The problem with sequels is that they become redundant

We continue to get major headaches over the propensity of production companies to produce sequels, mainly to generate more money than produce a film well worth watching and being preserved in the annals of good filmmaking. We do agree, however, that in certain instances, the sequel is warranted, mainly because the story continues in a logical sequence, sometimes with appropriately placed flash-backs to remind audiences of what happened before. Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather trilogy is a good example of this. But then there are those sequels, far too many too mention in this small space, which are degenerative where film art is concerned.

Learning to quit while ahead

Sylvester StalloneHollywood action legend, Sylvester Stallone, may have utilized a good pair of boxing gloves during training for the original Rocky film to successfully create some authenticity in some of the boxing ring scenes, but like the legendary Muhammad Ali, Stallone did not master the sporting scheme of quitting while still ahead. For those not familiar with the legend, Ali liked to brag that he was The Greatest, even vainly producing a dramatic biographical film of the same title in which he actually took the leading role himself.

In later years, Will Smith, an accomplished actor in his own right delivered an Oscar-nominated performance in a far better film, Ali. The original Ali’s true claim to fame was that be remains the only heavyweight boxing champion to have won the world title three times during a long career. But he also paid a heavy price, suffering irreparable brain damage as a result of his exertions.

Never nearly as good as Paul Newman’s Someone Up There Likes Me and Robert de Niro’s Raging Bull, Sylvester Stallone delivered a nostalgic production in the form of Rocky for which his film was acclaimed as Best Picture at the Academy Awards at the time.

Cheesy one-liners and tragic losses

The ExpendablesBut, as in life, people, famous or not, are often remembered for their failures and previous accomplishments are quickly forgotten. And still Stallone has not learned his lesson. His latest follow-up to the Rocky Empire, Creed, is yet another flop for which he will be duly remembered. Now, whether this was intentional or not remains to be seen, but Stallone’s three movie series of The Expendables was nothing short of hilarious in which the whole gamut of legendary Hollywood action men, all good Republican pals into the bargain, romped about and had a jolly good time for old timer’s sake.

Famous for his cheesy one-liners, former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, forthrightly remarked to Bruce Willis in one of the many action scenes that ‘we belong in a museum’. On that remark, critically, we’d like to argue otherwise. The Fast and the Furious had a very long run of sequels, curiously for all the right reasons.

This action-packed series was extremely popular among audiences, so quickly-made sequels made sense. It was only after the tragic death of Paul Walker that cast and crew decided that enough was enough.

When action movies become art movies

It is rare when this happens, but there are a few movies in the genre of action movies that have been elevated to the status of being art for art’s sake. More to the point in the context of this website, surprisingly and perhaps even pleasingly so, some action-oriented films can be classed as art films for a number of reasons but mainly related to how the story is projected onto the screen and how all other cinematic effects, such as photography and even action sequences are blended into the story line. Films included in the genre of gangsterism, however, cannot be classified as action movies per se, mainly because there is more focus on dramatic art.

Oscar-worthy father and son performances

To learn how producers are able to create authentic costumes in a film such as the Karate Kid re-make, you can click here. In fact, let’s talk a little bit about that surprisingly good remake of the original Karate Kid movie from the eighties. As one of the executive producers of the twenty-first century version, this was quite a coup for Will Smith and his unusual family. Smith, you may recall, is no stranger to the action genre and fairly good dramatic roles.

Who can ever forget the tearful true life father and son story in which acting father and son played their part in delivering Oscar-nominated performances? The new Karate Kid drama is also a bit of a tear-jerker but cannot be considered as an action flick. Jackie Chan takes the role of the father figure, mentor and guru, all rolled into one, quite seriously and admirably lives up to his promise of having retired from fast-paced kung-fu and action-styled pieces.

The past-master of action and art nouveau

But where the modern Karate Kid can be critically acclaimed as bordering on art, even though essentially a coming of age and family drama is through its realistic, shot on location scenery. Here you see typical scenes of everyday urban Chinese life juxtaposed with magnificent scenes from China’s breathtaking rural landscapes, creating the perfect backdrop and supporting role for creatively uplifting the actors’ performances.

Quentin Tarantino is both a past-master at creating action movies which also double up as art nouveau. Who can ever forget his mesmerizing Kill Bill series, an excellent pastiche of the kung-fu genre? And let’s not forget Pulp Fiction and Inglorious Basterds. A particularly strong inter-textual response to past film variations is Jackie Brown in which legendary actors, Pam Grier and Robert de Niro were deliberately cast.

Finally, a strong tribute must be made to Sergio Leone from which Tarantino draws much of his inspiration and directorial skills. Previously, Leone’s Westerns were mockingly and pretentiously referred to as spaghetti Westerns.

Now, because they are mainly dated, Leone’s classics can be considered period art films. Hollywood icon, Clint Eastwood, the original star of the Leone Westerns, also elevated the Western genre to very good dramatic art for which he was recognized.