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Action Scenes!

Action Scene: Razing a Restaurant

by Dan Bayn
Mar 02,2004


Action Scene: Razing a Restaurant

Saul "The Hammer" Hamilton sips the soup of the day amidst the hum of lunch time conversations. One of those conversations is taking place between an undercover FBI agent and Jimmy "The Fossil" Tutino, an aging gangster. They're negotiating the price of Jimmy's testimony against the upstart wise guy who recently sent him a lead love note, courtesy of an assassin's Colt 45. Saul's job was to prevent any further deliveries.

As he scrapes the last spoonful from his bowl, Saul's expert eyes catch the gleam of gun metal from two separate tables. One gunman is alone at a table near the target, while the other two are sitting closer to Saul. The Hammer whips his bowl at the table for two, just in time to deflect the first shot. The place erupts into chaos...

This action movie mainstay comes in a variety of flavors. There's the archetypal "fancy restaurant," the omnipresent fast food restaurant, and the mall food court, its super-sized cousin. The defining characteristics are a kitchen and a dining area (even if the latter is just filled with plastic booths). There may be a few bells and whistles, like a waiting room or a ball crawl, but those two are the essentials.

As usual, the first thing to notice is the wealth of cover: tables, booths, counters, sinks, boxes, ovens, and those big, metal doors they put on walk-in freezers. By the same token, there is also no end of breakable objects to fill your gunfight with flying debris: ceramic dishes, wood paneling, mirrors, windows, light fixtures, cash registers, condiments, and the occasional plastic statue of a trademarked cartoon character. Put them together and you've got all the ammo you need for a John Woo style fire fight!

Once you've run out of bullets, it's time to explore the fun-filled world of improvised weapons. Those ceramic dishes make great thrown weapons, as do serving trays. Utensils from knives to forks to those things you use to crack open lobster are literally lying all over the place! Pepper grinders make great bludgeons and glass cups can be transformed into shivs with a simple bash against a table. Kung-Fu types in fancy restaurants will want to grab a table cloth to use as a parrying weapon, twist into a whip, or swing like a staff using that cool "iron cloth" technique. Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't suggest a good, old fashioned food fight!

Moving into the kitchen, we find bigger and sharper utensils, plus a small arsenal of pots and pans to use as clubs or shields. Never underestimate the tactical merit of a pair of tongs! Depending on the nature of the establishment, blessedly heavy liquor bottles may also be handy. Raw dough could be used as a rope, a sap, or just smeared on a enemy's face to blind or suffocate them.

That brings us to the stationary items. No restaurant can function without fire, so there will be stove tops, ovens, and open flames aplenty. Fast food chains will have industrial-sized deep friers; dunk an opponent's head in and serve 'em up cajun style! (Don't forget to sprinkle a little salt on 'em, when they're done.) The frier is also a great place for guns to end up when kicked out of people's hands.

On the opposite end of the thermometer, we find walk-in freezers and refrigerators. Even small chain restaurants have these babies. You can use the doors for cover or trap people inside to let them cool off. (Oh yeah, and feel free to pun your little heart out!) The dish washing area may be nearby; squeeze a stream of soap into your enemy's eyes and use the spray hose for riot control.

In the storage area, you'll find mountains of cardboard boxes to hide behind and throw at people. There are often free-standing shelves full of straws, napkins, and other loose items just begging to be toppled over. Empty boxes are usually stacked nearby, somewhere close to the garbage. Dumpsters make great cover and even better ad hoc prisons for defeated foes. Or you could grab a smaller trash can and roll it across the floor or toss it over an adversary's head. It's the food fight's smelly little brother!

The Genre Mash

The ubiquitous fantasy tavern will have most of the gimmicks described above, plus a full bar area up front. Remember that wine and ale will be stored in wooden barrels, which are even better for rolling, throwing, hiding behind, and breaking open to unleash slippery torrents of flammable liquid! There will be no freezer, though, and not quite so many deep friers.

Hostile Tactics

You can add restaurants to your list of great locations for plainclothes ambushes (our counter-ambushes, as in our first example). Personally, I love the idea of a ninja who impersonates a sushi chef at one of those places where they prepare the food right at your table. It'd be a great way to get up close with a pair of cleavers! Generally, what you'll have is the Desperado ploy where dozens of mooks pull guns from under various tables and make with the hail of lead.

However, an outnumbered foe can always grab one of them there innocent bystanders for hostage or human shield purposes. Restaurants are chock full of them! Endangering said bystanders to cover one's escape is another time-honored villain ploy. If you're already in the kitchen, there are plenty of ways to start the place on fire or arrange for an immanent explosion (gas stoves plus open flames equal BOOM!!!) Liquor makes a decent excellerant, too, at least it does in most action movies...

