Friday, September 27, 2013

TOP 20 second tier 80s & 90s Action Stars PART 2

Read PART 1 here
Again, these are not in any order...
6. Michael Dudikoff 
Most famous for Cannon Films' American Ninja series, model turned action star Michael Dudikoff spent most of the 80s and all of the 90s blowing stuff up and kicking ass in straight-to-video fare. Although none of them were stand out classics of the genre, along with the 5 film strong American Ninja series, there was enough of them for his name to be recognisable to the right set of B-Movie action fans. He often starred alongside Steve James, his co-hort in American Ninja and has studied Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Has been a name mentioned a lot in conjunction with the Expendables films and he himself expressed a desire, in an interview, to appear in part 3. Sadly, it looks like, that hasn't happened.

Must See: American Ninja and Avenging Force
Also Suggest: The Human Shield and Midnight Ride
Check out our commentary for the following Michael Dudikoff film:
American Ninja

7. Michelle Yeoh 
Ok, so maybe it's pushing it calling her second tier as Michelle Yeoh is, now a superstar when it comes to females in Asian action movies and has been, for western audiences especially, since 2000's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. However, from the mid 80s onwards she has been a force to be reckoned with. She has been paired with Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan, Chou Yun Fat, and Cynthia Rothrock and she was a kick ass Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies (Brosnan's best outting as James Bond, for my money, mainly because of Yeoh's involvement).
She's never studied any martial arts but does a huge amount of her own stunts and has a dance background from which she draws a lot of her moves. No action list, second tier or not, is complete without her on it.

Must See: Yes, Madam!Supercop, Tomorrow Never Dies and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Also Suggest: Dynamite Fighters, Butterfly and Sword and The Heroic Trio

8. Eric Roberts
One of the most prolific actors working today, Eric Roberts has worked in everything from big budget, A list movies, to shot in a back garden for a few coins and some scraps of beef jerky films. In action films he has been mainly known as a villain, like in The Specialist opposite Stallone but back in the 80s and 90s he made Best of the Best, Best of the Best 2, Hitman's Run and others where he had a rare outing as the good guy.

Must See: Best of the Best, Best of the Best 2, The Nature of the Beast and Runaway Train
Also Suggest: By The Sword, Past Perfect, The Hard Truth and The Specialist 

9. Carl Weathers
While not a prolific action star, Carl Weathers has a few choice roles that make his short resume, very impressive. Starting out in small and sometimes villainous roles in Blaxploitation classics like Bucktown and Friday Foster, he would go on to make his mark in film history playing Apollo Creed in Sylvester Stallone's legendary boxing franchise Rocky. He played the role 4 times between 1976 and 1985 and that lead to a secondary role in Predator alongside other 80s action legend, Arnold Schwarzenegger. After which he got his one, single, starring action role in the brilliant, over the top, Action Jackson. Sadly no sequel or franchise followed and Weathers would find the action film roles dry up but for a moment there he was part of 2 of the coolest action franchises around and had been the lead in his own larger than life, cop, action adventure. Can't beat that really, can you?!

Must See: Rocky 1-4, Predator and Action Jackson 
Check out our commentary for the following Carl Weathers' film:
Action Jackson

10. Rutger Hauer
Although, critically acclaimed, Dutch actor Rutger Hauer has been known for a mad variety of film roles in his time, from the release of Wanted: Dead or Alive in 1986 onwards, he had a 12 year run of being something of an action star.
This was not an unfamiliar world to him as he had started the decade as the main villain in the Stallone and Billy Dee Williams starring action, cop, serial-killer film Nighthawks.
His next role after Wanted: DOA would be that of a blind, samurai sword wielding ex-soldier in the excellent 80s, action adventure romp Blind Fury, where he even got to face off with, none other than, Sho Kosugi!
This would be followed up with the Mad Maxian The Salute of The Jugger, the battle-of-the-sexes-on-the-run adventure Wedlock and then, the best of them all, Split Second in which Hauer turns in a cigar chomping, coffee swigging, wise crack spewing, action machine of a performance, the likes of which Kurt Russell himself would've been proud.
Other roles in things like Beyond Justice, Arctic Blue and Surviving The Game would fill up the rest of the decade.

