March 26, 2024

IN SEARCH OF THE LAST ACTION HEROES: A Guided Tour Of Stuff That Goes Boom

2019 / 141 min
Available at
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😺

In Search of the Last Action Heroes is an enjoyable retrospective documentary on the history of the action genre. But instead of a study by film scholars or writers, this is mostly presented from the perspective of those who’ve worked in the genre on both sides of the camera, though casual viewers may not be familiar with most of them.

Hence, we get commentary and anecdotes from the likes of actors Ronny Cox, Eric Roberts, Scott Atkins, Cynthia Rothrock, Bill Duke, Jeanette Goldstein, Vernon Wells, Alex Winter and Michael Jai White, as well as filmmakers Shane Black, Boaz Davidson, Paul Verhoeven, Graham Yost, Steven E. de Souza, Mark L. Lester and Mario Kassar. A slew of others are interviewed, all of whom discuss the films, actors or directors that influenced the genre, as well as some they were involved in making. A few authors and critics also offer their insights.

The genre’s history is more-or-less presented chronologically. One might quip that everything prior to the 1960s is virtually ignored, but really, this was the decade where action itself was beginning to be a prominent component in films. Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Lee and Steve McQueen were sort of the Mount Rushmore of action heroes throughout the 1970s and basically serve as this film’s starting point. 

With his first Commando residual check, Steven E. de Souza bought that hat.
Not surprisingly, a major chunk of the film covers the 1980s. As with horror, that decade is generally considered the “golden age” of action as we know it today. Not only were budgets, explosions and stunts much bigger, the VHS boom resulted in countless direct-to-video films and second-tier stars lining rental shelves. 

Accompanying the commentary are hundreds of film clips dating from the 1970s through the 2000s. Most of the usual suspects are featured and, unsurprisingly, influential classics like Die Hard, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Terminator are discussed in more detail than others, as are certain actors who made action their bread & butter. Not a lot of this is particularly revelatory, but as a guided tour of stuff that goes boom, In Search of the Last Action Heroes is an entertaining journey through time.

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