An Ultimate Interview with Ben Combes about the Upcoming ‘Commando Ninja 2’

A chat with filmmaker Ben Combes about his UAMC-approved action sequel.

Filming of Commando Ninja 2 has recently wrapped, so we thought it might be a good idea to have a chat with creative mastermind Ben Combes on all things Commando Ninja 2 and action films in general!

Cover photo taken by Ludvig Oblin.

UAMC: Hi Ben, thanks a lot for taking the time to do an interview with us. It’s been five years since you made Commando Ninja, and I think it’s not an understatement to say it has become a classic of indie action cinema.

Ben Combes: Thanks, I actually still don’t know the audience or how many people we reached. It has been seen 7 million times in 12 languages on youtube, and I hope you are right, because it was a true love letter we wrote for other fans of the 80’s blockbusters like us, and we didn’t even try to sell it or make money with it.

UAMC: Those are impressive numbers indeed! When did you decide to make a sequel, and when did you start working on it? 

Ben Combes: After the first film, French producers (I’m French) approached me to direct TV shows and stuff. I turned it down because I moved to Canada (Vancouver BC) the morning after the French premiere. I swore to myself to never do a movie alone and without money again, it’s really, really hard, it chews you and your family up. The producers also told me it was cool one time, but don’t do another one like that.

Unfortunately, nobody wanted to produce a sequel (or at least I don’t have the contacts), Covid happened, and everybody wanted one! I was working for Sega, work was slow, we went home for remote work. So in November 2020 I decided to launch a Kickstarter for the sequel, as crazy as it sounded, secretly hoping it wouldn’t work. It worked (if you can say making a 2h20 action adventure movie with 30 characters and sets for 50K works), and we started production in July 2021!

UAMC: It’s great to hear that the Kickstarter campaign was successful. Will we see characters from the first part return? Are the stories connected? And another important question: Will we see the raptors again?

Ben Combes: Yes! Most of them will return, and the stories are connected, I hope fans will appreciate that. There will be a lot of new characters. We only had to change one actress from the first movie. The Dinosaurs will be back, imagine Commando Ninja was Alien 1. This is Alien 2.

UAMC: The first part was chock-full of awesome references and homages to our beloved action classics, can you give us a teaser of what we can expect in Commando Ninja 2 in that regard?

Ben Combes: Yes, Commando Ninja was my love letter to the 80s, with Commando Ninja 2 I focused more on the 90s! I’d say, you are going to dive into a Rambo 2 mission, set inside a Jurassic Park, following an Apocalypse Now river, jumping to Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Hard Boiled, Dawn of the Dead, James Bond. Also it will be inspired by modern adventure movies: Suicide Squad 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Kong: Skull Island.

UAMC: That sounds like a totally wild cross-over, and a lot of fun! Did you work with the same crew as for the first film?

Ben Combes: I never really had any crew, so my best friend came back to help, then he had to move and I was fortunate enough to meet someone who replaced him. Three different make up/SFX artists helped. Then a stuntman friend created a little stunt team, that followed us during production for the action scenes to play all the villains. The big change is that we had a studio, used for filming interior scenes, meetings, and a HQ for the movie props, workshop, and team.

UAMC: Can you tell us a bit more about the filming process for Commando Ninja 2? And what did you enjoy the most, and what the least?

Ben Combes: So again it was a DIY/Guerilla movie. 50K for what you are about to see was a very, very microscopic low budget. Everybody worked on their free time, either for free, or for the smallest rate possible. We ate BBQ’s and McDonalds. We shot during 3 full summers, 2021 to 2023. Each time I had to come back from Canada, it was really really hard psychologically for me. But it worked, and when I look at it now, I don’t understand how we achieved this.
Then during the fall and winters, I was editing/doing VFX, so when production wrapped last September, the movie was already all edited.

What I enjoyed the most was this third and last year of filming, it involved a loot of practical SFX, masks, prosthesis, and I love this shit. Two really good SFX artists came to the studio and it was a blast seeing all those creatures alive. We also spent all summer together, working out, shooting, eating BBQ’s, surrounded by guns and dinosaurs. It was kind of a surreal life for 6 months. Also, it’s the first “real” feature film I wrote, and I had a great pleasure seeing my characters develop and organically evolve through the actors during those 3 years, it was crazy, I hope you will enjoy the interaction between the 5 main characters. 

What I enjoyed the least, is that doing a project like that creates tensions, even if you would be the nicest (or richest) person in the world. At some point some people left the project. I totally understand, and after 15 years of career I realize it’s not money that will make a difference. Projects need to be short for people to keep motivated.

UAMC: That’s sounds a wild rollercoaster ride you experienced in the last three years, and it’s admirable that you pulled through all the way to the end! What got you into making movies, and where do you draw your inspiration from? Are there film-makers and actors that you hold in high esteem?

Ben Combes: I grew up with movies, my dad had a collection of thousands VHS (only action, adventure, sci fi and horror). At 14 I started making movies with a little camera and some friends. It was the start of home made movies thanks to miniDV cassettes and Adobe Premiere. One of the major french TV channel held a DIY movie week each year, and that really got us into making more and more, until my youtube channel and Commando Ninja.

I started making a video games related fan films youtube channel at the same time as FreddieWong and CorridorDigital in L.A., so watching their stuff was keeping me motivated, one of my shorts even ended up in a festival with them in LA. 

In terms of filmmakers and actors, of course I religiously admire Spielberg, Mc Tiernan, Cameron, Verhoeven, Arnold, Sly, Demi Moore, Sandra Bullock, Sigourney Weaver, Nic Cage, Keanu Reeves, Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe. Big up for France with Luc Besson and Jean Reno! 

Today, I have a big, big admiration for Neill Blomkamp, for me he was the new James Cameron of the 2000’s, I’m sad he didn’t continue into Sci-Fi. (crazy thing: I was working in front of his studio in Vancouver and my partner worked with him). I also think Michael Bay is an alien, and Taylor Sheridan’s work blew my mind. But there are so many talented directors, movies or TV, I couldn’t pick one. 

And I love modern actors like Adam Driver, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Pedro Pascal. In France we have a big ACTION comeback, with actors like Alban Lenoir, movies like Lost Bullet 1&2, AKA. It’s really good, we come from the same town with the director!

Photo taken by Ludvig Oblin.

UAMC: What do you think is the state of action cinema in 2023? What’s good, what’s bad about it? 

Ben Combes: I think it’s been 20 years since the good things, new things are now happening in TV shows. I don’t enjoy remake attempts and superheroes. I don’t like blue screens, all CGI action and sets, it doesn’t move anything inside me when I see it. I don’t like studios washing up IPs until you hate them. 

I also don’t like that movies must be serious and, and that we lost all the humor from the 80s and 90s. I think it’s really representative of today’s society. In terms of action today I don’t like the very realistic fights, I preferred when it was all karate, helicopter kicks and unlimited ammos. But I think practical effects, SFX, really good stuntmen, and real explosions are coming back, I think they understood it was uninteresting otherwise.

