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Writing short films are a great calling card for a writer. Short films aren’t a lesser form of cinematic storytelling. In fact writing them requires the exact same skills as writing a feature length script – though on a smaller scale. Although TV broadcast opportunities may be limited, there are more and more outlets for these opportunities. I recently read on IndieWire:

Shorts used to be this artsy thing. But now there really is this explosion in filmmaking. With all this new technology, shorts films have a lot more interest among regular people, because so many people are making them and putting them on the web. Suddenly, we’re not explaining short films to people. Everybody’s seen one.

Many of the best writers and directors started out with shorts. Do you know that Sacha Gervasi, the writer of “The Terminal”, found his U.S agent, and then a lucrative writing gig with Dreamworks based on the strength of an extraordinary short film he wrote? It’s a rarity but it happens. Here’s some more examples. In any case, it’s an excellent way to develop your craft and flex your writing muscles and it is much less daunting than penning a first feature if you haven’t much writing experience.

There are 7 rules you should remember when writing a short film:

1. The Shorter the Better

A short film can be anything from fifteen seconds to forty five minutes in length. Make your short film script as short as possible because the shorter the short, the less costly it will be to produce. Of course, digital technology frees up filmmakers, yet time still costs money, so does feeding a hungry crew. If you shoot too fast your short film might end up looking amateurish. It has to be cheap but shouldn’t LOOK cheap! Plus, if you want to get your short into a festival, then keep it to no more than ten minutes, which is usually 7-8 pages maximum. Why? Because if your short film is longer, it will eat up a longer slot and festivals love to play as many shorts as possible! You can also create real emotion in just a few minutes.

Look at Sebastian’s Voodoo. It’s a 4 minute animated short about a Voodoo doll who must pierce his own heart to save his friend from being impaled and it is absolutely heartbreaking.

Sebastian’s Voodoo from Joaquin Baldwin on Vimeo.

2. Keep the Practicalities of Writing in Mind

The great thing about writing short films is that they can be anything since you don!’ have studio execs on your tail. However, don’t discard the practicalities of writing your script. I have read scripts with pages of chase-action scenes and car crashes, and many writers seem not to realize how time consuming it would be to actually shoot. In fact, see the writing of a short as an opportunity to become more aware of what each line you put down on paper implies and costs. Visions of white horses galloping in the moonlight certainly look amazing in your mind but are you sure you’re good friends with a wrangler and/or a CGI specialist? If you only have access to modest resources, think small.

Apricot  is a good example of short film that could have been done on a low budget (it shows such impeccable production value I doubt it was actually done on the cheap) because it deals with two people sitting at a table at a cafe yet manages to show a wide range of emotion. Along the same lines, the Asian short film Just a Love Story   takes place almost entirely in an elevator. Write for locations that are interesting yet practical, think of access and control, and avoid remote locations requiring driving for miles.

Just a love story from IF Chen on Vimeo.

3. Make It Visual

“Film is a visual medium”. “Show, don’t tell.” Those are the golden rules of screenwriting the gurus keep telling us. Yet it’s astonishing to see how talky most scripts are. Film is about telling stories in pictures, which is the most economical way of telling a story – and when you write short films, economy is everything. Create visual backstories for your characters. Externalize through visual images their temperament, their profession, their status, etc.

In the Lunch Date  the posh lady polishes her fork before using it. What does it tell you about her? Note the economy of dialogue in the short film, a short film that went on to win an Academy Award for best live action short film.

4. Find Single Moments

The best short films are often a single moment that is played out, but one that has a story at its heart. What do I mean by story? I mean a conflict that has to be resolved, where there’s a dilemma at stake and a choice that the protagonist has to make. Strive to add a deadline, or ticking clock. It is not necessary but it will add some tension to your short film. The short On Time is a good example of a short film that meets all these conditions. It tells the story of a heart-broken young man can peek into the future and must act on it on the spot.

On Time from Ted Chung on Vimeo.

