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The return of action stars who actually know how to fight.

The return of action stars who actually know how to fight. (photo)

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The New York Times recently published an unspeakably entertaining profile of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the new Mr. T. Up to now, Jackson’s credits have been limited to titles like “Midnight Meat Train,” so “The A-Team” is a whole new world and boy, is his copy excellent.

My favorite part is when he explains why two years ago he went on a high-speed police chase in Newport Beach: “Mr. Jackson now says he was depressed, sleep deprived and hadn’t consumed anything but Throwdown Rampage Punch energy drinks for four days,” journalist Franz Lidz reports with a straight face. (Jackson’s two boys have the middle name “Rampage”; he really loves the word.)

Jackson is, of course, playing “B.A. Baracus,” not Mr. T, who’s a real person (sort of). That means he’s the back-up comic relief, but also easily the most iconic of the gang. He’s also the only one of the team who has a real background in the traditional business of the action hero.

06082010_redbelt.jpgHe’s paired with Liam Neeson (once-promising actor turned slumming action star), Bradley Cooper (inexplicably popular generic American body) and Sharito Copley (legitimately talented “District 9” actor being treated as a novelty actor). Jackson’s background is in mixed-martial arts. He’s giving the film some action credibility while the others do whatever kind of acting it is that “The A-Team” requires. (Aside from Cooper — I don’t really understand what it is the dude does.)

A few MMA stars have been slowly moving up the ranks from the DTV-likes of “Unrivaled.” There have been a few legitimate theatrical movies on the subject, too — “Fighting,” “Redbelt” — but both starred non-MMA folks.

The fighters themselves so far have been in supporting roles; Scott Adkins, star of the last two “Undisputed” movies, doubled for Ryan Reynolds in the finale of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and that stands for Jackson too. But at least Jackson’s is a supporting part that lasts the whole film, and Randy Couture will have a part of similar prominence (as far as we know) in “The Expendables” later this year.

Lead roles may come in 2011, when Gina Carano fronts Soderbergh’s “Knockout,” but for now MMA is still working its transition to being the kung-fu movies of the ’10s.

06092010_sherlockholmes5.jpgAnd I’m all for it. While it’s grand to see a previously unlikely candidate like Robert Downey Jr. get all ripped and become an action hero, there’s been a definite void (in American films, at least) of action heroes who can do their own damn stunts and offer the frisson of well-choreographed mano-a-mano face-offs.

At a time when action movies have become an obscenely expensive pursuit, it’s time to recruit more physically gifted non-actors, surround them with pros, give them minimal dialogue and unleash the games. More like Quinton Jackson, I say — his fight scenes you know you won’t have to cut around.

[Photos: “The A-Team,” 20th Century Fox, 2010; “Redbelt,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2008; “Sherlock Holmes,” Warner Bros., 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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