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.