Videogames at the Movies: Our Favourite Scenes


It’s summer and that means explosions. It’s the season when Hollywood dusts off its carbines, ties a red headband on and starts competing for those box office bucks, all guns blazing. But videogames are no slouch in the action department either. Ours is a medium that has long drawn inspiration from the silver screen, and so we asked our writers to come up with some of their favourite videogames that feel like action movies, singling out specific scenes where possible. We have superheroes, disaster movies, and more than a liberal sprinkling of Asian kung fu. Hell we even have an absurdist, deadpan interlude in an elevator to break up the action and allow you to catch your breath! So grab some popcorn, dim the lights and read on.

Viewtiful Joe – Karate Kid
Chosen by: Philip Gallagher

HENSHIN A GO GOMy favourite action sequence in a video game is easily the first transformation in Viewtiful Joe. In what’s become a neglected series, we had the movie-going Joe, whose cocky attitude made him into a surprisingly effectual action hero. But first, first, we had him receiving his ‘V Watch’ from Captain Blue, the veteran hero Joe had always admired. Joe’s first transformation into his viewtiful super-sona was perfectly awesome: the incredible theme music, the icy chilled grin and the amazing catchphrase really built us up not only for the first appearance of his suit, but a game full of beat-em-up gold.

It was a lot like the scene from Karate Kid where Daniel’s mundane training comes to shocking fruition: he suddenly finds himself an expert in fighting, and Miyagi’s status as the ultimate movie martial arts master was sealed. As much as Luke Skywalker or Daniel LaRusso, that moment in Viewtiful Joe was an instance of the torch being oh so stylishly passed to a new hero. Our expectations were high, our adrenaline was surging, and we were ready to play a f***ing game. HENSHIN A GO GO, BABY!

Uncharted 3 – The Poseidon Adventure
Chosen by: James Hamblin

Uncharted_3_SinkNaughty Dog has deservedly earned itself a reputation as the maker of some of the most lavishly cinematic games ever created. So, it’s thoroughly unsurprising that many of the Uncharted series’ most impressive action sequences seem directly inspired by iconic blockbuster movies.

Take, for example, the ‘Sink or Swim’ chapter in Uncharted 3. A memorable section aboard a stricken cruise liner that’s drowning in its appreciation for The Poseidon Adventure. Time and tide, as they say, wait for no man, but Naughty Dog doesn’t miss a trick plundering the vessel for all its dramatic potential.

Although there are a handful of stray pirates still sloshing about on board, as in so many great disaster movies, the real enemy here is a malevolent Mother Nature. With unquenchably evil intent the sea waters hunt you through the claustrophobic and disorientating corridors and compartments below decks, subjecting Drake to more than one near-fatal ducking. And then suddenly, you’re outside, the camera disappearing off into the distance to reveal the spectacle of this giant whale of a ship being swallowed whole by the ocean with you an insignificant, almost indistinguishable Jonah along for the ride.

It’s a majestic change of pace and perspective. A sweeping cinematic emphasis of scale similar to those that frequent the assaultingly epic God of War games, before you head back inside for the chapter’s finale in the ship’s ballroom-turned-aquarium. A cracking ending to an experience that repeatedly has you holding your breath.

Sleeping Dogs – Big Trouble in Little China
Chosen by: Fran Shergold

Nightmare1It’s strange thinking about similarities between videogames and movies. To me, movies are disappointing in relation to videogames. I look at a sweeping vista in Skyrim, and think back fondly to films like Ladyhawke and Willow, until I watch the movies again and they don’t live up to the nostalgia. A couple of my favourite game moments that feel like films have actually come in the form of DLC. Sleeping Dogs felt like a serious Chow Yun Fat film come to life (so did Max Payne, with some Matrix bullet time thrown in for good measure), but the DLC came as close as you could hope to actually playing Big Trouble in Little China in real life. The DLC is light hearted and quite cheesy and just feels like an 80s horror film. There were oriental ghosts, ancient demons, magic potions and spot on cult film dialogue. The only thing missing was Kim Cattrall when she was still attractive, and before she showed off her forty-something boobs in Sex and the City. Far Cry Blood Dragon also felt like every good cheesy 80s action movie, that I kinda wish that it had been. Imagine what might have happened to Michael Biehn’s career if he had followed up Terminator and Aliens with a real Blood Dragon… and then a live action version of the Elder Scrolls, we can but dream… and I will.