UAMC: Let’s hope they do, and I couldn’t agree more with what you said. What were the biggest challenges you faced in your journey as a filmmaker? And do you have any advice for aspiring indie action film makers? 

Ben Combes: It was really all about being able to organize this crazy pharaonic project. It was absolutely huge, and I was alone to prepare everything (from shots to breakdown, to lunch, and finding the right shoelace for a 90’s setting). Keeping people motivated was also hard, it was 50% a creative challenge, and 50% human. 

For aspiring action film makers, I would advise to focus on short action scenes, short films. It’s the best thing, write, shoot, repeat, and it’s actually what I did from 2008 to 2016. Someone very good does that, FilmRiot on youtube, they did crazy short action films.

But for me as a director, I honestly never loved filming action scenes. What I prefer and what I wanted this time was to develop characters, a story and a mood with this project. My dream would have been to have an action director for the shootings and fight scenes, so I could focus on art direction, writing, set dressing, costumes, jokes and actors!

UAMC: Ben, thank you so much for sharing your thought on insights, and for your passion as a filmmaker! There’s just one question left: When will Commando Ninja 2 be released into the universe?

Ben Combes: I would have loved Christmas but it’s impossible. So for now I will have this objective: Big Reveal Trailer for Christmas, and release 2024 first trimester, or summer.


Are Bruce Willis’ ‘Red’ Movies the Most Ultimate Duology?

A look back at how the Bruce Willis led ‘Red’ (2010) and ‘Red 2’ (2013) action comedies have actually aged quite well.

The recent news of Bruce Willis’ retirement and illness shattered many action fans, but we still have his (massive) filmography to cheer ourselves up. Willis has starred in so many brilliant action movies since the first Die Hard (1988) that there is much to choose from  – though let’s face it, some of his last films in the 2010s were quite low-quality and didn’t do the actor justice. Among them, one duology still stands out as uniquely fun and memorable: Red (2010) and Red 2 (2013) are loving and hilarious nods to the actor’s status as a legend – and Bruce Willis isn’t their only asset.

Bruce Willis in Red

Released in 2010, the first Red movie has a very simple premise: it centres on a team of elite CIA black ops agents who have now retired, and are hunted down by their former agency after its new head feel threatened by their knowledge. Their leader is Frank Moses (Bruce Willis, clearly having fun) a bored and depressed veteran who sees his house attacked by a squad in the middle of the night. Of course, he is able to effortlessly dispatch the assassins, but feels like he needs to gather his old team back together to investigate the matter. Frank enlists the help of his sick mentor Joe (Morgan Freeman), the crazy Marvin (John Malkovich) and even sophisticated MI6 assassin Victoria (Helen Mirren). On the way, he also meets Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), a bored call centre employee who dreams of escaping her daily routine… and gets more than she bargained for when Frank embarks her on a dangerous journey! 

The film is unabashedly fun, and as befits its name – we learn that R.E.D. is an acronym for Retired and Extremely Dangerous – it gives older stars an opportunity to shine. Let’s face it, few action films discuss issues surrounding ageing, and most prefer to sweep it under the rug, pretending that actors (and characters) never change. Sometimes, the illusion works (who could guess Keanu Reeves or Tom Cruise’s real age?) but other instances are less successful – no one can argue that Roger Moore’s performance in A View to a Kill (1985) hasn’t “aged” well.

Showing the New Recruits How it’s Done

Red takes the opposite approach, and deliberately plays with the fact that maybe its main cast isn’t as agile as it used to be… but that doesn’t mean they can’t put up a fight anymore! Instead, the movie highlights how valuable their experience of the field really is. Red is essentially a carefree action comedy, and this message is more of a pretext, but the film does respect its stars and what they have brought to action cinema. Forget the cliché of the elderly spy who needs to be saved by the new generation, here, the retired operatives are the ones who show new recruits how it’s done!

It’s the gallery of colourful characters which helps most of the jokes to land. A wild ride from beginning to end, the film has a straightforward plot and focuses on the rise back to the top of the core team – simple, but very effective. Willis delivers a fun and self-aware performance, but a special mentions goes to the improbable character played by John Malkovich: at the beginning of the film, Marvin Boggs has retired into a swamp, and threatens to kill anyone that dares set foot on his land. It is this explosive craziness which helps to make Marvin a thoroughly memorable character. He has a good excuse, too: as Sarah comes to find out, he was administered daily doses of LSD for years – and came out “relatively” sane! Helen Mirren as distinguished British assassin Victoria is another perfect pick, and all of her scenes are hilarious to watch, as she chatters away while dispatching henchmen.

But How Ultimate are They?

Is Red a perfect action movie? The honest answer is no: some of its action scenes feel a little underwhelming, lacking a grandiose element and proper stakes. But does that prevent it from being an ultimate watch? Definitely not!

The film was a critical and commercial success, surpassing expectations, so it is no surprise that a sequel saw the light of day just three years later. Red 2 was released in 2013, and while it remains a fun watch, it doesn’t live up to its predecessor’s heritage. The characters are still endearing and some good jokes are thrown in the mix, but the film falls into the classic “sequel trap”: it goes bigger in hopes of being better. You can expect more absurd stunts, a Spy-who-loved-me type Russian ex (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones), and some lukewarm car chases. The film remains a fun watch – especially if you enjoyed the first one – but lacks the originality and self-awareness which made Red so enjoyable. Still, having one ultimate film starring Bruce Willis and another “half-ultimate” one is a joy, and I definitely recommend checking Red out if you haven’t already done so!

Top 20 Action Comedy Movies

Ranking the best action comedy movies by their ultimate enjoyability!

Humor and action, can there be a better combination for having a good time at the movies? It’s a great idea but not that easy to achieve a perfect balance between both genres. The films in this list combine high-octane action with endless laughs, so let’s check out the top 20 action comedies of all time!

20) Guns Akimbo (2019)

Watching deadly duels between insane criminals on your phone seems like a natural evolution of our social media habits, and it’s also the premise of Guns Akimbo. Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) becomes an involuntary contestant in the tournament when he is assailed in his apartment and gets two guns bolted to his hands. He is put up against Nix (Samara Weaving), a coke-sniffing, trigger-happy maniac. 

This classic Running Man scenario is updated with some scathing commentary on the state of people’s minds in the age of social media where the worst things are just a click away. The many shootouts are filmed with furious editing, and we get lots of laughs out of people dying in incredibly bloody ways. It all adds up to an insane adrenaline rush of brutal action, corny jokes, and traces of food for thought.

19) The A-Team (2019)

Action specialist Joe Carnahan took up the challenge to recast the adventures of the eccentric quartet of rogue mercenaries. The A-Team, a covert US Army Rangers unit is set up during a mission and thrown into a wild chase to prove their innocence and bring the bad guys to justice. Carnahan and his writers showed great respect for the original show and embraced its ridiculousness without ridiculing it.

