The Evolution of the Hollywood Action Star

February 8, 2012 at 5:36 am 2 comments

Action movies have a strange appeal to them, despite often times having contrived plots, little character development, and absurd/unrealistic conflicts the characters need to overcome. They allow us to suspend our disbelief, and get caught up in a thrill ride, all the while living vicariously through the main hero. Through the years, there have been many different action stars which have taken to the big screen as said action hero, giving us 2 hours of mindless violence, chase scenes, explosions, and gun fights. A bonus is getting the girl at the end. 

The first major action star Hollywood produced was John Wayne. His movies were campy, but a lot of fun, making him one of the most iconic figures in America Cinema History. Clint Eastwood was a Spaghetti Western Star, until Dirty Harry made him officially a big time macho figure. Arnold and Sly ruled the 80’s and 90’s with a combo of both good and bad action movies. Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris are two other quality, manly action stars which graced our screens during this time period. Kurt Russell had credibility as well, due to his portrayal of Snake Pliskin in Escape from New York.  All these names were convincing, on-screen presences, who one could believe in an action role. Heck, if you desired a great B-Movie action hero, Bruce Campbell was your guy.

 This leads us into the current era of action stars. This generation of actors has not produced as many quality action stars, and is seemingly getting desperate. A prime example is that Shia LeBeouf is being hailed an action star these days. Or why does Channing Tatum get to star as Duke from G.I. Joe? Very unconvincing and underwhelming example of an action star, and actor in general, but that’s not being discussed. Effeminate looking men are taking over these roles, and turning themselves into faux action heroes.

In the coming weeks, these “wanna-be” action stars will be taken down by the written word, one by one. Mr. LeBeouf as mentioned above will be up first.



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