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The 25 Best Action Movies Since Die Hard
July 16, 2013 1:49 PM   Subscribe

"A quarter of a century ago this week, John McTiernan’s action masterpiece Die Hard was released into theaters, and it's not an understatement to say that we're still reeling from the impact .... For the past few months, I’ve been watching and/or rewatching almost every major action movie made since then in an attempt to come up with the best ones. The good news is that a lot of awesome action movies have been made over the past 25 years. The bad news? Not all of your favorites will be on this list."

Yeah, it's a slideshow. But substantial effort has been put into the write-ups for each film. Anyway, here's the list.
  1. The Dark Knight
  2. Hard Boiled
  3. Minority Report
  4. Kill Bill Vol. 1
  5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  6. The Last of the Mohicans
  7. Hero
  8. The Matrix
  9. Once Upon a Time in China
  10. Jurassic Park
  11. Run Lola Run
  12. The Rock
  13. The Bourne Ultimatum
  14. The Fugitive
  15. Speed
  16. Mission: Impossible
  17. Spider-Man 2
  18. Battle Royale
  19. Unstoppable
  20. La Femme Nikita
  21. Casino Royale
  22. Avatar
  23. Crank
  24. Point Break
  25. Supercop
posted by Mothlight (239 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's a lot of great action to be found in smaller/less successful films too. Last year saw the release of Dredd and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, both of which are action movies worth seeing.
posted by edeezy at 1:57 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Look a random list of mostly shitty action movies assembled in a slides how and put up on the Internets to get page views. I feel this is all Nick Denton's fault.
posted by humanfont at 1:58 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


hmmm...sorry to put a downer so early in the thread, but that is a pretty bad list. Yes, some of those flicks are amazing, but there are some that are not so great and some real duds.

I mean....Avatar?

Weird choices.
posted by lampshade at 1:58 PM on July 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


No one reads those annoying slideshows that could easily be a scroll-down.

A totally disappointing dearth of Asian cinema, where the real action movies are made.

The Raid: Redemption (2011) from Indonesia blows almost all of these out of the water.

As does Ip Man (2008) from China.

The Protector (2005) from Thailand had perhaps the best single shot fight scene ever shot.

The Korean The Man From Nowhere (2010) also had a few mind-blowing stunts (I'm actually surprised OldBoy is not on there, given its popularity).

A lot of the US films I would also substitute for Rambo (2008) which was short, intense and brutal.
posted by dgaicun at 1:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [28 favorites]


Not a bad list. You'd think though that if he waded into Hong Kong movies he would come up with more than three to make the list. Sort of feels like an emblematic three from HK.
posted by Rashomon at 1:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dredd was *exactly what it said it was*, an issue of Dredd with a self contained story in an enclosed space. It was just clever enough and just dumb enough to be really good.
posted by The Whelk at 1:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [16 favorites]


None of these star Dolph Lundgren, and therefore this list is shit.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've said this before, but...

Hard Boiled has the best action.
Die Hard is the best action film.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This list does not have Hard Boiled. This list is invalid.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:00 PM on July 16, 2013


This list does not have Hard Boiled. This list is invalid.

Um, it's number 2?

(or does my sarcasm meter need recalibrating again?)
posted by rtha at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Con Air. Laugh all you want.
posted by triggerfinger at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


District B13 was the first major omission I could spot. I'm also amused that the first comment on the article apparently said the same thing.

Add:

Total Recall
The Raid: Redemption
The Hunted
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch
Leon
The Avengers
A History of Violence


Subtract:

Avatar (As much as I respect General Coffee Cup.)
Unstoppable

...

I was disappointed in Dredd, Lena Headey and Olivia Thirlby notwithstanding. I wanted crazier. No, crazier. CRAZIER STILL.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:02 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


(or does my sarcasm meter need recalibrating again?)

No, but my eyes might.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:02 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm confused. He intros this listicle (ugh.) by referring to Die Hard as McTiernan's "action masterpiece", but then Die Hard doesn't even make the list?
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:02 PM on July 16, 2013


LAst of the Mohicans? I haven't seen it, is it worth a watch?
posted by Mister_A at 2:02 PM on July 16, 2013


crank?!
posted by TheLittlePrince at 2:03 PM on July 16, 2013


Spider-Man 2?

To each his or her own...
posted by Mister_A at 2:03 PM on July 16, 2013


A quarter of a century ago this week, John McTiernan’s action masterpiece Die Hard was released into theaters, and it's not an understatement to say that we're still reeling from the impact ...

...of Die Hards 2 through 4.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:04 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm confused. He intros this listicle (ugh.) by referring to Die Hard as McTiernan's "action masterpiece", but then Die Hard doesn't even make the list?

Well the list is entitled "25 Best Action Movies Since Die Hard" so
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:04 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Really not feeling this list, I'm afraid. Glad to get some recommendations from you guys, though.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:05 PM on July 16, 2013


[Comment reverted, do not use the edit window to add new information to your comments. Just post another comment, like always.]
posted by cortex at 2:05 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems all the movie that he/she was able to watch are listed here.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 2:05 PM on July 16, 2013


This list does not have Hard Boiled Starship Troopers. This list is invalid.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:00 PM on July 16 [+] [Flagged]


Fixed that for me.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:07 PM on July 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


crank?!

Crank and Crank 2 are awesome.

Also, can we please stop pretending that Kill Bill Vol. 1 is a different film from Kill Bill Vol. 2? They were cut and released separately because nobody was going to screen a 4+ hour Tarantino movie. One is the first half of the story, the other is the second half of the story. Besides, the second half contains the awesome fight between Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:08 PM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


"it is sometimes very hard to determine just what constitutes an action movie.

Very true!!