Liam Neeson as Hannibal and his mates do a fantastic job in bringing their characters to life with dialogues full of funny banter and awesome one-liners. Carnahan cranks the level of mayhem up quite a bit from the TV series with bigger explosions, heavier shootouts, and more cars being demolished. The A-Team is an easygoing and fun actioner that ranks high on the list of TV shows turned into films. 

18) Men in Black (1997)

The alien hype of the 90s gave us classics such as The X-Files, Independence Day and of course Men in Black! Aliens live peacefully and unknown amongst us, and it is up to agents K (Tommy Lee Jones) and J (Will Smith) from the Men in Black that is stays that way. When an evil alien lands on planet earth with a sinister plan for the fate of the galaxy, agent K and J are called in to save the day.

Smith and Jones are cool as liquid nitrogen, and Smith’s sassy attitude perfectly complements Jones’ dry humor. The terrific alien designs come in all sizes and shapes, and the many body morphs are well played for maximum amusement. The action sequences are chock-full with crazy stuff, when tiny guns blast huge holes into everything. Men in Black succeeds in making every moment of its runtime exciting and fresh.

17) Rush Hour (1998)

Rush Hour was the big breakthrough for Jackie Chan on US soil. Hongkong police detective Lee (Chan) is sent to Los Angeles to find the Chinese consul’s kidnapped daughter.  The FBI pairs him up with talkative LAPD detective Carter (Chris Tucker), and after some initial friction, they team up to crack the case.

It’s a classic buddy actioner formula, but it’s executed perfectly. Chris Tucker’s timbre and style of humor may take some time to get used to, but his banter with Chan made me burst out in laughter more than once. Chan is charming as always, and even though he dials the intensity of his fights back a bit compared to his Hongkong classics, he delivers plenty of cool stunts. Rush Hour has a perfect balance between laughs and thrills, and is non-stop fun!

16) The Nice Guys (2016)

In The Nice Guys, writer genius and director Shane Black takes us on an atmospheric and action-packed journey through 1970s Los Angeles. Private investigator March (Ryan Gosling) takes on a job to look into the suicide of an adult movie starlet. His case converges with that of his peer Healey (Russell Crowe). The two team up and enter a maze of confusion and violence.

Crowe and Gosling deliver fantastic portrayals of their slightly broken characters and have fantastic on-screen chemistry bouncing their coolness off each other. Black delivers his trademark style in its most refined form: eccentric characters, a witty script with cool one-liners and frequent outbursts of bloody violence. The action sequences are well embedded into the plot not overblown, and are a joy to watch. The Nice Guys is a fantastic piece of entertainment, and Black’s best work as director to this date.

15) Pineapple Express (2008)

Pineapple Express is testimony to the claim that smoking weed is bad for your health, but not in the way you think! Dale (Seth Rogen) witnesses a murder committed by a drug lord and flees in panic. He drops his joint, which is traced back to Dale’s dealer Saul (James Franco), and a turbulent chase begins. The film takes a stoner comedy template and adds and overdose of ultraviolent slapstick action. 

Seth Rogen gives his familiar take as goofy, well-meaning normie. But James Franco as zoned-out and unshakeable weed dealer is the real treasure of this film. The plot is total chaos, and the action scenes are even more insane with a blind car chase, and a finale with a massive shootout that features plenty of tasteless deaths. Pineapple Express is a relentless barrage of cheerful absurdity!

14) Turbo Kid (2015)

Turbo Kid plunders the treasure troves of B-grade post-apocalyptic cinema and became one of the best indie actioners of all time. When scavenging the ruins of civilization on his BMX bike, the Kid (Munro Chambers) finds the power glove of the mythical soldier Turbo Rider. With his new weapon he takes it up against the ruler of the wasteland Zeus (Michael Ironside) and his army of sadistic killers. 

It’s Mad Max on bicycles! The whole film is a charming homage to the post-apocalyptic classics we all love and throws in a load of references to 1980s pop culture, plus a killer Synthwave soundtrack. 

The action features gory slapstick sequences, with plenty of heads being chopped off and fountains of blood. Turbo Kid also teaches us the ultimate rule for close combat: Eyes! Throat! Genitals!

13) Bad Boys 2 (2003)

In his last true masterpiece, director Michael Bay launched a fireworks of tasteless humor and megalomaniacal action. Miami police detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are investigating a smuggling operation of Ecstasy. When taking it up against multiple gangs, they leave a trail of mayhem through Miami.

Martin Lawrence and Will Smith are classic action heroes that shoot first and ask questions later. They are also incredibly funny, spouting an endless stream of hilariously offensive jokes. The action sequences go completely over the top leaving whole blocks of Miami in ruins. Bay chains one overlong set piece into another, with a couple of spectacular car action sequences standing out. Bad Boys 2 is as an epic and totally abrasive monument of US action cinema.

12) Dead Heat (1988)

Dead Heat is Trash Cinema at Its Best [The Overlook Motel]

“Remember the good old days when guns killed people?” Re-Animator meets Lethal Weapon in this unique blend of a buddy cop action comedy and a zombie flick. Detectives Roger Mortis (Treat Williams) and Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) investigate a medical facility and are attacked by disfigured humans. Mortis is killed, but a strange machine returns him from the dead. As an undead cop he has an edge in finding the people responsible for his unlife.

In Dead Heat, people get whole magazines emptied into their bodies but are not dying, it really takes a lot of effort to kill anyone in this film. The practical special effects by mastermind Steve Johnson are top notch with melting bodies, burned faces, and a whole butchers’ shop of reanimated animals. The humor is cheesy, the action goes completely over the top, Dead Heat is a great time for every action fan! 

11) Tropic Thunder (2008)

Ben Stiller’s parody of ultraheroic Nam movies and the movie business became an unparalleled spectacle. The production of the Vietnam war film Tropic Thunder is on its way to disaster. The director opts for a radical approach and drops his four stars in the jungle for a guerilla-style shooting. The area is controlled by a local warlord and his gang, and the actors soon realize that the action is real and deadly this time.

Tropic Thunder delivers comedic perfection from the first to the last minute, It may occasionally be a satire on the movie studio system, but there’s just so much fun to be had here. An incredible cast (among them Robert Downey Jr. and Frank Black) are in the form of their life. The action is well-shot and hilarious with pyrotechnic excesses and gory slapstick sequences. Tropic Thunder takes no prisoners!

10) Black Dynamite (2009)

An ingenious homage to 1970s Blaxploitation cinema, Black Dynamite blows Tarantino’s Jackie Brown out of the water big time! Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White), war hero and ex-secret agent, is the protector of his neighborhood. When a new drug ravages the community, he takes out the dealers, but soon discovers a larger conspiracy against the African American population. 

