This chapter attends to representations of violence—specifically, violence generated by and directed against male bodies—in Hollywood action films. Linking the “violence” of action films with the trauma of war, however tangentially, may appear as obscene and problematic as Bataille's celebratory turn to mystical self-annihilation in the midst of World War II, but a connection between the action genre's pleasures and those “drawn [from] the combat aspect of war” can be seen. This chapter then considers some of the clearest examples of the male-body-in-pain's ambiguity. Featuring narratives of the suffering but triumphant hero, and containing spectacular displays of the male body, action films present all the issues and questions that motivate this study.
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