Have you ever seen a movie that keeps promising an epic showdown between Good Badass and Evil Badass, only to let you down with a horseshit, no-climax finish? It sucks when that happens in a good movie, but it’s so much worse when it happens in a bad one. Because when a movie sucks, the only reason you’re still watching is to see that one, monumental ass kicking at the end. If done right, they can be a movie’s saving grace. When done wrong … well …
Super Shredder Vs. TMNT Should’ve Been An Incredible Ninja Battle (TMNT II)
The best thing about the 1991 sequel to the live-action Ninja Turtles flick is that the reptile teens are as goofy and energetic as ever. However, because Hollywood is controlled by the kind of ancient lunatics that would faint on their old-timey couches at the slightest hint of Terrapin-Ninja on Ninja-Ninja violence, the turtles were forbidden from using their weapons throughout the movie. In one scene, Mikey actually uses deli meats instead of his nunchucks.
Despite that, the deli-meat scene and others like it were still fun and choreographed well, so the potential for great action was always there, but juuust out of our reach. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but it’s a tight-rope walk between enjoyment and turning the movie off to replay Turtles In Time for the Super Nintendo again.
But then near the end, Shredder drinks a mutagenic plot device, transforming into a hulking monstrosity called the Super Shredder. His introduction is to badass-ly punch through the boardwalk the turtles are standing on, which is like opening your handshake with a clothesline. And in that instant, EVERYTHING starts to make sense: The action so far was a bit too PG because they were saving all the awesome stuff for THIS moment! THIS was the apology for the anticlimax of the first movie!
There was more to it, though. Early on, Master Splinter says to his kids: “You are ninja, you must always practice the art of invisibility,” and, holy fuck, he was obviously talking about this fight. Clearly, the turtles couldn’t take on Super Shredder head-on so they’d have to spread out and attack him from the shadows, slowly chipping away at him like a Dark Souls boss, presumably with non-meat nunchucks. Yup, this fight would finally bring the entire movie together.
The Actual Fight:
Shredder pushes Leonardo and then collapses the entire boardwalk, which crushes him to death. The end. The fuck?
It’s actually amazing just how much potential was wasted here, not just action-wise, but also in terms of story development. By showing the temperamental TEENAGE turtles take their time to carefully ninja Shredder in the dick, the movie would actually end on a fantastic message about how skill and patience can triumph over brute force. Instead, the movie decided it’d be funnier to promise to shower us in gold only to then deliver a golden shower of disappointment straight into our expecting mouths.
We Should Still Be Talking About The Juggernaut Vs. Shadowcat Fight (X-Men 3)
The last 30 minutes of the third X-Men movie is like a giant, action-packed apology for everything that came before it, like the laughable “controversy” over the cure for mutation, and the fact that Cyclops was around to literally mope and die.
It was glorious. Magneto moves the Golden Gate Bridge, wave after wave of mutants go against U.S. soldiers, and Kelsey Grammer absolutely kills it, plus some guys, as Beast. I sat through eleven seasons of Frasier for this.
Even Shadowcat gets to show off her phasing powers when she passes through a guy, grabs him from behind, and uses his momentum to slam him into the ground. I loved that because it was the kind of action scene WE NEVER SEE in movies, and I’m all about experiencing new things (don’t tell my wife) especially when they are magic mutant aikido.
That’s why I was so excited when Juggernaut — a mutant (don’t, comic book nerds) who cannot be stopped once he starts running — was sent to kill the mutant child that can “cure” mutants, and Shadowcat ran to stop him.
I could see it all then: Shadowcat would phase through the walls, baiting Juggernaut to come at her as she hastily phased through different parts of him and the environment, attacking from every possible and impossible angle, pulling him through the floor etc. Essentially, it’d be an epic David and Goliath battle between an unstoppable force and the intangible object. It not only would be the most original superhero fight ever, it’d work on so many levels, what with the tiny Shadowcat being the only person who can stop the massive Juggernaut. Ultimately, it’d serve as a counterpart to the purely physical combat we’d seen until now, which was pretty good. There was no way the movie could mess this up.
The Actual Fight:
Shadowcat pulls Juggernaut through the floor, he gets loose, then he gets close to the power-cancelling child, and knocks himself out on a wall.
Bull-fucking-shit. What we should have gotten was an even more kick-ass version of the White House fight scene from X2, only between two mutants who can literally walk through walls. Also, one of them is Vinnie Jones. If missing out on this serving of crazy-awesome juice doesn’t piss you off, then clearly I’m talking to Brett Ratner, the movie’s director, in which case let me just say: START MAKING BETTER MOVIES, BRETT. You can only rest on the laurels of Rush Hour 2 for SO LONG.
The Guile Vs. Bison Fight Shouldn’t Feel So … Unpleasant (Street Fighter)
Say what you want about the live-action Street Fighter movie: It’s silly, completely misses the point of the game, and for some reason fails to impress women when you tell them you’ve seen it at least 20 times. Hello? It shows I have very low standards, Karen. (Don’t tell my wife.) BUT, for all its faults, Street Fighter has one thing going for it: it delivers.
There are TWO instances in the movie when Ryu and Ken are about to face off against Sagat and Vega, with the music building up and the cameras zooming in on their faces before something ultimately disrupts the action. In the end, though, they do fight and it’s a pretty awesome scene, especially after all that teasing. And with all of that Van Damme thigh meat, teasing is ABSOLUTELY the right word to use.
Same thing could be said about Honda and Zangief. Both characters are built up as these two powerhouses but we never see them rumble until the last act. And, OK, their fight isn’t badass but at least it is funny, and I always say that if you can’t be impressive, you should be entertaining. It’s why I always put a clown wig on my penis before sex.