Once more, White shows what a talented actor he is, and his Kung Fu is big as always. The sets, the costumes, the music, it’s all arranged perfectly to re-create the often ultra-low budget vibe of exploitation flicks, including continuity errors, and needless fast zooms. Nothing is played for cheap laughs, though, Black Dynamite radiates much respect for and love of the genre.

9) 48 Hrs. (1982)

The film that launched Eddie Murphy’s movie career created an ingenious recipe for buddy action flicks that was copied countless times. San Francisco police detective Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) gets convict Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) out of jail for 48 hours to help him find escaped killer Albert Ganz. Murphy’s charisma and quips find the perfect counterpart in Nolte’s constant aggravation.

The film used the now classic template of two fundamentally opposite characters that are forced to work together, with the resulting tension relieved through coarse humor or outbursts of violence. Director Walter Hill created high-caliber action sequences with the classic suite of fights, shootouts, and car chases, and every single one of them hits like a train. 48 Hrs. is an ultimate classic of action cinema, and every other buddy cop actioner owes its existence to it.

8) Machete (2010)

Robert Rodriguez built a monument to Danny Trejo’s bad-assery that secured him everlasting cult status among action movie fans. Mexican Federal agent Machete is betrayed during an operation and left for dead. Some years later, he is hired to kill a Texas State Senator. Things go terribly wrong, and Machete needs to free himself from the web that his enemies are spinning around him.

Rodriguez topped his previous classics with even more absurd humor, ultraviolet slapstick action sequences, and manic characters.  Machete is a charming bad-ass that calmly eats a burrito while crushing an opponent in a fistfight, and is also pretty good at escaping through windows using his opponents intestines as a rope. He cuts everyone to pieces who gets in his way and makes love to every woman he comes across. Machete is a riot of a movie: cool, sexy and funny!

7) Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Stephen Chow held the banner high for Hong Kong action cinema in the 2000s with Kung Fu Hustle. The Axe gang terrorizes the people of Shanghai, and small-time gangster Sing (Chow) wants to be a part of it. He is completely untalented, but after taking a massive beating, Sing is transformed into a Kung Fu luminary for the forces of good.

Slapstick humor that always hits its mark is combined with action sequences that mix classic Wuxia with Looney Toon physics. And on the top of all the Kung fu madness, Chow creates an immersive setting and an engaging story with charming characters. Almost every line will make you smile or laugh, and the fights are jaw-dropping in their intensity and ridiculousness. Kung Fu Hustle is a splendid action comedy and a piece of art.

6) The Other Guys (2010)

Director and writer Adam McKay brought together the unlikely couple of Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg, and they turned out to be a dream team! After New York’s two finest cops die in action, sidelined detectives Gamble (Farrell) and Hoitz (Wahlberg) believe they are called for bigger things. Their investigation of a scaffolding permit violation turns into a turbulent chase for Wall Street’s white-collar criminals.

Gamble and Hoitz tumble from one absurd situation into another and pile up joke after joke with the social commentary being almost buried under all the laughs. Farrell and Wahlberg deliver a fantastic parody of your typical action movie cop duo. The film moves at breakneck speed, which is also due to the many awesome action set pieces that are seamlessly integrated into the story. The Other Guys goes completely over the top and is an absolute blast to watch!

5) Army of Darkness (1992)

With the third part of his Evil Dead trilogy, director Sam Raimi went all in and created an ultimate masterpiece, a fantasy horror slapstick actioner for the ages.  After being sucked into a maelstrom by the evil book Necronomicon, Ash (Bruce Campbell) finds him in a medieval world haunted by Deadites. He tries to retrieve the book so that he can return to his time and rid the world of its curse, but he messes up the ritual and unearths an army of evil. 

Bruce Campbell shines again as arrogant and clumsy Ash, a human punching bag who always fights back, though, and who takes it up against bloodthirsty demons, ravenous books and a skeleton army. Raimi lets his imagination run wild and delivers non-stop action and laughs, it’s a terrific homage to classic swashbuckling and monster movies, combined with Evil Dead-style jump scares. Hail to the King, Baby!

4) True Lies (1994)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron joined up for another successful collaboration with True Lies, an ingenious blend of relentless action and a spy comedy. Harry (Schwarzenegger) is a secret government agent but for his family he poses as a sales manager. His wife is bored with her life and gets involved with a fake spy. When Henry finds out, he inadvertently takes her on a dangerous mission to catch a group of terrorists who got their hands on nuclear weapons.

Cameron creates a respectful parody of the genre whereas Schwarzenegger delivers a great parody of his own action hero persona. The film features lots of unique and cool set pieces that become more megalomaniacal with every minute. The action is all about chases from horses to fighter jets, and we witness many creative kills. True Lies is as perfect as an action comedy gets, and an ultimate 90s blockbuster classic!

3) Hot Fuzz (2007)

After reviving the zombie genre with Shawn of the Dead, director Edgar Wright and his two partners in crime Simon Pegg and Nick Frost took on cop thrillers. High-performing London police detective Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is transferred to the small town of Sandford, and shocked by the laid-back work attitude of the local police. He becomes friends with fellow officer Danny (Frost), and when a series of mysterious murders shakes up the community, Angel can put his investigative and combat skills to good use.

Wright impresses with a clever script that has many surprises. Along the way he pays homage to lots of films, with special attention given to Bad Boys 2 and Point Break. The movie starts as a rural detective thriller – with comically gruesome killings that pay homage to classic slasher movies – and escalates into an outrageous action inferno. Hot Fuzz is a charming, intelligent, and roaringly funny flick!

2) Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Eddie Murphy’s big breakthrough has become a timeless classic of action cinema. Detroit police detective Axel Foley (Murphy) travels to Los Angeles to solve the murder of his friend. His numerous violations of police protocol get him into trouble with the Beverly Hills police department, but after booking progress with the investigation, he teams up with the local cops to bring the killers to justice and dismantle a large crime operation.

Thanks to a lean plot and sharp direction, each scene is set up to maximize Murphy’s mesmerizing screen presence. His Axel is witty, charming and a genuinely kind human being. The jokes land perfectly, the action sequences are loads of fun, and the iconic soundtrack kicks ass. Beverly Hills Cop is pure fun from first to last minute, it’s mandatory watching for every action fan!

1) Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

John Carpenter’s and Kurt Russell worked their 1980s movie magic to create an incredible action adventure. The film takes us on the quest of truck driver Jack Burton (Russell) and his friends to defeat ancient evil sorcerer Lo Pan. San Francisco’s Chinatown becomes the gateway to a mystical world, as we follow our heroes sneaking and fighting through alleyways, sewers, and hidden tunnels.

Russell is great as tough talker and clumsy wannabe action hero, who never gets anything done right but, in the end, still gets the girl. The film is sparkling with imagination and creativity, and the action rocks with magic attacks, kung fu and fistfights. Fantastic special effects, an enchanting atmosphere and, a banging soundtrack composed by Carpenter himself, all contribute to make Big Trouble in Little China one of the best action-adventures to ever see the light of day!

