Lost Genre: Rescuing a Young Girl

So, I’ve decided add a feature column to the blog. Since we all like pigeonholing movies into neat little containers called genres, I thought I would highlight some of the under appreciated genres, the kind that don’t get their own section at the video store.

The first Lost Genre is Rescuing a Young Girl (RAYG). Films in the RAYG genre generally feature one or two men searching for a girl under 18 years old. Their not looking for her for a reward or glory, their doing it because they said they would, and because it’s really the right thing to do. RAYG movies could be shoehorned into many broader genres (drama, comedy, thriller, western), but they relate closer to each other than the broader categorization. The protagonist is a man’s man- he doesn’t take flack from anyone and is never afraid to throw himself into harrowing situations. His only desire is to rescue the girl, no matter how untenable the circumstances. And the key to the whole genre is the age of the girl. She has to be young enough that her captors easily overpower her and effectively render her helpless. Rescue is the only hope she has.

The Searchers

In The Searchers, John Wayne plays Ethan Edwards, a former confederate soldier visiting his brother after the war. Before long, Comanches raid the farm, killing his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew and abducting his two nieces. Ethan and his adopted son-in-law Martin Pawley begin searching for the girls. They soon find the older girl, Lucy, murdered. Now the real search begins. After several years of tracking the Comanches, Ethan and Martin finally find Debbie, kill the Comanches, and take her home.

There’s A LOT more to this more than what is in the description, which is just to highlight how it fits in the RAYG genre. It has deservedly garner more respect over the years and is now seen as one of the best Westerns ever. This was one of the first HD DVD’s I bought (don’t give me any smack, I’ll rant on that later) and it looks absolutely stunning in high-definition.

Commando

Perhaps one of more enjoyable RAYG movies, Commando is the definitive 80′s action movie. Mindless killing, pointless destruction, and witty puns abound. Ben Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his daughter Jenny (a jelly bracelet-wearing Alyssa Milano) are kidnapped by a former member of Matrix’s military unit. Jenny is whisked away to a tropical island and Matrix is coerced into performing an assassination as part of a coup. Matrix manages to escape and begins the search for his daughter. After many bullets, explosions, and dead bodies, Matrix finds Jenny and they head home, as if nothing ever happened.

If you like pointless violence and snappy quips, this one is for you. David Patrick Kelly’s Sully is on the receiving end of some of the best lines.

Matrix: Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?
Sully: That’s right, Matrix. You did.
Matrix: I lied.

Man on Fire

Denzel Washington plays John Creasy, a burned-out former CIA agent hired to be the bodyguard of a nine-year-old girl. The girl is kidnapped, the ransom drop goes bad, and now it’s up to Creasy to get the girl back. Creasy takes out all his inner torment on the bad guys as he tracks down the girl, torturing and killing. Eventually Creasy gets the girl, but loses his life in the process, but all-in-all, it’s a fair trade.

Tony Scott unleashes Denzel and let’s him chew as much scenery as he can. A pretty decent movie.

Spartan

David Mamet’s Spartan pretty much defines the RAYG genre. Val Kilmer is Robert Scott, a military operative who is given the task of finding the daughter of the President after she is abducted. Once Scott discovers the reason behind the abduction, the Secret Service creates a cover story that the daughter was killing in a boating accident and Scott is called off the case. Scott later receives word that the daughter is still alive and he begins the hunt again, because he said he would bring her home. Despite the Secret Service’s best efforts, Scott finds the girl and sends her home, where a big production is made of her return. Scott gets no recognition and is presumably still on the US Government’s naughty list.

I’m not sure what it is, but watching a David Mamet movie makes me feel like a grown up. Even something light like State and Main gives me an intellectual streak. Mamet doesn’t dumb down the movie for the audience and demands you pay attention and think.

These were the movies I came up with off the top of my head. Can you think of any others?

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