For the purposes of this list, we decided that an action movie not only had to have a lot of action scenes in it (duh), but that it had to be a film that wouldn’t make any sense if you took all the action scenes out of it — that is to say, the action had to be a key way of moving the plot forward."

What? That makes transformers the best action movie around.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 2:09 PM on July 16, 2013


LAst of the Mohicans? I haven't seen it, is it worth a watch?

I haven't seen it since I was a kid, so I have no idea whether it holds up. But the soundtrack is excellent.
posted by Jpfed at 2:09 PM on July 16, 2013


Sliced bread is definitely one of the greatest things since sliced bread.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:10 PM on July 16, 2013


There is certainly a lot there for people who like arguing about lists to disagree with.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on July 16, 2013


No Fast Five. The list is invalid.

(And Dark Knight and Hero both so high up immediately invalidates the list for me too, but whatever.)
posted by kmz at 2:10 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


There is certainly a lot there for people who like arguing about lists to disagree with.

NO THERE ISN'T
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:10 PM on July 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


No Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach?! :(
posted by Wordshore at 2:11 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well the list is entitled "25 Best Action Movies Since Die Hard" so

D'oh!
I'm gettin' too old for this shit...
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:11 PM on July 16, 2013


...and it's not an understatement to say that we're still reeling from the impact

Nope, it's not. Understatement is certainly not what that is, right there.
posted by gurple at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is certainly a lot there for people who like arguing about lists to disagree with.


at least you get something to read.

Who wants to go through a bunch of "yes", "you got it right, fred!", "say that again".
posted by TheLittlePrince at 2:12 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ever since gaming achieved escape velocity in the late 90s, I've found Action movies pretty unrewarding. So from that last, most of which I've seen, the ones I'd bother to see again ...

Hard Boiled
Run Lola Run
Battle Royale
Casino Royale

And I'd add SENNA. Now, that's cool.
posted by philip-random at 2:13 PM on July 16, 2013


This list needs the three films made before 9/11 that say more about America after 9/11 than nearly any other film:

1. Starship Troopers
2. Three Kings
3. The Siege
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:14 PM on July 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


Just once, I want to see an action film director deliberately put in scene in which, exactly halfway through the film, the hero is chasing the villain and they happen to jump over, say, a tank with a shark in it, or a stuffed shark in a museum, or even a bus stop bench advertisement with a picture of a shark on it. Just because. I know this isn't even particularly relevant but that's what I want.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:14 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I know that any list posted on the internet immediately draws out fans of this or that who view the omission of whatever as a "your favourite _____ sucks," but come on; the most obvious beneficiary of Die Hard and its alloy of comedy and action is Robert Downey Jr., who the year it came out was third-billed behind Andrew McCarthy and Jami Gertz and 25 years later made $50 million for his role in The Avengers.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:14 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


From The Last of the Mohicans entry:

Plus, the last twenty minutes or so — a sustained, nearly wordless footchase and face-off that’s drenched in pain, regret, love, sacrifice, and ethereal beauty — should be shown in every film school on a continuous loop until the end of time.

Abso-friggin-lutely.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:15 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


De-slide showed link here.
posted by Tevin at 2:15 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Just once, I want to see an action film director deliberately put in scene in which, exactly halfway through the film, the hero is chasing the villain and they happen to jump over, say, a tank with a shark in it, or a stuffed shark in a museum, or even a bus stop bench advertisement with a picture of a shark on it. Just because. I know this isn't even particularly relevant but that's what I want.

Deep Blue Sea might be pretty close to what you want, even if it's not actually what you want.

Also, DEEPEST / BLUEST / MY HEAD IS LIKE A SHARK FIN

...

Plus, the last twenty minutes or so — a sustained, nearly wordless footchase and face-off that’s drenched in pain, regret, love, sacrifice, and ethereal beauty — should be shown in every film school on a continuous loop until the end of time.

Incidentally, another great cinematic foot chase is in the highly underrated French Connection II.

Oh, although, you know what movie should have made the list:

Ronin
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:17 PM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also, I still want that sonic shotgun from Minority Report, twirling load mechanism and all.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 2:18 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do short films count? If so I'm adding this obscure Russian music video: Bad Motherfucker.
posted by dgaicun at 2:19 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


This post is a perfect candidate for Deslide (previously). This is a scroll down version, for those who hate slideshows..
posted by cacofonie at 2:20 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing about Last of the Mohicans is that I wouldn't approach it as an action movie. It's a historical drama...and the historical part involves it being set during the French and Indian War (also known as the 7 Years War). Stating that this movie is an action movie is stating that any movie set in a war time setting is an action movie - which means we could include War Horse as an action movie. Dang, why not say Glory should be on that list?

I always thought Demolition Man was one of the great 90s action films. Throw True Lies in there, too. Why not Die Hard 3? Hrm...hrm...

Let's just say, Die Hard is to X and some of the movies on this list sure don't match up to X (or X exploding).
posted by Atreides at 2:21 PM on July 16, 2013


Sharknado?
posted by Wordshore at 2:23 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


No Heat, a movie with one of the most intense firefights ever?
posted by florzinha at 2:25 PM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Shaolin Soccer and/or Kung-Fu Hustle
posted by rifflesby at 2:28 PM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


AFTER Die hard is such a weird cut-off point, the action movie being such an 80s genre. TBH whenever anything manages to be a good solid action movie these days and not "a roller coaster ride of fun" or a Michael Bay film or what the fuck ever I give a little cheer. I'd say that some of these movies qualify, but a lot strike me as not fully Action or not fully good. All in all a weird mixed bunch.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on July 16, 2013


This list certainly tries to touch all the bases. It's got Supercop (or Police Story 3, I guess), which is an extreme example of a "pure" action movie. (Real people doing real stunts in front of the camera.) Then there's Hero, with all the wuxia, wi-fi stuff. (Real people assisted by practical effects doing stunts.) And then there's Avatar, which is (spectacular) CGI. It's like three widely divergent points on a plane.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:30 PM on July 16, 2013


oh, and Ong-Bak 2. That movie is goddamn crazy.
posted by rifflesby at 2:31 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sweet Jesus. The Dark Knight is number one?! I mean, it's somewhat interesting on its own terms but it's not very good as an action film. With the exception of some moments in Inception, Nolan just does not direct action scenes well.

