Die-hard action fans have had it up to here with action films that don't actually contain a lick of real action - say the Die-Hard films.
We've had it up to here with blockbusters that feature superheroes and supercops who can't actually fight except through the magic of computer effects or the work of faceless stunt men and women.
Film writer David J. Moore feels our pain. He pines for the days when fight scenes were fought by trained athletes and martial artists like Bruce Lee, Jet Li, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Remember Van Damme, kicking up a storm in the 1988 bashfest Bloodsport?:
Moore pines and opines over 600 glorious pages in his new book, The Good, the Tough, & the Deadly: Action Movies & Stars 1960s–Present.
Released by Atglen, Pa.-based Schiffer Publishing, the compendium features information about dozens of action stars who came from the worlds of sports and martial arts. Moore's book includes more than 70 interviews with a range of stars, and it boasts 773 color images.
"With the advent of The Matrix and the Bourne movies, the action stars were replaced by actors who had no background" in athletics or martial arts, Moore said. Matrix star Keanu Reeves may have trained in martial arts for months, but Moore doesn't consider him a true fighter.
The Good, the Tough, & the Deadly focuses on stars who made American films or who were featured in international productions that became crossover hits here. Otherwise, he said, the book would be 10 times its current length.
Stars featured in the book include NFL players-turned-actors Jim Brown and Fred Williamson and a range of martial artists including Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Don "The Dragon" Wilson, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Cynthia Rothrock, Zoë Bell, and Michelle Yeoh.
Moore isn't down on all contemporary films, as he proves by including Uwais and Jaa, two of the best fighters in film today. Here is a trailer for The Raid 2, one of Uwais' most famous films:
"I also include Sylvester Stallone," said Moore of the Rocky star. "Even though he wasn't a professional athlete, he was someone who really helped keep the genre together."
Moore said he made an effort to include that most under-represented of groups, female fighters. "Regrettably that's less than a half a dozen, including Kathy Long and Karen Sheperd," he admits.
Moore said he hopes the book will inspire serious interest in the genre. "It's such an unheralded sub-genre of films," he said. "I've always loved it and wanted to bring attention to the stars who have defined it."