Movies & TV / Columns

Jeff Kirschner and Christopher Lombardo On Their New Action Movie Book Mine’s Bigger Than Yours

February 13, 2021 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Mine’s Bigger Than Yours: The 100 Wackiest Action Movies

The 411 Interview: Jeff Kirschner and Christopher Lombardo


Jeff Kirschner is a genre movie journalist and fan and English college professor. Christopher Lombardo is a writer, author, and film critic. They’re both from Canada and they’re the masterminds behind the excellent Really Awful Movies Podcast and the terrific book Death by Umbrella: The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons, which came out in 2016. The duo’s latest book is the awesome Mine’s Bigger Than Yours: The 100 Wackiest Action Movies, which was released via Schiffer Publishing in November 2020. In this interview, Kirschner and Lombardo talk with this writer about writing Mine’s Bigger Than Yours, the action movie genre, their favorite movies in the genre, and more.



Bryan Kristopowitz: After Death by Umbrella, how did you decide that you wanted your next book to be about action movies?

Jeff Kirschner: Writing Death by Umbrella was so much fun. We got to watch (and re-watch) hundreds of horror movies, getting to luxuriate in all those groovy, gory kills. What could be better than that? But when it came time to discuss our follow up, I think Chris and I both felt that, in Umbrella, we had said all the things we could say and made all the observations we could make about the horror genre. Thus, time to turn our attention elsewhere! And although our podcast focuses predominantly on horror, it’s first and foremost a genre movie podcast – action, musicals, sci-fi, film noir . . . you name it, we’ve discussed it. And since we had previously devoted episodes to such wonderful action “masterpieces” as Miami Connection, Dangerous Men, Skin Traffik and other, shall we say, off-the-wall movies that eventually found their way into the book, it just felt natural to turn our pen to our second love, the action genre.

Christopher Lombardo: I once worked weekends at a big media company, and there were TVs everywhere in the office. And we always kept a TV on, totally unrelated to the work we were doing, as it happened, TBS. And they’d seemingly run Under Siege or Above the Law, or some other Seagal epic every weekend. A pal of mine and I were joking about Seagal, and whether in this movie he displayed the acting chops required to play an ex-special forces op or an ex-secret service op and how it was always one or the other. And we started chatting about how Steven’s career trajectory can basically be summed up by how much fabric it takes to cover him, with tank tops at first, and with later works requiring shawls and ponchos. TBS screened Out for Justice, which as it happened, features my all-time favorite bar fight, back when Seagal was at his lithe trash-talking best. And that, and my pal’s “NicoGinoMason” email handle and enthusiasm for all things Seagal, were always in the back of my mind when mulling over a Death by Umbrella sequel.
BK: How did you handle the actual writing of the book? Did you each take 50 movies and write about them individually or was it some other type of collaborative process?

JK: Chris and I have a unique writing process where we start with a list of “must have” movies which absolutely, positively need to be in the book. That amounted to about twenty films. We then went off on our own and watched and watched and wrote and wrote. After finishing a write-up, one would send it to the other for review, feedback etc. Once we felt that a write up was as good as it could be, into the book it went.

BK: When you first started putting the book together, how many movies did you have as stuff you could possibly write about? How long did it take to sort of whittle the list down to 100 movies?

JK: As I said before, we had about 20 movies that were absolute musts for the book, and then it was more a matter of whittling up! And that’s where the fun comes in. Researching, hunting down, and of course, watching the films that appeared promising. I can’t tell you how many hours were spent watching a flick that appeared to be can’t miss based on the premise, but upon viewing, just wasn’t weird or wacky enough to make the cut. A good example would be the 90s effort Ring of Steel, starring Joe Don Baker and featuring as the protagonist, a pit-fighting fencer! I wanted to include that in the book based on that alone! But upon watching Ring, I realized that it just wasn’t sustainably weird enough, save for the protagonist’s incredibly impressive mullet.

CL: I feel like, with Umbrella, we removed all subjectivity as you would be hard-pressed to find a horror movie without a weapon we reference. Mine’s Bigger Than Yours is way more idiosyncratic, and there will undoubtedly be some titles that didn’t make it in and arguments for why they should (though not between Jeff and I), which are always fun and welcomed.

BK: Were there any disagreements about what to include and what to exclude? How did you resolve those disagreements?

JK: Never! Chris and I collaborate really, really well, and part of that, I think, is because we completely trust and respect each other’s creative decisions and approaches. We tackled the writing of Mine’s Bigger than Yours exactly as we did for Death by Umbrella. And since it worked so well for Umbrella, we figured why fix something that wasn’t broken.


BK: A majority of the movies featured in the book are of the low budget/B-movie variety, but there are a few bigger budget/”A” movies thrown in, like Commando and Batman & Robin. Was that a conscious decision on your part, to sort of show that the “wacky action movie” genre is not exclusive to the low budget B-movie world?

