3 Action Movie Tropes That Will Never Get Old

Some questions have no answers. Like: "If a tree falls in the forest, how much wood does a woodchuck chuck?" And "How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?" But other questions do have answers. Specifically: "Why do action movies repeat the same tropes?" Because they're fucking awesome.

For example...

#3 The Tooling Up Montage

Let me set a scene for you. You're a big, muscly action star; you have about two minutes to tool up before you go take on the terrorists/demons/cultish townsfolk. What do you do? Montage!


Film theorists will tell you that montage is a high brow concept and then they'll bleat on about Russian cinema, constructivism and Sergei Eisenstein. And it can be that...if you want it to. Or, montage can be a simple technique where you string clips together to create snappy little sequences that show your heroes putting their gear on super quick. The latter has been used in pretty much every action movie ever.


Weirdly, this is one trope that gets more effective the more it's used. Despite numerous parodies over the years the tooling up montage still gets used all the time, and nobody ever complains because it's so stupidly effective. Here's a supercut from Screen Junkies if you'd like to see more.

#2 The Michael Bay Spin

Now, I'm gonna go ahead and say I technically like Michael Bay films. Put away your pitchforks, film hipsters. You can complain about Bay all you like but the simple fact of the matter is that The Dude Knows His Films. He also knows his audience: the millions of people who pay money to see the boobs and explosions he provides.  And, to be fair, most of the time he's pretty good at what he does. I'd like to emphasise the word "most" in the previous sentence.

Pictured: The rest of the time.

Michael Bay has one technique that shows up in every film he makes: the aforementioned Michael Bay Spin.


can watch after you've read my article (seriously, I will cut you if stop reading right now). Basically, EFAP points out that Bay achieves parallax by spinning around the actors (usually, as they rise into frame) with buildings and sky in the background. I'm gonna go ahead and say that this is one of the good Michael Bay trademarks and when you see it, it means shit just got real.


#1 The Hero Shot

The hero shot is a lot like the Michael Bay 360 spin except, you know, not spinning. The hero shot is so obvious and so simple that people rarely talk about it or even consciously think about it. It's so ubiquitous that every action movie has one. In essence the hero shot is the one where the hero says his most well known catchphrase -- due to this it usually ends up being used in the movie's trailer. There's so many examples to choose from that I feel spoilt for choice but The Princess Bride is as good a place as any to start. In The Princess Bride the best hero shot is this one:

If we compare that scene to some other hero shots we notice that they share certain features in common. For example, in this scene from Django Unchained you'll notice that, like the scene from The Princess Bride, the hero is centered with medium shots or medium close ups; they say something badass ("I like the way you die, boy"); they either come directly before or after the climax of a story arch; finally, the shot is made more dramatic with the addition of stirring music.

See, now that you think about it, doesn't every movie that sticks in your head have a moment just like that? Good luck not noticing now.

Have any points you'd like to raise? Or just abuse me from the anonymity of the internet? I'm available on twitter.

No Retreat No Surrender: A man with severe mental health issues and his jovial, yet racist, dance routine

It's come to my attention that the few people who view my blog who aren't here because they clicked on the link from one of my Cracked articles are here because of some weird glitch that makes my blog appear when people are searching for SERIOUSLY FUCKED UP PORN. I'm not going to say what, but it involves Nicholas Cage. Yes, I'm also surprised that's a thing people want to fap to. If you're one of those dudes I suppose I should tell you before you go any further that you may as well go ahead and put that away right now. And the lotion. Now, go do something else. Cry. Get a puppy. Do something. Because, your life? Not working, my friend.

Okay, everybody who isn't a creepy sex maniac, today I'm going to be talking about one of the greatest scenes of one of the greatest bad movies ever spastically scratched onto celluloid:

No Retreat No Surrender: The Kinda Racist Lionel Ritchie Rap Dance

There’s so much to say about this scene and so little time. Firstly, let’s talk about the plot of the movie. Despite being called No Retreat  No Surrender it’s main character spends the runtime of the movie running away from a portly bully who, well, doesn’t even look like he could throw a punch without instantly dropping dead from several coronaries.

