Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The Last Action Heroes by Nick de Semlyen

If you had asked me - more than a week ago - to name my favourite book which focuses on the film industry, two titles would have immediately sprung to mind. I would have suggested Tom Shone's Blockbuster or Hollywood .vs. Superman by Jake Rossen.

A new contender has now entered the discussion.

Nick de Semlyen - editor of Empire Magazine - has written The Last Action Heroes: The Triumphs, Flops and Feuds of Hollywood's Kings of Carnage. This is a book that is right up my street because it covers my favourite genre of film: action movies from the 1980s and 90s.

The Last Action Heroes by Nick de Semlyen

All of the heavy-hitters from that period of time are covered in de Semlyen's work. 

Starting with Sylvester Stallone's rise from an unknown to the success he achieved with Rocky, the book introduces all of the 80s and 90s heavy-hitters in the order they came along in the movie industry. To, if you pardon the pun, rifle off names in no particular order: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Jean Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris are all given the spotlight in this journey through the boom period of the action movie.

As I've already mentioned, this category of movie was my go-to back in the day. The Last Action Heroes allowed me to take a trip down Memory Lane to recall some of those big movies, but also to learn about what it was like for some of the people who worked on those films. It was also intriguing to see how good (or bad) the titles did at the box office.

Rocky Balboa is my favourite film character, so it was interesting to read everything about Sylvester Stallone's post-Rocky career right through to - I suppose - going by how the book concludes: publicity work for The Expendables II.

Speaking of The Expendables franchise - I have recently found myself being recommended videos of Dolph Lundgren being interviewed by TMZ and other street reporters on YouTube. I always find these vids interesting because Lundgren always comes across as charming and down to earth. 

I had recalled he and Grace Jones were in a relationship during the mid-80s and had assumed they had met while working on A View to a Kill. However, I learned - through this book - that Lundgren had picked up the job on the Bond film because he happened to be there with Jones during the shoot.

Rocky IV came along shortly after that. Could you imagine if Lundgren hadn't been dating Grace Jones at that particular moment in time?

Of all the stars to appear in this book, I found Steven Seagal to be the one I liked the least back in the day. Reading about his rise to fame in The Last Action Heroes made me wish I could have invested more time in his work. 

It would have been interesting to state the least.

I have given The Last Action Heroes five stars on Good Reads. It is the perfect book for someone like me who grew up in the 80s and 90s during what I would consider to be the golden age of the action movie. 

I came away with a plethora of trivia notes and knowledge that I didn't have before coming across the book. That's a win-win.

The Last Action Heroes: The Triumphs, Flops and Feuds of Hollywood's Kings of Carnage by Nick de Semlyen will be published on August 24 2023 in the United Kingdom. Thank you to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an advance reading copy.

Buy Last Action Heroes from Amazon UK

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