Thursday, June 29, 2006

Action!

When I was young, fights were the most important component of a movie. The story, the romance, the song sequences, the comedy - everything else was secondary. The number of fights and the quality of each of those stunt sequences were the only things that mattered. The answer to the question "Fight Irukka?" was usually what decided if I was going to see a movie or not. And the assurance of fights in Rajni movies were a big reason for me becoming his fan.

Though I have grown to appreciate all aspects of a film, stunt sequences still hold a special place in my heart. I still look forward to fights in a film. A well-picturized stunt sequence can get the adrenaline really flowing and a few such sequences can make the entire film seem fast-paced.

As you've probably guessed, it was the news of stunt master 'Vikram' Dharma passing away that led me down this particular memory lane. So, here are five movies that stood out for their action sequences. Some of these didn't have Dharma choreograph the action sequences(for all I know, none of them may have had him as the stunt master!) but I'm sure his work atleast influenced the fights in some of them...

Murattu Kaalai - The jallikattu scenes, a key part of the film, were picturized very well and brought the fury and intensity of the sport before our eyes. Rajni's one-on-one fights with the bulls were also picturized with skill, making us believe that it was really him. And the climax fight atop a train was terrific and could stand up to many sequences today in grandness.

Sakalakalaavallavan - While Rajni mostly did the regular, hand-to-hand fights, Kamal's fights tended to include a lot of props. But in Sakalakalaavallavan, he did both, resulting in some memorable fight sequences. The first fight in the field was raw and rough while the climax was tense and thrilling.

Captain Prabhakaran - Vijayakanth always paid special attention to fight sequences and with a director who paid equal attention to them, Captain Prabhakaran had some blistering action sequences. Vijayakanth used his back-kick to great effect in the rousing police station fight and the rest of the film had some great action sequences too.

Run - Madhavan is an unlikely action hero but surprisingly, he starred in what is probably my favorite action sequence in recent times. The subway fight in Run was pure adrenaline, both in unexpectedness and in the choreography of the actual fight. All other fights in the film were also realistic without being violent and made Maddy a believable action star.

Dhool - Director Dharani exploited Vikram's macho image fully in this masala flick. The intensity in Vikram's encounters with Pasupathi was built up masterfully before exploding in the long but superb sequence at the election booth. The Madura Veeran... song sequence was another exhilarating sequence.

12 Comments:

At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Though the film flopped and that might the reason why nobody would remember, when you get the chance, watch the fight sequence in Varnajaalam in the marketplace. Pulse pounding, very nicely choreographed and picturized. Very rare in any otherwise mediocre film, but well worth seeing!..

I'm a little surprised that Gentleman isn't in this list. The first train stunt scene/fight was revered for quite sometime in the industry after the film's release in 1993. I thought it was noteworthy.

So was the famous Prabhu-Karthik fight in Agni Nakshatram. One of the best goop and gunk fights ever in memory.

 
At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Ram said...

copy-pasting from a conversation i had with a friend:

btw, did u read abt Vikram Dharma passing away? paavam daa...his stunts for Kamal were just soooo brilliant...Indian airport scene, Aboorva Sahodharargall chase sequences, Nammavar 'blade' fight, Kuruthi Punal train stunt, Mahanadhi jail-la realistic fights...too many to list...

yeah, PKS, thenali madhiri comedies layum super stunts...
The climactic fight of Indian was on par with any Hollywood stunt...ditto for the opening robbery of Gentleman...

yeah gentleman opening sequence nenaichen .. dhoooollll .. aided in no small measure by rahman ..

 
At 2:18 AM, Anonymous Zero said...

I was one of those guys who "condescended" to fight scenes too soon, that I don't remember any instance when I asked anybody "Fight irukka?" (Which means I was way too young to remember anything when I actually looked out for stunt sequences in a film.)
Such a snob I was!

 
At 2:56 AM, Blogger sreekrishnanv said...

btw : i guess RUN was peter hein .. not vikram dharma !!

 
At 6:15 AM, Blogger Sirnapper said...

The climax fight in Jayam was good, not much stunts there but it had an electric feel to it...

 
At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Sandya said...

Sreekrishnanv: didn't you catch this in Balaji's post "Some of these didn't have Dharma choreograph the action sequences(for all I know, none of them may have had him as the stunt master!) but I'm sure his work atleast influenced the fights in some of them..."..

He himself mentions that some of them didn't have Dharma's stunt choreography. Don't think this post is meant to be an ode to Dharma fully, but to the art that he dedicated his life to.

 
At 10:00 PM, Blogger Bart said...

I think "Senthoora Poove" of Vijayakanth had great action sequences. The waterfall sequence, then the train fights were very thrillingly done. Also the same director-producer combo came with great hanging bridge action sequence in "Inaindha kaigal".
The most recent audience-clapping action sequence should be "Dishyum" stunts and before that should be "Anniyan" Matrix-fight.

 
At 10:26 PM, Anonymous ram said...

bart, yeah, i totally agree with u...Inaindha Kaigall had a spectacular pre-intermission shot...remember the movie being released sometime in the late 80s...apo laam VCR thaan...oru sodhappal print...adha vaera naan rewind-play panni panni thaechen!! that was an awesome shot of arun pandiyan saving ramki...aabaavaanan was that guy from the Film Institute who made some decent action flicks and then gradually faded away...

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

sandya, i'm not sure why but i can't recollect the train stunt sequence in 'gentleman' even after u've said it. i can remember the fight in the mall but i'm throwing a complete blank on the train sequence... strange!

and yes, that was a great fight in 'agni natchathiram'. very realistic and showed them both getting drained physically. but i picked films where there were atleast a few actions sequences...

ram, didnt even know those were by vikram dharma. but now that i know, yes, those were all classic action sequences...

sreekrishnan, 'run' is actually 1 of the few movies where i know the name of the stuntmaster. yeah its peter hein. but as sandya, this was more a rambling post of my thots on vikram dharma passing away.

sirnapper, yes the climax of 'jayam' was great. just a little too long :)

bart, yes 'senthoora poove' climax was awesome. i think trains in general provide a nice setting for an action-packed climax :)

 
At 5:25 AM, Blogger Bart said...

Yes Ram.. I think he was one person revered in the industry for his audacity. He introduced lots of new technicians (Most of them DFTs) in every film of his. However, none of his movies succeeded as well as his "Oomai vizhigal", a well-made thriller. "Senthoora Poove" did have a decent run. But he had a series of disasters after that. (I think he was one of the first persons who was then, in 80s and 90s, blamed for huge budgets with not so justified star casts. Heavy use of film rolls, high number of shooting days etc)

 
At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Posterity may not remember him for his job but he will be forever be remembered for his great contribution to the Tamil lexicon...the expression 'Dharma' adi owes its origin to the late stunt master...

Film News Anandan

 
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