Where Have All My Action Heroes Gone?

I wrote this post awhile ago but I think today’s a perfect day as we honor real-life heroes; men and women who died in service of our nation.  Take a few minutes today to read about the courage and sacrifice of those who gave all.  Individuals like Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Michael Murphy, whose actions are described in two books I highly recommend: Seal of Honor and Lone Survivor.  To all those who have sacrificed their lives and to those who have and are now serving, thank you…

“As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.”
– Ernest Hemingway

I’m sure we can debate this point, but I think I grew up in the golden age of bigger-than-life action heroes.  It seemed like every month during the 80’s and early 90’s, some cool new action flick was coming out starring one of the big five:

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sylvester Stallone
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Bruce Willis
Steven Seagal

To this day I still hear people reference lines from their movies:

“I’ll be back…”
“Yipee-ky-yay m…..fer…”
“I’m gonna take you to the bank…the blood bank…”
“Nothing is over!!!”
“NOOOOOooooooooooooo” (Every Van Damme movie)

I don’t care what anyone says, Tango and Cash is a great movie (Note: Great is a relative term.  I’m not talking Oscar award winning great – I mean just fun action movie great.)  So is On Deadly Ground (with Joan Chen playing an Eskimo woman).  Yes, I really like the “Bourne” series and Daniel Craig’s “Bond” is cool, but what I miss is the simple good guy – bad guy, bone breaking, martial arts fighting, gun-toting, cool-talking hero blockbuster movies from back in the day.  Give me First Blood, Die Hard, Commando, Bloodsport or Marked for Death any day before the Kill Bill trilogy, Fast and Furious movies, or Pirates franchise.

The all-important question back in the day: Who would win in a fight - John Rambo or John Matrix?

Sadly, like aging championship-winning sports teams, stars get older and their performance and output begin to deteriorate (I guess if you count “The Expendables” and upcoming “Expendables 2”, there is somewhat of an old-school action-hero resurgence). Arnold went on to become California’s governor, Van Damme disappeared (soon to re-apperar in the aforementioned Expendables 2) and Seagal went on to everything straight-to-video (or DVD).  To their credit, Sly and Willis seem to still be going strong (Willis’ Red and Live Free or Die Hard were pretty good and A Good Day to Die Hard is in production).  Rambo (2008) uh, not so good (but I enjoyed Rocky Balboa).

So take a look at our aging action hero championship team lineup:

Arnold Schwarzenegger (65)
Sylvester Stallone (66)
Jean-Claude Van Damme (52)
Bruce Willis (57)
Steven Seagal (60)

And who they’ve been replaced by:

The Rock (40)
Jason Statham (45)
Liam Neeson (60)
Will Smith (44)
Mark Wahlberg (41)

Not bad…From my recollection, I think maybe Neeson’s “Taken” reminds me the most of an 80’s throwback action movie.  Maybe I’m just being nostalgic, but when I start seeing the summer blockbuster offerings of “Battleship”, “Madagascar 3” and “Snow White & The Huntsman”, I want to be like Van Damme and say “Nooooooooo…..Where are my action heroes??!!”

 What are some of your favorite action movies and heroes?