The Movies List: PG-13 Action


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Last Tuesday, Chris Vernon invited me back on his show to fill in for a vacationing Chris Herrington and do a "Movies" list. (My second week to do so.) Based on what was big at the box office at the time, G.I. Joe, I presented the list "Top 5 PG-13 Action Movies."

As defined by the Motion Picture Association of America (who better to define it?), PG-13 is: "Some material may be inappropriate for children." And, specifically: “There may be depictions of violence in a PG-13 movie, but generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence.”

One caveat: NO comic-book movies. I could've had three or four action-based PG-13 comic-book movies on the list, and it didn't seem fair, since G.I. Joe isn't a comic-book movie. So there.

Top 5 PG-13 Action Movies:

5. Hero (2002)
The pure aesthetic beauty of Zhang Yimou (House of the Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower, Olympics opening ceremony) with the awesome martial arts abilities of Jet Li. Lowly government official (Nameless) tells the emperor how he killed three would-be assassins, named Broken Sword (Tony Leung), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung), and Sky (Donnie Yen) Also: Moon (Zhang Ziyi).

4. Casino Royale (2006)
Director Martin Campbell. Origin story for James Bond. Reboot of the series. Daniel Craig as Bond, Eva Green as Vesper Lynd, Mads Mikkelsen, Le Chiffre, tears of blood. Great poker scene, great footchase scene in the beginning, but lots of emotional heft to it also. Very dark. About money, which is cool. Response to the Bourne movies.

3. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Jason Bourne. Climax to the trilogy (Identity, Supremacy). Director Paul Greengrass. Matt Damon. Clinic in how to edit an action movie. Incredibly fast cuts, but the language of the movement is there. Particularly in a fight scene in a tiny apartment bathroom.

2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The classic. Harrison Ford, add Sean Connery. PG-13 came about because of how gruesome Temple of Doom was (along with Gremlins). River Phoenix. Holy Grail. Steven Spielberg.

1. Red Dawn (1984)
The very first movie released as PG-13, and it’s still the best. Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, Powers Booth, Harry Dean Stanton. Writer/director John Milius (Conan the Barbarian). Cold War patriotism for teens. Soviets and Cubans paratroopers. Calumet Wolverines. My childhood friend Alan and I would always troubleshoot what we would do if Collierville was invaded by Russians.

Honorable Mentions (lots of good ones):
Minority Report, Mission: Impossible, Reign of Fire, The Fugitive, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Star Trek (the new one)

And now back to your regularly scheduled "Movies" host, Chris Herrington. Who will be back on the Chris Vernon Show this afternoon.


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