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VINE VOICEon 2 October 2012
I've had mixed feelings about this book, which has intrigued and infuriated at times. On balance though, I think that if you have enjoyed the action movies of the last thirty years or more, then there is plenty in here to read about.

Firstly, the name dropping. There are times when Armstrong's casual references to legendary film stars was irritating in the extreme, not least because he would recount a story about him and a film star, and they are all great stories, but this would be followed up by "many years later when I met up with X at such-and-such awards, he immediately remembered the story, what a guy".

This got repetitive after a while, but even so, the insight and (short) story-telling more than makes up for it. There are great moments of reflection when colleagues pass away on the job, or when close shaves bring things back into context. There are comedy stories of narrow escapes and brushes with the law, there are experiences of life in the depths of Mafia ridden Colombia, and of course there are the descriptions of how he (and others) pulled off those amazing fight scenes and stunts from films such as Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Live And Let Die and countless others.

There are unnecessary contributions from the likes of Lucas, Spielberg and Harrison Ford, as if to emphasise how much everyone likes Vic, I could have done without them in the chapters. Save them til the end, Vic. Having said that, the addition of pictures throughout the book, rather than just a glossy section in the middle, added interest and context to the stories themselves.

A great book to read on your travels, or before you go to sleep at night, packed with short chapters that go through Armstrong's work, almost film by film.
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VINE VOICEon 12 March 2012
There's little doubt that Vic Armstrong is very good at what he does. The list of credits in the back of his autobiography spell this out loud and clear. With his impressive history I was looking forward to this book. And it's OK, but not quite what I was expecting.

One thing that becomes very clear as the book goes along, is that there's Vic's way and then there's the wrong way. Mr Armstrong has his opinion, and everybody knows it. Having worked his way up to second unit director, he also often gives the impression that he has had a hand in key scenes in a lot of big movies. And I'm sure he has, it's just you get the feeling that Vic feels if he hadn't been there, the whole thing would have been a disaster.

I would have liked some more detail on how he became a stuntman and learnt his trade, but there is very little on this, and a LOT of time spent on what locations were like and how completely MAD the stunt crew are (i.e. they get drunk frequently). Amusingly, a few little jealousies and grudges seep through, although generally Vic seems to get along OK and has certainly enjoyed his career to date. And he looks a bit like Harrison Ford (you'll pick up on this in a few of the chapters!).

As the book is unevenly paced, you often end up with intricate detail on a stunt in a lesser known film whilst big blockbusters are rushed through. Or you get loads of information on accomodation, sicknesses on set, parties and the like, and precious little on filming of the movie itself. As I said, a bit uneven.

I'm probably being too harsh. At many times The World's Greatest Stuntman is an entertaining read and does give a good insight into the world of stuntwork and making things happen on film. Vic's personality (warts and all) is clear and present and as a guide through some of the biggest action films in the last 40 years, it mostly works.
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on 23 August 2017
The author is quite iteresting earlier in the book during his stuntman years but unfortunately his move into second-unit directing seemed so drain him of his personality. I bought this because it promised the 'adventures of the worlds greatest stuntman' but it eventually turns into the 'adventures of the worlds greatest second-unit director who rose to the dizzying heights of action director despite everybody denying his natural and given ability to do so'. It is littered with self-congratulatory soundbites offered (we assume) by this Hollywood Legend and that Famous Director. This tome ought to be re-titled to something like 'Get Vic Armstrong here at once - there is nobody else in the world who can do these impossible things that we want done". He must have dislocated shoulder-blades gained from all the pats on the back he must have received from world-class directors who were only too happy to know Saint Vic was just a phone call away. I am not doubting any truth in the book and am quite sure it is a riveting read for plenty of other people who are in careers that cannot function without them.
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VINE VOICEon 22 December 2011
If you've ever watched an action film the chances are you've seen Vic Armstrong or his work. He's acted as the stunt double for Harrison Ford in the first three "Indiana Jones" films (also "Return of the Jedi" and a couple of others), he doubled for Superman, and he's worked on numerous Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Spielberg films, plus a few Bond movies. In this book he finally tells his own story.