Must See: Split Second and Blind Fury
Also Suggest: Wedlock, Nighthawks and Wanted: Dead or Alive
Avoid: Beyond Justice 
Check out our podcast coverage of Rutger Hauer on The After Movie Diner here:

- The Kick Ass Kid

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

TOP 20 second tier 80s & 90s Action Stars PART 1

It seems like in the 80s and 90s everyone tried their hand at an action film at some time or another. Respected actors like Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Sean Connery, big blockbuster action heroes of the day like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, comedians like Jim Belushi and Whoopi Goldberg and even odd character actors like Peter Weller, Gregg Henry and Fred Ward.
There were also those legitimate action stars that, while completely awesome, never quite achieved superstar status. They may have come close to, say, the likes of Jean Claude Van Damme or, our old friend, Steven Seagal but sadly just remained under the mainstream radar, never to become household names. I am talking about regular households of course, every name on this list is a household name where we live and, I dare say, where a lot of you reading this live too.
It also goes without saying that any single one of these, or all of them deserve a role in either a future Expendables movie or if they ever get the B-Team Expendables franchise going (how this hasn't happened yet is beyond us!).
So here we go, Dr.Action and the Kick Ass Kid present their TOP 20 second tier action stars of the 80s  & 90s!
(in no particular order)

1. Jeff Speakman
An expert in the visually exciting and fast martial art of Kempo, Speakman, sadly, only starred in one, proper studio film A Perfect Weapon before appearing in a string of films produced by companies like the soon-to-be-bankrupt Cannon and the fine purveyors of straight-to-video, explosive, nonsense PM Entertainment. For a martial arts actor of his day, he's actually not bad at the acting part, as well as having fantastic fighting skill but a lot of his films are hampered by low production values, clunky scripts, directors who don't understand his awesome fighting ability and, in one case, even the appalling soundtrack. His film career will always be a terrible missed opportunity because, given the right partners, he could've been a force to be reckoned with.

Must See: A Perfect Weapon
Also Suggest: The Expert, Running Red and Land of the Free (just try and ignore the worst soundtrack in film history and focus on the awesome fight stunts and Shatner's villain)
Avoid: Street Knight
Check out our commentaries for the following Jeff Speakman films:
Land of the Free
The Perfect Weapon
Running Red
The Expert
Street Knight

2. Gary Daniels
The original Britkicker, Gary Daniels was a black belt in Taekwondo by the age of 12, a 2nd dan by the age of 16 and, at the age of 27, won the Kick Boxing association's California State Light Heavyweight Championship and, In England, the Karate Association's World Light Heavyweight Championship within the space of a month.
He has also studied and employs a mix of Muay Thai, boxing, ninjutsu, Northern Shaolin kung fu and Siu Lum Wong Gar Kune, his preferred discipline.
So, those are some pretty hefty credentials and make for a fast and exciting fighting style on screen. He is let down, a little by, a somewhat slurry British east-end accent and, in earlier films, a stilted and awkward acting style but the one thing you can always say about Daniels is that he is always trying his damned hardest and when paired with other good actors or a director who knows what he's doing with action, Daniels can really shine.
He has made movies consistently for 25 years now and although mainstream stardom has alluded him, he must've been doing something right as he still stars in his own films, has travelled all round the world making them and was one of the extended action star cast of the first Expendables.

Must See: Bloodmoon, Rage and The Expendables  
Also Suggest: Cold Harvest, Fist of the North Star and Riot
Avoid: Witness To A Kill and Queen's Messenger (sadly Gary's bid to have a Bond-esque franchise did not pan out so well as both films are pretty boring and weak)
Check out our commentaries for the following Gary Daniels films:
Cold Harvest (featuring an interview with co-star Barbara Crampton!)
Hawk's Vengeance
Fist of the North Star
and an INTERVIEW with Co-Star of Bloodmoon, fellow Britkicker, Darren Shahlavi

