Five Essential Action Films Featuring Kids

chocolate poster

Kids are action heroes too. In anticipation of the ActionFest screening of the Australian “kids with guns” film, Tomorrow, When the War Began (April 8, 4:30pm & April 10, noon, at the Carolina). here’s a list of five movies where kids take up arms and lay into adults.

  1. Red Dawn (1984) – John Milius’ Cold War survival film came out at a time when American audiences wanted to see yanks kicking commie ass in every imaginable way. More than two decades later, Red Dawn’s story of teenagers forced to run guerrilla missions with guns taken from a sporting goods store still seems relevant, even if the bad guys have changed. It’s not hard to imagine a modern civil war playing out Red Dawn–style in today’s heated political climate. Instead the movie has been remade with Chinese North Korean villains. (Shelved temporarily last year, the Red Dawn redux is slated for release in 2011.)
  2. Children of the Corn (1984) – Rakes and other farm tools count as weapons when they are used to maim and kill. Never mind that these kids aren’t on a noble mission like most of the other kids on this list, the juvenile religious cult of Children of the Corn lays a proper beat-down on grown folks.
  3. Chocolate (2008) – JeeJa Yanin came out of nowhere to win everyone over in Chocolate. The film features what is perhaps one of the least politically correct fight scenes ever, and it’s utterly brilliant. There are some great moments in Yanin’s followup and 2010 ActionFest title, Raging Phoenix, but it’s nearly impossible to top the Autism Girl vs. Tourette’s Boy battle in Chocolate.
  4. City of God (2002) – While it’s not a fun action flick, City of God demands to be seen as a portrait of youth with access to deadly weapons. It’s a brutal look at life in the favela and, as heartbreaking as the film can be, it also speaks to the power that each person has to reject violence as a way of life.
  5. Kick-Ass (2010) – Movies like Kick-Ass always cause a stir with parents who get worried about kids trying to copy what they see on the screen. Why would anyone want to get beaten up the way Aaron Johnson does in this film? Chloe Moretz steals the movie with every foul-mouthed moment she is onscreen, but it’s her real vulnerability, when Mark Strong’s crime-boss character pulls no punches, that makes the movie worthy of more than just chuckles.

Honorable Mention: Dangerous Orphans (1985) – I have not seen this Kiwi film about kids seeking revenge for the murder of their parents, but you can bet that as soon as I can find a VHS deck, I will rectify that situation.

dangerous orphans poster