5. Tell a Story

You should always try to tell a compelling story. Beware of ideas that are concept-driven or just aim at breaking all the rules for the sake of breaking rules. Short films are a great opportunity to push the boundaries of what cinematic storytelling can do, yet they must still engage your audience emotionally. As a rule of thumb, unless it is extremely brief a short film should have a hero with a goal and an obstacle/antagonist in the way. Watch I love Sarah Jane. It shows a bunch of teenagers in a ghost town where adults have turned into zombies, yet at the core it is a love story about a young boy who can’t reach through to the older girl he loves.

I Love Sarah Jane from Qoob TV on Vimeo.

6. Engage the Reader

Since you have so little time to make an impression the impact of page one is crucial, just as it is crucial to hook the reader in the first 10 pages of a feature length script. What is the world of the film? Do we root for the main character? Does the world and story of the film feel authentic? The ending is also essential as it’s rare to truly feel moved at the end of a short, so work towards a meaningful, satisfying ending.

7. Beware of Cliches when Writing Short Films

There are many clichés in short films, and much navel gazing. How come everybody feels the need to write about hit men for hire, heists, people seeing themselves die, children representing innocence, incestuous relationships, etc? Avoid stereotypes unless you have a fresh slant on them. That’s what The Descendent does. In this short film a couple of bewildered hit men actually have to kill a seemingly cute little boy and one of them gets cold feet until he realizes that the child is a supernatural being who terrifies his mother. Write what you’re familiar with and what resonates with you rather than writing something you borrowed from other films. Don’t shy away from small stories, short formats are the perfect vehicle for them and you won’t often get the opportunity to tell small stories as a professional writer.

Fade Out

Here’s some more handy idea generation tips for writing short films.

Last but not least, watch as many short films as possible. There is no replacement for knowing what is out there, and knowing what you as an audience (as well as a writer) think and feel about it. And keep writing short films.

About Stéphanie Joalland

Originally from France, Stéphanie holds a Masters in Business from Audencia Nantes. She began her career in story development at TF1 International and Canal Plus, worked as a story editor on TF1 animated series such as Emmy-nominated Pet Aliens, wrote live-action TV scripts, created a Sci-Fi animated series for Luc Besson’s Europa Corp for Canal Plus: Valerian & Laureline based on the comics.

After directing short films in France she moved to Los Angeles to study filmmaking at UCLA, graduated in 2008 then set up a UK-based production company Frenzy Films with fellow UCLA alumnus Sean McConville. In 2014 she wrote, directed and produced her first feature The Quiet Hour starring Dakota Blue Richards and Karl Davies which premiered at Galway Film Fleadh, was nominated for Best British Film at Raindance, Best International Film at Sofia Film Festival, won Best Feature at Kansas City Filmfest, showcased at Newport Beach, premiered on Sky Cinema in the UK, and sold to multiple territories including the U.S.

She's currently pre-producing Sean McConville’s upcoming thriller The Last Moon to be filmed spring 2018 while also developing her sophomore film, Ice, a contained science-driven sci-f thriller.

Stéphanie’s an alumna of Berlinale Talents and IFP Emerging Narrative in NYC. She works as an advisor and mentor on the Raindance MA Film Program in association with Staffordshire University in England.

Contact info: stephanie.joalland@raindance.co.uk

Related

Action film is a genre in which the protagonist or protagonists end up in a series of challenges that typically include violence, extended fighting, physical feats, and frantic chases. Action films tend to feature a resourceful hero struggling against incredible odds, which include life-threatening situations, a villain, or a pursuit which generally concludes in victory for the hero (though a small number of films in this genre have ended in victory for the villain instead). Advancements in CGI have made it cheaper and easier to create action sequences and other visual effects that required the efforts of professional stunt crews in the past. However, reactions to action films containing significant amounts of CGI have been mixed as films that use computer animations to create unrealistic, highly unbelievable events are often met with criticism.[1] While action has long been a recurring component in films, the "action film" genre began to develop in the 1970s along with the increase of stunts and special effects. Common action scenes in films are generally, but not limited to, car chases, fighting and gunplay or shootouts.

This genre is closely associated with the thriller and adventure genres, and they may also contain elements of spy fiction.[2]

History[edit]

Early action films[edit]

Some historians consider The Great Train Robbery (1903) to be the first action film.[3][4] During the 1920s and 1930s, action-based films were often "swashbuckling" adventure films in which actors, such as Douglas Fairbanks, wielded swords in period pieces or Westerns.