I like that Crank is on there, just because I love Crank, but it's less an action movie than a Crank movie. It and its sequel are their own genre.

I would have included The Raid, Dredd, Total Recall, Starship Troopers, The Fifth Element, Ronin... Yeah, I'd have to start my own list.
posted by brundlefly at 2:31 PM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh! Punisher: War Zone!
posted by brundlefly at 2:31 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. Movies like The Raid: Redemption and Ong-Bak (haven't seen 2) amaze me and make me squirm at the same time. Those poor stunt men! If it's not real, they sure do a good job making the action look brutal.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:35 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Die Hard
Die Harder
Die Harderer
Die Hardest
Die Hardestier
Die Bart Die
posted by blue_beetle at 2:36 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, just a handful of weird forced into an otherwise decent article. Avatar was boring as shit; that Spiderman is terrible, Point Break is kinda meh as an action flick…

I'd make a case for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, A Better Tomorrow, Bullet In The Head and The Killer, mostly because Hard Boiled was one of my least favorite Woo movies.
posted by klangklangston at 2:37 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Am I misremembering Jurassic Park? Great visuals for the time, but it didn't age well, IIRC. I wouldn't have pegged it for #10 on a list like this.
posted by jclarkin at 2:44 PM on July 16, 2013


Jurassic Park is still awesome, and most of the visuals have aged just fine.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:46 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's also the divide between action movies that are about shooting and blowing people up, versus action movies that are about athletic stunts and beating people up. (Or slicing them with swords.) Most action stars do both, but Jackie Chan has remained firmly in the athletic, beating people up camp. American action movies tend more towards the shooting people side of things.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:47 PM on July 16, 2013


Point Break deserves to be significantly higher on the list. It gets some unfair treatment for the Keanu-ness of it all, and for being so very early-90's complete with appearance from Flea and Anthony Kiedis. But it's a great story, with groundbreaking action set pieces and a defining skydiving sequence. The ending was great too. Via con dios, Brody.
posted by mediocre at 2:47 PM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


To the contrary, the CGI in Jurassic Park counter-intuitively looks better than 99% of the CGI we've regularly witnessed since that 20-year-old (!) movie.
posted by dgaicun at 2:48 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Unstoppable? Plenty of people have listed plenty of films which could have made this list, why the fuck is that on the list? It looks like it should have Paul Walker in it for god's sake.

Also missing from the list: Blade and Blade 2, I agree on Demolition man also, perhaps they meant the Snipes movie of Unstoppable, though that is far from great either.

Last of the Mohicans is kick ass! Definitely top 25, fantastic action scenes, great set pieces. Its Daniel Day Lewis and Michael Mann! And the baddie is a thoroughly nasty piece of work.
posted by biffa at 2:48 PM on July 16, 2013


I would add The Professional (or "Leon" depending on what point of time you are referring to this movie).

But for pure action, there are some war movies missing, though I suspect he is drawing some distinction there. But I think Black Hawk Down was an amazing action movie that was I was exhausted by the end of because of so much tension. 300 was too.
posted by dios at 2:52 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Die Hard: The Hardening.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:52 PM on July 16, 2013


I feel uncomfortable putting something that's still in theaters in a "best movie since x" list, but were I composing this list I would be sorely tempted to put Pacific Rim on it. It's a damn good flick.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:55 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would replace The Rock with Bad Boys 2, and Avatar with Aliens.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:55 PM on July 16, 2013


No Heat, a movie with one of the most intense firefights ever?

My friend's brother was working in downtown L.A. when they were filming that, and he hit the deck when he heard gunshots start. Took several minutes for him and his officemates to learn it was just a movie.
posted by zardoz at 2:56 PM on July 16, 2013


Aliens was 1986.
posted by Artw at 2:57 PM on July 16, 2013


Needs more The Long Kiss Goodnight.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:01 PM on July 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


"Kill Bill Vol. 2" is like the last 30 minutes of A.I. Or it would be, if the first 2 hours of A.I. were any good.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:03 PM on July 16, 2013


If anyone wants to star in their own 80's action movie, download a copy of BroForce.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:03 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah. Blade and Blade 2 are pretty badass. Also, I have a soft spot for Demolition Man, but I don't know that I would include it here.

Die Hard With a Vengeance seems to get a lot of shit, but despite a weak ending I really enjoy it. Definitely the best of the sequels. Not that that's really saying much.

I saw Jurassic Park on the big screen during its recent theatrical re-release. The FX definitely have held up, which I think owes to the fact that it leans so heavily on the practical puppets and animatronics. The CG was there to pull off what the robots couldn't. Nowadays the dinos would be all CG and be dated within a few years.

It also feels more propulsive and engrossing on the big screen. I've seen it so, so many times over the years that I know it backwards and forwards, but I was so involved by the end that I literally pumped my fist in the air at the glorious "WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH" shot.
posted by brundlefly at 3:04 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


kmz: "No Fast Five. The list is invalid."

