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Action Films: This major genre type includes films that have tremendous impact, continuous high energy, lots of physical stunts and activity, possibly extended chase scenes, races, rescues, battles, martial arts, mountains and mountaineering, destructive disasters (floods, explosions, natural disasters, fires, etc.), fights, escapes, non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous heroes - all designed for pure audience escapism with the action sequences at the core of the film.
Action films and adventure films have tremendous cross-over potential as film genres, and road films often overlap with action films. (See the adventure film genre listings for examples of these action/adventure pictures.) Both types of films come in a variety of forms or genre-hybrids: sci-fi or space, thrillers, crime-drama, war, horror, westerns, etc. Oftentimes, action films are great box-office hits, but lack critical appeal because of their two-dimensional heroes or villains.
The main action centers around a male action hero or protagonist - portrayed by these most prominent actors: Bruce Lee, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Bruce Lee, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Chuck Norris, and Jean Claude Van Damme. Women in action-films usually play the roles of accomplices or romantic interests of the hero, although modern action films have featured strong female characters to broaden demographic appeal.
They almost always have a resourceful hero(ine) struggling against incredible odds, life-threatening circumstances, or an evil villain, and/or trapped or chasing each other in various modes of transportation (bus, auto, ship, train, plane, horseback, on foot, etc.), with victory or resolution attained by the end after strenuous physical feats and violence (fist fights, gunplay). Action films have traditionally been aimed at male audiences, ages 13 to the mid-30s in both American and world-wide markets.
This film genre actually began with the silent era's serial films around the time of Edwin S. Porter's classic action-western The Great Train Robbery (1903). And it has remained strong throughout all of cinematic history. Action films then expanded in the 80s and 90s, with the growth of special effects techniques and in response to jaded audiences who demanded faster plots (coherent or not), greater violence, and stimulation.
According to Guinness World Records, the most profitable film series of all time is "James Bond" - although it has since been superceded (by the Star Wars and Harry Potter films). It is the longest continuing series of English language films. The modern day action-hero - the James Bond '007' character that was employed for Her Majesty's Secret Service - was loosely based on the character in Britisher Ian Fleming's twelve James Bond novels. A number of Fleming's short stories were developed by other writers. Before the movies, Bond made his first appearance on TV, debuting on CBS in 1954, with Barry Nelson as the American 007 agent named Jimmy Bond in an adaptation of Fleming's first Bond novel Casino Royale. Fleming made his sole cameo appearance in the Bond film From Russia With Love (1963).
Beginning in the Cold War 60s (after restrictions on violence and sex were lifted somewhat), the slick, escapist Bond action/adventure Spy Films appealed to large audiences with their exotic, travelogue locales, tongue-in-cheek humor and dialogue, nifty gadgets and ingenious toys to combat evildoers, fast-action suspense and audacious stunts, and gorgeous scantily-clad sexy women. The action-oriented, sophisticated and skillful agent, with a taste for fancy clothes (often tuxedos), dry martinis ('shaken, not stirred') and cars (notably the Aston Martin DB5, the Lotus Esprit, and various BMWs), battled various types of eccentric, deadly and infamous criminals who planned to assault the world. The intriguing superhero lead role has been played by six actors - Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. Also included below are the main villains and Bond girls in the films:
Sean Connery made a reluctant comeback as Bond for Never Say Never Again (1983) - a virtual remake of Thunderball (1965). The film was reportedly titled that way since Connery was quoted as saying "Never again!" after making Diamonds Are Forever (1971). Currently, Roger Moore is the longest continually-serving James Bond actor (with 12 years and 7 films).