KURT RUSSELL: An Action Movie May Deity

Believe it or not, this is a man in the twilight of his action career.

I’m suffering a bit of writer’s block today on another project, so I’m gonna try to break through it with a simple post for Action Movie May.  I didn’t ask Matt for permission to, BECAUSE I DO AS I WISH!!  Besides, I feel kinda lame that I haven’t thrown in my two cents on Action Movie May, besides the occasional twitter zings about it.  Also, it’s my last chance seeing as my LOLJK counterpart, Mr. Joey Reinisch will once again begin alternating posts with me starting next week.  Yes, yes, I know you’ll all miss your weekly dose of my impeccable whit, creative cursing, and dick jokes. But just think about how much better my posts will be with an extra week to work on them!! (I will still write them the day before or of.)

Now. I jumped the gun about a month or so ago and wrote a post about our lack of modern day action stars. It was a piece I really enjoyed writing and that oddly enough lead to me discussing the subject with a number of industry professionals who were at one time involved with those films or share the same passion for the genre.  It was refreshing and very surreal to have discussions I’ve had while blindingly drunk with my friends on countless evenings, with people who actually do this as their livelihood.   Here’s the thing though, no matter who I was speaking to we all agreed on one thing: Kurt Russell.  Now, that article focused a lot on the big action Joel Silver movies of the past and primarily on who I would call the “Heavy Weight” action stars of the time. Stallone. Arnold. But what we’re really missing now and the characters I’ve always REALLY enjoyed were the “Middle Weight” action stars. Bruce Willis. Mel Gibson (pre-Nazi bullshit). Patrick Swayze. And the shining star of them all, Kurt Russel.  They played guys that could have been the average American man.  They weren’t 250 lbs of muscle. They’re weren’t walking, human tanks. They were scrappy. They had ingenuity.  And they always had a one-liner ready to toss out there before they broke a skull.  Which in my book, is the most important aspect of an action hero. Quotability.

If Shane Black is the God of Action Movie May (and I assure you, he is). Kurt Russell is most certainly one of it’s greatest messengers.

Let’s get into it.  Kurt Russell has inhabited some of the greatest action heroes of all time.  And I think for a majority of the public, he sometimes goes overlooked when the title of “Action Star” is thrown around.  This is a travesty.  So let’s begin with probably his most well known character. And then end with my personal favorite of all time.

SNAKE PLISSKEN

No one has ever worn an eye patch as effectively. No one ever will.

Snake Plissken.  The eye patch wearing, former Special Forces, one man, President saving army.  Reluctantly called upon by his country not once, BUT TWICE , to enter America’s most dangerous hell holes only to be betrayed both times. I know it sounds like he should have known better, he did.  But between the explosive charges in his arteries and the poison coursing through his veins, he didn’t have much of a choice but to play their game while biding his time.  He didn’t talk much, but when he did you better have been fucking listening.  No hero has ever been more gravely or less trusting of his own country (and for good reason).

Thanks for doing my job for me internet.

In the span of two movies he: rescued the President, fought Isaac Hayes, destroyed sensitive nuclear information, played in a deadly basketball tournament, surfed a tsunami through the streets of LA, and shut down the entire Earth’s power grid. All while giving a huge middle finger to his “employers.”  I can honestly say, that for me, action cinema doesn’t get more over the top or entertaining than when we have the John Carpenter/Kurt Russell combination.

WYATT EARP

Ride together, die together. OG Bad Boys.

Kurt Russell played the quintessential version of Wyatt Earp.  No one has done it better. And NO ONE EVER WILL.  I fucking dare you to come at me over that statement.

First of all, the quotability of “Tombstone” is probably about as high as you can get.  Between the simplicity of “I’m your huckleberry..” and the over the top bravado of lines like this “From now on I see a red sash, I kill the man wearing it. So run you cur. And tell the other curs the law is coming. You tell ’em I’m coming! And Hell’s coming with me you hear! Hell’s coming with me!” it’s a no brainer.  Tombstone is an action film.  And the characters that inhabit that world are some of the most larger than life to ever take up residency on the big screen.  Sure, there’s no question that Val Kilmer murders his role as Doc Holiday.  It’s probably the role he’ll be remembered for when people look back on his career decades from now.  But when it came down to being the baddest of bad, Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp was hands down the winner. I’m sorry. Do you need examples?

Or maybe this, my favorite moment in the whole movie (I wish there was a better clip of it on the web).

If pistol whipping a man with his own gun or bitch slapping fat Billy Bob Thorton around isn’t bad ass enough for you, just stop. Stop reading this. Stop watching movies. Stop living.

JACK BURTON

I've never been more delighted that a photo existed.

Yea. We circled back to another John Carpenter/Kurt Russell team up.  I was gonna include R.J. MacReady from “The Thing” on here as well but I felt it would be overkill.

If you want to understand what Kyle McVey is all about, please watch “Big Trouble in Little China.” If I write a script half as memorable in my whole career, I will be forever fulfilled.  If I can live my life a fraction of the way Jack Burton does, I’ll consider myself a man. For me, the entertainment value of a feature has never been higher than this movie.  And a lot of that (all of that) goes to Kurt Russell’s portrayal of the protagonist.  Jack Burton is far and away one of the greatest characters ever put to paper. His one liners are nonstop and of the highest quality.  He’s a simple man with a simple motivation: he just wants his truck back.  And he’ll do whatever is necessary to reclaim his livelihood.  It just so happens to involve fighting thousand year old Chinese demons in the process. Thank God for that.

I don’t even know what else to say about this movie. It’s a standard. It’s my go to. It’s the movie I use to judge new friends, girl friends,  and co-workers.  If you love this movie, then there’s a good chance we’ll be life time friends.  Listen, I know there are PLENTY of other roles that Kurt Russell played that should be on this list. Feel free to talk about them in the comments.  I just did three for the sake of keeping this post from getting ridiculously long.

But now I’ll leave you with this. Probably the greatest toast ever.

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About Kyle McVey

I like stuff and feel ways about things.

Posted on May 25, 2011, in LOLJK, Movies, Pop Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. In regards to Wyatt Earp, I believe you are forgetting James Stewart’s unforgettable homage, as Wylie Burp, retired dog sherrif in the exquisite An American Tale; Fivel Goes West. Apologies accepted.

  2. I lent a friend of mine my copy of Big trouble in little china, and he said he stopped watching after 20 miinutes. i will never speak to him again.

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