That's a good point, actually. I haven't seen Fast Five, but car movies are definitely a subset of action movies. They generally have the same stars, and the cars do lots of stunts.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:06 PM on July 16, 2013


I want 'Old Habits Die Hard' to be the name of a future Die Hard sequel.
posted by Anything at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2013 [19 favorites]


DIE BLECHTROMMEL
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2013


(The) (2) Fast (and/&) (the) (Furious) (Five)(:)(Tokyo)(Drift)
posted by brundlefly at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2013


Loved that russian Bad Motherfucker video! In a similar vein, I'd like to point out bo habb's remix of Robocop, pure action crack. Also Apocalypto.
posted by Tom-B at 3:15 PM on July 16, 2013


One of the reasons Die Hard With A Vengeance works well for me is it has a great palette; really strong primary colours throughout. It looks amazing.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 3:21 PM on July 16, 2013


Say what you will, but I just watched Pacific Rim Sunday evening on IMAX 3D and it is probably the best giant robot vs. giant monster film ever made. It's also one of the few movies which really deserves to be seen on IMAX 3D.
posted by ooga_booga at 3:23 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Say what you will

IT IS FUCKING AWESOME.
posted by Artw at 3:25 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hot Fuzz.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:26 PM on July 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


brundlefly: "(The) (2) Fast (and/&) (the) (Furious) (Five)(:)(Tokyo)(Drift)"

5 points to the first person who writes a RegEx that validates the titles of the movies in the Fast & Furious franchise, along with any potential future sequels...
posted by schmod at 3:27 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It should have been Furious Six.
posted by Artw at 3:29 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


More Fast and Furiouser
posted by Anything at 3:30 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


All of the above, but I keep coming back to True Lies and The Last Action Hero. Not only great action movies with wonderful detail, but also action movies about action movies. Both of them.
posted by ouke at 3:32 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Moderately Paced and Vaguely Irritated
posted by elizardbits at 3:33 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


also i still haven't seen pacific rim so no one is allowed to discuss it outside of clearly marked pacific rim threads

i will fight you
posted by elizardbits at 3:34 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think if you're going to put Crank on that list, you have to put Shoot 'Em Up in place of Unstoppable and probably drop Avatar in favor of practically anything.
posted by axiom at 3:34 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


The Bourne films really are really good, BTW.
posted by Anything at 3:34 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


i will fight you

To the mechs!
posted by Artw at 3:35 PM on July 16, 2013


Mechs at dawn!
posted by Anything at 3:36 PM on July 16, 2013


also i still haven't seen pacific rim so no one is allowed to discuss it outside of clearly marked pacific rim threads

Can I say that it's a fucking blast? SPOILER ALERT!
posted by brundlefly at 3:36 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dude.

I forgot about Shoot Em Up.

That movie was so much fun I felt like I got away with something after I watched it. Death by carrot and machine-gun-marionette-fu were spectacular!

(also seconding Long Kiss Goodnight)
posted by Thistledown at 3:38 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can easily see Pacific Rim being to some kid now what Star Wars was to kids back in 1977. But yeah, specifics elsewhere.
posted by Artw at 3:38 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Night Watch (2004)
posted by edgeways at 3:43 PM on July 16, 2013


It's not a bad list, but I think it's missing some "dark horse" candidates:
-Hot Fuzz
-Drive
-The One (pretty much for the ending alone)
-The Hurt Locker
-Desperado
-Payback
-District 9

And a couple of MAJOR candidates:
-Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
-No Country for Old Men

I know a few of the above choices are not PURE action movies, but neither are Run Lola Run or Mission Impossible 1. I keep thinking I've seen more foreign action movies, but I can't get any off the top of my head.

I think it's kinda crap to do the cutoff at 1988, both Predator and Robocop came out in 1987, and they are pretty much equals to Die Hard in my book.
posted by FJT at 3:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, No Country for Old Men, yes.
posted by Anything at 3:47 PM on July 16, 2013


I think Shoot 'Em Up tried to inhabit the same over-the-top, self aware, hyper stylized universe as Last Action Hero and Kill Bill (EDIT: and Crank), but didn't quite make it. Not sure why.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:48 PM on July 16, 2013


Die Hard is not a good action movie.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:49 PM on July 16, 2013


...
posted by Artw at 3:49 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dude.
posted by Artw at 3:49 PM on July 16, 2013 [23 favorites]


Last of the Mohicans? I haven't seen it, is it worth a watch?

Yes. It's one of the rare movies where I think the book it's made from is arguably crap (good story, poorly executed; terribly ahistorical; problematically racist even in the context of when it was written -- altogether it was so bad that Mark Twain wrote a famous takedown of it), but the movie succeeds so well that it manages to get past the mediocrity of the source material. It's also interesting for being set in a period that few action movies attempt; it's pretty rare for a US-produced action flick to be set prior to the Revolution, but not in Olde Europe or Ancient Grecorome or somewhere else Foreign.

And the soundtrack is a goddamn masterpiece, completely independent of the movie; it's entirely possible that the music may outlast the movie, as good as it is, in the public consciousness, if it's not that way already.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:52 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Die Hard is not a good action movie.

Skyscrapers at dawn!
posted by VTX at 3:53 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


*starts to light cigarette*

"Die Hard is not a good action movie."

*stops in stunned silence*

*cigarette droops slowly, then drops from mouth*
posted by brundlefly at 3:54 PM on July 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


I don't share the big love for Last of the Mohicans as I found certain of the character aspects of it fell very flat. But when it clicks, it's high attainment cinema all the way ...

Plus, the last twenty minutes or so — a sustained, nearly wordless footchase and face-off that’s drenched in pain, regret, love, sacrifice, and ethereal beauty — should be shown in every film school on a continuous loop until the end of time.

