I love action movies, the more raucous car chases, thrilling suspense, incredible fight scenes, and gratuitous stuff blowing up, the better! With advances in CGI and stunts and other technologies, action movies are getting better and better… but every once in a while, I’ll be pumped about the release of a new acrion film, and I’ll be so disappointed! For example, I was really looking forward to this summer’s “The Last Airbender” because I love most of the other movies M. Night Shyamalan has done… but it was awful! And I was also really excited to see “Inception,” but even I was delighted with how suspenseful and action-packed it was! After much debate with lots of my friends, male and female, I’ve developed this end-all, be-all list of my favorite action movies… bear in mind, I am a girl, so not all of these action movies will appeal to hard-core guy fans… but here goes! This is my list of the (roughly) 20 best action movies. Please note these are in alphabetical order, not in the order of how fantastic they are.
This action movie has it all, from incredible CGI abs to a damn-the-odds final battle. The entire look and feel of the movie is computer-generated, but it’s still a fun, gory thrill ride. Purists might be offended, but the rest of us will just revel in the blood and guts and start our new workout immediately.
This is hands-down inarguably one of the scariest movies ever made, with so much suspense, gore, and action it’s hard to imagine how they fit it all in one movie. Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is tough, one of the first female bad-ass action characters, and even though the movie is more than 20 years old, the effects are still realistic. The last time I watched this movie, I yelled and jumped at least four times… I know, I counted.
A half-human, half-vampire that fights with a sword? Cool! Wesley Snipes plays Blade, who is fighting a war against a clan of vampires headed by a very hot, very wicked Stephen Dorff. There are some great action scenes in this movie, and the soundtrack is fantastic. While the whole Blade Trilogy is pretty good, I liked the original move the best.
4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
This movie isn’t just a great action film, it’s also a gorgeous love story (well, two love stories), and the soundtrack, cinematography, stunts, and effects are incredible. This is my favorite action film, for so many reasons. The plot is involving, the direction and acting are top-notch… and the mind-bending martial arts action scenes are amazing!
5. Die Hard
What happens when 12 terrorists take over a skyscraper with a tough New York cop hiding inside? Action, a lot of action. The scene where Brice Willis’ character, McClane, has to walk across a floor full of broken glass, barefooted, is grueling, but of course, he ends up kicking the bad guys’ asses and saving the hostages… including his wife. The other Die Hard movies were okay, I suppose, but the original was the best, in my very humble opinion.
Russell Crowe portrays a general in the Roman army betrayed by his emperor’s son, left for dead, then made into a gladiator. The coliseum fight scenes are so realistic you’ll cringe, and Joaquin Phoenix’s half-crazed, brutal Commodus is so icky you’ll squirm. Revenge, sword fighting, blood, and a buff Russell Crowe… what more does an action movie need? Nothing!
What’s the most resilient parasite? An idea. That’s the concept behind this summer’s best action movie, “Inception.” It’s loaded with suspense, explosions, carefully crafted fight scenes, and memorable characters. The plot is a bit confusing, with a few gaping holes, but it doesn’t matter. It’s worth it for the effects alone, and the quadruple-layer dream action sequences are extraordinarily creative.
8. Kill Bill
Woo! Another action movie where the one doing most of the ass-kicking is a gorgeous woman! Uma Thurman, aka The Bride, is on one simple, bloody mission: to kill Bill. This movie is full of gratuitous, over-the-top gore, but the fight scenes are so well choreographed and played, you’ll love it!
When my kids were little, we loved the “Spy Kids” movies, especially the first one. Perhaps Robert Rodriguez, the creator of the “Machete” movie, knew that when he made this movie, a sort of grown-up version of “Spy Kids” with so much gore, violence, and action, it’s almost non-stop. The plot is really awful, but it’s still a lot of fun.
10. Man on Fire
This movie is fantastic, but at times, it’s a little hard to watch, and I freely admit it made me cry like a baby. This is my favorite Denzel Washington action movie, even more than “Training Day” or “The Book of Eli,” mostly because of the plot. He’s a bodyguard for a little girl in Mexico, and seeks revenge in the bloodiest, most merciless of ways when she’s kidnapped. Wow. I mean, really. Wow.
11. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
This movie features one of the most disturbingly fun fight scenes in any action movie I’ve ever seen — fun because it’s so ridiculously over-the-top, and disturbing because it’s Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie doing their best to beat the hell out of each other … then making up. They’re both spies, given orders after years of married life to kill each other. Tons of firearms, explosions, hand-to-hand combat… it’s fun… guys out there might disagree, but then again, they might like it too, since Angelina Jolie looks great in this movie.
12. Resident Evil
How good could a movie, or rather, a series of movies, based on a video game be? Well, I think the first two movies of this series are very action-packed, and they’re a lot of fun, too. Zombies! Evil corporations! And the nasty undead Dobermans… *shudder* Mila Jovovich is a great action hero, and I can’t wait to see the next RE movie with Ali Larter.
