I’m starting up a new series called Winners And Losers.
It’s actually a pretty simple idea. For every film I see that I enjoyed or was good from a critical standpoint even if I hated it, I consider that a win. It can also be a win if the actor/actress/director delivered a memorable performance even if the overall material was garbage.
It’s a loss if the movie was bad or if the movie was good but the actor/actress/director delivered a “don’t care” or “this is my stupid day” performance. Depending on an actor/actress/director’s win/loss record, I may be more likely to see their films or do my best to avoid them entirely.
Not all the films included in Winners And Losers have been reviewed by me yet, but I have seen them. There are also some films that I haven’t seen in a long time and I don’t feel comfortable grading a win or a loss, so they’ve been excluded from the list. There are also some films that actors have been in but did not play a substantial enough role to be considered for Winners & Losers.
There will be a tab on the homepage for Winners And Losers that I’ll update on a regular basis. Enjoy!
I’m a huge fan of action films so I thought I’d start this series with the three best action stars of the last 30 years: Arnie, Stallone and Willis.
I haven’t explored Arnie’s filmography even close to as much as I’d like to but so far I’ve amassed eleven titles.
This film is way too much fun. It’s got the corny one-liners, the preposterous action sequences that are taken so seriously by Arnie and overall, is just too entertaining a film to forget. Verdict: Win
I don’t feel like I should have to explain this choice, but I will anyway. Predator is one of if not the best action film of the 80’s and Arnie’s forever iconic phrase “Get to the Choppa!” has stood and will continue to stand the test of time. Verdict: Win
The Running Man
This film was perhaps over-hyped for me because while I loved the dystopian angles and themes in this film, some of the acting in this film was not there. Thankfully, Arnie didn’t lose his corny catchphrases and while I was certainly disappointed, I wasn’t so disappointed that I didn’t like it. Verdict: Win
Arnie took a different route with Kindergarten Cop, with it being a family film and yet, it still managed to be a laughfest and have enough catchphrases to want to keep coming back to it again and again. Despite his reputation as an action star, Kindergarten Cop continues to stand today as one of my favorite Schwarzenegger films. Verdict: Win
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
I think the Terminator saga is one of the more popular film series of today, but I’ll admit I feel the idea is more gripping than how it all plays out. If asked today to name films that I think are overrated, my default answer is usually Remember the Titans and the Terminator films. I still haven’t seen the first one, which is why you don’t see it on this list, but Terminator 2: Judgement Day, in my opinion, is the best of the bunch, with a fantastic antagonist role from Robert Patrick to coincide with Arnie. Verdict: Win
I had fun with this despite the absurd plot holes and unbelievable events that happened on the silver screen during an inflated run time. James Cameron is one of the best directors of all time, but he also doesn’t seem to know when enough is enough. Verdict: Win
This breaks Arnie’s perfect streak because Collateral Damage is just a bad film. It was trying to go with an 80’s formula, but there’s no humor to cause us to overlook the absurd plot points. There’s wasted talent left on the screen and the acting demonstrates a passionless product. Verdict: Your record takes collateral damage.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
This Terminator sequel didn’t hold the same cinematic grip that Judgment Day did, but Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines still had enough bang and boom, aided by some updated special effects, to keep this series going. Verdict: Win
The Last Stand
Up to this point, Arnie’s 7-1, but he drops a huge goose egg with this travesty of a product. Poorly-written catchphrases, stunt choreography and an overall impossible story, the fact that Arnie doesn’t even appear to be trying in this Verdict: Die in a cowboy shootout. It was your last stand.
Schwarzenegger tries but his famous voice travels through deaf ears as this film failed to capture any real grasp on my attention. My roommate says he went with me to see this but I don’t even remember that. Shows how memorable this was. Verdict: You failed. You didn’t escape. Two weeks in the hot box.
David Ayer’s spring venture was the exact opposite of Fury. Character writing, acting and theme were all terrible and it rightfully earned a suckage label. Verdict: You tried to sabotage my mind. Go die in a hole.
The fifth installment proved to be a huge boost to Schwarzenegger’s post-governor career. It’s the first time Arnold seemed comfortable in a roll and truly entertained. The movie wasn’t very good, but the effort and enthusiasm from Arnold was there. Verdict: Win.