I remember catching it on network TV many years back. They cut to a commercial maybe fifteen minutes into this sequence. More savage than anything that happened in the movie.
posted by philip-random at 3:55 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want to watch Drive again now.
posted by The Whelk at 3:56 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gets popcorn.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 3:57 PM on July 16, 2013


The Dark Knight - Garbage
Hard Boiled - Meh
Minority Report - So so
Kill Bill Vol. 1 - boring
Terminator 2: Judgment Day - excellent, my pick for number one.
The Last of the Mohicans - meh
Hero - haven't seen it
The Matrix - great but dated
Once Upon a Time in China - pretty good
Jurassic Park - um, no.
Run Lola Run - this is not an action movie in my book.
The Rock - crap
The Bourne Ultimatum - excellent
The Fugitive - shit
Speed - pretty damn good
Mission: Impossible - garbage, third and fourth are better
Spider-Man 2 - not an action movie and not very good
Battle Royale - crap
Unstoppable - lol. you gotta be kidding me
La Femme Nikita - decent
Casino Royale - pretty great but too long
Avatar - wha?
Crank - no.
Point Break - haha. yes
Supercop - sure, whatever.

You know, because I know you all wanted my opinions.

I think the maker of this list has a very loose definition of what an "action" movie is. Using the same loose definition, I'd add:

Jack Reacher
Mission Impossible 3
No Country for Old Men
The Raid: Redemption
Pusher 1, 2, and 3
Drive
Heat (who in hell would choose Mann's Mohicans over this?!)
Way of the Gun
Collateral
Taken
posted by dobbs at 3:57 PM on July 16, 2013


This list is bad. If you have to limit Woo to 2, Hard Boiled and Face Off. Mission Impossible was annoying.
The Raid: Redemption.
Spielberg: Saving Private Ryan.
Leon The Professional. The most egregious absence.
Kung Fu Hustle.
Pirates of the Caribbean I, the Raiders of the Lost Ark of its time.
Old Boy
Princess Mononoke
Snatch
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and The Thin Red Line.

This list is bad. If you have to limit Woo to 2, Hard Boiled and Face Off. Mission Impossible was annoying.

MI is De Palma. Woo did number 2. (And did he ever.)
posted by dobbs at 4:00 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Relevant: Ode to Joy: Why Die Hard Is Still the Best Action Movie of the Modern Era by film critic Daniel Carlson
posted by marc1919 at 4:00 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also want to watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang again because it contains all movies.
posted by The Whelk at 4:01 PM on July 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Is Hobo With A Shotgun an action movie?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:02 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


IMHO, that last 20 minutes or so of Last of the Mohicans is indeed the shit. The music, the relentless pace, the choices made both savage and sad, three men completely outnumbered and they just don't give up, and that final combat. Stunning.
posted by Ber at 4:02 PM on July 16, 2013


"This list is bad. If you have to limit Woo to 2, Hard Boiled and Face Off. Mission Impossible was annoying. "

Face/Off isn't in the top five Woo action movies even. Probably not even in the top 10. Though this does make me tempted to watch it again, since it's been a long time and I watched it with my grandmother because she had a weird crush on John Travolta (a crush my mother shares, which led to me seeing Michael for no goddamned good reason).
posted by klangklangston at 4:02 PM on July 16, 2013


I have a soft spot for Face/Off. It's definitely nowhere near Woo's best, but it's just so weird.
posted by brundlefly at 4:04 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like that Woo didn't want to do a Sci Fi story but left all the crazy underwater prisons and face swap gadgets in the script.
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


In conversation everyone does the hand motion and calls it "Face... Off!", right?
posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Last of the Mohicans

I actually broke out laughing during this movie in what was supposed to be one of the key dramatic scenes when DDL yells to Stowe "Whatever you do, stay alive" or something similar. Ever since then I can't take DDL seriously despite him being a brilliant actor because I keep watching for more overly dramatic banality. Also to be a true adaptation of Last of the Mohicans they should have had about an hour of closeups of all the different kinds of trees in the new country.
posted by srboisvert at 4:21 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nothing personal, dobbs, but "Jack Reacher"? Are you kidding me? I thought it was pretty weak because it managed to make Reacher boring. Only Tom Cruise could do that. Outside of the final setpiece there wasn't much action there.
posted by wintermind at 4:22 PM on July 16, 2013


One of these days somebody needs to make a list of the 25 best action movies on Netflix streaming.
posted by wintermind at 4:24 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Woo's movies are over-the-top and hyper stylized, but definitely not self aware. In the world of Hard Boiled and Face/Off the word "irony" does not exist in dictionaries.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:24 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since we are talking Mission Impossible 2 and Mohicans, have you noticed the scene where Cruise has to leave Newton and parachute out of the hole in the skyscraper totally rips off the waterfall scene in Mohicans? Its not as good obvs.

While we're on the Mohicans love in, the take down of the bad guy is proper quality ( not a spoiler, this is an action movie list). He thoroughly deserves it and its nasty as fuck, plus the expression on his face is great.
posted by biffa at 4:30 PM on July 16, 2013


/opens dictionary.
/a dove flies out.
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on July 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh man, I can't believe I forgot it, but Dobbs jogged my memory: Haywire is one of the best action movies I've ever seen and deserves to be here. It's crazy taut and has a female Jason Bourne thing going on, and KICKS SO MUCH ASS.
posted by klangklangston at 4:36 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Basically if you've not seen Haywire that should be the next thing you watch.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Enqueued, Artw.
posted by wintermind at 4:53 PM on July 16, 2013


Death Proof.
posted by swift at 4:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Raid: Redemption was my "too old for this shit" moment. I appreciated the craft, but it was basically a Jackie Chan movie where people get curb-stomped onto jagged pieces of wood and stabbed in the neck with broken florescent light bulbs.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:59 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Add Children of Men and Kiss of the Dragon (Jet Li, hotel scene, office scene with twins; sticky movie)
posted by kurumi at 5:05 PM on July 16, 2013


Exactly.
posted by brundlefly at 5:05 PM on July 16, 2013


I'm not that big on the western action film genre but I am totally ecstatic with my fellow Mefites voting for all the wonderful Asian movies that are soooo much better imo. Much love.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:09 PM on July 16, 2013


Needs more Legend of Fong Sai Yuk, Supercop, Drunken Master II, Returner, and the other Hot Fuzz touchstone, Bad Boys II.

