Action film is a film genre where one or more heroes is thrust into a series of challenges that require physical feats, extended fights and frenetic chases. They have a resourceful character struggling against incredible odds such as, life-threatening situations, an evil villain, with victory achieved at the end after difficult physical efforts and violence .Story and character development are generally secondary to explosions, fist fights, gunplay and car chases.
Original Action FilmsDuring the 1920s and 1930s, black and white action-based films were often "swashbuckling" adventure films, an example of this is Douglas Fairbanks who wielded swords or Winchester rifles in period pieces and Westerns.
The Mark of Zorro (1920)The Mark of Zorro is a 1920 silent filmstarring Douglas Fairbanks and Noah Beery. This genre-defining swashbuckler adventure was the first movie version of The Mark of Zorro. Based on the 1919 story "The Curse of Capistrano" by Johnston McCulley, which introduced the masked hero, Zorro, the screenplay was adapted by Fairbanks and Eugene Miller.
Douglas Fairbanks Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (May 23, 1883 – December 12, 1939) was an American actor, screenwriter, director and producer. He was best known for his swashbuckling roles in silent films such as The Thief of Bagdad, Robin Hood, and The Mark of Zorro.
The Charge Of The Light Brigade (1936)The Charge of the Light Brigade is a 1936 historical film made by Warner Bros. The film starred Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. The story is very loosely based on the famous Charge of the Light Brigade that took place during the Crimean War (1853–56). The battlefield set was lined with trip wires to trip the cavalry horses. Dozens were killed during filming, forcing U.S. Congress to ensure the safety of animals in motion pictures. The ASPCAbanned trip wires from films as well. Unlike the rest of Flynns blockbuster films, because of the use of trip wires and the number of horses killed, it was never re-released by Warner Brothers.
Errol FlynnFlynn was an overnight sensation in his first starring role, Captain Blood(1935). Quickly typecast as a swashbuckler, he followed it with The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936). After his appearance as Miles Hendon in The Prince and the Pauper (1937), he was cast in his most celebrated role as Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), his first film in Technicolor. He went on to appear in The Dawn Patrol (1938) with his close friend David Niven, Dodge City (1939), The Sea Hawk (1940) and Adventures of Don Juan (1948).
Sands Of Iwo Jima (1949)Sands of Iwo Jima is a 1949 war film that follows a group of United States Marines from training to the Battle of Iwo Jimaduring World War II. It stars John Wayne, John Agar, Adele Maraand Forrest Tucker. The movie was written by Harry Brownand James Edward Grant and directed by Allan Dwan. It was produced by Republic Pictures. It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role (John Wayne), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Recording (Daniel J. Bloomberg) Best Writing and Motion Picture Story. Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes and John Bradley, the three survivors of the five Marines and one Navy corpsman who raised the second flag on Mount Suribachi during the actual battle, appear briefly in the film just prior to the re- enactment. The first recorded use of the phrase "lock and load" is in this film.
John WayneMarion Mitchell Morrison (born Marion Robert Morrison; May 26, 1907 – June 11, 1979), better known by his stage name John Wayne, was an American film actor, director and producer. An Academy Award-winner, Wayne is the biggest box office draw of all time. An enduring American icon, he epitomized rugged masculinity and is famous for his demeanor, including his distinctive calm voice, walk, and height. His acting breakthrough came in 1939 with John Fords Stagecoach, making him an instant star. Wayne would go on to star in 142 pictures, primarily typecast in Western films.Wayne moved to Orange County, California in the 1960s. He died of stomach cancer in 1979. In June 1999, the American Film Institute named Wayne 13th among the Greatest Male Screen Legend of All Time.John Waynes enduring status as an iconic American was formally recognized by the U.S. government by awarding him the two highest civilian decorations. He was recognized by the United States Congress on May 26, 1979, when he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal
James BondThe long-running success of the James Bondseries (which easily dominated the action films of the 1960s) essentially introduced all the staples of the modern-day action film. The "Bond movies" were characterized by larger-than-life characters, such as the resourceful hero: a veritable "one-man army" who was able to dispatch villainous masterminds (and their disposable "henchmen") in ever-more creative ways, often followed by a ready one-liner. The Bond films also utilized quick cutting, car chases, fist fights, a variety of weapons and "gadgets", and ever more elaborate action sequences.