In light of this, I was actually pumped for the fight between Guile (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Bison (Raul Julia). This thing is foreshadowed from the very first few minutes of the movie AND it features an actual martial artist plus one of the greatest actors who ever lived. It’s true that Julia was dying from cancer around this time but if they just had him act with his face and voice while letting JCVD do midair splits, this fight could have induced a wave of news stories about parents being terrified that their kids were going to potentially recreate it. And being scared that your kids are going to try it is the Badass Fight Scene Nobel Prize.
The Actual Fight:
Julia can barely lift his arms and legs while JCVD is basically doing battle ballet on his face. Most of Bison’s moves include love-tap slaps which according to Julia’s face are 100 times more painful for him. Because they probably were. Within the first few seconds, the whole thing quickly goes from a “fight” to “a 30-something-year-old viciously beating a guy in his 50s with cancer.”
Even when Bison starts flying and gains the power of force lightning, he is still barely able to move, flying in a straight line at Guile until JCVD finally puts the guy out of his misery. In the end, the only winner here is the owner of the booze shop I hit whenever I finish watching this scene.
RoboCop 3 Somehow Managed To Make A Robo Ninja Fight Look Boring
I … don’t really get the hate towards RoboCop 3? Sure, it’s not the original Verhoeven movie but neither is lots of other good stuff: BLT sandwiches, puppies, my downtown mistress (don’t tell my wife). Plus, I think the movie does action pretty well. Sorry that it isn’t Ip Man, you impossible standard motherfuckers.
See, RoboCop was never especially agile. It’s the people around him that ran around shooting guns wildly, while his thing was always being able to take a lot of damage and then keep moving and hurting people with robotic precision.
“Your parents never really loved you.”
RoboCop 3 seemed to get it. The movie is essentially about a private police force forcibly relocating slum residents to other locations and/or the afterlife, and there are lots of really good gun fights between the two factions. And once CyborgPeacekeeper finally arrives, he is the puckered-lip tank we all love, getting showered by damage confetti without a care, even being set on fire at one point and STILL MOVING FORWARD. So when the movie introduces the Otomo, a nimble, Japanese robot ninja, it seems to foreshadow a fantastic fight scene.
Plus a great opportunity for someone to say “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.”
Their fight practically wrote itself. MechaFive-O would have to Gun Kata the whole thing, turning the battleground into a precisely-calculated Bullet Hell, which the Otomo would naturally deflect with his sword. In close combat, the Otomo would understandably land a lot of blows on AutomatPolice, maybe even do some real damage over time. But that would only add to iLEO’s Terminator-ness as he slowly gets taken apart but still KEEPS MOVING FORWARD, driven by both his human spirit and his robotic constitution. Hell, a child could write this. Or a very talented dog that had seen Robocop 2.
The Actual Fight:
Did … did a child/ultra dog write this? The whole fight is basically one giant robo cop-out, mainly because MachineLawEnforcer isn’t allowed to use his gun. Well, he does use it in the end to kill the Otomo in one unsatisfying shot, but before that, he gets knocked down immediately while the Otomo slices off his hand and immobilizes the walking Abrams tank with an oversized butter knife. Oh, wait, he also did some meh-like backflips so I guess it all evened out.
It really should go without saying, but stopping ComputerOfficer has to be a big deal. Here, it just happens, without any weight being given to the situation. Even in a later scene, when Copper2.0 gets a jetpack and fights TWO Otomo, the robots easily topple him by jumping around like ASIMO on cocaine. Then they get hacked by a genius child all while ApplianceConstable, yup, just fucking lies there immobilized. Roll credits. Fuck this.
We Might Have Accepted Venom If He At Least Went Out With A Bang (Spider-Man 3)
When you relax for a minute and stop yelling “What is this steaming heap of dancing emo spider-butt-rope?” you start to notice that, damn, Spider-Man 3 actually has some of the best CGI and action scenes out of all of the Sam Raimi movies.
Take the opening fight between the New Goblin and Spider-Man. If you could condense it into pill form, it’d put Viagra out of business in a matter of days, just like that insane subway fight Peter has with Sandman.
This brings us to the final Venom fight. This was to be THE action sequence in a movie that handled action rather spectacularly until now, and it started off great.
First you hear the Venom shriek, and Spidey looks around all confused, not being able to sense Marmite Man, just like in the comics. It’s quiet, but the suspense is palpable. Your mind races as it envisions how all of this will go down. Venom will make Spider-Man feel scared. He will toy with him psychologically before attacking from the shadows and dominating him physically, all to humiliate the foe who, in his sick mind, robbed him of his dignity.
In that tense, beautiful moment, you allow yourself to believe. You dare to dream that this is going to be the most epic superhero fight ever. You gather the strength to hope again.
The Actual Fight:
Venom grabs Spider-Man, throws him about, and hits him with a pipe. This is where their fight basically ends.
After a few excruciating minutes of Topher Grace’s Bond-villain-monologue, the suddenly-reformed Goblin flies in and knocks over some pipes, the sound of which causes Venom’s alien Symbiote pain. So Spidey hits him with a pipe, and then hits two pipes together, and grabs some more pipes … Seriously, what’s this movie’s obsession with pipes? Is it like with Jon Peters and his strange fixation on giant spiders? Anyway, Peter traps Venom in a vibrating pipe prison and blows him up with a Goblin bomb.
One of the coolest comic book villains ever was essentially tuning-forked to death and blown up with an exploding pumpkin. Fork that. No wonder I put my fist through the TV the first time I saw this. Don’t tell my wife. She still thinks it was a really jerky burglar who did it — a jerky burglar who broke in to defecate on a DVD of Spider-Man 3, break the TV, and then drink all of our vodka while sobbing.