JK: Most definitely. The action genre is replete with zaniness, due in no small part to the use and overuse of clichés and tropes that rear their lovable heads time and time again. (The “We’re not that different, you and I” speech said by the villain to the hero at the film’s climax being a particular favorite.) Of course, lower-budgeted B-movies are going to be a bit wonkier than say Die Hard, due to the inherent limitations of the amount of money involved. But that doesn’t mean that their bigger-budgeted brethren can’t be wacky too! And never did we want to appear as if we were punching down. It’s an accomplishment to get any movie made, even one as lovably incompetent as John De Hart’s vanity pic extraordinaire Geteven/Road to Revenge. So we made a conscious decision to definitely include a handful of big budget “A” pictures as well.

BK: Was it also a conscious decision to include the occasional “negative” review of a movie?

CL: Our 100 list comprises mostly objectively bad films, but the key distinctions we made were to the extent they were good-bad. For example, you would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by Reb Brown’s blubbering defense of Disneyland’s ice cream and cotton candy in Strike Commando, uber-villain Savak’s ingenuously lyrical uses of “pony” in One Tough Bastard, or the truly bizarre circumcision-related flirting in Samurai Cop. These are truly endearing pieces of outsider art. When they are wooden exercises in cliché like Firestorm or Hunt to Kill, or feature Seagal’s Ebonics patter in Half-Past Dead, a lot of the charm is eroded, and that’s where you can’t pull punches.

BK: How did you get director Brian Trenchard-Smith to do the forward?

JK: We asked him! In addition to being one of my cinematic heroes, Brian Trenchard-Smith is also a heck of a nice guy. We were friends on Facebook, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask. You know . . . hope for the best and expect the worst, right? Much to our surprise and delight, Brian got back and said he was interested! And I’ve got to say, the foreword he wrote for us is fantastic. Incidentally, Brian’s own book Adventures in the B Movie Trade is must reading for any movie buff. Couldn’t recommend it more highly.


BK: The cover image featuring Reb Brown from Strike Commando is awesome. How did you decide on using that image for the cover? Who did Reb beat for the cover?

CL: Thank you! Our initial conception was inspired by an insane scene from Death Wish 3, in which Paul Kersey’s accomplice was relegated to holding a box full of ammo, running alongside Charles Bronson and unfurling bandolier bullets as the Kersey character lays waste to a bunch of urban scum unibrows. However, we couldn’t secure the rights, unfortunately. Ditto for another site favorite, Chuck Norris’ iconic standing denim bazooka pose from Invasion USA. The other option was more of a collage style, with front and side-facing guns/tanks and karate kicking, a cover conception, it turns out, ended up being used for The Cannon Film Guide: Volume I. Since Jeff and I are such boosters of Strike Commando, and it was among our “Top 5” ideas for a cover, I reached out to Brent Huff, star of Strike Commando 2, to ask him who had the film rights, and he pointed us in the direction of Italy’s Variety Distribution. And they said “yes.” We love the cover. It’s just so asinine and provocative. It’s impossible not to shout “JAKODA!” when you look at it.

BK: Steven Seagal has several movies featured in the book, but they’re his more well-known early movies. Did you consider talking about any of his later direct-to-video movies, like Kill Switch or Out of Reach? And how the hell isn’t On Deadly Ground, the only movie Seagal has directed so far, included in this book?

CL: The man has inhabited Hungarian/Slovakian production hell forever and choosing among his wackier output seemed daunting at first. I’ve plowed through a bunch of his films, especially recently, on Amazon Prime and early on in our podcast. Jeff insisted on a Seagal moratorium when it came to discussing them as they’re just so insipid. Many of his later films are unbearably dull, and less about limb twisting and more about firearms. On Deadly Ground was on the cusp, that’s for sure, especially since ol’ Steve apparently stole Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider fringe jacket for that role and it’s a film full of dazzlingly heavy-handed green messaging.


BK: You don’t seem to be a big fan of Death Wish 3, easily the most insane movie in the Death Wish franchise. Outside of the original, what’s your favorite Death Wish sequel?

CL: That’s a Sophie’s Choice writ large! It’s impossible not to be fond of all of them to some extent. It’s just that they’re all legitimately terrible movies and far removed from the singular work that is Death Wish. That’s where you remove your critics’ cap and just go along for the ride. However, it’s hard to beat Manny Fraker’s reverse mohawk with whatever weird railroad crossing thing etched into his forehead in 3. Death Wish V is nuts too, as Bronson is just so darned geriatric and shop-worn.

BK: Is Reb Brown misunderstood? And have you seen Cage II?

CL: Reb Brown is impossibly charming. And it’s impossible not to smile when he’s in a movie – he radiates pure joy. When it comes to literally being misunderstood, that title goes to French kickboxer Olivier Gruner, whose considerably crappy oeuvre we’re going to tap if we do a book sequel. Ferrigno reprising his role as Billy in Cage II was another tough one. There are so many bonkers sequels, and you’ve gotta draw the line somewhere. Again, given that so many bizarro action movies come with sequels, we almost feel like we owe it to the genre to develop a sequel ourselves.