If this guy's your bully then, man, you deserve to be bullied

In the scene itself, he teaches his friend RJ ( AKA every offensive racist stereotype of the eighties replete with jerry curl) how to use a wooden dummy. After a quick demonstration he offers RJ a go. And that’s where things get weird as RJ launches into an impromptu dance and rap routine to non-diegetic music that only the audience should be able to hear. Highlights of the clip: when he forgets how gravity works and falls over after trying to walk up a set of shelves, gets annoyed when he’s asked if he’s okay and then continues as if nothing happened.

Best line: “Ain't no shelves made could stop this dancing machine.”

Bad Movie April: Man's Best Friend

This month I'll be watching bad movies and taking the most ridiculous scenes out of what little context they have to remind us all that other people have failed much, much harder than we ever will. For example, you'd have to break your dick in a dishwasher or get a goat pregnant to fail as hard as the makers of:

Man's Best Friend

 In this scene, Max the genetically engineered killer dog escapes from a top secret research facility and fulfills every dog's dream by growing razor sharp claws and chasing a cat up a tree. And if that sentence seems ridiculous to you then you’re a better screenwriter than the guy who penned this script. Of course, this scene means to carry on as it began: improbably. So, after catching up with the cat, Max goes one further and swallows it whole like a duck. The greatest aspect of this scene is that you just know that the cat they used absolutely hated being jammed into a weird prosthetic dog and that some poor gaffer probably got scrammed silly.

Best Line: “You sicced him on that cat not me!”

Darth Vader's Body Gave Away The Ending to Empire Strikes Back


David Prowse played Darth Vader's body. He was kind of like Agnew to James Earl Jones' Richard Nixon. The reason he didn't actually do the voice of Darth Vader is because he kind of sounded like a Westcounty milk-man

"You are a traitor and a spy. Now would you like full fat or semi-skimmed?"
We've always been told that Prowse wasn't told the twist ending for Empire Strikes Back (that Darth Vader is Luke's son) and that the original line Prowse spoke was "I killed your father!" but new evidence has come to light that explains why David Prowse is banned from all official Star wars reunions. Not only did David Prowse know what the twist ending was...he only went and told an actual newspaper that was doing a story on him.

This article -- which was published in Sunnyvale, California in 1978 according to retroist.com -- contained an interview with Prowse in the build up to the sequel to A New Hope. Prowse talked about innocuous things like his costume, his bodybuilding and the twist ending to his movie.
"Oh, and it won't be out for thirty years but Bruce Willis was dead all along."
Source: Retroist

This Belongs in a Museum: Tom Hanks and Dan Akroyd's Rap Video

Remember that scene in Raiders of The Lost Ark where the Nazis opened the Arc Of The Covenant? Well, I’ve donned my fedora and whip and adventured ‘cross the internet to find you a dangerous relic from another mysterious, magical and ultimately terrifying period of human history: The 80’s. And what I've found is shocking: a music video starring Tom Hanks and Dan Akroyd for the little known movie adaptation of Dragnet. They rap. And It’s going to melt your face. Off.

You actually watched it? You crazy bastard. Well, you must be wondering why your ears are bleeding. That'll be the curse...yeah, I probably should have mentioned that. You see, in the eighties everybody kind of worshipped this pagan god of blood sacrifices -- you have to remember porn was a lot harder to come by then. It's why they got so many Princes, Back To The Futures and rubiks cubes and why we have Justin Bieber, Twilight and she-wees. Not to worry, just share the video with a sucker friend within seven days and T-chaka The Goat Headed Blood Fiend won't rise from his fiery temple of bones to, you know, kill you and stuff.

"Your soul is mine!"

Three Actors Who Ruined Superhero Movies

Put away your batarangs. Hang up that cape you bought off Ebay. No more dressing up as the Joker for Halloween. Ben Affleck is Batman and most of the internet isn't too happy. Scratch a nerd and, well, he'll put iodine on that scratch and then cover it up with a Batman stickey plaster. Batman is pretty important to us. Too important for someone like Ben Affleck to fuck with. So, we've pretty much already decided that Affleck's Batman is going to bomb before they've even started filming it. And what’s the counterargument? “Well, Affleck was in Argo and Argo was good so maybe we should give him a chance.”  They may have a point if it wasn't for...

