NEW IN ACTION: MAY 2021

Each month The Grumps bring you a selection of what’s new and now in the Action genre. Strap in for Round-house Round-Up!

From Brian Miller:

Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1 (2020) [New on blu ray & on Hi-Yah!]

In my article “The Unspoken Genre,” calling for the building of an Action community, I compare the genre to World’s Fair style flexing: the sort of “indomitable spirit of the human will” style entertainment. Crazy Samurai 400 vs 1 is as closely aligned to that early 1900s approach to non-cinematic action as a film can get. The near 80 min, single-shot-zero-edits swordplay scene is only jaw-dropping if you care about what sort of amazing things humans can accomplish – plus it helps if you think breaking new experimental ground in stunts and fight choreography is cool. The emotional pitch of this real-time and fairly grounded swordplay movie is mostly one of exhaustion though, making the viewer identify with what a difficult task is being performed by the villain protagonist.

Mortal Kombat (2021) [New in theaters & on HBO Max]

This new Mortal Kombat film is a testimony to the arguable value of films that are “just fine.” Those desiring the most bonkers, nonstop gore-fest interpretation of the video game will need to keep waiting; but as a humble piece of melodrama with some tasty kills and a whole lot of martial arts, it is a perfect afternoon snack. In fact, it is a 5 out of 5 disposable movie. It is curious though that the tone of the film is very similar to a lot of the DC superhero movies – another WB franchise and set of characters that cross over with Mortal Kombat frequently in the video game. Just saying.

Kickboxer: Retaliation (2018) [New to Hi-Yah!]

Kickboxer Retaliation is one of the most grand and nail-biting indie action films of the past decade. The surrealism of this nonsense world that the viewer is initially tossed into slowly dissipates into suspense and a whole lot of violence. In these newer Kickboxer films, JCVD returns as a different character than the one he made famous in the original ’80s film. The real star, though, is Mike Tyson who is lovely waxing philosophical but even better given the full cinematic treatment to his heavy-as-a-wrecking ball style of fighting. Damn those punches look and sound scary.

From Nick Spacek:

Mine’s Bigger Than Yours: The 100 Wackiest Action Movies (orig. published 2020) [New on
paperback from Schiffer Publishing
]

Having read a slew of deep-dive movie review books over the years – Destroy All Movies, Bleeding Skull, Spinegrinder, World Gone Wild, et al – I think I’ve become somewhat of an aficionado regarding these titles. When they’re good, they offer unique perspectives and details on films you’ve seen before, and when they’re great, they offer up films you’ve legitimately never heard of and make them seem worth seeking out. Written by Christopher Lombardo and Jeff Kirschner, the hosts of the “Really Awful Movies” podcast, Mine’s Bigger Than Yours falls somewhere in the middle, purporting to cover the “100 Wackiest Action Movies.” While I appreciate the fact that the authors have some behind-the-scenes info alongside their plot summaries and reactions, along with some truly out-there titles, the repeated (and I mean REPEATED) use of Italian-American slurs, along with an ill-advised comment about “illegals” in Florida left a nasty taste in my mouth. Seriously, they managed to use “g****” and “d***” multiple times, and I’m frankly astonished they didn’t go for the trifecta with a “w**,” as well. Seriously, guys: how did your editors at Schiffer not push back on this? Mine’s Bigger Than Yours opens with Miami Connection and ends with the Boz’s Stone Cold, with Crippled Avengers coming dead smack in the middle. There’s more than enough weird material to talk about in these movies and the other 97 without having to stoop to using those terms on the regular. I’m not even going to get into the running gag regarding Steven Seagal’s weight gain. Just…ugh.

★★★

Can’t get enough Action? Take a look at last month’s Round-house Round-Up for more recommendations!