Every cinegeek that I know not only has an expansive home video library, but also a print one as well.
It makes perfect sense. Although we live in the digital age, true cinegeeks understand the value and importance of physical media.
And every once in a while a book comes out that serves as a reminder why print should never die. david j. moore’s book, The Good, The Tough & The Deadly is not the kind of book that you pick up and read straight through (although you can), but it belongs on your coffee table or next to your bed to pick up and peruse frequently. It’s packed with not only reviews, but also interviews and additional information about some of the most important actors and filmmakers of the genre. It’s something that deserves to be read again and again. That’s still something that in my opinion, digital has yet to conquer.
Like his previous book also from Schiffer Books, World Gone Wild: A Survivor’s Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies, moore has crafted an essential volume for every movie lover.
moore took some time to chat with FOG! about the new book, the future of the genre and which former-Moonlighting star is not an action star.
FOG: What was the genesis of the book?
david j. moore: I’d written a book called World Gone Wild: A Survivor’s Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies, which had over 800 reviews in it, and after writing reviews for stuff like The Terminator, Futurekick, Cyborg, and Hell Comes to Frogtown, I realized those specific movies had a common denominator, which was what I would consider or define as an action star.
It occurred to me that no one had written a massive, all-encompassing book about action stars, and since I’m probably the world’s biggest fan of movies starring action stars, it was the obvious next project for me. I just had to define what an action star is so that the book didn’t get any more out of control than what you see it became. It’s massive.
There’s a reason guys like Bruce Willis, Kurt Russell, and John Wayne had to be eliminated. If you don’t have rules and slack on sticking to your guns, your book and your effort loses integrity.
I made very few exceptions to my own rule – like including Charles Bronson and Sylvester Stallone – because, for example, without those two guys in the book, the whole concept falls apart. Stallone is 100% an action star even though he didn’t come from competitive sports. He was a competitor in life, and as far as I’m concerned he’s a champion. Same thing with Bronson.
You set some ground rules as to which films were excluded, primarily science fiction modern superhero, sword and sorcery and historical movies. Was this simply a matter of narrowing the number of titles or do you feel that since they are cross genre they shouldn’t be included?
Yes, this was a decision to limit the content covered. Rules are vital to keeping a reign on what you’re covering for a project this large. Something like this takes years to accomplish, and if there’s something you’re looking for that isn’t reviewed in the book, the decision to exclude it was completely mine. I know exactly what I omitted, and I can give you a completely rational explanation why the review isn’t there. I’m totally aware that I reviewed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, but no other Turtles film; same thing with Lethal Weapon 4, and not the previous Lethal Weapon movies. There’s a reason. My introduction explains everything, even if you don’t agree with my assessment of what an action star is and what I should be covering instead.
The book also features a number of interviews with stars and filmmakers. Who do you feel are the most important stars and filmmakers today making action movies?
I tried to interview and engage subjects for this project that I felt were best representing the genre right now, or who have represented it really well in the past.
I tried to get a good mix of people you know and love and people you’ve never heard of, but who are on my radar and deserve to be noticed.
On the indie front, you should be paying attention to Jino Kang, who made Blade Warrior and Weapon of Choice, and in the “B” market, you should definitely be paying attention to Scott Adkins and director John Hyams and Isaac Florentine. Jason Statham is important in that he’s pretty much the last action star you’re going to see making “B” action films that get released theatrically.
Not sure how much longer he can keep that up before he starts doing movies that are relegated directly to video.
Enjoy these guys while you can. Support them. Pay to see these guys in theaters and pay for your rentals or your home video releases. Don’t stream or illegally download your entertainment. Pay for it. The consequences of not paying or supporting your entertainers goes all the way to the top and extends to the very bottom. Believe me.
Do you think that the genre has been negatively impacted by both the elimination of video stores and the evolution of CGI technology?
Yes, and yes. It also ties into what I just said. Netflix and the internet murdered an entire commerce of the movie market. CGI technology had something to do with that as well, but CGI, more than anything else, has put stuntmen, coordinators, and riggers out of jobs. When guys like Keanu Reeves, Liam Neeson, and Matt Damon started doing movies that Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme used to do, that was a big turning point as well. Why get a guy who can’t really act all that well when you can get Oscar nominated actors or whatever to do the exact same thing, only using stuntmen and clever editing techniques to disguise the fact that they can’t accomplish any real martial arts?
The guide is amazing and an obvious love letter to the genre. Any plans to do another book or a companion to this one?
Absolutely, but now that I’ve done two in a row, I’ve shifted my focus on writing fiction. I’m almost done with a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel, and I have my next two novels mapped out. On the side, I’m slowly working on three huge movie review books concurrently. All while raising a family and making a living as a journalist and a PR specialist. I’m kind of living my dream. Sort of. So far.
What do you think are the ten action films that everyone should see?
If you mean ten action movies with ACTION STARS, then you should see Enter the Dragon, Invasion USA, Lionheart, Above the Law, The Perfect Weapon, Supercop, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Commando, Blood and Bone, and Stone Cold.
What are you currently geeking out over (books, movies, music, tv, comics, etc)?
Hard to geek out about anything these days, but I’m loving all of the Humanoids comic books. I like Star Wars: Rebels (but was massively angered by The Force Awakens). My favorite movie of 2016 is Sing Street. It’s also a great time to be a hardcore soundtrack collector. Everything from the last 40 years is being released onto CD for the first time these days. It’s incredible. I’m also really digging this synth wave movement.
Finally, please explain how is Die Hard not in the book?
I think I explained that pretty well in my introduction. Die Hard doesn’t have an action star in the center of it. Bruce Willis, by the definition I had to create to keep the book containable, is absolutely not an action star. That said, in the early stages of writing the book, I did desperately want to include the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon movies in the book – and I even wrote the reviews to prove it – but when I’d defined the concept of what an action star is, I eliminated all but Stallone and Bronson from the actor pool who had not crossed over from the world of sports, wrestling, and other avenues where physicality didn’t play a major role in their careers before becoming actors.
Look, I realize some people are picking this book up, expecting to find reviews of Die Hard, Dirty Harry, and Escape From New York, but this isn’t that book. My original title for it was much more specific: The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly: The Complete Guide to Action Stars on Film. My publisher didn’t believe that my original title was as marketable as the one the book has now, so I get your frustration. But seriously: How many more reviews of Die Hard do we really need?
I could have included it because Al Leong is in it, but his part is so small that that would have been cheating. So there’s your answer. Read my friend Vern’s book Yippee Kai Yay Moviegoer! – he wrote a great review of Die Hard.
Bruce Willis is not an action star. Quote me.