Teachers? Professors? Lectures? Pfft. They don’t know anything. You don’t learn things from books. You learn things from hanging out of a helicopter blowing up a small army. That’s real life experience. Unfortunately most of us have jobs, responsibilities and the like stopping us from going on our own violent adventures and escapades, so we have to turn to the pantheon of great action stars to educate us. Here, in one handy guide, are some life lessons to take from the work of Arnie, Sly and the rest.
There are two key traits that we can gather from Schwarzenegger’s body of work that we should emulate. The first, and most prominent, is to always have something cool to say, especially after an act of violence. Try to make it relevant to the situation. For instance, if you are about to fire a missile from a Harrier Jump Jet that a terrorist is hanging from dear life from, tell him “You’re fired”. If you have just killed a crocodile, tell its corpse “You’re luggage”. If you suffer from a condition that means you have to stay at sub-zero temperatures to stay alive, consider compiling a list of ice-based puns. Plan ahead, but also be ready to improvise – maybe tell a henchman that you will kill him last, but if you end up killing him earlier than expected, adjust your line accordingly.
This might just seem like it is only for getting a cheap laugh there and then – but it’s actually an important way to extend your career. Should you find yourself past your salad days – maybe due to the revelation of adultery or a ill-advised political career – you can just repeat these lines over and over again and people will like you again. It doesn’t matter if they are completely out of context. Try it!
The other trait we should take from his work is to take your clothes off at any given opportunity. In one of his very earliest appearances, as a heavy in Robert Altman’s superlative The Long Goodbye, Arnie begins stripping off within minutes of first arriving on screen, for no real reason. It is trait he’d most notably continue in Commando, going down to just his pants on a raft before taking out a whole army. We should probably take his lead and look for occupations that don’t require many garments to be worn, such as a bodybuilder, a barbarian or a Hercules. Or a naked time-traveling robot. (Disclaimer: Den Of Geek takes no responsibility for any legal action that may come from stripping off in public).
The main thing we can learn from the works of Sylvester Stallone is that everything is really, really serious. Like, really, really really, really serious. Obviously, if you are a mentally scarred Vietnam vet, you are probably going to be a pretty serious guy. But what if you’re a small time fighter, given a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the world heavyweight title, you can maybe enjoy that, right? Not a chance, just keep your head down and your moxie up. Get too frivolous and your friends could get killed by Mr T or a big Russian dude.
Are you maverick cop who plays by his own rules, and the only line of defence for a city under siege by a motorcycle cult? Just go home and eat pizza morosely with a pair of scissors. You can maybe smile occasionally, but only when you’ve successfully integrated two generations of expendable mercenaries despite their differences. And even then, it’s got to be a melancholic smile, like you’re maybe humming that ‘Sunrise, Sunset’ song from Fiddler On The Roof to yourself.
Steven Seagal wants us to know that protecting the environment is really important. So important that he once tried to stop evil oil CEO Michael Caine from ruining Alaska by blowing up a large part of it, then gave a long speech directly into the camera about the importance of environmentalism. Another time he was the only EPA agent who had the guts to bust open Kris Kristofferson’s illegal toxic waste dumping scheme. Or there was also that time he was the only herbal medicine doctor who could stop a virus released by a rebel militia. Basically, he’s a real life Captain Planet.
(For more information on the fascinating political and ideological themes in the films of Steven Seagal, I highly recommend the very entertaining book Seagalogy by Vern).
The main thing we learn from Chick Norris movies is USA! USA! USA! In real life Norris is a guy who’s passionately against gay rights and once said that the election of Barack Obama would lead to a thousand years of darkness. His films don’t quite preach that level of madness, but they do teach us that AMERICA is AWESOME. If them damn Commies invade, all we need is one good ol’ fashioned American Joe with two sub-machine guns to send ‘em packing. If them Viet Congs still have any of our boys, we’re going swing in, get ‘em back and blow stuff up.
The real message of Chuck Norris film though, it that white Americans are the best at martial arts. Apart from maybe Bruce Lee, but Bruce Lee was born in San Francisco, so that’s the only reason he was able to beat Chuck Norris.
Once he became a megastar and was given complete control of his films, Bruce Lee actually intended his films to have deeper lessons. His uncompleted opus Game Of Death was originally conceived to illustrate his views on marital arts and highlight his own Jeet Kune Do system, the style he spent his life developing. The film would see Lee storming a pagoda upon each level of which there would be an opponent practicing a different fighting style, and he would use that style’s weaknesses in order to defeat them.
Unfortunately Lee died of a brain aneurysm before he could complete the film, and the version cribbed together by Enter The Dragon director Robert Clouse destroyed most of Lee’s original vision. So in the absence of a proper version of Game Of Death to learn from, instead we have to look to Way Of The Dragon, which teaches us if you ever have to fight Chuck Norris in The Colosseum, you can use a kitten to distract him and win.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Are you lonely? Does your family not understand you? Do you feel like there’s a part of you that’s always been missing? Well don’t worry, because you almost definitely have a long-lost identical twin. Maybe you were separated when your parents were murdered by the Triads and he’s now in the Hong Kong criminal underworld. Maybe he’s a recently deceased member of the Russian mafia and you’re going to have to avenge his death. Maybe you’re actually a clone of a notorious serial killer created to help bring him to justice. It might not be exactly one of these situations, but if Van Damme movies are to be believed, there’s definitely another you out there somewhere.
Swedish accents are exactly the same as Russian accents.
What have you learned from action movies? Let us know!
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