Final Record: 8-4, 66.7% WINNER!
Arnie’s dropped the ball on the last few but his prior accomplishments make up for it. For now. While Terminator: Genisys does provide a spark to what was once a dormant actor, you got to wonder whether it will stick.
Wins: 8 (Commando, Predator, The Running Man, Kindergarten Cop, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, True Lies, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator: Genisys)
Losses: 4 (Collateral Damage, The Last Stand, Escape Plan, Sabotage)
When you google Rocky, this is what you get:
“The film, made on a budget of just over $1 million and shot in 28 days, was a sleeper hit; it earned $225 million in global box office receipts becoming the highest-grossing film of 1976 and went on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. The film received many positive reviews and turned Stallone into a major star.“
I had no idea this film was shot in 28 days and that only makes me respect this film so much more. A film this successful and this acclaimed is an obvious win. Verdict: Duh, winning
The original sequel with Carl Weathers was just as good. Verdict: Win
Bringing Mr. T on the ride was a great casting choice and gave Rocky yet another formidable opponent. Verdict: Win
After creating one of the most popular characters of all-time in Rocky, Sylvester Stallone ascribed to go higher and went for another golden character and succeeded in doing so. The only actor I can think of that has played two such prominent and critically-acclaimed characters is Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Indiana Jones. However, Stallone contributed to the writing of these characters, which in my opinion makes his accomplishment the greater of the two. First Blood became a cult sensation and spawned a few sequels of its own. Verdict: Win
Rambo: First Blood: Part 2
My favorite Rambo, Stallone seemed more comfortable in the role and the plot was more story-based then thought-provoking like it’s predecessor. I approved of the change of pace while not striving too far from its previous theme. Verdict: Win
My favorite Rocky installment at the time of this writing, Dolph Lundgren’s best role and a fantastic score always stir my will to win and believe by the film’s conclusion. Verdict: Win.
Another successful Rambo installment. Haven’t it seen it in a while, but what I remember is good. Verdict: Win
Demolition Man is one of the best corny films I’ve ever seen. Original scripting along with character portrayals from Stallone, Sandra Bullock and Wesley Snipes, Demolition Man is an 80’s film made in the 90’s. Verdict: Win
Judge Dredd doesn’t have as stable a plot as I would have liked but it’s still got this beauty. Some laughable dialogue and perhaps a film that takes itself too seriously, Judge Dredd maintains some entertainment value as well as Stallone bringing some vivacity to the character. Verdict: Win
D-Tox/Eye See You
A horror drama isn’t Stallone’s neck of the woods, but Sly showed some acting depth and the story arc was pretty good. Verdict: Win
This 2008 installment didn’t hold the same dramatic punch as its older siblings, but Rambo‘s action sequences were top-notch and still made you want to root for the old Vietnam vet one more time. Verdict: Win
This was a film that should have been made years before it was finally taped, but just because this film didn’t offer us the one-two-hook of Arnie, Stallone and Willis doesn’t mean this film wasn’t great. The plot wasn’t revolutionary but it didn’t need to be. All I wanted was to see a bunch of action stars get together for a film and blow stuff up and The Expendables gave me that. Verdict: Win
The Expendables 2
The sequel may have been better than the original. Not going to say it was or wasn’t at this time, but it was up there. Verdict: Win
Arnie didn’t get a win for this and Stallone isn’t getting a win for this either. The story leaned on character writing that was sub-par at best, giving it no real stilts to rest on. It was okay for a watch, but definitely no reason to watch this again. Verdict: Not even you escaped this, Sly.
A boxing film wasn’t in the cards for Stallone and I’m still unsure why he decided to try this. He’ll never be able to separate himself from Rocky and to try and put himself in a boxing film removed from the character we all grew up loving just wasn’t a good move. Robert De Niro was given a shoddy role with a wasted subplot and the film overall hit few keys in tune. Verdict: You got knocked out in this one.
The Expendables 3
I read a few reviews prior to seeing this and they didn’t turn me away or discourage me. How could they? The Expendables was such a blast of a saga. They were every film-goer’s dream. Then I saw it and I think inside I was crying because I knew Stallone had thrown my dream down the gutter. He brought in some desolate actors to drive a film forward and it stalled like a Prius. Verdict: Dreams die hard, my friend.