**cough** Daredevil **cough**

Sure, Ben's been in some pretty good movies. Mallrats and Goodwill Hunting stand out. But he's been in twice as many Surviving Christmases, Jersey Girls, Paychecks, Pearl Harbours and Armageddons. Christian Bale's Pre-Batman filmography revealed a capable actor who was very picky about the roles he chose. He took each seriously and wouldn't have agreed to be the Dark Knight unless he could make the role believable while staying true to the source material. Here’s three actors who are, in some cases, much more talented than Ben (Gigli) Affleck, but still somehow fucked up their franchises.

Nick Cage as Ghost Rider

Do me a favour. Watch this clip.

Now, imagine you’re a very important cog in a machine that makes movies. A producer of some sort. It’s your job to choose an actor for your movie -- which represents an investment of millions of dollars and man hours. Would you put Nicholas in your movie? Ghost Rider did. And here’s the inevitable result.

The fact that Ghost Rider was as enjoyable as a chili powder enema isn’t Nick Cage’s fault. Cage is obviously not quite right in the head. But someone, some capable and presumably sane person chose to cast Cage in something other than a straight jacket and expected it to be good. Cage wasn't always like this, though, he was once a fantastic actor and I encourage you to check out Raising Arizona, Leaving Las Vegas and even his borderline performance in Matchstick Men.

George Clooney As Batman

Batman is the world’s greatest detective. He’s a genius, a billionaire and a freaking ninja. At least from 2005 onwards. Before that he was a campy moron who designed his suits to have molded pecs and nipples. He didn’t so much hide in the shadows as he...well, attended charity auctions to buy dates with his bat credit card.

Clooney can’t be blamed entirely for the suckiness of this movie. It featured dead half assed performances from every member of the cast and the sets all looked like they were co-designed by Adam West and a mentally ill drag queen. 

Edward Norton as Hulk 

Edward Norton is a man with a split personality. That’s the synopsis of no less than five Edward Norton films. I can’t help but wonder if his filmography is a cry for help. So, it’s not surprising that he was chosen to play the Hulk. And he would have done a good job if he actually played the Hulk. One of the reasons Hulk films seem to fail is because directors want to develop the character of Bruce Banner and flesh him out by making him an annoying whiney gasbag. Their logic being: if we can believe that Brucey is real we’ll believe in the fifteen foot green monster he turns into who jumps over skyscrapers. Nope, wrong, directors. We want to see the hulk smash shit.

 This is all the character development Hulk needs

Dirty Dancing: In Which A Sexual Predator Grooms His Prey With Shitty Dancing

Dirty Dancing is a weird film for two reasons. The first: Patrick Swayzee's character Johnny is obviously a paedofile. He's a grown man grooming an underage girl for sex (and that girl is called "Baby", no less).  Her parent's are the real heros. I wouldn't want some creepy, sweaty man grinding against my teenage daughter, either. 

"Mmmm, you smell like school."
And the second reason? Girls goddamn love this film. It's worrying. I mean, if I knew anything about women I clearly wouldn't be writing about Dirty Dancing on the internet and crying into a reheated pizza, but even I know that little girls shouldn't be exposed to this sort of weird...well paedo propaganda. "How dare you!" I hear you say. "Johnny's love for Baby is entirely romantic and non sexual!" Well, voice in my head, you may be inerested to know that I recently came across this weird deleted scene from Dirty Dancing where Johnny and Baby do...something

They’re not quite dancing. And they're not quite having sex - because they still have most of their clothing on. But there’s an uncomfortable amount of pelvic thrusting and “Oh” faces.

This goes on for some time.

Look, I’ll be Frank: I could go on torturing myself by taking more screenshots and you could go on looking at those screenshots. But, I think you get the picture - the horrifyingly nauseating picture. So, we’ll stop here.

That’s funny. I didn’t post that picture. If I was a superstitious man I’d almost say that this scene was cursed. Haunted even. Hey, Patrick Swayzee was in that film where he was a ghost, right?

Oh, God. It won’t stop!