Renny Harlin is one of two directors putting out a Herclules film this year. And to be brutally honest, expectations for his entry, The Legend of Hercules, are not as high as they could be. But maybe people are being too judgmental. Maybe movie fans have forgotten what gems this director has given us through the years. Here’s a refresher course on why people should be careful when throwing shade in Renny Harlin’s direction.
The Cockroach Death – Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
The tide of opinion has shifted in Nightmare on Elm Street 4‘s direction in recent years. And rightly so. While the film is neither as good as the original nor as interesting as Dream Warriors, it certainly gives its all in trying. On top of that, it has some of the most inventive dream kills in the series. This roach transformation probably offers the best example. Warning: May be NSFW.
Grenades Can’t Kill John McClane – Die Hard 2
In real-life terms, this scene is totally absurd. But in action-movie terms, this moment told moviegoers that Die Hard 2 would at least have one must-see moment. In Die Hard terms, this is probably a moment that breaks the hard-earned reality people loved from the series, but as time (and new sequels) go by, Die Hard 2 grows in estimation for at least starring a character who actually resembles the John McClane we know and love.
The Opening Scene – Cliffhanger
Who says Renny Harlin can’t do tension? So much of Cliffhanger relies on the fear that someone might fall to their death. We get that not just from the vertigo-inducing visuals, but thanks to the white-knuckle opening scene in which we see an innocent woman fall from an unbelievably horrific height. If you want to see the difference between Renny Harlin and any other director, just watch the parody of this scene that opens Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls.
Pretty Much Anything Involving Samuel L. Jackson – The Long Kiss Goodnight
There’s a lot to love in The Long Kiss Goodnight, but Samuel Jackson reading lines from Shane Black’s hilarious script is the number-one thing it has going for it. No matter what’s going on in the film, you’re never far from either a golden line or some classic ’90s action.
Samuel L. Jackson Bites the Big One – Deep Blue Sea
There’s nothing better in a movie than a big rousing speech to raise morale. About the only thing that can top it is when the speaker is suddenly swallowed by a supersmart shark, which is exactly what happens in this showstopping moment from Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea, aka That Movie Where Samuel L. Jackson Gets Eaten by a Shark While Giving a Big Inspirational Speech.
The Chicago Street Race – Driven
Driven is not a film most remember fondly. And rightly so: it’s a pretty goofy Sylvester Stallone vehicle. Nevertheless, the film does feature one scene of note. Released the same year as the original The Fast and the Furious, Driven treated us to an almost superhuman Formula One race car drag out on the streets of Chicago that flips manholes and breaks nearby glass from the speed involved.
Charly and Mitch Get Dressed – The Long Kiss Goodnight
No one goes to an action movie wanting to see a school teacher running around acting scared. So it comes with a sigh of relief when Geena Davis’ Samantha finally loses out to the super assassin living in her brain, Charly. Harlin follows her transformation scene with a surprising montage of Samuel L. Jackson suiting up for more wisecracks. So they both get to dress up to cool music.
The Plane Crash – Die Hard 2
It’s hard to get real emotion into an action film, especially a sequel. But Renny Harlin makes it happen when John McClane fails to save a plane full of innocents from crashing. The scene is brutal, not only putting us firmly into “these bad guys are really bad guys” territory, but highlighting McClane’s limitations as an action hero in classic Die Hard fashion. Warning: May be NSFW.
The Soul Pizza – Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Seriously, there’s so much to love about Nightmare on Elm Street 4. It particularly improves as we look back from within an era overly dependent on computer animations for gore and monster effects. This great pizza scene, for instance, didn’t seem like such a big deal when the film came out, yet now feels all kinds of exciting for how real and gross it looks. Warning: May be NSFW
The Creatures Attack – Devil’s Pass
One of the great things about Renny Harlin is that he’s willing to try out anything. With last year’s Russian production Devil’s Pass, he gave found-footage horror a shot. While countless filmmakers have used and abused the gimmick, Harlin looked to [Rec]‘s night-vision aesthetic and created a series of memorable scares in the process.
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