And Pacific Rim isn't so much an action movie as it is a ZOMG DID YOU JUST SEE THAT HOORAYS movie.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:11 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Die Hard is not a good action movie.

INTO THE WICKER MAN WITH IRONMOUTH
posted by elizardbits at 5:14 PM on July 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


And Pacific Rim isn't so much an action movie as it is a ZOMG DID YOU JUST SEE THAT HOORAYS movie.

ALL OF THE THINGS.

And yes to the Fong Sai Yuk movies.
posted by Artw at 5:15 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe the line was, "Stay alive! No matter what occurs, I will find you!" from Last of the Mohicans. It was a go-to line in MST3K for years.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:16 PM on July 16, 2013


Another vote for Pacific Rim making the list. And I'd choose the first Bourne movie, not the third.

And as much as I love, LOVE Hot Fuzz, it's actually kind of not an action movie. I mean, yes, there's a lot of action in it, but in its heart it's a comedy. Action movies generally take themselves pretty seriously.
posted by maryr at 5:17 PM on July 16, 2013


And elizardbits - hurry up and see Pacific Rim so we can start talking about the 4th string jaegers (actually spoiler free).
posted by maryr at 5:21 PM on July 16, 2013


Yes the 4th String Jaegers. This.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:22 PM on July 16, 2013


Also why is Baby Cart to Hades not on this list. That movie should be on every list.
posted by elizardbits at 5:22 PM on July 16, 2013


Too old, 1972.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:24 PM on July 16, 2013


Also jumping in to nominate Haywire. For some odd reason it's become one of my go-to movies to watch on long flights.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:25 PM on July 16, 2013


Just realized that The Last Boy Scout isn't on the list, and it should be in the top 10 or so. That was one hell of a ride when I saw it in the theater.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 5:26 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Once upon a time, I had to deal with/talk to John McTiernan in a professional but not movie business related capacity. (He'd reached out to me/us.) I'd scheduled the phone call and knew who he was, but was determined to play it cool. About ten minutes in of just discussing the subject at hand, I think he was frustrated or confused that I wasn't gushing or making references to things, so he said "I just want to make sure--do you know who I am?" It was too perfect, so I replied "Yippee kiy-yay, motherfucker."
posted by HonoriaGlossop at 5:26 PM on July 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


BTW, the author of the piece explains on the first page why Heat wasn't on the list.
posted by Metro Gnome at 5:27 PM on July 16, 2013


Machete.
and yes, Death Proof also.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:28 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really thought the action scenes in I Saw The Devil were great and exceptionally well done, even if it isn't a strict action movie.
posted by gucci mane at 5:31 PM on July 16, 2013


Whenever I think of "The Last Boy Scout", I also think of De Niro's "The Fan". I don't really know why because they're very different movies, and they were made years apart. I agree that TLBS is underrated, and need to buy it because I can never find it when I want to watch it.
posted by wintermind at 5:38 PM on July 16, 2013


So, I was complaining about the list to a friend and she just asked what my top 25 was. So, here's mine:

1) T2: Judgment Day
2) Hard Boiled
3) Gladiator
4) The Raid: Redemption
5) True Lies
6) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
7) Blade
8) Hot Fuzz
9) Drive*
10) Leon: The Professional
11) The Matrix
12) District 9
13) Banlieu 13
14) No Country for Old Men*
15) Crimson Tide*
16) Tremors
17) The Hurt Locker*
18) Kill Bill: Volume 1
19) The Rock
20) X2: X-Men United
21) Black Hawk Down*
22) Con Air
23) Desperado
24) Fast Five
25) Die Hard with a Vengeance
26) Darkman
27) Ronin
28) Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
29) Starship Troopers
30) The Dark Knight

This is what I put together in an hour, and I know I'm probably missing a couple of films. I purposely omitted this year's movies, because I think I still need to digest them, so Pacific Rim and Fast & Furious 6 are out. Also, I'm pretty weak on foreign cinema, so that's why this list is so West-centric.

Finally , the movies I marked in asterisk are those that are more atypical action movies, very different from what Die Hard is. Either they're not typically associated as action movies or not action-y enough. So, that's why there's 30 movies, so that one can remove those five and move the last five up.

I feel 11-20 are the hardest to order for me. The truth is, you can switch 11-20 up and I would not feel too strongly about it.
posted by FJT at 5:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I really like the list. I feel like it hits a lot of bases and is just idiosyncratic enough to be interesting. I like some of the alternate titles nominated in-thread, but The Raid really disappointed me. I mean, the action is pretty great if you like the bone-breaking stuff, but there's not much of a movie wrapped around it. Also, Drunken Master 2 is not just the best Jackie Chan movie but it's damned near my favorite movie ever, and while The Dark Knight is really something it's not much of an action movie by my reckoning, so I don't know what Mr. Ebiri is thinking. Strike that, The Rock, and Avatar from the list and I can pretty much co-sign.

