Letters: female action stars, Kurt Russell in a dress, spoilers

Our non-interactive letters page returns, and we're chatting action, oil, fighting and cinema tickets...

Regular readers may have spotted that this is now the fourth appearance of our letters page, which we all appear to be lumbered with now. It’s part of our quest to be the most old-fashioned, non-interactive website on the planet. Basically, you send us a letter, by email or post, and we answer it, and leave it at that. Bonus points for writing in with Grange Hill questions, which nobody has yet.

But you’ve written in with the following. So here’s our latest mailbag…

Name That Film!
Ludicrous speed!

I am usually pretty good at investigating and finding obscure films and TV shows from my childhood. But this one eludes me. I can find no reference to it anywhere. I don’t know the title but I have vivid images of this possible film/teleplay in mind.

A small boy somehow finds himself on a desert island. He meets many different characters. There is a friendly old, perhaps blind man building or maintaining a model city that resembles New York. There is also a greedy businessman who seems to be despairing at his predicament of being trapped on the island.

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Then there is a mute female alien made of gold who arrives in a large golden space rocket.

I think the ending involves the greedy businessman attempting to steal gold from within the rocket. However, he is trapped on-board as the rocket takes off for space.

Please help me find it, or at least tell me it was just all a dream.

Many thanks,

Dominic McGee

Simon writes: It was all a dream, but a pretty amazing one. 

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Simon writes, on further reflection: I’ve no idea, as you might have guessed. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve popped a Rick Moranis picture up there that’s nothing to do with your question. But hopefully a reader out there will know…

Female-led Action Movies

[Some nice things about us at the start of this letter have been chopped. They’re appreciated, but you don’t want our ego inflating any further. It explains why we join this letter mid-sentence] … I like that you do quite a few pieces on women’s roles in geek culture, like superheroines and stuff.

This may seem like an unrelated point, but my points will converge at the end of this question, I promise – but I kind of really hate action films. I mean, I love action films like Pacific Rim, Snatch, Dredd, any kind of Marvel film etc. – I just really hate the kind of stereotypical action film, i.e. Old White Guys and Explosions. I’m talking Taken, Taken 2, any Jason Statham film, the Die Hards, the Bournes (okay, he’s not old, but the point stands), The Expendables etc. etc.

Do you know what I’d really, REALLY love to see? An action film with a mainly female cast. I mean, there’s Sucker Punch, but I mean like, a realistic action film where the girls don’t spend 90% wearing glorified stripper outfits, that doesn’t take place in an imaginary world. All the explosions and the fighting and the swearing and the dying, none of the Liam Neeson (don’t get me wrong, the man is a legend), Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis etc. stuff – just good old fashioned ass-kicking ladies.

And (dun dun daaah!) my question is, are there already any films out there, aside from Sucker Punch that I am missing? And, to be honest, more importantly, do you agree or disagree?

Thanks very much, keep up the good work!

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Beth(aged 18)

Simon writes: You’re asking us if we agree to hate Jason Statham movies? I’m afraid that’s not going to happen, Beth.

However, a few things.

Firstly, the direct to video work of Cynthia Rothrock might not be a bad place to start. Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire has its moments. But fundamentally, the point about an action film with a mainly female cast stands, accepting the skimpy outfit caveat (which rules out the Charlie’s Angels movies, and the upcoming – nnggh – The Expendabelles). Lucy, however, which arrives in UK cinemas shortly, is a step forward.

Secondly, a point of pedantry: I’d argue that the first Die Hard movie isn’t an action film.

One other thing: don’t rule out all action movies with old white guys and explosions. Dig back further, and there are some absolute corkers out there. These aren’t all pure action movies (they have elements of drama and thriller to them), but give stuff like The French Connection, Heat and Mad Max 2 a try. Each of those is immeasurably better than Taken 2. Write back and let us know how you get on!

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Ryan writes: How about Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita? Also, see if you can track down some of Michelle Yeoh’s early Hong Kong martial arts films, like Wing Chun, or the Supercop movies, where she co-starred with Jackie Chan. She has an ice-cool, dignified presence in all her films, and she also used to do her own stunts.


Hello! [Nice words redacted, but appreciated].

Anyway, I’m wondering how hard is it for you as fans, to post spoiler-y articles such as behind-the-scenes photos, trailers, reports etc. on movies/TV shows?

Do you feel as if you’re sacrificing a greater movie experience by knowing and posting more beforehand? Or does it not feel that spoiled to you? Are you still able to enjoy the product as a proper fan?



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Ryan writes: It can be frustrating to learn so much about a film from trailers and still images that there doesn’t seem to be any surprises left when we get into the theatre. But the good news is, we see so many trailers and things every day, we seem to have learned how to filter at least some of it out. Either that or we’re getting old and our memories are going…

Simon writes: Having the best jokes spoiled of Jack & Jill was a personal low point for me…

Ticket Prices

I’m curious to know how the price of the cinema tickets divides up into (how much goes to the cinema chain, the studio, the promotion etc). I remember an Empire article on it from many years ago and just wondered what it was nowadays.

Much love and kisses

Rich Millyard(Aged 39 and 11 months)

Simon writes: I’m going to cheat, because there’s no fixed answer here. The cut a studio gets in the first week of release, for instance, isn’t always the same further into exhibition (some reports suggest it’s as much as 95%, hence the big drive from studios to get you to see their films in week one). Likewise, something like the Secret Cinema Back To The Future screenings will have been negotiated separately, as a bigger chunk will be held by the ‘exhibitor’ in this instance.

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To quote the website of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association Limited, which you can find here, “Exhibitors and distributors also negotiate how much each cinema will pay the distributor in ‘rental’ for the films it shows. This is usually a percentage of the box office takings on the film. The percentage paid to distributors will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the film and whether the cinema is showing it on the release date, as well as the location of the cinema and its penetration with audiences. While most large cinemas will receive major films as soon as they are released, a number of smaller cinema sites may not receive these films until a few weeks later”.

See? It’s only mildly cheating, as there’s no fixed answer. Furthermore, it varies from country to country too. That’s comfortably, then, one of the least helpful answers we’ve given in the brief history of this letters page.

Fight Fight Fight!
Transporter 3

I was just wondering what your favourite fight scene from a film is? And your favourite Statham fight (assuming the answer won’t be anything from Transporter 3!)


Ryan writes: My favourite fight scene changes constantly. The corridor fight scene from Oldboy is a cracker, largely because it’s so beautifully shot. For pure, technical brilliance, though, look no further than Jackie Chan’s early films Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master. In both, Chan fought Hwang Jang Lee at the end, who remains one of the most ferocious martial artists ever caught on screen.

As for Jason Statham, how about the extended scene where he fights loads of bad guys in a bus depot of some sort. It’s superbly well choreographed, inventive and very funny. Who’d have thought a barrel full of oil could come in so handy?

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