Subtitled ‘interviews with the men and women of martial arts and action cinema’ Life of Action, written, appropriately, by one Mike Fury, is as good an example as any of a book which does exactly what it says on the tin. Fury, a self-confessed lifelong action movie junkie, has interviewed thirty-five of today’s busiest (if not best known) action movie stars, stunt performers and directors, and the result is a book which serves as a useful barometer of an intriguing substrata of movie-makers whose work appeals to a very specific (and, we suspect, very demanding) target audience.
In its own way, Life of Action is very intense book. Action movie fans have very clearly defined expectations of their heroes and whilst few, if any, of the subjects Fury has interrogated here are destined to become household names, their work is as closely followed and scrutinised by its audience as that of any higher profile Hollywood A-Lister. Fury’s book is divided into three distinct categories. ‘Actors’ presents the author’s interviews with better-known names such as Scott Adkins, Richard Norton and the legendary Dolph Lundgren and names such as Zara Plythian, Robin Shou and Rina Takeda who may be less familiar to the casual reader but whose work in low-budget martial arts movies and webseries has brought them to the attention of action movie devotees across the world. They’re all busily and quite contentedly making names for themselves in their chosen genre and whilst it’s hard not to suspect that most of them are aware of their limitations, they’re clearly passionate about what they do and their tireless work ethic puts many of today’s better-known stars to shame.
Other sections in the book are devoted to ‘Stunts’ and ‘Directors’, with perhaps John Hyams being the most recognisable name in the latter category, whilst the former chronicles the exploits of the rare breed of performer who makes a living tumbling through windows, falling off horses and being beaten about the head in relative public anonymity in sometimes quite well-known movies.
Fury and his chosen subjects are joyously enthusiastic about action movies and their enthusiasm leaps out of every page. Most of the interviews follow a fairly similar formula – the book’s best dipped into rather than read in a couple of sittings – and the layout isn’t hugely exciting, consisting of a few blandly-presented photographs supporting the interviews and a list of each interviewee’s selected works. But for the modern action movie aficionado Life of Action represents an irresistible opportunity to learn more about the lives and work of hard-working, largely-unsung and often fairly anonymous film-makers whose tireless efforts and commendable determination to be the best they can in their chosen genre is a welcome reminder than the real innovators in today’s movie world are those who rarely wander across Hollywood’s big-budget radar. Life of Action is absolutely required reading for anyone who’s ever heard of Cynthia Rothrock.
INFO: LIFE OF ACTION / AUTHOR: MIKE FURY / PUBLISHER: MILL CITY PRESS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW