|The endless fight scene in Lethal Weapon|
This is not to suggest that all 70s action films were noble attempts to attack the violent behaviors of humanity. They weren't. They were, however, more responsible in presentation. The fight scenes and gunfights in the 70s film appear to be almost normal. They occur without fuss or fanfare and therefore have an un-elevated status. The 80s film becomes an expression of hyper-masculinity and along with this exaggerated maleness are sequences of over-the-top violent masculine activity. Moreover, many 80s films use music to heighten the exhilarating aspects of the many violent scenes. The violence, then, becomes a source of arousal and excitement in these films.
While the editing in the 80s film is much more careful, the fight scene itself is longer. The conclusion of nearly every 80s action film is a drawn out display of hyper violence. The confrontation between the good guy and bad guy is accented with dramatic music, flashing lights, driving rainstorms or occurs in an obviously male oriented place such as a warehouse. Moreover, though the characters throughout these films have always used weapons (whether guns, knives or explosive devices) in their confrontations, the concluding fight scene almost always involves fists- the combat must be physical, intimate. In some ways, the action is almost sexual, the previous violence a kind of foreplay and the conclusion the sex scene. That many action films are devoid of sex sequences is telling-- the violence becomes the only physical expression of sexual tension. Further, the visual and musical dramatics of the scene only accentuate this aspect of these films.