1970s In the 1970s, Bond saw competition as gritty detective stories and urban crime dramas began to fuse themselves with the new "action" style, leading to a string of maverick police officer films, such as those defined by Bullitt (1968), The French Connection(1971) and Dirty Harry (1971); all of which featured an intense car chase inspired by the popular stuntwork of the Bond films. Dirty Harry essentially lifted its star Clint Eastwood out of his cowboy typecasting, and became the urban-action films first true archetype. Proving that the modern world offered just as much glamour, excitement, and potential for violence as the old west, Dirty Harry signaled the end of the prolific "cowboys and Indians" era of film westerns
Dirty harryDirty Harry is a 1971 American crime thriller produced and directed by Don Siegel, the first in the Dirty Harry series. Clint Eastwood plays the title role, in his first outing as San Francisco Police Department Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan.Dirty Harry was a critical and commercial success and set the style for a whole genre of police films. The film was followed by four sequels: Magnum Force in 1973, The Enforcer in 1976, Sudden Impact in 1983 (directed by Eastwood himself), and The Dead Poolin 1988.In 2008, Dirty Harry was selected by Empire magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time.
Hong Kong Action FilmsHong Kong action cinema was at its peak from the 1970s to 1990s, when its action movies were experimenting with and popularizing various new techniques that would eventually be adopted by Hollywood action movies. This began in the early 1970s with the martial arts movies of Bruce Lee, which led to a wave of Bruceploitation movies that eventually gave way to the comedy kung fu films of Jackie Chan by the end of the decade. During the 1980s, Hong Kong action cinema had re-invented itself with various new kinds of movies. These included the modern martial arts action movies, featuring physical acrobatics and dangerous stunt work.
Bruce leeBruce Lee (born Lee Jun-fan; 27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973) was a Chinese American, Hong Kong actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, film director, film producer, screenwriter, and founder of the Jeet Kune Do martial arts movement. He is widely considered by many commentators, critics, media and other martial artists to be the most influential martial artist, and a cultural icon. His Hong Kong and Hollywood-produced films elevated the traditional Hong Kong martial arts film to a new level of popularity and acclaim, and sparked a major surge of interest in Chinese martial arts in the West in the 1970s. The direction and tone of his films changed and influenced martial arts and martial arts films in Hong Kong and the rest of the world, as well. He is noted for his roles in five feature-length films: Lo Weis The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972); Way of the Dragon (1972), directed and written by Lee; Warner Brothers Enter the Dragon(1973), directed by Robert Clouse; and The Game of Death (1978), directed by Robert Clouse.
1980sThe 1980s would see the action film take over Hollywood to become a dominant form of summer blockbuster; literally "the action era" popularized by actors such as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willisand Chuck Norris. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas even paid their homage to the Bond-inspired style with the mega- hit Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). In 1982, veteran actor Nick Nolte and rising comedian Eddie Murphy smashed box office records with the action- comedy 48 Hrs which is credited as the first "buddy-cop" movie. icon That same year, Sylvester Stallone starred in First Blood, the first installment in the popular Rambo film series. The film proved to be successful and was followed with a sequel in 1985, Rambo: First Blood Part II which became the most successful film in the series and made the character Rambo a pop culture.
Rambo Series Rambo is an action film series based on the David Morrell novel First Blood and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubled Vietnam War veteran and former Green Beret who is skilled in many aspects of survival, weaponry, hand to hand combat and guerrilla warfare. The series consists of the films First Blood (1982), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III (1988), and Rambo (2008).
1990sThe 1990s was an era of sequels and hybrid action. Like the western genre, the spy-movies and urban-action films were starting to parody themselves, and with the growing revolution in CGI (computer generated imagery), the "real-world" settings began to give way to increasingly fantastic environments. This new era of action films often had budgets unlike any in the history of motion pictures. The success of the many Dirty Harry and James Bond sequels had proven that a single successful action film could lead to a continuing action franchise. Thus the 1980s and 1990s saw a rise in both budgets and the number of sequels a film could generally have.
