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5 Paul W.S. Anderson Action Scenes Everyone Can Appreciate

Features
by Alex Suskind
February 21, 2014 1:01 PM
17 Comments
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For critics, Paul W.S. Anderson is the ideal punching bag—a terrible director with a penchant for churning out clichéd action flicks. If you take a look at his Rotten Tomatoes page—where the highest-rated project is the straight-to-video sequel “Death Race 3”—you will get an idea of the response the filmmaker’s work tends to receive (admittedly, he's only a producer on that one).

However, there are a few, ahem, gems lying around his filmography—not full movies, mind you, but some cool action sequences from those movies. To paraphrase The Playlist review of Anderson’s new film, “Pompeii,” no one goes to a Paul W.S. Anderson flick for the gripping narrative and beautifully written dialogue. Audiences go to watch things blow up and people fight each other, and that’s exactly what we’re going to spotlight here. Hell, even people like Quentin Tarantino seem to appreciate the guy's work (QT had "The Three Musketeers" on his Top 11 films of 2011 list).

“Pompeii” hits theaters this weekend. However, if you don’t want to spend $12 on a movie ticket—and admittedly, it's hard to argue against that very often—why not take a few minutes to check out some of Anderson’s best action scenes for free? Below, we’ve compiled five of his most memorable ones for your viewing pleasure.

Liu Kang vs. Shang Tsung — Mortal Kombat”
In 1994, we were still in the early stages of the terrible-video-game-adaptation era. “Mortal Kombat” was different, though. Well, sort of. The film fit into the hilariously-bad category of filmmaking: its acting, its storyline, and its graphics were so horrendous you couldn’t help but smile (as opposed to “Super Mario Bros.,” which was so horrendous you couldn’t help but break your television set). Nevertheless, the film had a few great moments, like this fight sequence between Liu Kang and Shang Tsung. Here, Kang looks to avenge his brother’s death by taking Tsung, the host of an inter-dimensional martial arts tournament, out. But before he can get to him, he is forced to deal with a group of warrior souls. The kung fu, courtesy of actor Robin Shou, is great. But it’s the film’s infectious techno theme that really makes the scene. Once you hear it, you can’t get it out of your head.

“Death Race”
There is a lot of great action to choose from in Anderson’s 2008 futuristic flick about the now-most popular sport in the country: a deadly car race between prison inmates. The star of this film is go-to action hero Jason Statham, who mostly spends his time brooding behind the wheel of his armored car. In this scene, Statham is up against The Dreadnought, a gigantic tank of a truck with machine guns and flamethrowers attached to its sides. It’s a nasty piece of equipment that can tear through automobiles, blow things up, and impale drivers, all of which are on full display here.

"Event Horizon"
I still have nightmares about this one. In this 1997 sci-fi flick, a rescue vessel is tasked with responding to a distress signal from the Event Horizon, a ship that accidentally opened up a gateway to Hell. This scene features the "Event Horizon" designer, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neil) who, after being possessed by an evil creature, attempts to drag the ship back to Satan's lair. But Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) is not about to let that happen. As Weir assaults Miller with images of his crew being tortured, the Captain is able to destroy the gravity drive and prevent their descent into Hell. The whole thing is gory and intense.

CORRECTION: A previous entry of this post included a clip from "Resident Evil: Apocalypse." As one astute commenter pointed out, Anderson only wrote and produced this film; he did not direct it. I apologize for the mistake. We'll keep it below as a bonus for fans of the series.

“Soldier”
Soldier” may be Anderson’s worst film. But there is at least one salvageable moment, and that comes during the final fight sequence, where Kurt Russell’s character, Sgt. Todd 3465, goes up against his nemesis, Caine 607. Both individuals are genetically engineered soldiers and have been trained since birth to kill and not feel pain. This makes for an entertaining—and occasionally graphic—fight: Todd’s head gets smashed through a plate-glass window, a metal structure drops right on Caine’s face, Todd uses a helicopter blade to slice Caine’s stomach open, etc. This is easily one of the best fight sequences Anderson has done. (Random aside: I think Anderson increased this scene’s sound effects volume by about 1000 percent; those punches are loud.)

“Resident Evil: Retribution"
Taking a page from Quentin Tarantino’s Gogo Yubari-Beatrix Kiddo fight in “Kill Bill,” this sequence from the fifth chapter of 'Resident Evil' features Milla Jovovich’s Alice running down a fancy white corridor while swinging a chain whip at zombies. Unfortunately, the whip isn’t too good at actually killing them, so Alice decides to shoot them in the head. The entire thing is stylish, fast-paced, and bloody. More importantly, the spatial orientation is impeccable; you always know where you are in this scene and the geography of the scene is never confused.

