Mine’s Bigger Than Yours: The 100 Wackiest Action Movies by Christopher Lombardo & Jeff Kirschner Book Review (Schiffer)

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If you read Cultsploitation, then the chances are good that you like action films, even those with a hearty side of corn. It’s what we do, it’s in our makeup; we’re conditioned to like films that others would scoff at, that certainly would not be considered part of the Oscar elite. We like cheesy, we like exploitative, and we like wacky. So Christopher Lombardo and Jeff Kirschner’s book on the 100 wackiest action films, titled Mine’s Bigger Than Yours, certainly seems like the perfect way to spend 250 pages revisiting some of the classic beat-em-up films of yore, and others you may have possibly never heard of (for better or worse). Throughout their ode to schlockiness, the authors (also the hosts of the Really Awful Movies Podcast) present one-and-a-half to two pages on each film, broken into subgenre-defining chapters to structure the flow. And interspersed between the jokes and the mockery are some references to Shakespeare, Confucius, and non-Euclidean geometry. Who says cult film fans aren’t also well-educated?

Mine’s Bigger Than Yours consists of nine chapters, each distinguished from the other by attempting to categorize these action films into specific overlapping traits. The authors delve into martial arts pics, covert operations, superheroes, dystopian landscapes, badass women, and war stories just to name a few. The design of the book helps give more context to these types of films with an introduction that summarizes the various compositions of these sub-genres, giving seasoned viewers a recap while newbies get a full rundown of what to expect. The intros to each chapter are particularly well-written and I would welcome a book of just this type of thing, where the authors break down a Venn diagram of different genre overlaps into pages of increasingly specific tropes.

The films included are certainly a hodgepodge of new and old, good and bad. The obvious offenders are all here – Strike Commando, Deadly PreyShocking Dark all make the cut – but Mine’s Bigger Than Yours also includes quite a few deep cuts that probably aren’t well-recognized. There are a few Reb Brown offerings, a LOT of Cameron Mitchell-guesting films, and Stephen Seagal output too (who probably takes the brunt of Lombardo and Kirschner’s humor – a lot of weight jokes). What I liked most about the inclusions, though, was that it really did feel like the authors had done their research searching for some of the wackiest, rather than the most well-known, action movies. A particular example would be Skin Traffik, a 2015 film I had no idea existed and, after reading their recap, hope to god I never have to watch it.

Ultimately, Mine’s Bigger Than Yours acts as reminiscence of those films one has already seen and a reference guide to the movies one hasn’t experienced yet. Lombardo and Kirschner offer a pretty in-depth recap of all the films that includes a lot of jokes, witticisms, and verbosity. Sometimes those recaps can detract from the experience, however, as I would argue that two whole pages of synopsis is a little bit overkill for each movie, especially when it can occasionally become a scene-by-scene playback. It’s when Kirschner and Lombardo get away from the synopsizing that the book really finds its element – exposing the tropes and context, and acting as a retrospective for each film rather than straight summary.

With large pages and a full-color layout with poster and VHS artwork often culled from VHSCollector.com, Mine’s Bigger Than Yours has an attractive presence and it certainly looks good on the shelf next to other genre-defining books like Teen Movie Hell, Paperbacks from HellThe Teenage Slasher Movie Book, and Nightmare USA. While occasional editing could have done this book some good, the jokes mostly land and the movies included are some of the best (or worst, by different estimation) of the genre – just keep in mind that within the action category, these two could make at least two or three more volumes, so particular entries a viewer would expect might be missing from this one.

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