FILM / John Lyttle on Cinema

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A few decades ago French actor Christopher Lambert (right) might have been a romantic lead in American movies. Charles Boyer, Maurice Chevalier and Louis Jordan were. Instead he's an action hero. He may have begun his international career as the potential answer to a maiden's prayer, crooning softly to Andie MacDowell in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes but today Lambert shoots first and tries not to ask questions later (the accent, you understand).

Indeed, the trashy sci-fi thriller Fortess uses the roar of dynamite and the sound of gunfire to cover any alien-sounding utterances. Not that dialogue is that much of a problem. The genre deliberately keeps words to a minimum. Words would strain the thought processes of the lowest common denominator audience it so obviously covets.

All the overseas boys with the requisite muscle are doing it in the hope of that big Hollywood break. Well, it worked for Austrian Arnie Schwarzenegger and Swedish Dolph Lundgren and Belgian Jean Claude Van Damme, didn't it? If it isn't working for Lambert and, say, Rutger Hauer, both starring in B-movie fare and straight-to-video titles (from Hauer's Blind Fury to Lambert's Gun Men) at least they have the semblance of a global audience. And they've not yet been reduced to the awful fate visited upon Klaus Kinski and Klaus Maria Brandauer - being the villain.

None of which really explains why foreign actors in Hollywood aren't allowed to woo the native women as they once did, but are positively encouraged to kill the native men. Indeed, the question remains: how come American masculinity is now represented on screen by imported Aryan clones who wouldn't look out of place on a recruiting poster for the Nazis?

(Photograph omitted)

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