Black Cat Run: An Underappreciated Ultimate Road Chase Classic

Reliving the thrills and action of Black Cat Run!

I just love road chase films, they’re a great template for lean, tense, and action-packed entertainment. Films like The Hitcher and Breakdown succeeded at the high art of achieving much with little and 1998’s Black Cat Run (that was co-written by Frank Darabont of Shawshank Redemption fame) became a worthy addition to this list, so let’s have a look!

A group of convicts led by the psychopathic Wheeler (Peter Greene) escapes from their labor duty in the Texas prairie. They pass through a small town, kill the sheriff, and take his daughter hostage. Her boyfriend Johnny (Patrick Muldoon) goes after them, with unhinged county deputy Norm (Jake Busey), who holds Johnny accountable for the sheriff’s death, on his heels. This triangle of violence is the catalyst for a relentless vehicle pursuit on the county roads. There’s no place to hide, no one to help, it’s all up to Johnny and his muscle car.

I Bet You a Case of Beer and a Hand Grenade he’s Headed for the State Line

Back in the 1990s HBO productions weren’t as lavish as today, and Black Cat Run has no gigantic set pieces or a star-studded cast to lure in viewers. But director D.J. Caruso and his crew convincingly demonstrated that you just need a handful of cars, a creative pyrotechnician, and committed actors make a killer action thriller.

Thanks to Darabont’s involvement, the script is sharp, full of hard-boiled characters and features plenty of witty and foulmouthed dialogues. The film also manages to flesh out its characters efficiently in the first 30 minutes, so that we can properly care about the good folks and despise the villains. And a swelter cinematography shows us grainy images of the endless Texas prairie that simultaneously evoke a sense of freedom and desolation.

He’s Lucky I Don’t rip off his Head and Shit Down his Goddamn Neck!

The cast of character actors turned out to be the perfect choice for their respective roles. Patrick Muldoon enjoyed a brief moment in the big spotlight after Starship Troopers the year before. He does a good job at portraying a fairly normal dude that turns into an action hero, and we can easily sympathize with his ordeal to save his girlfriend. Jake Busey is reliable as always in spicing things up and plays a hilariously aggressive and confused patrol officer. And Peter Greene’s Wheeler is a fantastically sleazy villain who enjoys running people over with his car.

The car action is gritty and kicks some serious ass. Nothing is overblown but there’s few total losses to satisfy our primordial need for watching things getting demolished and blown up. It’s all filmed realistically except in the finale that is a beautifully filmed pyrotechnics inferno with exploding barrels flying across the screen. 

The shootouts deliver a big dose of old-fashioned unnecessary brutality. It looks like squibs were on sale at the props store and apparently, they only had the big ones. All in all, it’s a great package of old-school action. Black Cat Run doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but that’s not needed to have a good time. This 90s low-budget classic perfectly achieves everything it’s going for: thrills and action in override mode! 

What Could Have Been: GoldenEye’s Original Script

It is no secret among GoldenEye fans that Michael France greatly contributed to writing the movie – he even outlined in a 2004 interview that he wishes he had gotten more credit for his involvement in GoldenEye’s script.

While many of France’s ideas did make it into the final version of our beloved Bond film, his original screenplay was quite different. It is freely available online, and if you don’t feel like going through the entire document, I listed some of the key points for you!

A much more “classic” Bond movie

To quote our dear Xenia Onatopp, this original screenplay was more “straight-up” than “with a twist”, using many traditional tropes of the franchise. Of course, the biggest change is Trevelyan himself: here, Alec has become Augustus, and he is much older than James. 006’s betrayal hits quite differently, as this earlier version of the spy depicted him more as Bond’s mentor. Rumour has it that Anthony Hopkins and Alan Rickman were once considered for the role, explaining the bigger age gap.

The film’s structure and the timing of the “betrayal” are also very different: the reveal of Trevelyan’s true nature happened prior to the events of the movie, and is only shown to us through a flashback – if you ask me, it makes things less personal, as Bond has had more time to process the news. But the flashback in itself is interesting: during it, 006 who faked being captured, mows down 003 and 005, all under Bond’s gaze – think The Living Daylights’ pre-title sequence, but more impactful. In an interview, Michael France revealed that he wanted to put forward the other 00s of the service, and this could have made for a fascinating addition. I called the original script “classic” as by the time the events of GoldenEye begin, Augustus Trevelyan has retired to Russia, where he has become the mastermind of a SPECTRE-like organisation. He is even offing his own minions during meetings at his mansion, like a wannabe Blofeld!

The first script has a more nostalgic feel than the final version, with Augustus hoping to pit the Russians and British against each other, much like in From Russia with Love. His masterplan still involves using a satellite, called Tempest, but this time, he aims at destabilising the world currency by attacking the World Trade Centre – which would definitely not have aged well, so that is one change we can all be grateful for.

A change in character(s)

Speaking of classic, Xenia’s role was also a lot tamer in this script, which overall makes her a more straightforward femme fatale who enjoys dispatching her enemies thanks to a heart-pressing technique. She is closer to Thunderball’s badass Fiona Volpe than to the over-the-top maniac we (luckily) ended up with.

The same can be said about computer programmer Natalya, originally a cryptographer named Marina, who helped to create the Tempest. Her part here is a lot less developed, and while she does get betrayed by a coworker, we actually only see the aftermath, when she is captured and taken away. Marina’s role could remind 007 fans of Kara Milovy, as she too escapes an assassination attempt. The Bond girl already had a headstrong personality, but has less agency in this original draft, making her closer to the typical “damsel in distress” trope. As a fan of Natalya’s character, I am quite happy she was ultimately given more screentime and things to do!

The original GoldenEye script still has many ideas that I wish we had been able to see on screen, including a badass, knives-obsessed henchman called Savatier. This mute assassin has creative ways of killing disobedient subordinates, and is described as having prominent scars on his throat – which makes me think that we could have seen two mute and scarred henchmen in 1995 (fellow Die Hard with a Vengeance fans, this one is for you!).

But How Ultimate Would it Have Been?

Action-wise, the original script was pretty packed, with lots of plane chases, a climax on a satellite dish and some helicopters featuring buzzsaws which could have inspired The World is Not Enough four years later. Hardcore Bond fans could even have enjoyed a small nod to Live and Let Die, with the climax happening on the island of St. Latrelle (the real name of Solitaire in the book was Simone Latrelle, and this doesn’t seem like a coincidence!).

Throughout the story, Bond seems to be more in control of the situation, when most people often forget that in GoldenEye, 007 spends half of the film trying to figure out what is actually going on and who Janus really is. Overall, this first draft had lots of creative ideas and fun references to the franchise, but feels like it would have been more appropriate for a Bond actor’s second or third movie. In it, 007 doesn’t go through a lot, unlike in the final version of GoldenEye, where he is betrayed by his friend and has to convince M that he is trustworthy.

