Monday, 25 February 2013


This week's FIGHT is written by Chris Pollard.


For years, critical consensus has categorised it in the field of low art.

But, of course, there is an art of war.

And there is an art to the art of making low art look like high art.

Those who master it will forever be held up as legendary figures, their transgressions overlooked.

For this takes something more than gravitas in the field of playing dead blokes from history and a rigorous dedication to describing some middle class people's breakdown.

One day, their bodies will die.

But the sight of them bludgeoning someone to death with a piece of household masonry before making a tasteless joke and sauntering off as if they have the world's biggest erection...

That will never die. 







The Eighties, it was a different time. A better time. A time when men were men and best friends with rippling muscles could lift weights, rock out to Van Halen and penetrate each other without a hint of irony or homosexuality. Let’s go back and meet the greatest of these men, John Matrix; a one man army whose hobbies include killing evil mercenaries and explaining to an unsuspecting world that Boy George is a girly-man. A retired colonel and a devoted father, John Matrix is the purest distillation of everything that action films used to be, a raw untamed force of nature with an ability to reduce any murder to a glib quip.

He appeared in the film Commando, which didn’t need any sequels or spin-offs because it was perfect.

The Eighties, it was a different time. A time when pop was electronic and cars could explode without a team of hairless albinos programming the visuals. The (lazily titled) Unnamed Driver yearns for this era, which is why he is accompanied by a constant retro soundtrack and initially frowns at anything that might induce a change in his lifestyle. A stunt driver, he is prone to being blackmailed by the mob in an escalating series of set pieces, like all his kind. Still, underneath some throwback ultra-violence, he has a lovely face. Maybe the right woman could make him stop stomping on peoples skulls till he has bits of brain all over his handsome boots? Maybe then he could be a devoted father to that single mother’s spunky kid? Yes, unnamed driver is an action film protagonist, but with a Modern Sensibility. 

He appeared in the film Drive, which you can take you girlfriend to even though there is guts everywhere.


John Matrix has lots of guns. Automatics, semi-automatics, carbines, sawn off shotguns, whiz bangers, boomsticks and pop weasels. Really, everything that a surrogate American could want to keep the British from invading. Rest assured that if you locked this man in a prison cell unarmed, in seconds he would jump through the wall with chips of rubble dripping from an unfeasibly large rocket launcher (Or, as we called them in the eighties, bazookas).

In the unlikely event that the Colonel runs out of ammo, he has a good line in improvising with the plumbing that can be torn from the walls of all good super villain bases.

Unnamed Driver begins each level with a car that he can drive real good. When he isn’t running you down he can sucker punch you then kick your face. He might even hammer a bullet directly into your mug, perhaps implying that real men don’t always need guns to shoot people. Nonetheless, he knows his way around a New York handshake, and he will use a gun when he needs to, like out of the window of the car that he perpetually drives, or in a 'Do you have a gun?' competition.

Unnamed is also protected by a pretty face, taciturn under the weight of a great unspecified sadness. Perhaps he actually hates cars? We can only project our own career hatred and assume. Unlike us, the greatest weapon in his arsenal is A Good Heart, with a latent need to do The Right Thing. 


Colonel John Matrix gives off a potent pheromone that ensures loyalty from women with perms. One such lady is Cindy, a flight attendant who can fly a stolen plane or pick up a gun and shoot it around for a bit (Real patriots don’t suffer from recoil). She is liable to get a snog after Matrix is done killing, because nothing helps you forget the light going out in the eyes of the men you just murdered like the compassionate embrace of someone who has just been through this nightmare by your side, and shares a responsibility for the grieving of the war dead. 

Unnamed Driver has decided to protect single mother Irene, because we all get lonely sometimes and need protecting from the hired goons that murdered our husband after he got out of jail at the end of the first act. Irene is the sort to show repulsion at spontaneous acts of homicide rather than grabbing a five iron and jumping into the fray, but if these murders are committed with her own best interests in mind then she will remain by Unnamed’s side, satisfied that one day they will go and live on a farm and the only things to be killed will be the livestock that he kicks in the face and stabs in the side to feed her son. 



John Matrix’s would do anything for his pre-teen daughter, Jenny. A single father, we can assume that Jenny is a precocious war orphan that John adopted after she followed him around a desecrated battle zone emulating his post battle quips with an adorable lisp. Perhaps he chiselled her from a spare abdominal muscle and she was brought to life by a tear of sweat from his glistening forehead. Regardless of the circumstances of her conception, Matrix is devoted to his daughter and if anyone comes within fifty feet of her then he will charge them like a mother hippo. 