The 1940s and 1950s saw "action" in a new form through war and cowboy movies. Alfred Hitchcock ushered in the spy-adventure genre while also establishing the use of action-oriented "set pieces" like the famous crop-duster scene and the Mount Rushmore finale in North by Northwest (1959). The film, along with a war-adventure called The Guns of Navarone (1961), inspired producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to invest in their own spy-adventure, based on the novels of Ian Fleming.

The long-running success of the James Bond films or series (which dominated the action films of the 1960s) introduced a staple of the modern-day action film: the resourceful hero. Such larger-than-life characters were a veritable "one-man army"; able to dispatch villainous masterminds after cutting through their disposable henchmen in increasingly creative ways. Such heroes are ready with one-liners, puns, and dry quips. The Bond films also used fast cutting, car chases, fist fights, a variety of weapons and gadgets, and elaborate action sequences.

Producer-Director John Sturges' 1963 film The Great Escape, featuring Allied prisoners of war attempting to escape a German POW camp during World War II, and featuring future icons of the action genre including Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson, is an example of an action film prototype.

1970s[edit]

During the 1970s, gritty detective stories and urban crime dramas began to evolve and fuse themselves with the new "action" style, leading to a string of maverick police officer films, such as Bullitt (1968), The French Connection (1971) and The Seven-Ups (1973). Dirty Harry (1971) essentially lifted its star, Clint Eastwood, out of his cowboy typecasting, and framed him as the archetypal hero of the urban action film. In many countries, restrictions on language, adult content, and violence had loosened up, and these elements became more widespread.

In the 1970s, martial-arts films from Hong Kong became popular with Western audiences and inspired big budget films such as Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon (1973). Chuck Norris blended martial arts with 'cops and robbers' in films such as Good Guys Wear Black (1978) and A Force of One (1979).

From Japan, Sonny Chiba starred in his first martial arts movie in 1973 called the Karate Kiba. His breakthrough international hit was The Street Fighter series (1974), which established him as the reigning Japanese martial arts actor in international cinema. He also played the role of Mas Oyama in Champion of Death, Karate Bearfighter, and Karate for Life (1975–1977). Chiba's action films were not only bounded by martial arts, but also action thriller (Doberman Cop and Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon - both from 1977), jidaigeki (Shogun's Samurai - 1978, Samurai Reincarnation - 1981), and science fiction (G.I. Samurai - 1979).

1980s[edit]

In the 1980s, Hollywood produced many big budget action blockbusters with actors such as Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lorenzo Lamas, Michael Dudikoff, Charles Bronson and Bruce Willis.[5][6]Steven Spielberg and George Lucas paid their homage to the Bond-inspired style with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).[7] In 1982, veteran actor Nick Nolte and rising comedian Eddie Murphy broke box office records with the action-comedy 48 Hrs., credited as the first "buddy-cop" movie.[8] That same year, Sylvester Stallone starred in First Blood, the first installment in the Rambo film series which made the character John Rambo a pop culture icon.

1984 saw the beginning of the Terminator (franchise) starring Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. This story provides one of the grittiest roles for a woman in action and Hamilton was required to put in extensive effort to develop a strong physique.[9]

1987's Lethal Weapon starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Darlene Love was another significant action film hit of the decade, and another "buddy-cop" genre classic, launching a franchise that spawned 3 sequels.

The 1988 film, Die Hard, was particularly influential on the development of the action genre. In the film, Bruce Willis plays a New York police detective who inadvertently becomes embroiled in a terrorist take-over of a Los Angeles office building high-rise.[10] The use of a maverick, resourceful lone hero has always been a common thread from James Bond to John Rambo, but John McClane in Die Hard is much more of an 'everyday' person whom circumstance turns into a reluctant hero.[11] The film set a pattern for a host of imitators, like Under Siege (1992) and Sudden Death, which used the same formula in a different setting.

