Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Best & Worst Movie Gunfights

This Post Took Way Too Long To Write...

George over at Mad Ogre has called for his readers to supply him with the top 10 list of best movie gunfights. Also, (possibly even more amusing...) the top 10 list of *worst* movie gunfights!

He's pretty flexible with the rules as to what constitutes a gunfight. I'll go by his rules, but I'm going to limit myself to gun fights where both sides actually have guns.

F'rinstance, I was greatly amused by Michael Gross and Reba McEntire shooting the shit out of the Graboid that tunneled into their "rec room" in the movie 'Tremors', but it was a trifle one-sided to be considered a gunfight. Ditto the Sharps Big Fifty-Fu in 'Legends of the Fall'. Nice to see half-inch holes blown in corrupt cops from 500 yards out, but again, a bit one-sided.

I'd blather on some more, but let's get on with it...

Here's my Top Ten Favorite Movie Gunfights!

#10 - A Tie!

'Master & Commander: Far Side Of The World' and
'Captain Horatio Hornblower' share the #10 spot. Naval cannon certainly count as guns, IMHO, and both of these films had them aplenty!

'Master & Commander' might be more realistic, but it was made 52 years after 'Capt. Horatio Hornblower', and has lots of CGI to spiff things up. The duels between the HMS Surprise & the Acheron, and HMS Lydia vs. the Natividad are very exciting to watch, and all that whirling chainshot reminds you why you are better off watching tall ships duel from shore!

#9 - 'Last Of The Mohicans'

The Battle of the Glade kind of broke down into a tomahawk and clubbed musket fight, but there at the beginning you had copious amounts of thumb-sized lead chunks flying in both directions. Add in some platoon volley fire and a wonderful display of .75 caliber smoothbore pistol ball to the enemy's face courtesy of Cora Munro, and you have a winnah!

#8 - 'Way Of The Gun'

Oh, Man.. what's not to like? You got your 1911-Fu, you got your 12 Gauge-Fu, you've got your .308 Galil-Fu... You even got Sarah Silverman getting bitchslapped. One of the best gunfights filmed, mostly due to the fact that when the guns ran dry, they got reloaded as opposed to the typical Hollywood use of perma-loaded guns. The flick needed a better ending, though...

#7 - 'Hard Boiled'

John Woo has made American shoot-em-up films, but he's at his best in Hong Kong. This is one of the bloodiest films I've ever seen, (Bodycount: 230) but for all the bullets and gore, it's a wonder to watch. The scenes between "Mad Dog" and "Tequila" in the warehouse and the hospital are my favorite, but the opening scene in the tea house almost defies description. I'll never look at a floured table the same way again...

#6 - 'The Good, The Bad & The Ugly'

The three-way duel treul? between Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco is the stuff that legends and Hollywood cliches are built on. How many movies since have borrowed the fingers twitching on gun butts, the closeups on eyes shifting one way and the other, and the suspenseful music? Remember, "If you're going to shoot, shoot! Don't talk!"

#5 - 'Tombstone'

Probably the best cinematic representation of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Plus, you get one of Val Kilmer's best roles ever as Doc Holliday. "I'm your huckleberry!"

#4 - 'True Grit'

"Fill your hand, you sonofabitch!" Rooster Cogburn's invitation to the gunfight is unforgettable, as was his wild gallop through Ned Pepper's gang, Single Action Army in one hand, and Winchester in the other... Reins in his teeth and twirling that rifle to reload... Man, makes me misty just thinking about it!

#3 - 'The Wild Bunch'

I read somewhere that in filming 'The Wild Bunch', they shot off over 90,000 rounds of blank ammo, a significantly higher amount than was actually used in the Mexican Revolution. This is Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece, and it's an amazing example of filming a gun battle.

To see a reasonably decent homage to the grand finale in 'The Wild Bunch', check out a film called 'Extreme Prejudice', with Nick Nolte and Powers Boothe. They do a reasonable facsimile of the battle, only with modern weaponry.

#2 - 'The Outlaw Josey Wales'

"Well, you gonna pull those pistols or whistle Dixie?" Too many gunfight scenes in this magnificent film to pick a favorite... I lean towards the attack on the Yankee encampment with ensuing Gatling Gun-Fu, and also the righteous smackdown Wales laid on the Comancheros from horseback. I was told by a local gunshop owner that every time this movie gets aired, he sells half a dozen replica Colt Dragoon pistols!

#1 - 'Heat'

If you've seen the movie, you know why the bank robbery scene gets the top slot. Hard core action, technically accurate, and when played on a surround-sound system, you'll wake the neighborhood. Director Michael Mann did a similarly good job filming gunfights with his 'Miami Vice' remake, but this one is the reigning champion!

Aaaand, the Top Ten WORST Gunfights Ever Filmed, in descending order from least suckulent to most suckulacious:

-1 'The Rocketeer'

I love this movie. When Cliff Secord straps on that rocket pack for the first time and goes soaring into the sky, it's as exciting as anything put on film. Unfortunately, he can't hold onto his gun to save his life. He gets equipped with a Mauser Broomhandle, one of my all-time favorites, and then keeps dropping the damn thing! I wanted to see him cap some Nazis with it! So, for lack of a gun in the hero's hand, this one makes the list.

-2 'Equilibrium'

I liked the idea behind this movie. Alas, the "martial art" used as a plot device just left me cold. Gunkata? More like scriptwriter with Beretta in one hand and his hoo-hah in the other. Silliest thing EVAR.

-3 'The Matrix'

.223 shell casings coming out of Czech Skorpion machine pistols? Don't think so, Scooter. This was so easy to get right, yet you didn't. FAIL.

-4 Grosse Pointe Blank

Sorry, just can't see Dan Ackroyd as an assassin, and the gunfight in the house was ridiculous. Good movie spoiled by bad gunhandling.

-5 'Hard Target'

This is one of the aforementioned John Woo flicks set in the USA. And, it has problems. It stars Jean Claude Van Damme, for one. Second, you do NOT bring a T/C Contender single shot target/hunting pistol to a gunfight, and have your hostage reload for you between shots. Even for the evil bad guy, that's just plain stupid.

-6 'The Quick and the Dead'

Sharon Stone as an Old West gunfighter. Add in Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. Bad, bad, bad.

-7 'Bad Boys 2'

The first word of the title says it all. Now I must go relax to forget about it. Woosah.... Woosah....

-8 'Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back'

I hate to see gunfights played for laughs. You're either serious about shooting the other guy, or you might as well be in a pillowfight. Funny movie, terrible gunfight.

-9 'Lethal Weapon 3'

You know, when Richard Donner, (director of the Lethal Weapon films) was a baby, his mother must have jerked him off with one hand while spanking him viciously with the other. I just can't see any other way this man could be so conflicted. He makes a movie where the underlying message is that handguns are BadBadBad, so he gets his message across by having his protagonists shoot people with... handguns. Anyway, you could hardly hear the dialogue over the lefty political rhetoric scattered through the movie, and the climactic scene with "cop-killer" bullets blowing holes through a 'dozer blade puts this one firmly on the list.

-10 'Tougher Than Leather'

Run DMC and the Beastie Boys in a gangsta flick. This went WAY beyond bad. In fact, just remembering it is giving me hives. Trust me when I tell you that the gunfight was one of the worst ever filmed. Do not go near this flick, if you value your eyesight and sanity.