Unnamed Driver learned to smile again by emulating the emotional spectrum of benign half orphan Benicio. After this any threats of violence against the child result in the driver scaling buildings in a single stunt flip to protect the integrity of Benicio’s soft, child-like skull. Whilst having a blood-rendering guardian angel is all very well, sometimes even an unstoppable killing machine needs the moderation of a child’s love to complete them. Meanwhile Irene gazes on, and imagines how nice it would be if the psychopath she has only just met were to teach her son to ride a bicycle.



Through an hilarious mix up, classmates and fast friends Benicio and Jenny have been picked up from school by the wrong parent or guardians. Colonel John Matrix frowns at the wrong child in the passenger side of his humvee, whilst Unnamed Driver stifles a rare moment of emotion at the loss of Benicio’s smile from his life. As the Colonel and the Driver assume that their counterpart kidnapped their respective moppet for Nefarious Reasons, they rush to meet for a showdown that is sure to be more manly than a beer-barrel of cocks at a Bon Jovi concert.
Soon, both parties arrive at an abandoned industrial park to fix this plot contrivance with old fashioned stunt work, a big bag of blood squibs and a refreshing absence of bad CGI. The scene is set as the sun goes down over a ramshackle complex blessed by twisty roads and poorly maintained pipework. 
Colonel John Matrix is the first on the scene, accompanied by an outdated synth soundtrack. He cocks (manly) a gun of some description and looks around, with a brow furrow that could be misconstrued as acting, but only if you were a studio executive that had eaten a pound of cocaine for lunch, then washed it down with a particularly exciting address by Ronald Reagan. The driver is nowhere to be seen, so Matrix has a quick chat with Benicio to make sure that he didn’t sire him with the help.
Who is your daddy and what does he do?’
'My daddy is dead.’ The loveable urchin replies, ‘but when Unnamed Driver gets here, you are D.E.A.D.’
Oh, look at me, I am so scared.’ Pouts Matrix. ‘Hah, I was being sarcastic, asshole.’ He grins because he has bested this small child in a game of wits. Just then, he notices a strange apparition at the window.

McClane, is that you?’ he asks, somewhat confused.

But the figure doesn’t respond. Matrix lowers his gun and approaches the apparition, as it opens the door and walks in, face firm and unchanged.

Have you seen that asshole driver?’ Matrix asks.

The figure nods, then stabs the Colonel with a concealed knife. The Colonel clutches a palm to his new wound to stem the bleeding. With his other hand he tears the mask from the grim apparitions face, to be confronted by none other than Unnamed Driver!

I should have known it was you when you stabbed me.’

The Driver nods and emits a feeble ‘Yes’, an utterance surprisingly meek for a man that goes around stabbing people. Yet this word is enough for Matrix, who can now retort with a trademark quip.

Why don’t you pipe down!’ booms Matrix, as he rips a stray legth of the pipe asunder from the wall, then introduces it to the driver’s head and upper torso in a series of careless but powerful blows, not unlike a bear swatting flies in the woods. Unnamed stumbles back, blood spurting from his neck in a manner consistent with the application of an ADHD effects genius who misses the old days. He turns, and runs from the room.

John Matrix empties a machine gun clip at the retreating figure, but he knows that this will not be enough. He jumps out of a window onto some convenient crates of melons, then reloads, ready to finish the job. He stands tall, proud, the very embodiment of the American dream. Maybe, just maybe, trickle down economics isn’t an inherently flawed concept, and the eighties can save us all. Then, as Colonel John Matrix looks into the wind, he is run down by a fast stuntcar, which proceeds to reverse over his corpse to grind his bones into the pavement. As the car pulls away and glides off into the distance, a California license plate fall from the back bumper, to find a final resting place on the fresh corpse of Colonel Matrix, RIP. 

The Driver took some serious injuries in the fight, and may not survive the night. We will never know for sure if he receives medical attention in time, but this is the dull ambiguity of edgy modern cinema. Until the crunch, Unnamed Driver will continue to bleed to an electronic beat, but this is a refreshing retro sound with more consideration for our ears than that which accompanied the Colonel earlier in this section.

It seems likely that Benicio and Jenny will survive unscathed. Killing children is still a terrible way to end an action film. One can hope that Cindy and Irene can provide each other with mutual counselling for the succession of violent acts that they have both survived. And what have we learned? Perhaps the implication that an action hero’s real strength lies in recognising and remedying their lack of emotions, or maybe just that the old and outdated must be torn apart by a hungry new generation of rabid dogs.




FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! will return in:


If you have any suggestions for who you'd like to see square go each other in future FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! articles, please mention them below.

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