BK: How did you get into podcasting?

JK: Really Awful Movies started out as a blog that Chris and I did which morphed into a podcast. We were writing movie reviews individually, then coming together, usually at a bar and usually involving several libations, to discuss the great and crazy stuff we were seeing. One of us had the idea to record those convos, and the podcast was born! It really is my hope that each episode comes across just like that . . . listening in on two friends having a conversation about a movie they just saw.

BK: How much prep work do you typically do for each podcast episode do you do? Does it tend to vary based on the movie you’re focusing on?

JK: Once Chris and I decide on a movie to discuss that week, we watch it separately, take some notes, do a little cursory research on sites such as IMDb, then come together to record. We want our show to sound spontaneous, and this approach seems to lend itself to that. Mind you, there are some films, like say, something by our Canadian homeboy David Cronenberg, or a German Expressionist film (yes, we podcasted one of those) where the artistry contained therein necessitates extra preparation, if only to not do the film a disservice.

CL: Agreed. For me, there’s a positive correlation between a film’s quality and my prep time. For A Nightmare on Elm Street, easily my favorite horror franchise, or something really influential by Cronenberg, I want to do these films justice and show off some prep. For something like Brian Bosworth in Stone Cold, or some animal-run-amok shlock like Uninvited or Shakma, I feel like the show is better served by riffing extemporaneously.
BK: Out of the movies you chronicle in the book, do you have a personal favorite/one you like to watch just because you like it so much?

JK: Definitely Miami Connection. Must have seen it dozens of times by this point. There’s just something so gosh darn loveable about those synth-rock playing “orpans” who could drop some serious taekwondo in the mean streets of Miami . . . er Orlando . . . at a moment’s notice. Also Samurai Cop.

CL: It’s gotta be Shotgun from 1989, which features this howler: “She was just another hooker.” “She was your SISTER!” There’s also a chase scene featuring a stunt double with a six- or seven-inch height discrepancy. You can’t go wrong with Geteven either, which in addition to having stunning set pieces like the iconic “Shimmy Slide” musical number, a kind of discount Johnny Cash wacked out on benzos, there’s Wings Hauser’s drunken pool soliloquy. The whole film is scene after scene of fever dream weirdness.

BK: Any moviemaking heroes?

JK: Aside from the aforementioned Trenchard-Smith, I’ve gotta go back to my first love, horror, and cite the holy trilogy of Italian horror directors, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, and Mario Bava.

CL: I would agree! I have such strong memories of my mind being blown by Fulci when I was 18. I’d throw in Cronenberg, Carpenter and Scorsese too. At their worst, they’re still unbelievable.

BK: What do you hope readers get out of Mine’s Bigger Than Yours?

JK: If nothing else, I’d love it if readers got a laugh or two and a bit of an escape from this crazy world we’re living in these days. On a more tangible level, it would be awesome if readers either read an entry which reminded them fondly of a forgotten film they used to love, or discovered a never-before-seen flick that they now positively have to seek out. Finally, on a grander scale, I want readers to realize that fun, entertaining films exist no matter the budget or geography.

CL: Many of these movies are so joyful, I’d give re-watching them a nod over the most overly earnest Oscar-bait flicks. Hopefully readers share our enthusiasm for dunderheaded action flicks and appreciate the diversity of the genre and the enthusiasm of its principals.

BK: Just how many times did you have to watch The Octagon to figure out what the hell it’s about? Is it right to call The Octagon Chuck Norris’s “art film”?

CL: I confess, that one remains completely beguiling and mystifying after a few viewings. But I am just so fond of movies with dumb international terrorist subplots, much like Invasion USA or the first Crackerjack (a drunk Die Hard wannabe that nearly made the cut if it weren’t for the unbelievably wonky Crackerjack 3). But really, throw a bunch of ninjas into a film and you almost have to add a star to your rating. They contributed so, so much to Miami Connection, for example. The Octagon is definitely Chuck at his most subdued, and yes, “arty”. Not sure Pedro Almodóvar is tapping him for his next project though!



A very special thanks to Jeff Kirschner and Christopher Lombardo for agreeing to participate in this interview.

You can buy Mine’s Bigger Than Yours: The 100 Wackiest Action Movies here or here!

Check out my review of Mine’s Bigger Than Yours: The 100 Wackiest 100 Action Movies here!

Check out the Really Awful Movies Podcast official website here, Facebook page here, and Twitter page here! You can also check out the podcast here!

You can buy Death by Umbrella: The 100 Weirdest Horror Movie Weapons here!

Authors image courtesy of Jeff Kirschner. Book cover image, Commando and Strike Commando covers from Amazon. Death Wish 3 and The Octagon images from Ronin Flix.