‘Cold Steel’ is a movie set on a Pacific island in WWII, where Hong Kong action star Guo Minxiang plays a Japanese sniper with a torn shirt and…an American M1941 Johnson Rifle? And a variable-power riflescope that wouldn’t be invented for another twenty-five years? Really, now: Arisakas may not get much love among American shooters but they’re actually excellent rifles, and just about any period rifle would be a superior sniper weapon to the recoiling-barrel M1941 Johnson and its delicate magazine. Why does Hollywood (or in this case, Hong Kong action cinema) get guns so wrong most of the time? . . .
I love action shows. I’m a sucker for anything with guns, bravado, and a bit of ironic reparté. One of my favorite shows of the past couple of seasons has been Human Target. Starring Marine Vet Mark Valley, Chi McBride, and Jackie Earle Haley, it’s the story of a reformed hit man (Valley), an ex-cop (McBride) and a black ops guy (Haley) and their adventures as they try to right wrongs, give help to the helpless, hope to the hopeless, and feet to the defeated. It’s an entertaining show, well written, and fairly exciting, with enough explosions, gunplay and action to befit your average action/adventure feature film. That’s the good news. The bad news? Hollywood’s got it in for guns, at the same time that they’re milking the gunluv for all it’s worth. Sound schizo? You bet.
Once I became a gun owner and received the training I needed to carry and use it responsibly, mine eyes were opened to the bi-polar attitude Hollywood has regarding guns. Perfectly willing to exploit guns in movies and on TV for ratings, most of Hollyweird has this love-hate thang goin’, where they despise and deplore guns in real life. Apparently, in their book the only good gun is a blank gun.
But something interesting’s happening lately. A growing number of celebs are beginning to find their voices, speaking out as Conservatives, and…wait for it…pro-gun advocates. I thought it might be interesting to scour the web for lists of current denizens of MovieTown and see which ones are willing to be identified as gun-friendly. (Note: Charlton Heston would be at the head of the list, but we’re talking here only about the living.) Here’s a partial list . . .
Full disclosure: I do a pretty good Walter Brennan impression. I liked ol’ Walter from his days on The Real McCoys (whu…whu…whu…whur’s lil’ Luke, ye knotheads?) to the Guns of Will Sonnet (No brag . . . jes fact). But Walter Brennan was more than just some old guy character actor with a distinctive voice. Nope. He was a war hero. Guess which war?
The imaginative folks over at H2 ask the rhetorical question, “what if handguns were hand-guns?” I’m also thinking how cool it would have been, if I could have gotten my hands to do that when I was a kid. Except for the bloodshed. Even at my blood-thirstiest, I never wanted to hurt anybody for real. But having smoke and muzzle flash shoot out of your fingers is just flat-out coolness. [FAR more violent video here]
Films and firearms. Even before movies had sound, directors, producers and studios discovered that a lot of action, a bit of violence, and a whole lotta shootin’ puts bums on seats. Then as now, audiences get an adrenalin rush from the vicarious thrill of watching a bad guy blown to bits, or a hero shooting his way out of trouble (which he didn’t ask for, of course). Hollywood genres may jump the shark, but none have jumped the gun. From Birth of a Nation to Cop Out, from William S. Heart to Walter Bruce Willis, guns get the gold. But in another sense, Willis is the exception that proves the rule: a movie star / gun rights advocate. You can’t swing an AR-15 around a room in Hollywood, period. Or doing so without hitting someone who is vehemently opposed to guns, gun ownership, gun violence and Second Amendment rights.