9 scenes that BLOW UP the screen

It’s all about the moments that literally pull you out of your shoes, with an intensity that gives you goosebumps. We then sit in the armchair with our mouths open with sensation, wondering what...

Rafał Donica

16 December 2022

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Cinema is hundreds of iconic quotes, memorable chases, spectacular shootouts, brutal duels and disaster sequences. It’s a flurry of scenes with breathtaking special effects that strike our imagination from the spot and stay in our memory forever. Iconic moments of the X muse for more than 100 years have given us baked goods on our faces, not allowing us to tear ourselves away from the screen. But there is one category of scenes, in my opinion, too rarely mentioned. I’m talking about the moments that literally pull you out of your shoes, with an intensity that gives you goosebumps. We then sit in the armchair with our mouths open with sensation, wondering what also just happened on the screen. Looking at the actors screaming and running amok, making it seem as if they let go of all the brakes, it is better to sit quietly and wait out this outburst of emotions, and certainly not get in their way…

9. Bloodsport (1988), dir. Newt Arnold

Jean Claude Van Damme received a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Rising Star for his role in Bloodsport, now considered a classic of kick-ass cinema. Quite wrongly. In Newt Arnold’s film, he created a sympathetic character of a karate soldier who deserts from the army to participate in a dream kumite tournament. In the meantime, he gained new friendships, a mortal enemy and the love of a beautiful reporter. All this Van Damme played perhaps not in concert, but at least correctly. As soon as he entered the ring, a real show of skill in martial arts combined with the lightness and grace of ballet, which Van Damme learned in his youth, began. And the icing on the cake was not at all his trademark twine performed in the air from a half-turn. Show me another scene like that, where an actor would express rage, helplessness and despair in an equally believable and poignant way with his shouting and body language, as Jean Claude Van Damme did in the scene where Chong Li sprinkled blinding powder in his eyes (by the way, all the viewers and the judge must have gone blind, too, if they didn’t see Li sprinkling that powder in Dux’s eyes). Every time I watch this scene of despair in slow motion, played in concert and with great devotion by Van Damme, the emotion and drama emanating from it somehow incredibly moves me and touches the cinematic regions of my heart powerfully.

8. Rambo 2 (1985), dir. George P. Cosmatos

Pulled from the quarries, John Rambo sticks his neck out to take pictures of prisoner of war camps in Vietnam. In the process, he rescues one of the prisoners and, through this human reflex, exposes himself to the wrath of Murdock, the mission commander, who refuses to allow a severely disappointed John to be evacuated from enemy territory. Even then, it’s clear that Rambo’s rage will be unearthly and that Murdock is screwed. A pissed off Rambo, supercharged with electricity under his bow, single-handedly makes hell on earth, killing everything that shoots and gets in his way, and brings back to US territory (to Murdock’s great satisfaction) not one, but all the American POWs he managed to find. Together with John, we head for the command tent, where Murdock, sweaty to the extreme, skittered behind the curtain. Rambo, whom no one dares to prevent from dispensing justice, smashes all the electronics gathered in the tent with continuous fire from his M-60 before moving on to the dessert of threatening Murdock with his knife. He climaxes this one-sided exchange of fire with his trademark shriek, which brings both him and the audience the anticipated catharsis.

7. RoboCop (1987), dir. Paul Verhoeven

I probably won’t lie if I say that Alex Murphy’s execution is the most powerful, realistic, brutal and shocking screen death of all time. Huge credit for this goes to Verhoeven’s efficient direction, fond of cinematic violence, and the pyrotechnicians responsible for the realistic-looking gunshots and smoke in which the entire execution scene of the future RoboCop was bathed. But it was on Peter Weller’s shoulders that the weight of the role rested, where he had to evocatively and convincingly play the hero’s pain combined with the fear of inevitable death. Alex Murphy’s shrill, piercing scream, mixed with the roar of gunshots, was played by Weller without a shadow of falsity, and we hear it long after the policeman falls dead to the ground. It’s thanks to this harrowing scene that we get so caught up in the second and third acts of the film in the tragic story of the brutally killed policeman, accompanying RoboCop in his search for his killers.

6. The Master (2012), dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

In Paul Thomas Anderson’s film, Joaquin Phoenix created the creation of a muted and closed-off World War II veteran, unable to find his way in the post-war reality. Freddie Quell abuses alcohol and, searching for the meaning of existence, wanders around the world, constantly changing his location and catching odd jobs. He has fits of aggression, and the most intense of them occurs in a prison cell, where Freddie finds himself after being attacked by police officers arresting his mentor – the titular Master. It is here, handcuffed behind his back, that Phoenix gives the greatest vent to his character’s emotions, lashing out with his head and back on the prison bunk, smashing the loo with his foot, thrashing around the cell and throatily reproaching the Master for being a big-time crook and hoaxer. This is not just an acting showdown between Joaquin Phoenix, but a clash of giants of cinema, after all, in the adjacent cell stands Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whose stoicism and composure contrast fantastically with Phoenix’s outburst of rage. The future re-creator of the iconic role of the Joker already betrays the seeds of it in The Master; his Freddie is skinny, walks hunched over, often laughs nervously (sometimes for no apparent reason) and goes from a calm demeanor to sudden explosive action.

Rafał Donica

Rafał Donica

Since watching "Blade Runner", he has been passionate about cinema, loves "Akira", "Drive", "Escape from New York", "North by Northwest", the underrated "The Hateful Eight" and "Terrifier 2". Author of the book "Frankenstein 100 years in cinema". Founder and editor-in-chief (in the years 1999 - 2012) of the Polish film portal FILM.ORG.PL. Since 2016, a professional reportage photographer.

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