The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is Marvel’s latest Disney+ show. The series, which focuses on the characters of The Falcon, AKA Sam Wilson and The Winter Soldier, AKA Bucky Barnes, is what happens when you put Marvel characters in the world of a buddy action film. What exactly is a buddy action film? Well there are plenty of examples out there, but just think of The Odd Couple with fists and guns. In many cases, it takes a young, inexperienced actor and an older actor and throws them together. You get the dynamic of young and old colliding, or different cultures colliding in some cases on our list.
The genre isn’t terribly old or well worn as you’d think. Marvel does it’s magic taking what we know and love, and adding Superheroes to it. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is basically The Manchurian Candidate mixed with superheroes. Guardians of the Galaxy? Think, The Wild Bunch and Rocket Racoon.
Let’s get to the list.
5. 48 Hrs.
If you want to see the genesis of the “buddy cop” or buddy action film, this is it. Eddie Murphy just before his meteoric rise to stardom and Nick Nolte chewing scenery and everything else up in the film. This is the tale of polar opposites and the fantastic directing of Walter Hill. Nolte’s character, Jack gets Murphy’s character Reggie a 48 hour release from prison to help him catch a pair of murderers on the loose.
It too brings up the issues of race, in a prescient way. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is the building block upon which all future buddy action movies are built on. Eddie Murphy isn’t at the peak of his powers, but like seeing Michael Jordan before he won his first championship, you can see the greatness at the beginning.
4. Rush Hour
What do you get when you take the already brilliant Jackie Chan and put him with a somewhat inexperienced Chris Tucker? You get magic and Rush Hour. Tucker has a crazy filmography and is almost as selective as Daniel Day Lewis with his roles. Jackie Chan does something amazing and then Tucker comments on it. That’s a distillation of the series down to it’s core, but the films are wild fun. This is the strange buddy action series where both people (besides the first part of Rush Hour) enjoy each other’s company the whole time. The comedy and chemistry between Chan and Tucker add a whole lot to the proceedings.
It just goes to show the magic that Jackie Chan has when on camera.
3. Die Hard With A Vengeance
We saw for two movies that John McClane can go “one man army” pretty easily. So what happens when you force that stubborn, one-man approach into a team with Samuel L. Jackson? You get the masterwork that is Die Hard With A Vengeance. One part buddy action, and one part against-the-clock thriller. This one shows off the chemistry that Jackson seems to have with ANY actor he works with. If you wanted to see what it would look like to tag an innocent bystander with John McClane and commenting on all the crazy sh*t he does, this is the movie.
If Die Hard is certainly a Christmas movie, then Die Hard With A Vengeance is one of the best buddy action films out there.
2. L.A. Confidential
Does L.A. Confidential count as a buddy action movie? Well it’s my list, not yours, so it does. Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, and Russell Crowe work to take down corruption and crime in the LAPD in the 1950’s. This one is less funny and more dramatic than any other on our list, but it works the same. It also fits pretty well into The Falcon and The Winter Soldier‘s narrative. We have some mysterious goings-on in the Marvel universe and something is not quite right.
The film is a masterpiece of crime thriller/drama/action and the sequence at the end of the film at the Motel is one of the best scenes on film. Go watch it for yourself.
1. Lethal Weapon
What else could it be? Shane Black didn’t invent the genre, but he perfected it with this film. It didn’t just revolutionize buddy action movies, it reinvigorated the action genre. You have the deeply troubled Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and the consummate family man in Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover). What brings to mind more about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier than that? The original film in the series brought forth a new brand of action that had comedy, but was very much a human experience. You saw these two characters grow together and form a partnership.
That’s really what the buddy action genre is all about.
What movies just missed the list? The Other Guys, Bad Boys, Hot Fuzz, and many more. This genre is filled with great films and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is no different when it comes to this. Check out the show on Disney+ when it releases this Friday, March 19th.
For more on movies, or Top 5/10 lists, stay tuned to That Hashtag Show.