Monday, 26 September 2016


“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” - Oprah Winfrey

Most people tend to live quiet and routine-filled lives where one day pretty much blends into the next. The closest they have to excitement may be some incident in their community, on the road, or workplace that tends to disrupt the quietude. This may be the reason why action movies are quite popular as they provide another source of excitement and out-of-the- ordinary events that spice up people’s lives, even if it is a vicarious thrill.  The term ‘action movie’ is a rather broad one and it applies to a wide range of movies as can be seen below in the list of sub-genres. Action movies have a lot in common with the equally broad ‘adventure’ genre, with which they share some conventional story-telling techniques and plot outlines.

Epic Movies: These films set their protagonist(s) going to extreme lengths and over a protracted period of time to achieve an objective that is of vital, “life or death” importance not only for the protagonists but also for their community. These films have plots that are based on ancient Greek storytelling conventions and they are plots that are one of the oldest type in literature. The tale usually involves the characters in adventures that allow them to change and develop in some way along their journeys. Typical in this genre is Timur Bekmambetov’s 2016 re-imagining of Ben Hur or the 1962 David Lean classic Lawrence of Arabia.

Spy Movies: This is an amazingly prolific sub-genre and there are a huge variety of secret agents that have sequel after sequel of film made. A characteristic feature of the sub-genre is that a spy or other undercover professional finds themselves on a secret mission, usually behind enemy lines, and armed with an array of special equipment and gadgets. The classic that immediately comes to mind of course is the James Bond series of films, begun by the inimitable Sean Connery. Terence Young’s 1962 Dr No still manages to push all the right buttons in this sub-genre. More recently, Phillip Noyce’s 2010 Salt with Angelina Jolie attempts to break down some stereotypes in the sub-genre, but the main plot devices and characters are identical to those in older films.

Disaster Movies: People love seeing scenes of destruction, devastation and havoc on a massive scale. Something about seeing the world destroyed from the comfort of your plush cinema chair or cosy armchair at home somehow makes the disaster more homely and easily digestible: Thrills without risk! These movies often cross over into the sci-fi and thriller genres, but the main concept is obviously a disaster, usually natural but it can be artificial. The disaster itself can be on a global level or extremely localised, imposing peril on only the central characters. Classic examples of the former are Michael Bay’s 1998 Armageddon and Roland Emmerich’s 2004 The Day After Tomorrow. If you prefer your disaster more localized, how about James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic, Perhaps made all the more appealing by the cross-over into the romance genre.

Martial Arts Movies: These are also called as ‘Kung Fu movies’. The focus of martial arts movies is the constant physical fight scenes that are shown throughout the film, the plot often taking secondary place. Actors typically come from a martial arts background, or are highly trained before production. Bruce Lee of course cannot be ignored in this sub-genre as he was enormously popular in both East and West. Robert Clouse’s 1973 film Enter the Dragon is a cult classic.

Superhero Movies: Tales of heroes with extraordinary strength, superhuman abilities and divine parentage are found in the mythology of nearly all cultures of the world. It is not surprising therefore that one of the highest grossing of any movie genre in current times, is this sub-genre. Superhero movies feature one or more characters who have supernatural abilities and do battle with similarly-powered antagonists. The majority of superhero movies are derived from comic book source material. Richard Donner’s 1978 movie Supermanis a classic in this sub-genre.

Video Game Movies: As video games got more interactive, branched and action-oriented their popularity with gamers ensured that a video game could quite easily hatch a movie. Screenplays which have been adapted from popular video games can fall into any genre depending on the source material, but for the most part they are typically action movies. A good example is Simon Croft’s 2001 Tomb Raider.

Oh, dear! Now that I have written this and have got my share of thrills, spills, action and adventure, I think I am quite ready to go and peel some potatoes and start cooking dinner.

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