The newest Rocky addition left Stallone on the sidelines in a dramatic narrative that really added to the film. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Verdict: Win.
Final Record: 14-3, 82.4% WINNER!
If you can please me 80 percent of the time, I feel confident in engaging myself in your life. Keep it up, Sly. Don’t make another Expendables unless you’re planning to kill my dreams again.
Wins: 14 (Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, First Blood, Rambo: First Blood: Part 2, Rocky IV, Rambo III, Demolition Man, Judge Dredd, Eye See You/ D-Tox, Rambo,The Expendables, The Expendables 2, Creed)
Losses: 3 (Escape Plan, Grudge Match, The Expendables 3)
Willis’ breakout flick also included the best character of his career. Verdict: Win
Die Hard 2
Probably the least of the original three, it’s still John McClane and his forever iconic catchphrase stopping terrorism. By the way, never watch a Die Hard film on TV because they always censor it out and it ruins the experience, at least for me. Verdict: Win
One of if not the best work from the pen of Quentin Tarantino, Bruce Willis had a major role in this classic, which is known today as one of the best films of all time. Verdict: Win
Die Hard with a Vengeance
My personal favorite in the Die Hard series combined the acting prowess of Samuel L. Jackson and Mr. Willis and it worked wonders, making me scratch my head and wonder why Hollywood doesn’t try to put big name actors together more often. Verdict: Win
One of his lesser known films, Willis stars opposite Alec Baldwin in a film about government corruption and national security. I would go so far as to say it’s a memorable film but it’s one that you know Willis worked at even though as a whole the film was average in execution. Verdict: Win
The Sixth Sense
M. Night Shyamalan’s crowning achievement and a threshold he’s been unable to surpass since the making of this thriller, The Sixth Sense has one of the best plot twists ever. Bruce Willis stands across from a young but overly talented Haley Joel Osment in a film that was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor. Once again, Willis shines.
Willis has had plenty of shining moments but this film was not one of them. Void of tone and impact, Willis’ suffers his first defeat. Verdict: You lost the war.
Tears of the Sun
Antoine Fuqua’s themes stand strong but not as strong as its pawns. Willis remained at the top of the pact in a film reliant on ideals rather than characters. Verdict: Win
Ben Foster blows minds in his supporting role and overshadows Willis’ performance but that doesn’t lessen Hostage‘s hope-crushing tone and dark motifs. If all hostage films were like Hostage, I’d watch more of them. Verdict: Win
Each time I watch this the more I enjoy it. Willis showed he still had what it took to make a big budget film and Mos Def surprised me with his supporting role. A good redemption story, which obviously are the best kinds of stories. Am I right? Verdict: Win
Live Free or Die Hard
The wheels could have fallen off of this real quick. I can’t tell you how apprehensive I was to see this. Die Hard is one of the best action empires ever built and to see it being drug through the ground would have been heartbreaking and enraging at the same time, a disservice to the character and the legacy the crew had spent some much time putting together. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Willis still had it. The action was fantastic, some more witty catchphrases and comebacks from our hero McClane and a great wingman in Justin Long really put Live Free or Die Hard up with the rest of them. Verdict: Win
A Good Day to Die Hard
Read the above Live Free or Die Hard explanation. This is that worst fear realized. I don’t think Willis could have made it any more obvious that he was in it for the money. His lack of caring was desensitizing. Willis and Jai Courtney managed to nosedive one of the greatest action phenomena in the history of film. They slapped me a couple times in the face while they were at it because I guess they felt overly courteous during the day I watched this travesty. Verdict: This was not a good day. At all.
Final Record: 9-2, 81.8% WINNER!
Bruce Willis has fallen off the face of the Earth as of late, which makes me sad because I miss this guy’s hey day. Also found out that Willis has never been nominated for Best Actor, something I was genuinely surprised by. However, it’s okay if the Academy doesn’t appreciate his talents. All his fans do and you can mark me down as one of them.
Wins: 9 (Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Mercury Rising, The Sixth Sense, Tears of the Sun, Hostage, 16 Blocks, Live Free or Die Hard)
Losses: 2 (Hart’s War, A Good Day to Die Hard)