On preview, Ghost Protocol is really freaking good and I would consider making space for it on my own list.
posted by Mothlight at 5:48 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Leon is very good, especially in the international version. Though I was surprised how little action it actually contained the last time I watched it ...
posted by Mothlight at 5:49 PM on July 16, 2013


I may agree about The Raid. It might just be really fresh in my memory, that's why it's so high up. Give me a few years, The Raid and Drive might very well shift.
posted by FJT at 5:53 PM on July 16, 2013


Dredd was amazing, and should have been on the list. I'll also add Speed Racer, for using the car race action for emotional effect, and Scott Pilgrim, for being the best videogame movie that isn't based on a videogame.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:54 PM on July 16, 2013


FJT has the beginnings of a better list for sure. I'm a huge action movie fan and most of the ones on the original list suffer from a whole lot of meh. Although my taste does lean more towards Black Hawk Down, Total Recall and Terminator Salvation than the Dark Knight, which crossed the terrible dialogue/ questionable physics barrier early on.

Face/Off is the worst movie ever made. The fact that they are different blood types is just gaahhh!!!!
posted by fshgrl at 5:57 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed at the people that would remove The Rock from their list. It's got everything Die Hard has going for it in terms of elements of an action movie and is pretty much the only reason I give Michael Bay a pass on everything forever.
posted by TwoWordReview at 6:01 PM on July 16, 2013


Kevin Street: "This list certainly tries to touch all the bases. It's got Supercop (or Police Story 3, I guess), which is an extreme example of a "pure" action movie. (Real people doing real stunts in front of the camera.) Then there's Hero, with all the wuxia, wi-fi stuff. (Real people assisted by practical effects doing stunts.) And then there's Avatar, which is (spectacular) CGI. It's like three widely divergent points on a plane."

Ummmmm, wirefu?
posted by Samizdata at 6:01 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


A History of Violence
Three Kings
Heat
Oldboy
The Hurt Locker
Children of Men
Pusher
Thin Red Line
etc.


Um. These are all excellent* films that include one or two superb action scenes** (best action scenes might actually be a more interesting list), but they aren't action movies. An action movie is a ridiculous ballet of death and destruction that you watch to see how many problems someone can solve with bullets/fists/whatever happens to be lying around at the time, and requires you to suspend your disbelief with a crane.

So, basically, Equilibrium.

You think I'm joking but I will come over and make you watch Equilibrium.

I also want to watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang again because it contains all movies.
posted by The Whelk at 4:01 PM on July 16


Oh god yes. You've said what I've been trying to say about that movie for years.

*Well, I found Hurt Locker insufferable, but I can acknowledge that it was fairly well crafted.

**Actually to be honest I have no idea why anyone suggested History of Violence. Is it because the William Hurt cameo means it should just be casually mentioned in any discussion about movies? Because then OK fine, otherwise... huh?

posted by Mike Smith at 6:03 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]



Face/Off is the worst movie ever made. The fact that they are different blood types is just gaahhh!!!!


You're watching a John Woo movie with John Travolta and Nick Cage and you're worried about science?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:05 PM on July 16, 2013 [6 favorites]



MINORITY REPORT!?!?!?!

One of the only movies in my life I have left the theatre during, walked out, horrible film, unintentionally hilarious though.

Also, the entire premise is false, the pre-cogs are wrong, the entire movie....

WORST.CRUISE.EVER.
posted by Cosine at 6:06 PM on July 16, 2013


Cosine, I cannot agree with you in a universe that includes "Jack Reacher".
posted by wintermind at 6:11 PM on July 16, 2013


Minority report would have been a better movie if they had stopped when he got haloed.

There is an interesting scene in there, when Farrell is shot it is essentially the same scene as Spacey getting it in L.A.Confidential. Makes for an interesting comparison, guess which is the better one?
posted by biffa at 6:12 PM on July 16, 2013


No love for Transporter or one of its sequels? I am ashamed of you all, including the OP and the author of the damn slide show.
posted by A dead Quaker at 6:13 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This many comments and seriously only one other person has complained that The Fifth Element wasn't on there? Multiple people have mentioned starship troopers even, which is just as classic. The fifth element is amazing. I'm still sad the sequel never got made :(
posted by emptythought at 6:16 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have not had the misfortune of viewing "Jack Reacher" (still cannot believe the title). I thought maybe worth it for the Herzog but my extremely unpicky parents somehow ended up seeing it in the theatre, I asked about it, dad just shook his head slow. And he loves him some baaaaad movies.
posted by Cosine at 6:16 PM on July 16, 2013


Minority Report isn't really an action movie, although it certainly is science fiction. Robocop is both an action movie and sci-fi.

Action movies have a central conflict that cannot be resolved without some kind of fighting or athletic activity. Like in Die Hard, McClane wants to see his wife again, and the only way he can do that is fight through the bad guys until he reaches her. Take out the fight scenes and the movie makes no sense.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:17 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't usually think of "The Fifth Element" as an action movie, but I'm now convinced that it is. It's also one of those movies that I'll watch every time I see it on TV, even though I own the DVD.
posted by wintermind at 6:20 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Last of the Mohicans manages to be very much like Starship Troopers, in that it is almost the opposite of the book. So much so, that by the end you are sort of thinking, "Yes, the one they call Magua speaks wisely..."


Also, Eastern Promises. Holy frickin' balls out knife fight in a steam bath!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:22 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


No love for Transporter or one of its sequels?

Paging jason_steakums...
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 6:22 PM on July 16, 2013


It kills me, Cosine, because I enjoy he books, and they're written to be filmed. For me, the biggest problems were Cruise's inability to convincingly inhabit the character, and the lack of chemistry between the leads. Someone needs to tell Tom Cruise that constant smirking does not accurately capture the character. He lacks the physical presence of Jack Reacher. And trust me, I'm not really that picky. It was worse than "Taken 2".
posted by wintermind at 6:25 PM on July 16, 2013


I am glad that nobody has argued with Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

It is a good action movie.
posted by anthill at 6:27 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]



You're watching a John Woo movie with John Travolta and Nick Cage and you're worried about science?


