The Six Shooter: VHS Action!
Welcome to The Six Shooter with me, Aaron Williams. Not only is this my first post on the site, this is the inaugural edition of this feature.
The Bulletproof Action staff challenged me to come up with a list of six action movies from my younger years that shaped me into the man and action movie fan that I became.
Now this was a tough list to compile considering how many action movies I watched in my adolescent years. I remember bonding with my Poppa by going up to the corner video store and renting a VCR and the latest action flick. That’s right I said “rent a VCR”. Big whoop, wanna fight about it?! Now let’s get in this…
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
It’s easy for me to start this list off with the big screen debut of the Turtles! If you grew up when I did TMNT was everywhere, the comics, the cartoon, that I and many others watched religiously, and the toys. I proudly own a vast collection of the original TMNT toys. The TMNT movie was so exciting for me when I first saw it. I loved it back then and still love it today.
I remember being pulled in at the very beginning by the voice of Apirl O’Neil explaining the overwhelming crime brought on by the Foot Clain. I just knew as a young boy with one of my many Leo figures in hand that the “Heroes in a Half Shell” were going to save the day! And when you saw Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo they didn’t disappoint at all! They looked great! As a child I believed there could really be 5 foot ninja turtles in New York.
I could go on for awhile about each character but I’ll cut it short cause I have a lot to get to. So I’ll just skip right to the big baddie. Bring on the Shredder! Talk about intimidating. He was way different from the cartoon version, who failed most of the time. This Shredder commanded respect and he was scary! When the final fight came down he was nearly unbeatable but alas “Shred Head” failed to be victorious in the end. At the end of the day family overcomes villainy! Cowabunga!!
Now it’s gonna start to get harder… (Editor’s Note: That’s what she said.)
5. Rocky III (1982)
The 3rd installment of the Rocky saga was the first my little eyes saw. And let me just say if you don’t like Rocky then you should rent a U-Haul and move to Suckville, because you suck. Now having said that we can move on. How great is this movie? You see a comfortable champion suffer loss professionally and personally (that scene with Mickey is a string puller) and find his way back.
Standing in Rocky’s way is a hungry challenger named Clubber Lang! All of Rocky’s antagonist were great (we will leave Tommy Gunn out of this) but Clubber was a self made confident monster! The guy walked right up to the reigning champ and basically called him a chump and hit on his wife!
Clubber Lang was a beast. So much of a beast that Rocky had to seek the help of a former foe and former champ Apollo Creed! Creed brought the best out in The Italian Stallion as an opponent and now as a trainer. Who knew that Rocky could move like that?? Apollo did, that’s who!
I’m not sure anyone else could have helped Rock find the “Eye of the Tiger” but Creed. In this movie, we started to learn that an old dog can learn new tricks and survive to face another challenge.
4. Predator (1987)
The reason this movie is on the list is simple really. As a child The Predator terrified me! Today I love this alien man hunter, but my 8 year old self was afraid of trees because of this movie. Going into the woods was an ordeal at that age. Luckily I learned quickly that as long as I didn’t have a machine gun in hand the Predator wouldn’t see me as a threat.
The movie starts out pretty simple with an introduction of Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his team of commandos each unique in their own way and a former soldier turned CIA agent Dillon (Carl Weathers) whom which Dutch greets with what has been know as the “Dillon Shake”.
The mission seems easy enough just go to the jungle and find a cabinet minister, but they soon realize is not that simple. But I’m sure you already know that. So let’s move forward a little and get to the meat of this, The Predator!
In my view The Predator is the ultimate extra terrestrial hunter. You can argue for Aliens if you like but it’s gonna fall on deaf ears. This 7 foot deadlock wearing walking weapon is nothing to mess with! Seeing this hunter’s handy work before you even get a good look at him is truly intimidating. It’s going to hunt you. It’s going to kill you and it’s going to make you a trophy simply because it can. How can you fight that, especially if you can see it?! But when the cloaking comes off and you see the Predator for what it truly is it kinda sucks more.
It picks off highly trained special forces soldiers till it’s a one on one stand off with Dutch after he orders Anna and Poncho to “GET TO THE CHOPPA!!” in classic Arnold fashion. Dutch escapes just barely and finds the one kink in The Predator’s armor… mud? Who would have though that a high tech alien hunter couldn’t see past mud? Not my 7 year old mind that’s for sure. But that wet dirt saved Dutch long enough to become the Kevin McCallister of the jungle (Action Feature Podcast shout out) things seemed to be going well for old Dutch until he stood toe to toe with the movie’s namesake. Then there was the moment we all anticipated, the mask removal. Feel free to fill in the classic Dutch line here.
I think it’s safe to say at the end of this Dutch got lucky. But this was just the first of many times that The Predator would collect trophies on our planet.
