try telling that to the producers when you’re getting to the end of the schedule and people are trying to save money. But that’s filmmaking for you. That’s why they’re businessmen, not artists.”

It’s always nice to see a big-budget R rated action, but the truth is that if you want to watch an action film filled with people who give a shit about what they’re making and what you think of their work, 80% of the time your best bet is the home video market. Even if the film is shit, at least most of the time you know they were at least trying to do something other than rake in the dough. You’ll still get a few piles of rubbish, but if you look hard enough and research what you’re getting yourself into you’ll find some astounding pieces of work that will blow your mind harder than Stallone is blowing the studio’s cock, and that’s an awful lot. Seriously though Sly, fuck you and fuck The Expendables PG-13.

And if you ever have any doubts, be content with the fact that while all those people are dropping $15 to see be surrounded by 14 year old brats texting on their phones you’ll be living it up in your favourite recliner with an ice cold beer and the newest blood soaked action flick from your newfound favourite 21st century action star. Think about it.

– Ryan.