Mass Effect – Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Chosen by: John Brown

ME-liftThree heavily armoured, battle-hardened heroes of the Alliance are on a vital mission to save the civilised Universe, there’s no time to waste, “Back to the Normandy!”. Unfortunately, The Normandy is an elevator ride away and we know what that means. Yes, the awkward conversations, the even more awkward silences and waiting… always waiting for the doors to open again. Why, why is it taking so long… The Elevators from Mass Effect 1, and to a lesser extent 2, were always a source of frustration and amusement, even though they provided an opportunity to catch ones breath and catch up on happenings in the rest of the galaxy, they were always just that little bit too long. The only thing missing really is to have “The Girl From Ipanema” playing in the background.

And that’s the link to Mr. & Mrs. Smith and the scene in the department store when, escaping from one set of bad guys and heading into another, Brad and Ang take an Elevator. The break in the action lasts just too long, long enough for a smile to start creeping over your face as you realize they’re taking the piss a little and in the background plays, “The Girl From Ipanema”. Genius.

Sleeping Dogs – Infernal Affairs
Chosen by: Susan Marmito

Sleeping Dogs 2I can think of several blockbuster game moments, but I think it’s special when a game evokes an entire genre of movies. Sleeping Dogs pays tribute to pretty much every Chinese cop movie ever made and then some. There’s the emphasis on impressive hand-to-hand combat rather than guns (although there are guns too), the story which features a cop infiltrating a deadly gang and the complication of his own inner conflict. Good guy cop or bad boy gangster? Wei Shen is both at once and it’s so much fun to be him; to be living out that story that is a staple of the genre. Wei Shen could be Chow Yun-Fat, he could be Jet Li, he could be Tony Leung. This game is like Infernal Affairs, it has hints of Hard Boiled, it has the energy of Young and Dangerous. You only have to look at the live-action trailer produced for the game to see the play that Square Enix were proudly making. Movie-style trailer and game mirror and play off each other – not simply adaptations but inextricably linked in a way that I hope can be matched and topped by the sequel, Sleeping Dogs: Triad Wars.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Kill Bill: Volume 1
Chosen by: Sarah-Lou Costley

ZeldaMy fave action sequence has got to be Link’s final fight with the mean and mighty, Ganodorf in Ocarina of Time. After hours of gruelling battles, puzzles, time travel, other bosses and setbacks, you finally get to face off with the git who started it all: Ganondorf. At the top of the tower is where the final fight is set. In the centre of the room is your foe. All of your adventures have led to this very moment, so you gotta make it count. After knocking him down with some light arrows, you rush towards him and attack with all your might. You then realise that the ground falls away from you if you stay in one spot for too long, so while you’re dodging Ganondorf and all his attacks and trying to aim your light arrows, you gotta keep moving. Finally after button bashing the crap out of your control pad, the little shit is down.

This reminds me of the awesome final fight between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii in Kill Bill Volume 1. As they squared up to each other, you knew it was gonna be an epic fight. Just like Link, The Bride was tired and bloodied after fighting her way through various foes, but knew she had to kick ass. And she did more than that, she sliced the top off O-Ren’s head. I mean, who does that?!

Streets of Rage – Old Boy
Yakuza 3 – Sonatine
Chosen by: Dean Bowman

Videogames are a cult medium with a strong link to the far east, and as a fan of Asian cinema there’s unsurprisingly a wealth of moments that bring to mind my favourite videogames. One particularly strong moment comes in the form of the corridor fight in South Korean revenge thriller Old Boy, in which an enraged, insane Choi Min-sik takes on a small army of goons armed with only a hammer. The low camera pans on a dolly alongside as he makes his way from left to right dispatching his enemies with bone crunching blows, all the combatants gradually becoming more and more exhausted as though their health bars are draining. The whole thing is heavily reminiscent of classic side scrolling beat-em up Streets of Rage, complete with a brilliantly sleazy jazz inflected soundtrack.

yakuza33But I would be remiss to mention Asian cinema without bringing up Yakuza 3, which is so influenced by the work of cult Japanese director Takeshi Kitano. Kitano’s work, which includes the self explanatory Violent Cop and award winning offbeat road movie Hana-bi, is characterised by its sharp, unexpected turns from sentimentality to extreme violence, all shot through with an incredibly iconoclastic blend of dead pan humour and bleak existentialism. In his classic film Sonatine, a world weary gangster decides to lay low in a beach hut in Okinawa with his troops, and their antics including sumo wrestling and a firework fight, have a lightness that juxtaposes with the violent reality of their lives that they can never quite escape. Just so Kazuma Kiryu, the protagonist of Yakuza 3, is attempting to live a peaceful life running an orphanage in a beachside town having stepped down as a Tokyo crime boss, but gets pulled back into the fray. One moment you’re smashing the head of some punk who mocked your fashion sense into the railings, the next you’re singing cheesy karaoke ballads with your daughter. Takeshi Kitano eat your heart out.


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