Originally released in 1988, John Carpenter’s, “They Live,” is not only a quality sci-fi flick, filled with twists and turns that will keep you guessing throughout, it’s a damn good action flick in its own right.
Starring wrestling legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “They Live” is powered by its action scenes, which essentially act as a catalyst to advance the story. After watching this film, you’ll wonder why Piper never got another opportunity to star in another action flick like this. Carpenter has said in numerous interviews how much fun Piper was to work with and how he helped choreograph the fight scenes, so it’s baffling to think what could have been if Piper was given another shot. However, from this film, Piper has proven to be a more than solid action star and is charismatic, tough and daring- definitely not a guy you want to mess with. Sure,the fighting scenes gets a tad old after a while, but it’s totally fun and gives us an opportunity to be privy to several memorable one-liners from Piper.
“I’ve come here to chew gum, and to kick ass… And I’m all out of bubble gum.”
“Brother, life’s a bitch and she’s back in heat.”
If that isn’t what a great action film is all about, then you’ve spent way too much time watching soap operas.
Joining Piper in this bravado and fisticuffs-laced action flick is cinema veteran and Harlem-born Keith David, who too is no slouch in the toughness department. While he’s far from the tiniest dude in the world, it’s his voice that adds an element to his demeanor. Doing voice-overs for video games and television shows over the past 20 years when not on the big screen, David is as solid a sidekick as you can get for an ’80s sci-fi action flick.
Their relationship is far from perfect however, as the fight scene between the two towards the third act of the film is one of the longest and grueling in cinema history, going so far to be mirrored in “South Park.”
If pure action isn’t enough for you, the premise of the film is also an interesting one, as alien life forms have come to the planet and are using money to take over. The middle class, of course are being oppressed, virtually eliminating them all together and forcing an inevitable battle to occur, with of course, Piper leading the way. The social commentary the film makes is still incredibly relevant today and because of that, it’s aged considerably well.
So again, while it’s not as polished as say “Die Hard,” “They Live” is action-packed from start to finish and is a shining example of how an enigmatic star and a cool concept can make up for decent production value and make a film enjoyable.