By the end of the 1980s, the influence of the successful action film could be felt in almost every genre.[12]

1990s[edit]

Like the Western genre, spy-movies, as well as 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.[13] This new era of action films often had budgets unlike any in the history of motion pictures.[14] 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.[15] This led to an increasing number of filmmakers to create new technologies that would allow them to beat the competition and take audiences to new heights.[16] The success of Tim Burton's Batman (1989) led to a string of financially successful sequels. Within a single decade, they proved the viability of a novel subgenre of action film: the comic-book movie.[17]

2000s[edit]

While action films continued to flourish as the medium-budget genre movie,[example needed] it also fused with tent-pole pictures in other genres.[18] For example, 2009's Star Trek had several science fiction tropes and concepts like time travel through a black hole. However, most of the film was structured around action sequences, many of them quite conventional (hand-to-hand, shooting). While the original Star Wars featured some of this kind of fighting, there was just as much emphasis on star-ship chases and dogfights in outer space. The newer films featured more lightsaber duels, sometimes more intense and acrobatic than the originals. Some fan films also have similar duel scenes like those the prequel trilogy. It was action with a science fiction twist. The trend with films such as The Matrix and The Dark Knight series, is that hand-to-hand fighting and Asian martial-arts techniques are now widely used in science fiction and superhero movies.

Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables used nostalgia for a perceived golden age of action films by casting 1980s action stars alongside new actors in the genre such as Jason Statham.[19]

In The Fast and the Furious series, the action film staple of the car chase is the central plot driver as it had been in Smokey and the Bandit films in the 1970s.

2010s[edit]

The cross-over of action with science fiction and superhero films continues with many Marvel Comics characters and settings being used for big budget films.

Hong Kong action cinema[edit]

Main article: Hong Kong action cinema

Currently, action films requiring extensive stunt work and special effects tend to be expensive. As such, they are regarded as mostly a large-studio genre in Hollywood, although this is not the case in Hong Kong action cinema, where action films are often modern variations of martial arts films. Because of their roots and lower budgets, Hong Kong action films typically center on physical acrobatics, martial arts fight scenes, stylized gun-play, and dangerous stunt work performed by leading stunt actors. On the other hand, American action films typically feature big explosions, car chases, stunt doubles and CGIspecial effects.

Hong 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 re-invented itself with various new movies. These included the modern martial arts action movies featuring physical acrobatics and dangerous stunt work of Jackie Chan and his stunt team, as well as Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung; the wire fu and wuxia films of Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Yuen Woo-Ping and Tsui Hark; the gun fu, heroic bloodshed and Triad films of Chow Yun-Fat, Ringo Lam and John Woo; and the girls with guns films of Michelle Yeoh and Moon Lee.

Subgenres[edit]

