OTB Presents… 5 Films That Deal with the Transformative Potential of Violence

New comedy flick Here Comes the Boom (out in cinemas tomorrow – 9 November) stars Kevin James as Scott Voss, a high school biology teacher who takes up mixed-martial arts to raise money to save the school’s biology programme.

Here Comes the Boom also stars Henry Winkler (AKA The Fonz) and Salma Hayek. To coincide with the film’s release, OTB presents five films that deal with the transformative potential of violence…

5. American History X (1998, Kaye)
American History X is a rubbish film. Make no mistake. Shot in pretentious black and white (faux-symbolic?) Ed Norton (unable to save the film despite his decent performance) plays a neo-Nazi called Derek, sent to prison for killing two black men who attempted to break into his truck. After being savagely raped by a fellow skinhead in prison the penny drops and Derek realises that some people are bad and some people are good, regardless of race. He joins forces with his black former English teacher to prevent his younger brother Danny from falling in with the skinheads.

4. Rocky (1976, Avildsen)
Stallone’s opus is the archetypal rags-to-riches sports film: out of shape protagonist beats all the odds to rise to the top of his field. In the case of Rocky, this involves lots of running, montages and fighting. Through boxing, Rocky meets his wife, and learns that true love conquers all. Rocky was so successful, it spawned no less than five sequels, and achieved the remarkable feat of making Sylvester Stallone a watchable screen presence. OTB lays the blame for Rocky’s transformative powers squarely at the film’s score.

3. The Firm (1989, Clarke)
There are several films called The Firm, including a 1993 Tom Cruise vehicle and Nick Love’s awful 2009 remake of Alan Clarke’s 1989 assessment of ’80s football hooliganism for the dunderheaded WKD-and-banter loving generation. Clarke’s film starred one of the greatest actors of all time, Gary Oldman, as upwardly-mobile estate agent Bexy with a taste for violence. The film considers how the lure of hooliganism transcended class, homing in on Bexy’s inability to give it up due to the “buzz” he gets from beating people up. Powerful gritty realism. Watch the film in its entirety here.

2. Fight Club (1999, Fincher)
Ed Norton (brilliant once more, in a good film this time) is a nameless insomniac who moves in with charismatic soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), forming a fight club with a few rules. Director David Fincher is on record saying that his zeitgeist-defining film’s violence serves as a metaphor for the conflict between Generation Xers and the value system advertising.

1. The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012, Nolan)
We’re lumping all three Dark Knight films in as one here. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a dark, realistic take on the superhero genre. Violence is at the trilogy’s core: Bruce Wayne sets out to avenge his parents’ murder by using violence as a force for good, adopting the Batman alter ego to clean up Gotham’s streets of criminality, corruption and terrorism. Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning standout turn as The Joker included a rumination on the nature of violence, explaining why he prefers to use a knife than a gun: “Guns are too quick, you can’t savour all the little emotions. In their last moments people show you who they really are…” Watch the superb fan-made Dark Knight Ultimate Trilogy trailer below:

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