PrintE-mail Written by Nick Spacek

When David J. Moore’s The Good, The Tough, and The Deadly: Action Movies & Stars 1960s-Present showed up, we could hear the sound of it dropping onto the stoop from the other side of the building. It’s a veritable tome -- much like Moore’s prior book, World Gone Wild: A Survivor’s Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies, this is the size and heft of a college textbook.

However, the content is by no means as dry as what you’d find in your standard college reader. Filled with reviews, interviews, and commentary, The Good, The Tough, and The Deadly covers each and every film, actor, and director you could hope for, along with dozens (if not hundreds) you’ve never heard of, but will feel the need to track down the instant you read about them.

Part of the book’s appeal is due to the fact that -- unlike World Gone Wild -- the reviews aren’t tackled by Moore alone. In addition to himself, he’s enlisted the likes of Vern, Mike “McBeardo” McPadden, and Destroy All Movies’ Zack Carlson, among others, all of whom contribute their take on underrated, classic, and not-so-classic rock-’em, sock-’em flicks.

It’s an absolute batty collection of reviews, and whether you’re a fan of stars such as Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Cynthia Rothrock, Sylvester Stallone, or the films of directors like Mark Goldblatt, you’re set. Now, to be fair: there are rules which will frustrate the hell out of some readers. The stars and directors featured in The Good, The Tough, and The Deadly are those who brought to the screen “physical strength, prowess, and abilities lost through time.”

Because of this, you’ll find the likes of of a nearly five-page interview with American Ninja star Michael Dudikoff within the first thirty pages, but nothing regarding Die Hard or its myriad sequels. It seems like a strange thing, but there have to be rules, or Moore’s book would just end up more massive than it already is. And, really, Moore’s logic is solid: action stars are those who built their careers on kicking ass and taking names. While the likes of Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis made some great action movies, their careers have been too varied to be considered “action stars,” per se. At this point, Eastwood’s better known as a director, and Willis has gone on to more standard fare.

I kind of take exception to the exclusion of Kurt Russell, especially given his latter day return to the the sorts of roles with which he began his career, but when stacked up against the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s still going to be remembered for destroying an island full of baddies in Commando or nuking a rain forest in Predator, despite having been governor of California for most of a decade.

David J. Moore’s The Good, The Tough, and The Deadly might not contain everything you want it to, but it certainly contains everything it should, and more. Any more than a couple minutes’ perusal will reveal half a dozen films of which you’ve never heard, but will immediately have a profound need to see. Be it the Chuck Norris grindhouse action slasher Silent Rage or the forgotten blaxploitation of The Slams with Jim Brown, there’s bound to be a hidden treasure or twenty to pique your interest.

Add in interviews with directors and stars -- including an in-depth chat with Dolph Lundgren which gave us a newfound appreciation for the man -- and this book is a must for fans of genre movies. Even the most dedicated video hound is going to get something new out of Moore’s book, even if it’s just looking at the hundreds of images source from the writer’s personal collection.


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