The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman by Vic Armstrong – Review
If I were to say the name Vic Armstrong, would anyone know who I was talking about? What about if I added that he had been involved in well over 115 films? Still no? What about if I continued with the fact he has worked with names such as Harrison Ford, Phillip Noyce, Angelina Jolie, Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, Will Smith, J.J. Abrams, Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Connery, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Liam Neeson, Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone? Still no answer?
Vic Armstrong is arguably the most prolific and best stuntman in film in the modern era. A big wrap, I know and before we get into reviewing his autobiography The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman (no, he is not modest), have a look at some of the films he worked on:
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)
I Am Legend (2007)
The Golden Compass (2007)
Mission: Impossible 3 (2006)
Charlie’s Angels (2000)
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Starship Troopers (1997)
Total Recall (1990)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Rambo III (1988)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
Blade Runner (1982)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. I was more than eager to get into the autobiography of a man who was stunt double for Indiana Jones, one of my all-time favourite film characters and series of films.
The first thing that I found was the print was tiny and really too small for a work of this size. It is certainly not a great work of prose. At times it is hard to follow and grammatically awkward, but I can live with both of these things if the story is high quality. I ploughed onward hoping this would be the case, but for the most part it was not.
I mentioned earlier that he was not a modest man, and this is the theme for the entirety of the book. With a resume as impressive as his, it’s arguable for good reason that Armstrong repeatedly places himself above others in his field and in the stunt industry in general. I could live with this, if that was the only fault of the book. But it wasn’t. After a quite boring and extensive background story, The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman became a name dropping list and a recount of what Vic Armstrong has achieved and where he went to do so.
The only thing which kept me ploughing onwards was the characters he played and the detail he sometimes goes into about the behind the scenes set up and execution of the stunts. If you like watching the behind the scenes documentaries, or want to know how stuff works, there is something in this book for you. For me it was the fact that he was describing some of the greatest action sequences of my childhood, which prevented me from closing the book and walking away.
The book includes a series of colour and black and white photographs which, along with some insight on people he worked with, was one of its greatest appeals. For me however, this just wasn’t enough as I wasn’t looking for a scathing exposé of the A-List Hollywood crowd
In all, The True Adventures of the World’s Greatest Stuntman was a struggle to read. I persevered only for the inner workings of the action sequences which have provided me with a life’s worth of entertainment. There is no doubt that Vic Armstrong is the Godfather of Stunt work. He is the go-to man in the industry and this book is testament to that. My advice, however would be to stick to stunt work and leave to writing to others.
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