3. Best Of The Best (1989)
This is one of the movies that made me want to get involved in martial arts. The ride you go on with these characters is memorable to say the least. Alex Grady widowed single father that was forced to retire cause of a severe shoulder injury is asked to join the U.S. Tae Kwon Do team to take on Team Korea.
Also on the team is Tommy Lee. A fighter that watched his brother die at the hands on Team Korea’s Dea Han whom Tommy must fight in this tournament. As a child I knew how important these fights were for these men. Not only were they fighting for their country, but also for themselves.
The images from this movie are long lasting from hearing the name of the men chosen for the team to Alex screaming “Tommy pop it!” And the emotional climax. This movie made a young kid believe that it’s possible to over come the most difficult of battles.
2. Batman (1989)
Over the years Batman has become one of my favorite comic book characters. Not my favorite mind you, that title belongs to Dick Grayson you may know him as Nightwing or the first Robin. Tim Burton’s version of the story of Bruce Wayne was the first superhero movie I remember seeing a trailer for. And like many I was captivated by the caped crusader!
My parents didn’t take me to the theater to see the film but they did get me the VHS as soon as they could. My excitement to watch the movie was so high that I remember hating the opening credits. If you remember the camera seemed to just be traveling though a series of tunnels while the credits ran. I just wanted the movie to start so I hated it. That is until the camera zoomed out a the Bat symbol appeared. I was hooked from that moment on.
I’d love to go through all the things I love about this movie but honestly aside from Alfred just letting Vicki Vale in to the Batcave I loved all of it. Even little kid Aaron was wondering what Alfred was thinking. I mean Batman wore a mask for a reason Al!
Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker to me was fantastic! Some of the lines he had are just iconic in my mind. And what can I say about Michael Keaton, to me he is Batman. Don’t get me wrong Christian Bale did a great job as Batman. But Keaton will be my Batman for a long time to come. I mean seriously how can you not love a guy who bought the armor of the king of the wicker people?
And the number 1 movie from my adolescence is….
1. Bloodsport (1988)
Yes that’s right, the most memorable movie from my childhood is a movie about a full contact karate tournament called the Kumite! This movie runs deep for me, it was one of the first movies I remember watching with my dad (that is until he fell asleep) and probably the main movie that made me want to be in martial arts. It’s safe to say that the idea of this movie helped make me who I am today.
And why wouldn’t it? With a statement like “based on a true story” right under the movie title on the VHS box how could you not be inspired by Frank Dux? The man set 3 Kumite records in the first Kumite he ever competed in, not to mention the fact that he beat the best Kumite fighter of that time, Chong Li! Of course I wasn’t aware of how loose the term “based on” was at the time but that’s besides the point.
Bloodsport gave me a sense of hope that you can work hard at something and someday be great and that is an important lesson to learn as a kid no matter what that kid wants to be. Sure the acting wasn’t great and if you want to poke holes in the plot you can. But you can’t deny the fun, unique characters featured in Bloodsport. Who doesn’t want a friend like Jackson (Donald Gibb) not only will the guy play video games with you but also if you need him anytime or anyplace he’ll be there.
That is unless he gets his head stomped in again by Chong Li (Bolo Young) who makes hurting people look like a holiday. Most of the movie it looks like he’s not even trying. He even calls out the new kid on the mat! That’s right he points at our hero Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and delivers one of his few lines of the movie “You are next!”.
Now let’s take a second to talk about JCVD. This movie made him a household name (at least in my house) and started his rise to stardom which he rode well and is back on that rise in a lot of ways I’m glad to say. But Bloodsport was the beginning for him in starring roles. He would follow up with Kickboxer and Cyborg (both of which could have made this list) among many more.
Van Damme’s blend of flexibility, skill and boyish good looks brought something that other action stars couldn’t bring to the table at that point in time. No he wasn’t as skilled as Seagal and he didn’t have the credentials and achievements of Norris. But “The Muscles from Brussels” was able to stand out in his own way, and the guy has a jump spinning hook that is a work of art And I wouldn’t be surprised if he could still execute it with perfection at the age of 54.
But back to the movie. The fight scenes are something my friends and I still talk about today. The kick exchange between Frank and Paco in the semi finals was full of intensity and the final showdown in the finals was a classic good guy vs bad guys blowoff! So go watch Bloodsport if you haven’t in awhile, overlook the “based on” and enjoy it!
Ok peeps that’s it for the very first edition of The Six Shooter. I hope you enjoyed a look into my childhood. Oh and my parents didn’t exactly condone me watching these movies, but they usually would fall asleep. Thanks for taking the time to read this and remember next time life gets on your nerves just give it a spinning kick and make it say “MATTE!”.