  • Action adventure - A subgenre of the adventure film genre as well. Typically, these films take place in exotic locations and frequently involve the hero travelling to several locations around the world. There are a lot of films with this combined genre. Examples include the Indiana Jones and James Bond, also most superhero films are action adventure too.
  • Action comedy - A subgenre involving action and humour.[20] The subgenre 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.[21] Comedy films such as Dumb & Dumber and Big Momma's House, that contain action-laden sub-plots, are not considered part of this combined genre. Action scenes have a more integral role in action comedies.[20] A common strata of action comedy is the buddy cop film, including 48 Hrs. (1982), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Lethal Weapon (1987), Midnight Run (1988), Bad Boys (1995), Rush Hour (1998), The Rundown (2003) and Hot Fuzz (2007).[20][22] Another common strata of action comedy is the martial arts comedy, which became popular in Hong Kong action cinema in the 1980s, with Jackie Chan being the most famous example.[23][24]
  • Action horror - A subgenre combining the intrusion of an evil force, event, or supernatural personage of horror movies with the gunfights and frenetic chases of the action genre. Themes or elements often prevalent in typical action-horror films include gore, demons, vicious animals, vampires and, most commonly, zombies. This category can also take elements from the fantasy genre. Examples include Aliens, Army of Darkness, Resident Evil, Ghost Rider, Planet Terror, Undead, I Saw the Devil, Train to Busan, Doomsday, Underworld,[25]Constantine, Priest, The Crow, Dawn of the Dead, Deep Rising, From Dusk till Dawn, Blade, Legion, and End of Days.[26]
  • Buddy Cop - A subgenre that became incredibly popular in the 80's with films such as 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, and Beverly Hills Cop. They typically involve two mismatched heroes, who are almost always police officers, whose relationship evolves as they advance the plot. This genre saw a minor resurgence in the 2000s with films like Rush Hour, Bad Boys, The Nice Guys, and On Probation.
  • Disaster 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, pandemics, etc. Examples include Independence Day, Daylight, Earthquake, Geostorm, 2012,[27]The Day After Tomorrow,[28]Poseidon, The Towering Inferno, Dante's Peak, Deep Impact, Volcano, The Core, Armageddon, Twister, and San Andreas.
  • Martial arts - A subgenre of the action film, martial arts films contain numerous hand-to-hand combats between characters. They are usually the films' primary appeal and entertainment value and are often the method of storytelling, character expression, and development. Martial arts films contain many characters who are martial artists. These roles are often played by actors who are real martial artists. If not, actors usually fervently train in preparation for their roles. Another method of going around this issue is that the action director may rely more on stylized action or filmmaking tricks. Martial films include The Karate Kid, Police Story (film series), Kung Fu Hustle, Fearless, Ninja Assassin, Ong-Bak, Shanghai Noon, Kill Bill, Fist of Legend, Iron Monkey, Drunken Master, Enter the Dragon, Mortal Kombat, The Raid: Redemption, Flash Point, Champion of Death, Karate Bearfighter, Doberman Cop, Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon, Shaolin Soccer, Big Trouble in Little China, Charlie's Angels, and The Street Fighter series.[29] A variant of the genre is Wuxia, a stylized action fantasy period genre typically set in Ancient Asia where skill in the martial arts can enable fantastic abilities like flying and magic like abilities.
  • Sci-fi action - Sharing many of the conventions of a science fiction film, sci-fi action films emphasizes gun-play, space battles, invented weaponry, and other sci-fi elements weaved into action film premises. Examples include G.I. Samurai, Terminator 2, The Matrix, Total Recall, Minority Report, The Island, Star Wars, the Men in Black franchise, Aliens, I Robot, Transformers, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, Equilibrium, District 9, Serenity, Akira, Paycheck, Predator, RoboCop, Avatar, Mad Max 2, Divergent, They Live, Escape from New York and The Fifth Element.[30]
  • Spy film: In which the hero is generally a government agent who must take violent action against agents of a rival government or (in recent years) terrorists. They often revolve around spies who are involved in investigating various events, often on a global scale. This subgenre deals with the subject of fictional espionage, either in a realistic way (such as the adaptations of John Le Carré) or as a basis for fantasy (such as James Bond). It is a significant aspect of British cinema,[31] with leading British directors, such as Alfred Hitchcock and Carol Reed, making notable contributions and many films set in the British Secret Service. The subgenre showcases a combination of exciting escapism, heavy action, stylized fights, technological thrills, and exotic locales.[32] Not all spy films fall in the action genre, only those showcasing heavy action such as frequent shootouts and car chases fall in action, spy films with lesser action would be in the thriller genre (see the spy entry in the subgenres of thriller film).[33] Action films of this subgenre include Casino Royale, the Mission: Impossible franchise, Ronin, True Lies, Salt, From Paris with Love, The International, Patriot Games, xXx, Colombiana, Miss Congeniality, and The Bourne series.[34]
  • Action thriller - Featuring guns, cool explosions, and amazing set pieces, this movie type first developed in the 1970s in such films as Dirty Harry and The French Connection, and became the exemplar of the Hollywood mega-blockbuster in the 1980s in such works as Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. These films often feature a race against the clock, lots of violence, and a clear—often flamboyantly evil—antagonist. Though they may involve elements of crime or mystery films, those aspects take a back seat to the action. Other significant works include Hard Boiled, True Romance, Point Break, The Warriors, Bullitt, The Seven-Ups, Cobra, and Rambo: First Blood Part II, Taken.[35] 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.[36] The Die Hard subgenre has become popular in Hollywood because of its crowd appeal and the relative simplicity of building sets for such a constrained piece. Examples include Under Siege (terrorists take over a ship), Broken Arrow (terrorists hijack a nuclear weapon from a B-2 bomber), Snakes on a Plane (poisonous snakes take over a passenger plane), Speed, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, and Derailed (hostages are trapped on trains and buses), 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), and Half Past Dead and The Rock (criminals or terrorists take over a prison). Paul Blart: Mall Cop is a recent spoof of this trend (as Die Hard in a mall).
  • Superhero film - Usually having elements of science fiction and fantasy, they focus on the actions of one or more superheroes, who usually possess superhuman abilities and are dedicated to protecting the public. These films are almost always action-oriented and the first film of a particular character often includes a focus on the origin of the special powers, including the first fight against the character's most famous supervillainarchenemy. Examples include Batman, Iron Man, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, The Avengers, X-Men, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman, Kick-Ass, and Superman.[37]

