May 1999
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How to Build Your Own Action Movie

by Philip Dore

So you think coming up with the next Hollywood action blockbuster is difficult? Nonsense. They all follow the same ready-prepared format, and if you don't believe us, look at the roster of action movies that made millionaires out of Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal and Keanu Reeves.

First there was Die Hard, then Die Hard 2 (Die Hard in an airport), Speed (Die Hard on a bus), Speed 2 (Die Hard on a cruise liner), Under Siege (Die Hard on a warship), Under Siege 2 (Die Hard on a train), Cliffhanger (Die Hard, on a mountain) and Broken Arrow (Die Hard in a desert). Forthcoming action movies will no doubt include Die Hard in a phone box, Die Hard up a tree, Die Hard in a sauna and Die Hard halfway up a kangeroo's arse. If you're looking for a carton of milk from the cash cow, just follow this easy step-by step guide, slip a bag of cocaine to Charlie Sheen and you'll be reaping in the profits.

1) The bad guy is always a posh English bloke who went to Eton. Never a person who grew up in a Third World refugee camp or any similar setting that would generate the kind of bitterness that would make somebody want to blow up half the Western world. By this logic, we could probably solve the world's terrorism problems by nuking the House of Lords.

2) Also, the bad guy is invariably described as insane. Despite having a recognisable mental disorder, he still has the intellectual capacity to plan and conduct an impossibly complicated criminal plot.

3) This crazy, posh English genius is also able to obtain the services of an elite commando team (easily available from your local 24-hour store).

4) Aforementioned complicated criminal plot involves extorting money out of the US government by holding hostages in a hi-tech office building, airport, airliner, train, warship or similar such location that involves lots of convenient places for the good guy to hide in. Despite the bad guy's genius and ability to get his hands on any kind of technology he wants, it never occurs to him to use this genius and technology to simply embezzle money through a computer fraud or something else that would be far easier and with less variables to go wrong.

5) By a bizarre coincidence, among the hostages taken will be a world-renowned anti-terrorism expert.

6) By an equally bizarre coincidence, this anti-terrorism expert will bear a curious resemblance to Steven Seagal.

7) The anti-terrorism expert and twice winner of the annual Steven Seagal look-a-like contest will be smarter and a better soldier than the entire US anti-terrorist organisations combined.

8) The Steven Seagal look-a-like will always have a cute little niece who will be caught up among the hostages. This cute little niece will be able to successfully overpower one of the elite commandos (highly skilled in the art of unarmed combat) by biting his hand.

9) The terrified innocent civilians taken hostage will always be Americans. Should any foreign civilians be taken hostage they can get murdered without us feeling too bad about it because they talk kinda funny and probably have disgusting toilet habits.

10) If the bad guys decide to kill a hostage, the laws of physics dictate that for the duration of the killing, time will inexplicably slow down so that the Steven Seagal look-a-like can shout "Nooooooooooooooo!" in a weird distorted voice.

11) Despite crazy, posh English genius's team being elite commandos, the Steven Seagal look-a-like will be able to kill them all in a twenty versus one shoot-out.

12) Furthermore, despite the rest of his team being elite commandos, crazy posh English genius will die last, even if he has no military training to survive the shoot-out. Preferably, he will first appear to die and then turn up right at the end to be killed properly, usually by falling off a high building while attempting to drag the Steven Seagal look-a-like to his death with him (presumably as an artistic protest against the crock of shit that was Under Siege 2).

13) Part of standard hostage rescue training is the ability to come up with an unfunny pun (e.g. "He lost his head") every time you kill a bad guy.

14) All bomb timers will be successfully defused one second before they are due to explode.

15) Although the Steven Seagal look-alike will kill all the terrorists and rescue all the hostages, the next time he goes on holiday he and his cute little niece will encounter a new crazy, posh English genius and team of elite commandos, just in time for the sequel. Maybe he should rearrange the feng shui in his house.

N.B.: There is a moral to this story. If you're about to get on a plane, first check that the passenger list doesn't include a posh bloke, twenty really hard-looking men, a Steven Seagal look-a-like and his cute little niece. If you spot these people on board, take the bus (unless, of course, there's a guy on the bus who looks like Keanu Reeves).

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