It's a fun read, written in a light, conversational style, and as a rule of thumb each chapter is devoted to a single film. For some reason the chronology is a little out, so at one point it appears that Mel Gibson filmed "Air America" after "Braveheart", but the book follows Vic's life from his early work with horses through his first stunt jobs, on to his more recent directorial and co-ordination roles. Throughout the book names are dropped and everyone seems to be a "great guy", a "lovely bloke", a "good friend", a "true pro" and so on, and if I'm honest it does get a little wearing and I did find myself hoping to come across a little conflict somewhere. There are also a few moments in the book where Vic refers to particular props used in stunts - e.g. fan descenders and pipe jumps - which I felt could have done with an illustration or at least an explanation, so you may find yourself scurrying away to search for descriptions and videos on the internet.

On the whole it is an enjoyable read but I confess I was a little disappointed and was hoping for something a little less anecdotal.
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on 2 April 2012
In an age where behind the scenes books & documentaries are becoming rather repetitive it was a joy to read Vic Armstrong's memoirs, a true icon of the last few generations of movie-making.

I was more than aware of Vic's contributions to everything from Bond to Indy, Superman to Mission Impossible but his book is simply a brilliant read. It's written very matter-of-fact (not a literacy genius but it suits the book) & hammers along at the pace of the block-buster movies he has starred in. His volume of work is staggering & the book reads like a who's who of the movie world for 40 years or so. At times Vic comes across a little too-confident perhaps but when compared to many people who have worked every day of their lives on a movie set, he's come out pretty balanced.

Whether you're a movie buff or not, this book should appeal to anyone with an interest in a good life story.
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on 14 May 2012
I have always been interested in movies, ever since I was young. I enjoyed reading books on how they were made and also watching documentaries any time they appeared on TV, which is probably why I love the special features on DVD's and Blu-Rays so much. This book is like a special feature on stunts. On the best stunts, in some of the greatest movies, performed by one of the greatest stuntmen (and his team) EVER! Vic Armstrong is candid, honest, funny and remarkably straightforward. He tells it as it is, and doesn't suffer fools, whether they be touchy film directors or over-paid movie stars. There are some great moments of joy, success and sadness and also some tales of injuries that WILL make you wince. A fantastic story by a fantastic guy that is for anyone who is interested in the behind the scenes aspect of movies.
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on 23 July 2011
Vic Armstrong is probably the most famous, not famous person in Hollywood. When you see his name in the titles for a movie you think to yourself, I have seen that name many times before but i'm not quite sure who he is. Well once you read this book you will find that he is the man behind many of the most memorable action sequences in films for the last fourty years.
The book is written in a straightforward down to earth manner in much the same way that Vic seems to be a straightforward down to earth kind of bloke. It follows him throughout his career from his lowly stunt beginnings in small movies and old TV shows right up to the legendary presence he is today. He gives a very realistic view of what it is actually like to work on a movie set. It's not all stars and glamour. Most of the time it's hard working normal professionals trying to do the best job they can on a movie that is just another job to them. They don't khow whether it's going to be a flop or a blockbuster.
A great behind the scenes look at filmaking, with lots of entertaining and funny stories. It is more informative and complete than Hal Needham's stuntman book as Vic doesn't come across as being as crazy as Hal. But I would recommend both of them anyway.
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on 17 June 2015
Cracking book, great stories the title is self deprecating because a more modest man than Vic Armstrong you would be hard to find. He always, with one exception, finds the best in every one he has had the opportunity to work with. A valuable record of the modern stunt business and proves genuine stunt work beats c.g.i. any day of the week. Buy it.
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on 29 January 2016
Have known the name Vic Armstrong from when I was a kid growing up and watching the behind the scenes shows on to for the Indiana Jones movies

Now here I am at almost 40 and little did I know just HOW many of the movies I grew up on this legend of modern Hollywood was involved in

Plenty of belly laughs and an insight into an amazing career in tv and movies spanning more than my lifetime
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on 12 July 2016
Great book full of some really interesting and often funny anecdotes regarding the movie world and the various larger than life characters that inhabit it. Vic was involved in almost every film I watched as a child so the book also serves as a great trip down memory lane for those of us old enough to remember them.
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