Notable individuals[edit]

Actors[edit]

Main article: List of action film actors

Actors from the 1950s and 1960s, such as John Wayne, Steve McQueen, and Lee Marvin, passed the torch in the 1970s to actors such as Bruce Lee, Tom Laughlin, Charles Bronson, Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, and Sonny Chiba. In the 1980s, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover had a popular string of "buddy cop" films in the Lethal Weapon franchise. Beginning in the mid-1980s, actors such as ex-bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone wielded automatic weapons in a number of action films. Stern-faced martial artists Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme made a number of films. Bruce Willis played a Western-inspired hero in the popular Die Hard series of action films.[38]

In the 1990s and 2000s, Asian actors Chow Yun-fat, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan appeared in a number of different types of action films, and American actors Wesley Snipes and Vin Diesel both had many roles.

While Keanu Reeves and Harrison Ford both had major roles in action science fiction films (The Matrix and Blade Runner, respectively), they later branched out into a number of other action genres, such as action-adventure films.

American actor Matt Damon, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his sensitive portrayal of a math genius working as a janitor in Good Will Hunting, later morphed into an action hero with the car-chase-and-gunfire-filled Jason Bourne franchise. European action actors such as Belgian Jean-Claude Van Damme (Bloodsport, Hard Target, Timecop), French Jean Reno (Ronin and Mission: Impossible), Swedish Dolph Lundgren (Showdown in Little Tokyo, Universal Soldier, The Expendables), Irish Colin Farrell (SWAT, Daredevil, Miami Vice), and English Jason Statham (The Transporter, The Expendables, Crank) appeared in a number of action films in the 1990s and 2000s.

Female characters and actors[edit]

Main article: List of female action heroes and villains

Female actors with major, active roles in action films include Michelle Yeoh, Lucy Liu, Michelle Rodriguez, Milla Jovovich, Kate Beckinsale, Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Uma Thurman, Sandra Bullock, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, Sanaa Lathan, Geena Davis, Halle Berry, Emily Blunt, Zhang Ziyi, Maggie Q, Keira Knightley, Charlize Theron, Demi Moore, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lawrence, Jennifer Connelly, Brigitte Nielsen, Carrie-Anne Moss, Lori Petty, Jessica Alba, and Jamie Lee Curtis. After a successful career in stunts, Zoë Bell has recently crossed over to become an action star in her own right and Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano have both come from a mixed martial arts background to action roles.

Increasing numbers of films starring women as the action heroes are being produced. These are celebrated by Artemis Women In Action Film Festival which honours women who work as actors, stuntwomen, and directors in action films. Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media works to document the onscreen time and representation in women in all film types with a view to improving the equality of work for actresses. Analysis of the lines spoken in action films shows many recent films in this genre are dominated by male dialogue.[39] Analysis of the lines in 2016's biggest blockbusters show that despite much hype about the lead female in Rogue One, and the female characters in Suicide Squad and Captain America, these characters still had limited share of dialogue.[40]

Some male actors appear to champion the cause of women in action films. Tom Cruise has been applauded for his asexual onscreen relationships with recent female co-stars,[41]Cobie Smulders in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow. Tom Cruise has been honoured with an Artemis Action Rebel Award for his work in championing strong female heroes in film.[42]

Directors[edit]

