Statham Sunday continues with this excellent guest post by Betsy. She's a noted Stathamologist, so heed her wisdom.
Thanks to Betsy!
Violence In Movies
(or: A Love Letter To Jason Statham)
I love films. I watch films a lot. I love DVDs, because it means I can watch whatever I want, whenever I want, and I have a lot of DVD box sets of TV series, but I have a lot more films.
This year my other half decided to watch the IMDB top 100 war films, and blog them all. I haven't been watching them with him, but I have seen a few films I wouldn't otherwise have chosen to watch, and they weren't all bad. That said, some of them were abysmal.
My own taste in films is awful and I don't care. I love films that other people seem to think I should be ashamed to love, but I'm not. I own films that people seem to think should be sold in a brown paper bag, but I not only bought them in broad daylight but I watch them regularly and love it.
One of my many movie related downfalls is Jason Statham.
His films are always ridiculously violent, often visually veering to the extremes of contrast in either shades of grey or blindingly bright colours. The Jason Statham films that I own are Crank, Crank: High Voltage, Snatch, The One, Death Race and The Transporter. I have seen, but don't yet own, Blitz, The Expendables, War, Transporter 2, Revolver, Ghosts of Mars and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
These films serve to fufill a very specific entertainment urge, which I like to call “something stupid and violent that will make me laugh”.
I can always, always watch something stupid and violent that will make me laugh. And if a film is stupid and violent enough, it will always, always make me laugh. Not just if it's stupid. See No Evil Hear No Evil rarely raises a smile, it's just not my kind of thing. And not just if it's violent, much as I love Jodie Foster and as moving as The Brave One is, it's not exactly laugh-a-minute material.
The thing about violence is that in real life, it is disturbing and upsetting. There are certain types of violence that I can't handle in fiction either. I can't watch films that contain any kind of portrayal of rape or sexual assault, be it shown or implied. However cleverly it is filmed or edited, and whatever the message, I don't want to see it or be told about it. I know it's something that happens, but I think it is amongst the worst things that happen in the world and I don't need a director to tell me how awful it is. I get it. I left the room during Requiem For A Dream when the junkie girlfriend starts selling herself for drug money. A reminder that this kind of thing happens in real life, and not particularly rarely, took away any desire I had to be entertained and made me run outside in case I vomited. A strong reaction, I know, but it's just the way I am.
Jason Statham doesn't do serious violence. I've seen him kill and injure people with guns, knives, a car, a hurley and his bare hands, I've seen him do serious damage, minor damage, physical damage, property damage, damage to space and time and damage to the American accent. But he only hurts the bad guys. If he hurts a good guy, you get to see his remorse. If a good guy gets hurt by someone else, you get to see the vengeance.
And it will be violent.
And it will be stupid.
And it will make you laugh.
One thing to remember about stupid violence that makes you laugh is it very often involves some form of martial arts. Jason Statham is very good at martial arts, and his fight scenes involve lots of spinning and jumping and whirling, throwing things and hitting exactly what he was aiming at. It's satisfying to watch. But that's not the limit of his abilities.
In Death Race, Jason Statham teams up with an opponent to flip a massive evil truck and destroy all the evil soldiers within it. In Crank: High Voltage he beats the crap out of Corey Haim (god rest his soul) for sleazing on his girlfriend. In Blitz he beats up a gang of would-be car thieves in the very first scene. I don't even think it's his car they're trying to steal. It's ridiculous and it's awesome and it sets the scene perfectly, because you know what he's capable of, and you know how far he'll go.
Because what you know about Jason Statham in all these films, and by Jason Statham I mean whatever character he's playing, because I refer to him as Jason Statham the vast majority of the time and rarely remember the names of his characters, what you know about Jason Statham in these films is that to some extent, in some way, he is the underdog. Jason Statham never plays the millionaire businessman, or the suave sophisticated spy, or the happily married family man. Jason Statham is the minimum wage manual labourer whose family is murdered by a man in a ski mask, or the underground boxing organiser who owes a favour to the mob boss, or the man locked up for something that, well, to be fair he probably did do it, but he's probably also keeping the heat off his brother, or boss, or family friend.
Jason Statham never plays the man who does violence for the fun of it. Jason Statham plays the man who is forced into violence but, luckily, happens to be very good at it. And you're happy that he's good at it, because he is avenging his murdered family, or biting back against the mob boss, or getting what's owed him on his release from prison.
I don't know what Jason Statham is like in real life, I've obviously never met him. From the blooper reels I've seen on my DVDs he seems like a laugh, and I know he doesn't take himself too seriously. Have you seen Crank: High Voltage? He's built like a brick shithouse and he used to be a diver, competing in World Championships and forming part of the British National Diving Team. He's somehow pretty and not pretty at the same time, rough around the edges as if he's made up of ugly features but put together it works out well, like if someone managed to make a good likeness of Julia Stiles out of a Mr Potato Head game. I know hardly anything about his private life, only really that he used to go out with the woman who played Sarah Connor in The Terminator TV series, and of course Kelly Brook left him so she could go out with Billy Zane.
Kelly Brook is a fucking idiot.
Jason Statham, I love you.