How do you like your action films? A bit of Arnie/Stallone old school violence, with a death count higher than a small genocide? Or do you prefer some martial arts inspired action, with intricate fight sequences that blow your tiny mind? Or how about a combination of both of these with everything else, including the kitchen sink, being thrown in and said sink then also being used as some kind of ad-hoc weapon to smash into the face of some generic bad guy?
With the release of video game inspired action film Hardcore Henry this week in cinemas, it looks like we’re getting a taste of the latter. The film looks positively insane and chances are that if you spend any amount of time with it inside a darkened room, you could be driven deep into the first-person lunacy as well. But hey, that’s not a bad thing.
We should embrace the madness and then we should explore the depths of Netflix to find 5 more of the best insane action films that we can lose our ever-loving minds to.
THE RAID 2
The Raid was one of the most jaw-dropping action films ever made and its sequel had awfully big fighting shoes to fill. But oh boy, did it easily fill those shoes and then proceeded to kick multiple behinds with them. The stunning choreography and sweeping camera work in every manic fight scene, creates an almost balletic poetry to the proceedings. But any sense that this is a dance class, is brutally punctured by some extreme acts of violence. It’s never glorified or gratuitous though, as it all serves a purpose to help accentuate the emotional impact of the story.
No doubt about it then, The Raid 2 is a truly exceptional action film. Director Gareth Evans has expertly taken the work he did in the original film and managed to creatively elevate the series even further than you would think was possible. Put simply, it would be an act of insanity not to watch this film. Seriously, go watch it. Now.
Kung Fury started life as a trailer made by Swedish TV advert director, David Sandberg. The trailer blew up (figuratively and literally) on the internet and following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Sandberg was able to raise just enough money to shoot a 30 minute feature. All the madness you expected after watching the trailer, was present.
There’s a giant Thor and a T-Rex fighting a time-travelling Adolf Hiter (aka Kung Führer – no, really), a rampaging killer arcade machine and a David Hasselhoff voiced talking car (do you see what they did there?). Yes, Kung Fury is truly next-level bonkers. It manages to parody pretty much everything from the ’80s and crams it all into its tiny running time. Sandberg even applied a VHS style degradation to the picture quality, to add to the retro style and also make you think that you need to adjust the tracking on your video recorder. Then you remember that you don’t need to do that because it’s the future and you’re old.
Kung Fury ends up feeling like an episode of the brilliant Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, but if it was injected to the eyeballs with steroids and shockingly, that’s no bad thing either.
Before The Hunger Games, there was Battle Royale. The original ‘let’s throw kids into an arena and get them to fight to the death for our sick entertainment’ film. Unlike The Hunger Games though, Battle Royale is not aiming for the widest audience demographic possible. No, instead it’s aiming for your eyeballs. With an arrow. That’s probably on fire.
A satire on Asian youth culture, the film is a violent kaleidoscope of compelling, brutal action. You almost feel guilty enjoying seeing teenagers off each other in various creative, murderous ways. Almost. But when it’s done this well, you’re happy to go along with it like the sick, blood-lusting freak that you know you secretly are.
Shaolin Soccer is a Hong Kong marital arts film from 2001, which has an added football-flavored twist. Is this concoction a good idea? Well against all odds, it really is.
Writer, director and star Stephen Chow, cleverly infuses this novelty premise with crazy over-the-top action sequences and strange little moments of comedy. Chow has said that the film was partly inspired by Anime and it certainly shows, as characters refuse to comply with gravity and footballs happily defy the laws of physics. If you’ve seen Chow’s even more successful follow-up, the excellent Kung Fu Hustle, you’ll know precisely what you’re getting with Shaolin Soccer: an action film that’s madder than a box of frogs and funner than a box of glucose-dosed puppies.
CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE
The ludicrous, but stupidly fun, Crank, saw Jason “The Stath” Statham having to keep his adrenaline pumped up throughout or he dies. This time round he must keep his heart pumping with any form of electricity. So far, so art-house.
Crank 2 is basically crazy to the point of where you have to stop thinking how crazy it is or you’ll end up going crazy yourself. By the end of it all, you’ll end up as a disorientated, sweaty mess. You’ll be confused by the last 90 minutes of your life that just went by. Had you really witnessed any of this craziness? Or was it all some kind of manic, delusional, hallucination brought on by a Stath overdose? Perhaps the many years of therapy you’ll have to experience post-viewing, will decide the truth.