13. Rumble in the Bronx
I know a lot of you are going to give me a lot of gaff over this one, but I think this is a great action movie! Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, the plot is abominable. But Jackie Chan shows off some of his best insane martial-arts-meets-dance moves in this movie. The bad guys are laughable, but the fight scenes are so much fun!
14. Saving Private Ryan
If you can make it through the first ten minutes of this movie, you’ll end up loving it. The gore is extreme, but the plot and acting are phenomenal. This is one of the most brilliant war movies ever made, and it spawned an amazing series, “Band of Brothers.” The fight scenes are gruesome, so realistic you’ll have a hard time watching it. But it’s so good, so involving, you’ll be so glad you watched it.
15. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
If you like comic-book style action (KPOK!) then you’ll love this movie! It’s fun, action-packed, and downright adorable. Adorable! What an unusual way to describe an action movie, I know! But it really is a great movie… somewhat wimpy Pligrim has to defeat Ramona’s ex boyfriends if he wants to date her, and he does… the fight scenes are right out of a comic book… such a fun movie!
The first two Terminator movies cemented the genre in our hearts and minds, getting us addicted to the adrenaline rush of suspense and thrill that haven’t often been matched since. The effects and plot may seem a little dated, but this is still a fantastic duo of movies, and the soundtrack to the second one makes perfect workout music! Please note that though I was tempted to include the Conan or Predator movies, I felt those were obvious choices, since anything with Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Steven Segal is straight up going to be action-packed. So this one Arnold movie is a placeholder for those, as well.
17. The Bourne Identity
**Trailer on **YouTube.com
I loved these books, and the movies, especially the first one, didn’t disappoint. Fromt eh first few minutes, they’re loaded with suspense and non-stop action. You’ll be worn out by the end of the first one, with more questions than answers. Watch them back to back if you can, and prepare for some of the best car chases and close-quarters fight scenes ever! Girlie note: Matt Damon looks GREAT in this movie!
18. The Empire Strikes Back
I know, I know, some of you are going to disagree with this one as well, but I had to include at least one of the Star Wars movies, and this is by far my favorite. It’s dark, serious, and has some of the best Jedi fighting in it. Yeah, sure, the CGI Jedi fight scenes in the last of the “new” movies were pretty good (Yoda rocked), but I felt more connected to the ones in “Empire.”
19. The Fugitive
Another Harrison Ford movie! This movie may not have had a lot of fighting until the very end, but it’s still very suspenseful, nearly harrowing. The fight scene at the end is gratifying, and Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford make this a great movie for DVD night.
20. The Italian Job
Okay, so the plot is a little thin. But I really liked this movie for its clever use of vehicles as props. The bad guy is really bad, the good girl is very good, and Mark Wahlberg looks great. And the car chases are really, really cool. Mini Coopers as get-away cars? Why not?
21. The Lord of the Rings Series
No arguments, all three of these movies are shining examples of what action movies aspire to be. There are epic swordfights, magic-tossing wizards, gigantic frightening battle beasts, and even bad-ass, pissed off trees. Not to mention an army of cool-headed elves, the hideous spider, Golem… do I need to go on?
22. The Matrix
I think the first Matrix movie changed the way we look at action movies. The other movies weren’t nearly as good, possibly because once we saw the first one, we knew that anything was possible in crafting fight scenes. Remember that shock the first time Trinity fought those cops in that seedy hotel, then when she and the Agents ran across the rooftops? The Matrix raised the action-movie bar.
I know we’re all tired of vampire movies, and I already have one in this list, but I have to add the original Underworld for two reasons — Kate Beckinsdale in glossy black leather, and vampires in a battle with incredibly well-imagined werewolves. The story is great, too, and the action scenes are amazing, especially at the end of the movie.
24. The Thirteenth Warrior
This action movie was based on the book by Michael Crichton, the genius who also gave us the Jurassic Park movies, and it’s just as brilliant, gory, and involving. This is my favorite of Antonio Banderas’ action roles, and the fight scenes with the ancient evil bear-people are amazing. Argue if you will, but this is still one of my favorite action movies.
25. Rambo: First Blood
How could any list of action films be complete without a Rambo movie? I think the first was the best, because it had the best story and the most action... it's the story of a Vietnam vet who is singled out for harassment in a small northwest town, and what happens when he snaps. What happens, you ask? Explosions. Bloodshed. Big knives.
26. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Wow, this is the third Harrison Ford movie on this list... who knew he was such an action hero? This is the first Indiana Jones movie, and it's one of my all-time favorites. It's got lots of action but it's also funny (like the scene with the Arab swordsman), and the hero isn't perfect - he's afraid of snakes.
So many action movies, so little time! I know this list is bound to annoy some, but these are the ones I think are the best, loaded with more thrills, fight scenes, chases, and suspense. Which of these do you agree with, and which do you think don’t belong? And which movies do you think I left out? Please let me know!