Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lights, Camera ... and Lots of Action 10 of the Movies' Most Heart-Stopping Scenes

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lights, Camera ... and Lots of Action 10 of the Movies' Most Heart-Stopping Scenes

Article excerpt

What constitutes a great action scene? It's a combination of the fundamentals of filmmaking - editing, style, imagination, pacing - with adrenalin-pumping thrills. Rene Rodriquez of Knight-Ridder Newspapers lists 10 favorite action "moments" (not necessarily action movies) in chronological order:

"The Seven Samurai" (1954): The final battle in Akira Kurosawa's epic about the warrior's code of honor remains one of the director's most accomplished pieces of work. Under a thundering rainstorm, the seven heroes engage in slow-motion battle against a band of bandits coming to raid a town. The black-and-white images carry such graceful, steely poetry that they're unforgettable. Hollywood remade the movie in 1960 as a Western, "The Magnificent Seven."

"Bullitt" (1968): Race-car enthusiast Steve McQueen did much of his own driving in this roaring chase through the hills of San Francisco that elevated a workaday cop thriller into a Sunday afternoon TV staple. "The French Connection" also had a doozy of a car chase, but McQueen's speeding Mustang was just too cool - and "Bullitt" came first.

"The Wild Bunch" (1969): The climactic shootout in Sam Peckinpah's blood-splattered Western used up more bullets than some entire war movies - four guys against an entire army, and it ends up a tie. Peckinpah's hyperkinetic editing and use of slow motion influenced a generation of filmmakers; Walter Hill, in fact, copied the sequence virtually shot for shot for the finale of 1986's "Extreme Prejudice."

"Raiders Of The Lost Ark" (1981): The first 10 minutes of Steven Spielberg's ode to the adventure serials of the 1930s remain one of the most exciting movie openings ever: Beginning with Indy's descent into a mysterious temple in search of treasure and ending with his narrow escape from a tribe of spear-wielding natives, the sequence could stand as a mini-movie on its own. …

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