This initiatory journey is part of what made that film a significant and successful first entry for Pierce Brosnan. So, it seems like we did end up with a script which was more of a standout that the first draft – but this was also courtesy of Michael France, who helped to write the final version and added his share of fun ideas to this iconic movie!

Hologram Man: A Sci-Fi Piñata Chock-Full of Ultimate Action Insanity

The 1995 sci-fi action flick Hologram has no business being this awesome, but here we are!

Many gems can be found among 90s DTV action flicks, and few radiate a goofy charm such as Hologram Man, which showed the low-tier action flick forge PM Entertainment at their creative peak. The film didn’t reach cult status like other 1990s action cheesefests such as Samurai Cop and Miami Connection, but I think it should be absolutely up there with them, so let’s have a look!

In the near future, terrorist Slash Gallagher (Evan Lurie) is on a rampage against the government and big corporations that control all aspects of public life. He is caught and incarcerated into a hologram but gets hacked out of his virtual prison. Now that he’s become a digital supervillain, Gallagher is up to no good. The only person who can stop him is police investigator Kurt Decoda (Joe Lara).

I’ll Feed You to the Rats in Byte-Sized Pieces!

Welcome to Cyberpunk PM style! We start with a classic PM opening sequence featuring perforated bodies and an excess of pyrotechnics, thanks to a silver handgun shooting green projectiles that lets cars explode upon a single hit. Right after we are introduced to Slash Gallagher making love and get to admire his naked body and massive dreadlocks. High on dopamine, he hijacks a bus and attacks a police convoy, which turns into another demolition fest until the lunatic revolutionary is arrested. So far so PM, but then the film leaves familiar territory and enters a world of madness and wonder.

Hologram Man presents many ideas but rips them all from a dozen or so Sci-Fi classics, and you can make a drinking game from guessing which film is referenced in a particular scene.

There’s the cyberpunk version of Demolition Man, a ”holographic prison term with bio-personalized reprogramming” and a parole hearing every couple of years to assess the digital mind of the perpetrator. 

Car Carnage Meets Cyberpunk Cheese

Gallagher’s ethereal form can be surrounded by a synthetic skin enabling him to duplicate a human face (as in Darkman). He can also travel through a computer network (see any 90s cyberpunk flick) and kill you with lightning bolts through your computer screen (akin to Wes Craven’s Shocker). And there’s so much more to discover!

The film seems to have been Evan Lurie’s baby, who co-wrote, produced, and starred in it. I wouldn’t refer to his performance as acting in the traditional sense, but it’s radiating so much energy, and he just seems to have a great time being evil. Joe Lara leads the good guy camp and makes a fine B-action hero who is equally adept at shooting, punching, and making love. And we can easily sympathize with Decoda, as he passes through most of the film with an astonished face in disbelief about what is happening around him, just like the viewer.

Get the Hell Outta Here you Gigabyte Chipshit!

The first third of the film is filled with explosions and vehicles wreaking havoc, but the action level is dialed back a bit afterwards. We still get a shootout or car explosion every 10 minutes, and plenty of other stuff such as when a hologram Gallagher and Decoda duke it out wearing digital Spandex suits. There’s just never a dull moment in this film.

Hologram Man’s mix of unrestrained nonsense with a goofy sense of humor and relentless action is an experience that transcends the boundaries of the human mind. This Sci-Fi piñata chock-full of insanity is a film that must become the classic it deserves to be!

5 Reasons to (Re)watch GoldenEye: The Most Iconic Bond Movie 

You know the name, and you know the number, too. Yes, much has been written  about one of the best Bond films, which seems to consistently rank pretty high on  fans’ lists. But what exactly makes GoldenEye so special? 

1) The best villain ensemble cast 

What would a Bond film be without a good baddie, one that really puts 007 to the test? I have already written quite extensively about Bond villains, and Alec Trevelyan is definitely one of my favourites. The concept of a “rogue” Bond is simple, but so effective that it seems crazy the franchise waited until 1995 to fully exploit it. Sean Bean’s charisma and his cool facial scars already made Alec a memorable villain, but his status as a complex antagonist cements 006 as one of the best bad guys. Treading the fine line between revenge and personal gain, Alec  is hard to read, and impossible to forget! But he isn’t the film only villainous asset: GoldenEye makes the most of Trevelyan’s sidekicks. Xenia, Boris, Ouromov and their interactions are hilarious to watch, as all have their own agenda and personality – and don’t enjoy working together at all! Having one good villain is already a cause for celebration, so when it’s an entire ensemble cast, things can’t get better. 

2) A new era for Bond girls 

The movie also has some of the coolest Bond girls in the entire history of the  franchise: first, there is Famke Janssen as the unforgettable femme fatale Xenia Onatopp. Xenia is a predator, and a worthy adversary to Bond, who thinks his charms can open all doors… until he knocks on the wrong one! Of course, Janssen owns the film, to the point where the only thing wrong with Xenia’s is her disappointingly quick demise. 

On the other side of the spectrum, we have Natalya Simonova, a Bond girl wearing  a cardigan (who would have thought!). More than just a girlfriend, Natalya is the film’s deuteragonist: she has her own sub-plot, which runs parallel to Bond’s quest, and even her own antagonist to defeat. Fans fondly remember Izabella Scorupco’s performance, as she gave Natalya a real personality and some sharp wits. I also think that part of the fanbase, myself included, was glad to finally see a geek on screen! 

3) Action that stands the test of time 

Sometimes, we just want to see a train derail, or a giant antenna which collapses. And for those times, there is GoldenEye. Standing out in a saga full of amazing stunts isn’t easy, especially as blockbusters from the 90s were known for their over-the-top action sequences. But GoldenEye’s stunts really take the cake. There are simply too many memorable ones throughout the movie, which goes beyond the classic car chases (though even the titular chase is a perfect introduction to Xenia!). Between a barrage jump and that improbable motorcycle escape, the film knows how to awaken our inner child – and of course, it created  an entire generation of tank-obsessed Bond fans! 

4) The right balance between fun and emotion 

Yes, I just praised its action scenes, but the film isn’t just a succession of fast paced stunts. In fact, I’d argue that GoldenEye is Brosnan’s best precisely because it balances actual stakes with stunning action. Unlike Craig, whose latest entries delved too much into psychoanalysis and needlessly serious plots, and unlike Die Another Day’s brainless fun, GoldenEye has much to tell and knows how to tell it. 

Bond is scarred by Trevelyan’s death – and later, by his betrayal. In fact, the whole film discusses the importance of trust. His relationship with M is another glaring example: the unruly 007 has to regain his superior’s confidence, and needs to feel like he can rely on her, too. Natalya is betrayed by Boris, while Xenia is by essence a predator masquerading as a lovely woman. The more I think about it, the more this simple red thread helps to make the film stand out and gives it plausible stakes. 

