Dan: I love a good action film, but it's hard to lump them all into one big category. In my mind, there's the action film that you watch because they're amazing. Things explode, bullets fly everywhere, and the CGI doesn't crap over everything ... just perfect. You can pop it in, order a pizza and spend the afternoon feeling good about your life. Heck, maybe you end up punching a wall because you got too hyped up, but that's just how it goes.
Then there's the other category, the action star vehicle. These are movies that you watch only because you love the start burning brightly in the center of them. Perhaps some of the action scenes are dated, and perhaps the movie was corny even when it was new. Doesn't matter, because here comes my favorite part ... did you hear that line? That's my favorite line. Oh wait, this ... this is my favorite part ... did you see what he did to that guy's bones? Yeah, you did.
We tried to pick combatants that blended in both of these categories, and I think we did a good job. Bruce Willis was noticeably absent, and I think that's just the flip of the coin. Truth is, pick a cast member of The Expendables and you've got a solid argument. I hope nobody thinks we don't bow at the altar of Bruce, because we do. I hear great things about Looper and plan to see it ASAP.
As for how we got to where we got before Chris ruined everything, first point went to me for the argument that Jason Statham is a genetically bred action machine. While Schwarzenegger had problems with his accent, then with his muscles typecasting him, Jason flew right out of the gate into what he does best. This guy is so cut, even his muscles have individual memberships at 24 hour fitness. Sure, the same could have been said about Arnie early in his career, but Arnold never had the speed that Jason throws down. Arnold lifted cars while the background exploded, but Jason is the explosion.
Chris got the next point by making an argument that I honestly didn't think of. I had viewed Arnold's family comedy movie library as a weakness to his action movie star status, but I was proved wrong. As Chris stated, the comedy doesn't come from the well-timed puns, but from the muscle-bound monster delivering them. If Seth Rogan delivered the line "It's not a tumor", would it have been as memorable, or quoted? I think we all know the answer to that, but just in case an explosion has left you dazed, the answer is no.
Next point I snagged with the accent argument. An action star can have an accent; it's part of the rules. Sylvester's stroke-talk counts as an accent, yes. The question is, does the accent hinder your understanding of the one-liners, or does it make them ever so much more punchy? Jason's accent is an action accent, it is sharp, smooth, and can arouse the ladies and intimidate the fellahs at the same time. Arnold's accent is intimidating, but it doesn't really have the smooth suave aspect. That's why his action movies don't really have him also being a leading man with a lady he's wooing. Getting the girl is one thing, but once Stockholm syndrome has worn off, only Statham can keep the fire going.
Chris grabbed the next point saying that Arnold's broader appeal makes him better. What?! Boo, but it deserved a point anyways, despite my disagreement. Just having action and explosions is nice, but throwing in cheesy one-liners and an Austrian who isn't above a terrible movie, and you've got a winning combination. Perhaps Jason should do a Jingle all the Way, and join the ranks of great action actors.
The last point was a bit of a throw-away, I know, because I knew the spit take was coming up. However, I still feel that the simplicity of Jason's plots do him a service in being a great action star. Look at Taken, and try to figure out a plot less complicated than that. Daughter kidnapped, dad kicks butts until he finds her. You could have cast Jason in that movie and it would have been just as good, but Arnold would have demanded more. He would have demanded we find out that the daughter isn't really his, and it is all a dream, or maybe it isn't, and there's an invisible alien hunter from the future that's trying to kill her. Am I ragging on his movies? No, I own most of them, and watch them frequently. It's just the simple "here's a reason why Jason's kicking your butt this week" attitude goes a long way with me.
Then the spit take, unavoidable with such colorful imagery as "Gargling peaches", not to mention the clearly spot-on Schwarzenneger impersonation. It was a good day to film. Now to see if anyone will see Looper with me.
A handful of people suggested the great Bruce Campbell should be the greatest action star, but let's be honest; he fits squarely into the second category. Some of his films, if led by someone else, would be utter trash, yet somehow he makes it work.