The rest of the world thinks of America like that first roommate out of college: Sitting on the couch all night, telling swear words to Halo, farting into the robe they didn't ask if they could borrow in the first place, and just generally contributing nothing meaningful to the world at large. With one exception: Hollywood. We unquestioningly pump out the most crotch-burstingly awesome action movies on the planet. That's our thing. That's what we can point to and say, "here's what we do best."
And we would be lying, because there is a small state in India called Tamil Nadu that's been churning out movies which prove, without a doubt, that they can do action every bit as well as we can, plus throw in a hurricane, eight bears, a dance number and a bitchin' goat jump on top. They're called Tamil films, and here are the scenes that put America to shame:
Superstar Rajinikanth, Murderer of Gravity
Tires squeal, citizens run in terror, screaming at the villains pursuing them. Just when all hope seems lost, one thug goes hurtling impossibly through the air. We see the foot that kicked him: It is wrapped in a second-tier running shoe. It may be a Puma. The foot lifts, and we are slowly introduced to the hero, the badass, the man that nightmares have nightmares about.
He looks like Wayne Newton.
He's tubby, he's old, he's got a moustache that wants to sell you a used Ford Festiva, and he is here to save the motherfucking day. And then, just when you're fairly confident the movie accidentally zoomed in on the wrong guy, this middle-school shop teacher starts kicking tornados into existence and shit goes all Matrix (well, okay, not quite "Matrix," as much as cheap, store-brand knock-off of Matrix; Motrix, if you will.)
This is Superstar Rajinikanth, India's answer to a question the world has always been afraid to ask: What if all of Bruce Willis' roles were given to Ron Jeremy? He's here to do two things: Kick ass and chew bubblegum...and he's not even out of bubblegum. So he's just...I guess he's gonna do both then. What happens next is a blur of jean jackets and violence: Men are punched so hard they do perfect cartwheels, or are paralyzed with the power of hand gestures. Bodies are hurled into electric generators and vehicles; human beings have the very gravity punched out of them.
Superstar Rajinikanth proves three things: Middle-aged porn stars can still kick ass, nobody's told India about physics yet, and the key to a bitchin' action movie is having a denim budget that absolutely dwarfs the special effects budget.
T. Rajender, Dance-fighting Ewok
T. Rajender is equal parts Chaka from Land of the Lost and old school Chuck Norris (before he fell so in love with himself that his ego deepthroated his career and forgot it wasn't supposed to swallow). As a general rule in Tamil movies, there are two ways any given conflict can pan out: Either an elaborate song and dance number will fire up from nowhere, with rhythm itself being judge, jury and executioner, or else a brutal and confusing fist-fight will erupt, scarring body and psyche alike. In this clip, both happen at once: Two men dance awkwardly, hoping the universe will let them settle the matter through song. When nature misfires and no grandiose musical number swirls into existence, it is clear that the uncaring cosmos wants the men to settle it with violence.
They reluctantly oblige.
The smug little Death Ewok is clearly winning the fight, in part due to the other men's willingness to listen to his lengthy, monotone lectures after every punch. Then, without warning, he deploys the Atomic bomb of Indian martial arts: He hurls himself through the air, cruelly forcing his opponents to catch him. This harms them somehow.
Music tries to burst through the fighting again, but to no avail: This matter must be solved with blood. T. Rajender punches a strange, crab-walking cripple to death, then forces a giant to eat a full and balanced meal with kicking.
The fight is eventually finished when T. Rajender sings to the kick-fed man and, judging by the man's facial expressions, it is the singular most terrifying song in the history of the world. It is the song of the void: Its chords are the births of stars, and its lyrics are the heat-death of the universe itself.
Its dance, on the other hand, consists of several adorable hops, a clap and a bitchslap.
Captain Vijayakanth, Flailing Pile of Fat and Death
As previously indicated by Superstar Rajinikanth, tubby older men with colorful shirts and mid-grade running shoes are death incarnate in Tamil cinema. And none are tubbier, more colorful, or more mid-grade than Captain Vijayakanth:
He looks like a cross between Horatio Sanz and a short order cook at a discotheque: Obviously these criminals are in some serious fucking trouble. Even moreso since they've flung their weapons aside, opting instead to tie themselves upside down to vines and hurl themselves from trees while windmilling like panicked fourth-graders. Eventually the good Captain realizes the only way to fight retardation is with more retardation, so he valiantly commandeers a vine of his own and fights them on their own terms: By drifting in small, slow, confused orbits, like somebody strung up a pinata made of ham.
When the low speed collisions do occur, Vijayakanth's attacks consist of making punching noises with his mouth that his hands have absolutely no intention of following through on, while his opponents fall more out of courtesy than damage. And you can't blame them for pitying him: Here he is valiantly battling evil, despite simultaneously battling advanced-stage liver disease. It's inspiring, really, because unless "vengeance" is cloudy and yellow, that's probably Jaundice in his eyes.