3. Cynthia Rothrock
Cynthia Rothrock is a machine. An owner of over a handful of black belts in a variety of classical Chinese, modern Chinese and Korean martial arts disciplines and was promoted to 7th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan as recently as 2011 at the age of 54.
True action is a genre sadly lacking in women. There are a handful of sci-fi/horror action films which have strong female leads - the Alien, Underworld and Resident Evil franchises for example and TV has had kick ass heroines for years! - Xena, Buffy, Alias etc. but apart from a couple of others, which we will get to later in the list, in the 80s and 90s, Cynthia Rothrock was basically it.
Between '85 and '90, Rothrock spent her time between awesome, kick ass Hong Kong actioners and slowly breaking into the American market. Considering her skill, success in the Asian markets, acting ability and, yes ok, looks, it is just baffling a proper studio didn't snap her up and make her a star. She did, though, have a rapid, successful and prolific straight-to-video career in The States throughout the first half of the 90s, with the quality dropping off pretty sharply after '96. She was often paired with Australian martial artist and close friend Richard Norton. With an appearance in Bad Ass Showdown in 2013 and rumours of a female Expendables movie in the works (Get a script written someone please!!) we are still praying for a resurgence of Rothrock as, like so many on this list, she's yet to get the credit she truly deserves.

Must See: Righting Wrongs (AKA Above The Law), Huang jia shi jie (AKA Yes, Madam!) and China O'Brien
Also Suggest: China O'Brien 2 and Martial Law 2
Avoid: The Rage and Honor Series (Rothrock and Norton fail to bring back the charm of China O'Brien) and anything post 1996.
Check out our commentaries for the following Cynthia Rothrock films:
China O'Brien
China O'Brien 2

4. Fred Williamson
Fred "The Hammer" Williamson is a smart, tough man. When, in the mid-to-late 70s, Hollywood was done with the Blaxploitation craze that had, affectively, got it back on its feet, financially, Fred Williamson decided he would, instead, just do it his way.
Doing it his way has given the former footballer turned actor, director, producer and martial artist (Williamson holds black belts in Kenpo, Karate and Tae-Kwon-Do) a long and varied career that continues today. He currently has 8 movies set for release in the next 3 years. At the beginning of the 80s, having made, legendary 70s B-Movie Inglorious Bastards in Italy, Williamson was in Europe starring in, producing and directing a variety of action films, most prominently the Black Cobra series. This would continue into the 90s where he would, eventually, return to America to continue doing the same thing. The most prominent of which was 1996's Original Gangstas in which he teamed up with Pam Grier, Jim Brown, Richard Roundtree, Robert Forster, Charles Napier, Wings Hauser, Paul Winfield and Ron O'Neal to show the world that the old timers have still got it.
He has his famous rules of Hollywood: "You can’t kill me in a movie, I win all my fights in a movie, and I get the girl at the end of the movie, if I want her" and he makes sure, with razor sharp integrity, that he sticks to that. As he is The Hammer, he's doing it his way and it's successful for him then you can't exactly argue and you'll always know what to expect!

Must See: 1990: The Bronx Warriors, Vigilante, Delta Force Commando, From Dusk Till Dawn and Original Gangastas
Also Suggest: Black Cobra, Black Cobra 2 and Black Cobra 3

5. Sho Kosugi
All Japan Karate Champion Sho Kosugi was the go-to ninja during the 1980s. Back then there was an insane ninja craze going on in the second and below tier action world. Godfrey Ho, prolific Chinese director, made no less than 45 films with the word ninja in the title, in the 1980s. You can, however, thank those purveyors of fine bonkers action, Golan and Globus (better know to most as Cannon Films) for giving the west Sho Kosugi. The 1981, Franco Nero starring Enter The Ninja would start Kosugi on an action star career path that would last the next 13 years. Although only making 4 films with the word ninja in the title during this period and none of them directed by Godfrey Ho, weirdly enough, the name Kosugi became synonymous with ninja. So much so, in fact, that when, recently, they tried to reintroduce the genre with Ninja Assassin in 2009 he stepped out of film acting retirement to take his first on screen role in 11 years.

Must See: Enter The Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja and Blind Fury
Also Suggest: Nine Deaths of a Ninja, Ninja 3: The Domination and Pray For Death
Avoid: Black Eagle
Check out our podcast coverage on The After Movie Diner for the following Sho Kosugi films:
9 Deaths of a Ninja
Blind Fury

- The Kick Ass Kid