Bonus Not Directed by P.W.S.A. : “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”
Yes, I will watch Milla Jovovich run down the side of a building, stab a few nameless bad guys, and take on a rocket launcher-wielding monster named Nemesis who she ends up impaling on a large piece of metal. The 'Resident Evil' movies are slightly better than most of the dreck in Anderson’s filmography (he is a writer and producer—not a director—on this one), and this clip shows you why. This is a fun, balls-to-the-wall action sequence.

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17 Comments

  • andrew kaiser | February 27, 2014 7:20 PMReply

    An excellent double selection Jervaise.

  • jervaise brooke hamster | February 27, 2014 7:19 PMReply

    I want to bugger Sienna Guillory (as the bird was in 1993 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously).

  • jervaise brooke hamster | February 27, 2014 7:17 PMReply

    I want to bugger Milla Jovovich (as the bird was in 1993 when the bird was 18, not as the bird is now obviously).

  • gary and the mendlesohns | February 23, 2014 3:25 PMReply

    Great article! WS Anderson is underappreciated for what he does.

  • Andrew Kaiser | February 23, 2014 2:51 PMReply

    My interpretation of the climax of Event Horizon is a bit darker. I didn't think Fishbourne destroyed the gravity drive. I thought he sacrificed himself by blowing up the connection between the bridge area of the ship, where the surviving crew members were waiting, and the mechanical section of the ship, which contained the gravity drive. He and Sam Neil got sucked into hell or wherever, as planned, along with the gravity drive. Anyway, yeah, its an awful movie but for some reason has stayed with me a lot of people for a long time. So I guess it did something right!

  • ASFan | March 4, 2014 4:46 PM

    Yeah, it's pretty clear cut that he wasn't destroying the gravity drive. If he failed, the entire ship would have gone into the portal.

    I was kinda curious about one thing. During the initial run of the Event Horizon, they were attempting to explore uncharted territory in space. I was inclined to think it happened by chance that it ended up in the 'chaos' dimension, but there were other possible dimensions it could have ended up. Maybe I missed something or am overthinking this, but how did Weir know that activating the gravity drive would have sent them back to the same dimension and not some other one, like, say, a dimension of happiness, peace, and sunshine where unicorns exist and fart rainbows? Joking about that last part.

  • Emperor Zerg Rush | March 3, 2014 12:45 AM

    While there's definitely a lot of things that could've been better, Event Horizon really isn't a bad film. If it had a tighter final act and (maybe) a better director it probably would've raked in a decent haul at the box office vs. gaining notoriety as a cult sci-fi film.

  • Michael O. | February 22, 2014 12:05 PMReply

    If you have to cut for every single hit, your fight choreography sucks.

  • Ugh | February 21, 2014 4:25 PMReply

    This article. I've hated Paul W.S. Anderson's hackneyed direction ever since his career got started but I admit I've skipped out on at least 70% of the shit he's thrown up.
    Here I was thinking "oh, maybe the guy does have one or two good scenes to his name that I've missed."
    Nope... no he does not. They all suck.

  • Mijo | February 21, 2014 3:46 PMReply

    These are all terrible.

  • Charles | February 21, 2014 2:48 PMReply

    That Mortal Kombat fight scene is laughable. Have you not seen a single Jackie Chan movie? There are better fight scenes in Mr. Nice Guy, for Christ's sake. And that's like a 3rd tier JC movie. (Your spam filter won't let me post a link to a youtube video. Ugh.)

    But it's hard to argue with that infectious techno theme. It is pretty amazing, I must admit.

  • Charles | February 21, 2014 3:10 PM

    Just google "jackie chan fight scenes mr. nice guy part 2" and that's the damn video I was trying to post.

  • MGS | February 21, 2014 1:47 PMReply

    You are aware that Paul WS Anderson did not direct Resident Evil: Apocalypse? Prolific Cinematographer/Second-Unit dierector Alexander Witt did.

  • ThePlaylist | February 21, 2014 3:45 PM

    We've run a correction and amended. Thanks for the sharp eye.

  • Emperor Zerg Rush | February 21, 2014 2:19 PM

    And he didn't direct Death Race 3 either, some unfortunate Dutch fellow who gets saddled with all the DTV sequels no other directors want to touch did.

  • Emperor Zerg Rush | February 21, 2014 2:17 PM

    Beat me to it. Anderson co-produced and wrote it but was too busy with dropping the cinematic stinkbomb that was AvP to direct.

  • Terrence | February 21, 2014 1:21 PMReply

    The laser security grid sequence from the first Resident Evil film trumps all of these.

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