Notable action film directors from the 1960s and 1970s include Sam Peckinpah, whose 1969 Western The Wild Bunch was controversial for its bloody violence and nihilist tone.[43] Influential and popular directors from the 1980s to 2000s include James Cameron (for the first two Terminator films, Aliens, True Lies); Andrew Davis (Code of Silence, Above the Law, Under Siege, The Fugitive); John Woo (Hong Kong action films such as Hard Boiled and US-made English-language films such as Hard Target, Broken Arrow and Face/Off); John McTiernan (the first and thirdDie Hard films, Predator, The Last Action Hero); Ridley Scott (Black Rain, Black Hawk Down); The Wachowskis (The Matrix trilogy), Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, Cradle 2 the Grave, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li), Robert Rodriguez (Mexico trilogy, From Dusk till Dawn, Machete), and Michael Bay (the first two Bad Boys films, The Rock, Transformers pentology); Louis Leterrier (the first two Transporter films, Unleashed). For a longer list, see the List of action film directors article.

Producers[edit]

  • Avi Lerner (born 13 October 1947) is a film producer, primarily of American action movies.
  • Boaz Davidson (Hebrew: בועז דוידזון, born 8 November 1943) is an Israeli film director, producer, and screenwriter. He was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and studied film in London.
  • Bob Weinstein (born October 18, 1954) is an American film producer. He is the founder and head of Dimension Films, former co-chairman of Miramax Films, and current head, with his brother Harvey Weinstein, of The Weinstein Company.
  • Don Simpson (October 29, 1943 – January 19, 1996) was an American film producer, screenwriter, and actor. Simpson, along with his producing partner Jerry Bruckheimer, produced such hit films as Flashdance (1983), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Top Gun (1986), and The Rock (1996). Their films would go on to earn $3 billion.
  • Harvey Weinstein (born March 19, 1952) is an American film producer and film studio executive. He is best known as co-founder of Miramax Films. He and his brother Bob have been co-chairmen of The Weinstein Company, their film production company, since 2005. He won an Academy Award for producing Shakespeare in Love and garnered seven Tony Awards for producing a variety of winning plays and musicals including The Producers, Billy Elliot the Musical, and August: Osage County.
  • Jerry Bruckheimer (born September 21, 1945) is an American film and television producer. He is known as the producer with many machine guns in his films and has achieved great success in the genres of action, drama, and science fiction. His best-known television series are CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, Without a Trace, Cold Case, and The Amazing Race. Some of his best-known films include Beverly Hills Cop, Flashdance, Top Gun, The Rock, Con Air, Armageddon, Bad Boys, Enemy of the State, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the National Treasure franchise. He also serves as a Director at ZeniMax Media.
  • Jerry Weintraub (born September 26, 1937 – July 6, 2015) is an American film producer and former chairman and CEO of United Artists. He now lives in Palm Desert, California.
  • Joel Silver (born July 14, 1952) is an American film producer, known for action films like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. He is owner of Silver Pictures and co-founder of Dark Castle Entertainment.
  • Kathryn Bigelow (b. 27 November 1951) is considered a queen of female action directors having directed Point Break, Zero Dark Thirty, Strange Days and the Hurt Locker.
  • Menahem Golan (born May 31, 1929 – August 8, 2014) (Hebrew: מנחם גולן) is an Israeli director and producer. He has produced movies for stars such as Sean Connery, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Charles Bronson, and was known for a period as a producer of comic book-style movies like Masters of the Universe, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Captain America, and his aborted attempt to bring Spider-Man to the silver screen. Using the pen name of Joseph Goldman, Golan has also written and "polished" film scripts. He was co-owner of Golan-Globus with his cousin Yoram Globus. Golan produced about 200 films, directed 44, and won 8 times the Violin David Awards and The Israel Prize in Cinema.
  • Yoram Globus (born 21 October 1941), is an Israeli film producer who is famous for his association with Cannon Films Inc., a company he ran with his cousin Menahem Golan.
  • The Wachowskis—Lana Wachowski (born June 21, 1965) and Lilly Wachowski (born December 29, 1967), known together professionally as the Wachowskis, are Polish-American film directors, screenwriters, and producers.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Actor Sylvester Stallone starred as a troubled Vietnam war vet who becomes a "one man army" in the popular Rambo action films.

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