Saving Pvt Ryan Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American war film set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. It was directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Robert Rodat. The film is notable for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which depicts the Omaha Beach assault of June 6, 1944. Afterwards, it follows Tom Hanks as U.S. Army Captain John H. Miller and seven men, as they search for a paratrooper, Private First Class James Francis Ryan (Matt Damon), who is the last surviving brother of four servicemen. Saving Private Ryan was well received by audiences and garnered considerable critical acclaim, winning several awards for film, cast, and crew as well as earning significant returns at the box office. The film grossed US$481.8 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing domestic film of the year. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciencesnominated the film for eleven Academy Awards; Spielbergs direction won him a second Academy Award for Best Director. Saving Private Ryan wasreleased on home video in May 1999, earning $44 million from sales.
Sub GenresAction Comedy - A sub-genre involving action and humor.The sub-genre became a popular trend in the 1980s when actors who were known for their background in comedy such as Eddie Murphy, began to take roles in action films. The action scenes within the genre are generally lighthearted and rarely involve death or serious injury. Comedy films such as Dumb & Dumber and Big Mommas House that contain action-laden sub-plots are not considered part of the genre as the action scenes have a more integral role in action comedies. Examples of action comedies include The Blues Brothers (1980), 48 Hrs.(1982), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Midnight Run (1988), Bad Boys (1995), Beverly Hills Ninja (1997), Rush Hour (1998), Charlies Angels (2000).
Die-Hard scenarioDie-Hard scenario - The story takes place in limited location; a single building, plane, or vessel - which is seized or under threat by enemy agents, but are opposed by a single hero who fights an extended battle within the location using stealth and cunning to attempt to defeat them.This sub-genre began with the film Die Hard and has become popular in Hollywood because of its crowd appeal and the relative simplicity of building sets for such a constrained piece. These films are sometimes described as "Die Hard on a...". Among the many films that have copied this formula are Under Siege (terrorists take over a ship), Snakes on a Plane (poisonous snakes take over a passenger plane), Speed (Die Hard on a bus), Under Siege 2: Dark Territory and Derailed( hostages are trapped on a train), Sudden Death (terrorists take over an Ice Hockey stadium), Passenger 57, Executive Decision and Air Force One (hostages are trapped on a plane), Con Air (criminals take over a transport plane)
Disaster FilmDisaster Film - Having elements of thriller and sometimes science fiction films, the main conflict of this genre is some sort of natural or artificial disaster, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc., or nuclear disasters that are shown with heavy action scenes, special effects, over the top destruction and, in modern day, use of CGI. Examples include Independence Day, Daylight, Earthquake, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow.
Martial artsMartial Arts - Martial arts films contain numerous fights between characters, usually as the films primary appeal and entertainment value, and often as a method of storytelling and character expression and development. Martial arts films contain many characters who are martial artists, and these roles are often played by actors who are real martial artists. If not, actors frequently train in preparation for their roles, or the action director may rely more on stylized action or filmmaking tricks. Martial films include The Karate Kid, Kung Fu Hustle, Fearless, Ninja Assassin
Sci Fi ActionSci-fi Action - Sharing many of the conventions of a science fiction film, sci-fi action films emphasizes gunplay, space battles, invented weaponry, and other sci-fi elements weaved into action film premises. Examples include Terminator 2, The Matrix The Island, Star Trek, Aliens, I, Robot, Transformers, District 9, Predator, Robocop, Avatar
Avatar Avatar is a 2009 American epic science fiction motion capture film written and directed by James Cameron. The film is set in the mid-22nd century, when humans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on Pandora, a lush habitable moon. Cameron began developing the screenplay and fictional universe in early 2006.Avatar was officially budgeted at $237 million. Other estimates put the cost between $280 million and $310 million for production and at $150 million for promotion. The film was released for traditional viewing, 3-Dviewing (using the RealD 3D, Dolby 3D XpanD 3D, and IMAX 3D formats), and for "4-D" experiences in select South Korean theatres. The stereoscopic filmmaking was touted as a breakthrough in cinematic technology.The film broke several box office records during its release and became the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide, surpassing Titanic, which had held the records for the previous twelve years. It also became the first film to gross more than $2bn .Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director and won three, for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction. The films home release went on to break opening sales records and became the top-selling Blu-ray of all time. Following the films success, Cameron signed with 20th Century Fox to produce two sequels, making Avatar the first of a planned trilogy.