Lights, Camera...

Saul kicks his table up as cover against the two assassins near him, then empties his clip into the lone gunman down the aisle. The would-be assassin flies backwards, crashing into the dessert cart in a shower of blood and chocolate. As the FBI agent shoves The Fossil under a table, the foiled assassins pummel Saul's table with return fire. The Hammer goes for a fresh clip, but the empty one is jammed in place. He sighs, drops the gun-shaped paper weight, grabs the legs of his rapidly disintegrating table, and bull rushes the two remaining assassins.

The Hammer slams his table into the goons, crushing them against the back wall, but they push back and send the table rolling down the aisle. Saul throws a spin kick that knocks the first goon's gun away and picks a pair of serving tongue out of their salad bowl on his way around. He grabs the second gunman's wrist in the metal tongues and squeezes, biting into flesh and bone. The first goon throws a punch, but Saul pulls his pal in as a human shield. His gun falls to the floor and Saul kicks it away.

Now, the assassins return to their half-finished meals to collect a steak knife and a broken liquor bottle, respectively. Saul falls back a step and switches his grip to the business end of those tongs. As the first lunges forward, Saul steps to the side, swings the tongs around his assailant's knifing wrist, and squeezes the ends together like a giant nutcracker. The metal bends under the pressure as the goon screams in pain and drops his steak knife. That's when Saul spies his old soup bowl on the floor and kicks it up into the second goon's shiv, sending shards of broken glass and porcelain into his face.

Casting his gaze around for one more weapon, Saul notices the pepper grinder on the wall. He spins the grappled mook around, while his buddy picks shrapnel from his eyes, hefts the grinder and delivers a punishing blow to each of their heads. The Fed and his stool pigeon are already gone. As usual, The Hammer finds himself standing at the center of a hurricane, mooks lying crumpled at his feet.

Now, to the food court!...

The Blind Man is getting sick of shopping malls! The place isn't nearly as crowded as it had been in December, but there are still more than enough people around for his vampire prey to hide behind. At least, it would have been enough to conceal them from most pursuers, but the Blind Man could smell their taint in the place's otherwise bland feng shui like a bloodhound tracking a chain smoker.

They are one floor below him, in the food court. Probably trying to escape through the service tunnels. "No time to lose," he thinks before vaulting over the railing and dropping like a rock between two lines of hungry Burger Express patrons. "Pardon me," he says. "I'm blind."

The vamps are already passed the deep frier by the time the Blind Man leaps over the counter. He draws his Desert Eagle and fires two rounds along precise trajectories. They ricochet off the freezer and the sink before obliterating two legs of a storage shelf near the back wall. The resulting avalanche of cardboard temporarily blocks the bloodsuckers' escape. While two start digging, the third turns to confront their executioner-to-be.

The Blind Man levels his handcannon, but the vampire is fast. Too fast. He ducks under the first shot and whips into a spin kick that sends the Blind Man's gun plunging into the deep frier. "You sonofabitch," the Blind Man mutters as the vampire throws a jackhammer punch at his face. This time, the feng shui master is ready. He leans back, a hair's breadth out of range, and catches the fiend's fist in a vise grip that segues into an arm lock. A little applied leverage sends him face-first into a vat of bubbling grease. His screams gurgle up as he thrashes madly about. The Blind Man then releases the creature, draws his wakizashi, and brings it down just as the vampire pushes himself out of the frier. The decapitated corpse turns instantly to dust.

At this point, one of the diggers decides that back-tracking is his best option. He bolts for the front, trying to leap over the Blind Man's head. Feeling this surge of kinetic energy, the Blind Man reaches for the freezer door and pulls it open just in time to intersect the vampire's flight path. He hits the door like a bug on a windshield and drops to the floor in a heap. The Blind Man spares himself a moment to draw the room's chi up through his feet, pool it in his arms, and channel it into the freezer door. The force of the blow crushes the vamp's neck and the door latches shut through a puff of dust.

The last bloodsucker finally uncovers the back door. As he wrenches the handle, the Blind Man throws his waki like a javelin, planting it in the floor like a steel doorstop. The vampire howls with fury and yanks the short sword free, but the Blind Man is already upon him. He pins the door closed with a ferocious side kick and ducks under his own sword as the vampire swings for the bleachers. The duck becomes a cartwheel that sweeps the sword to the side and kicks the vampire in the face. Upside-down, the Blind Man grabs and handful of toothpicks from the mess on the floor, flips back onto his feet, and buries them in the creature's heart.

The Blind Man plucks his wakizashi out of the air and shakes off the dust. "Toothpicks," he tells the manager, still picking his jaw up off the floor. "Who knew?"

Next Month: Taking to the Air!

Loath Your Fellow Man

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