5) It is GoldenEye, plain and simple 


Is this really a valid point? Okay, that’s debatable, but you can’t deny that GoldenEye got the saga back onto the right tracks – and fans could breathe a sight of relief upon seeing this masterpiece. I wasn’t around back in 1995, but I know the stress of not having a new Bond film guaranteed, so I can’t imagine what the commercial failure of Licence To Kill and its implications for the franchise felt like. So, GoldenEye’s status as a successful reboot and a franchise saviour suffices to make it iconic. 

And it isn’t just for the Bond connoisseurs, either: GoldenEye is a great introduction to the character for those who don’t know about 007. It ticks almost all of the boxes when it comes to the Bond formula. The film has a compelling plot, some iconic Bond girls, a great villain, hilarious sidekicks, amazing set pieces, a casino and improbable gadgets: it is quite a number!

Streaming Platforms for Every Budget: Unleash Your Cinematic Adventures

In a world where tech evolution is moving at the speed of light, you don’t need a high-flying budget to enjoy the magic of streaming platforms. 

Streaming has now become as standard as the icing on your birthday cake, available everywhere from your trusty laptop to any basic smartphone. With the growing embrace of 5G technology, not only are you binge-watching Netflix shows on the go, but you’re also doing everything from personal or business video conference calls to even dabbling in your all time favourite casino games or Tic Tok clips.

The real question is, with the plethora of streaming services available, which one is your golden ticket to endless cinematic adventures without breaking the bank? Let’s roll out the red carpet and dive into the world of top streaming platforms that are as easy on the wallet as they are on the eyes.

Netflix – Where Magic Meets Budget

Netflix is the undisputed heavyweight champion of streaming. Whether you’re into gripping series, thrilling documentaries, or star-studded blockbusters, Netflix delivers it all. For as little as $7 a month, you can revel in ad-supported HD quality and one concurrent stream. If you’re feeling a bit fancier, double your budget for $15.50 a month to enjoy 4K HDR glory with four simultaneous streams.

Max – Warner Bros. Discovery’s Big Surprise

Say goodbye to the old HBO Max; it’s time to meet Max. Warner Bros. Discovery brought a pleasant surprise by blending Discovery+ into the mix. Now, Max offers an expanded library that will satisfy your every binge-watching craving. For as low as $10 a month or $100 a year, you can kick back and enjoy ad-supported HD streaming with two concurrent streams.

Disney+ – Family Fun on a Budget

For family-friendly content that’s both affordable and delightful, Disney+ is the name of the game. From classic Disney tales to Marvel’s cinematic universe and the charming antics of The Mandalorian, it’s a world of enchantment for all ages. Plus, they’ve banned R-rated content, making it a safe space for your kiddos. Priced at just $8 a month for ad-supported streaming or $11 a month (or $110 a year) for an ad-free extravaganza, Disney+ caters to your entire brood. 

Hulu – For Cord-Cutters and More

Hulu’s the way to go for cord-cutters who want a taste of the old cable TV days but without the hefty bill. Offering a vast selection of classic and new TV shows, plus optional live TV, Hulu is perfect for those who can’t let go of network favourites. Starting at $8 a month for ad-supported streaming or $15 a month for an ad-free experience, Hulu fits most budgets.

Prime Video – Amazon’s Hidden Treasure

Amazon Prime Video is a treasure trove of movies and TV series. With some enticing exclusives like The Expanse and Goliath, it’s a budget-friendly platform with surprisingly rich content. For just $9 a month or included as part of your Amazon Prime subscription ($15 a month or $139 a year), Prime Video offers quality streaming with up to three concurrent devices. 


In the grand landscape of streaming platforms, there’s something for everyone, no matter your budget or interests. From classics to exclusives, documentaries to sci-fi, you can dive into cinematic worlds that won’t drain your wallet. With these budget-friendly options, the sky’s the limit!

Top Patrick Swayze Action Movies

Ranking the best action movies from the great and wonderful Patrick Swayze!

Patrick Swayze had an incredibly successful career as an actor spanning three decades until his untimely death in 2009. Imbued with an incredible amount of charisma and charm, he gave us many memorable characters.

He left us a small but explosive legacy of action flicks, so let’s get going with our ranking of the ultimate Patrick Swayze action movies!

7) Steel Dawn (1987)

In 1987, Swayze had his big breakthrough with Dirty Dancing, and in the same year he made the post-apocalyptic actioner Steel Dawn. Wasteland wanderer Nomad (Swayze) joins a group of villagers, but before long he needs to put his fighting skills to use when warlord Damnil and his minions seek to raid the settlement for its water supply.  The film begins with Swayze meditating while doing a headstand in the desert and getting attacked by mutants unearthing from the sand. 

He disposes of them violently with his mighty sword, but the promise of this awesome opening sequence to give us a campy, swashbuckling actioner never gets fulfilled. The film misses a unique signature, and its mashup of genre tropes is smaller than the sum of its parts. The sword fights pack some punch and are well choreographed but too infrequent to keep the excitement level high. Steel Dawn is an average post-apocalyptic actioner, but worth revisiting if you’re in the mood for an 80s throwback.

6) Uncommon Valor (1983)

First Blood director Ted Kotcheff tackled the alleged fate of American war prisoners left after the Vietnam war and did it even before Rambo: First Blood Part II. The son of Colonel Rhodes (Gene Hackman) went missing during the Vietnam War. 10 years later he finds evidence that his kid is still held prisoner and assembles a team for a clandestine operation behind enemy lines. The movie is s a riff on The Deadly Dozen, and equally lays it on thick with pathos. Swayze plays the over motivated greenhorn and gives early testimony of his fighting skills and energetic acting style.

The tension builds up nicely, with the first half of the film dedicated to the assembly and training of the rescue squad. After that it’s action time with a journey through the jungle, camp infiltration, and 30 minutes of pure mayhem. The action is staged elaborately, with well-crafted shootouts, fights, and huge explosions. Uncommon Valor may not be a classic entry to the war action genre but it’s definitely an entertaining watch.

5) Next of Kin (1989)

It’s hillbillies vs. the Italian mafia with Swayze caught between the fronts. Chicago cop Truman’s (Swayze) brother is murdered by the Italian mafia. He tries to catch the killer with policework, but his family from Kentucky prefers to invoke justice their way. Next of Kin is atmospherically dense and gets the most out of its gritty urban setting. Swayze delivers his trademark style of being gracious when talking and resolved when it’s time for action.

The film is a well-balanced blend of crime thriller, family drama and numerous violent confrontations. The Appalachian family may be impoverished and eccentric, but the city mobsters are no match for them and their shotguns. The finale is a crazy showdown between the Southerners and the mafia in a cemetery with hatchets, bear traps and a bus full of snakes becoming weapons of choice. Next of Kin is a classic 1980s action thriller of the best kind.

4) Black Dog (1998)

The country road turns into a warzone in Black Dog. Truck driver Jack (Swayze) and his family have fallen on hard times. He gets talked into driving a shipment of hot merchandise ware across the country but before long the police and his treacherous employer (Meat Loaf) are chasing after him. Black Dog is lean and straightforward in the best sense. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, the characters are a fun bunch, and the story flows smoothly with a high tempo. 

Swayze carries the film with his energetic presence as tough trucker and caring family man who is willing to defend his rig at all costs. The car action is fantastic and considering the film’s budget is absolutely on par with most A-list productions of the time. Trucks are grinding, crashing, and exploding for no reason. It’s all fantastic work by the stunt crew helmed by the masters of their craft Vic Armstrong and Gary Hymes. Black Dog delivers 85 exciting minutes of pure vehicular carnage.

3) Red Dawn (1984)

In John Milius’ cult action fairy tale, the cold war turned hot. A Communist army invades the USA, and a small Colorado town is one of their first beachheads. A group of high school kids led by Jed (Swayze) takes refuge in the mountains and starts a guerilla war against the enemy army. It all sounds pretty grim, but don’t take it too seriously, and just enjoy this charming and occasionally cheesy action adventure.

The film delivers a truckload of kick-ass action as The Wolverines are machine-gunning, camouflaging, and booby-trapping their way through enemy territory. The film is full of intense moments and huge action set pieces when Colorado is turned into a war zone. Swayze radiates a youthful charm and energy as leader of the pack who excels at campfire pep talk and more aggressive measures to keep his squad in line. Wolverines!!!

2) Point Break (1991)

Point Break was another slam dunk for Swayze and became one of the greatest off-beat actioners of all time. FBI graduate Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) joins the LA bank robbery task force. The most notorious gang of bank robbers is suspected to be found among surfers. Johnny goes undercover and gets drawn into the free-spirited lifestyle of the surfing community, that is led by the charismatic master surfer Bodhi (Swayze).

Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze deliver some of the best performances of their career as two antipoles in temperament and way of life. Swayze’s Bodhi is the more interesting of the two, a hedonist freethinker who is also a violent criminal. The action is kinetic and exciting, filmed masterfully (including the many surfing sequences), and doesn’t need bullet storms or giant explosions to hit hard. Point Break is an atmospheric and captivating ride that has become a legendary entry to the genre.

1) Road House (1989)

“Be nice until it’s time not to be nice.” Traveling philosopher and martial arts expert Dalton (Swayze) finds his calling as master bouncer of a run-down bar in Missouri. Crime lord Wesley does not appreciate Dalton’s efforts and declares war on him. Road House creates a masculine microcosm of impossible characters and impossible dialogues full of terrific one-liners. It’s funny, dramatic, cheesy, and romantic, and the action rocks with testosterone-charged fist fights, big explosions, and a monster truck rampage.

As so often in his films, Swayze portrays an outsider with an uncanny amount of resolve. He delivers a mesmerizing performance as Dalton, introduced to us as a man in total balance with himself and the universe. Soon enough he turns into a total bad-ass, and his crusade for justice culminates in an emotionally most satisfying throat-rip sequence. Road House is an ultimate pillar of 1980s cinema, a film so unique it should be recognized as its own genre.

Atomic Blonde (2017): Was the Female John Wick Actually More Ultimate?

Let’s face it: between the big screen and the streaming platforms, there are so many action films coming out nowadays that it can sometimes be hard to find one which really makes a lasting impression and leaves us with something. If you’re tired of action movies that all seem alike and want something different, look no further than forgotten gem Atomic Blonde. This 2017 movie was directed by David Leitch – who also produced and co-directed the first John Wick. It stars Charlize Theron as Cold War spy Lorraine Broughton, who is sent to Berlin to retrieve a list of all active spies in the city – though her real agenda and loyalties remain far more unclear.

Of course, the titular Atomic Blonde is the film’s main asset: Theron absolutely owns the film, and her character perfectly plays on the trope of the cynical Cold War agent who has seen it all. Her fight scenes are nothing short of impressive, and as someone who is always happy to see badass women in movies, it is cool to watch Theron kick ass in a believable way. She is often facing bigger and stronger men, and has to rely on her wits to beat them up and get the upper hand. When going against local cops, the spy even makes some creative use of a fridge and a pan to ensure that her adversaries are dispatched quickly. Not only is Lorraine’s fighting style impressive, it also perfectly reflects her personality and defines her as a cold-hearted and efficient killer.

From Berlin with love

Atomic Blonde even recreates the vibe of the Cold War spy thrillers we all know and love. Indeed, the movie is remarkable for having more brains than most: it is nice to see that the plot doesn’t just gravitate around the fight scenes, but that it manages to set up a proper spy mystery, full of double crossings. Of course, the Cold War setting is a solid basis for a good thriller, but this plot remains praiseworthy in an era where spy movies tend to become… generic action movies! To get this interesting story going, we can count on some solid characters: no one’s loyalties or identity are clear, not even when it comes to rookie spy Delphine (Sofia Boutella, who should definitely get more parts in interesting films), with whom Lorraine begins a brief relationship. The same goes for Broughton’s assistant and contact David Percival (James McAvoy, playing an “anti-Bond” in his own words), a feral agent with a love of Berlin and an agenda of his own. As for the killer queen, Lorraine herself, she offers an interesting take on the heartless spy, who first seems jaded and unimpressed, but gets more invested in her mission as the film progresses.

Another classic from David Leitch

The film was a hit at the box-office, and was almost immediately compared to the first John Wick movie. Of course, the presence of David Leitch justified the comparison – after all, he was heavily involved in the 2014 film, though he wasn’t credited as co-director.

Leitch’s style is very recognisable throughout Atomic Blonde: much like with the Baba Yaga, he keeps his colour palette cold and dark, and offers some extremely fluid and dynamic fight scenes. Of course, it is Atomic Blonde’s lengthy apartment fight which takes the cake and deserves a special mention: it lasts for ten minutes, and is a simply breathtaking, perfectly filmed brawl. The fight scene also has what so many others lack – an impact on the characters. By the time she makes it to the end, Lorraine is properly drained, and each and every of her moves has to be carefully planned to save her energy. A post-John Wick 4 rewatch makes the scene even better, as it is clear that both films have a love of long, brutal brawls and cold, phlegmatic assassins.

Despite its similarities with Chad Stahelski’s saga, Atomic Blonde is more than a female-led rip-off of John Wick: the film has its own universe, and a more down-to-earth tone. This is because it makes the most of its Cold War setting, and the beautiful shots of Berlin perfectly recreate the atmosphere of suspicion present in the original comic book – and in the city at the time. In short, Lorraine Broughton and her work deserve to be far more well-known. There are few female spies on screen who are as iconic and competent, and hopefully we’ll get to see more of her and Leitch’s work in an upcoming sequel!