It was just so lazy. I was bored up to that point, then enraged.

Also 3:10 to Yuma should be on the list.
posted by fshgrl at 6:29 PM on July 16, 2013


Eh, it's an ok list, but they are cheating a bit with the "well, the whole movie might not be an action movie, but it's got a few good action scenes in it" qualifier. The problem with lists like this is there are so many good action films left out. Avatar was technically brillant--a milestone in CGI and 3D--and there's a lot of action but virtually zero suspense. To me, that's what makes an action movie so supercharged: when there's a visceral feeling of danger and you feel worried for the main character(s). In Die Hard, John McClane is scared in most scenes. It's kind of amazing how many screenwriters and directors (and actors) can't seem to add this element to their action movies.

I'm glad to see Mission Impossible up there. That's a great film, and with the exception of the ludicrous John Woo-directed part II, the sequels are all pretty great in their own right. A rather underrated series, that (except for that horrible horrible John Woo one...people, he's overrated, ok? Can you stop with the John Woo already?)
posted by zardoz at 6:39 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have opinions, but I will not rise to the linkbait.






aliens
posted by 256 at 6:41 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I was just thinking: No Transporter?!

I mean, it's like Gunsmith Cats but with guys. (Which, granted, makes it inferior to Gunsmith Cats, but let's stay on topic.) And if you're going to let Minority Report in, you need to make room for Death Race (2008).

Shoot 'Em Up is like the Kill Bill of guns. I mean, c'mon: there's a shoot out at a weapons factory! What more do you want?

And Long Kiss Goodnight? Of course it belongs here!

This list a good list. A thoughtful, carefully prepared list. But it is not my list. No, sir!
posted by SPrintF at 6:43 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


1986
posted by klangklangston at 6:44 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am glad that nobody has argued with Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

I'd argue it should be higher.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:47 PM on July 16, 2013


I am surprised to see that no one's mentioned Boondock Saints.
posted by klangklangston at 6:50 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man, the Transporter! I was thinking of Crank, where every problem can be solved with the phrase, "It's the Chinese shit." But The Transporter!

Basically, Patton Oswalt said it best.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:55 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Watching The Raid: Redemption felt like watching someone else play an Xbox game.
posted by octothorpe at 6:56 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kick-Ass and El Mariachi were also good. Midnight Run misses the deadline by two days.
posted by klangklangston at 6:58 PM on July 16, 2013


Also, I would take Layer Cake over Lock, Stock... or Snatch any day.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:00 PM on July 16, 2013


Predator 2! (Ok, maybe not the whole thing...but the last hour is just amazing)
posted by Bron at 7:02 PM on July 16, 2013


*bookmarks thread*

Also gonna put this out there: The Limey (assuming a super-intense shoot-em-up that's reeeeeeeally slow-paced can be considered an action movie, which I'm not sure it can).
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:13 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Amongst the lesser Strathams I am quite fond of Death Race. Practical effects!
posted by Artw at 7:17 PM on July 16, 2013


And as much as I love, LOVE Hot Fuzz, it's actually kind of not an action movie. I mean, yes, there's a lot of action in it, but in its heart it's a comedy.

One of the things that I love about Hot Fuzz is that it's an action movie-themed comedy and ends with a big gun battle, but for most of the running time it's actually a giallo.
posted by brundlefly at 7:37 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am surprised to see that no one's mentioned Boondock Saints.

Probably because it's a terrible movie?
posted by zardoz at 7:40 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think many of the best action movies have been coming from outside of Hollywood for the last twenty years. I agree with many of the suggestions above.

I would put a Johnnie To flick on there, maybe Running out of Time (I would also nominate Mad Detective, and I really like Throw Down), plus at least one Dante Lam flick, how about Beast Stalker? Stool Pigeon is great, too.

I really dig Triple Tap, it's slick and flashy but maybe a bit silly by the end, not a top 25 but worth a mention. One Nite in Mongkok is better than many of those listed above. The Thieves is recent, a lot of fun.

Oh, I nearly forgot Running on Karma, an incredible Buddhist action flick featuring the ever-dreamy Andy Lau in a muscle suit. It's fantastic, definitely in my top 25, one of my favorite films ever. It's crazy and then it's not at all crazy, and then you learn something. Or maybe not.

Also there are films like The Warlords and Red Cliff and A Battle of Wits, but I tend to class them with war movies, which I tend not to put on action movie lists, because there are enough of them and they really seem to stand alone. Of those war movies many may not have seen I would recommend Assembly, Tae Guk Gi and Indigènes. But I digress.

I totally agree with dgaicun upthread about The Man from Nowhere. It's one of my favorite movies ever, and the little girl Kim Sae-ron is one of the best child actors I've ever seen (she was tremendous in A Brand New Life). Oldboy seems like an omission as well. The Yellow Sea is really something, and if you want to see something else gritty and fucked up but somehow transcendent, try Breathless (not necessarily an action movie, though violent). Attack the Gas Station might be classed as a comedy but it's also great, as is Save the Green Planet. Oh, and how can I forget Secret Reunion?

Watch Secret Reunion, okay?

I'm not sure where to put samurai films, as the best ones are full of action but also full of drama and suspense and historical this-and-that. After the Rain is simply awesome, definitely in my top 25, even though I would have trouble classifying it as an action movie. Same with Twilight Samurai, Hidden Blade, and Love and Honor, Yamada Yôji's nonpareil samurai trilogy.

I tend to go on and on about Elite Squad II: The Enemy Within, from Brazil. It's really worth seeing, certainly in my top 25, certainly an action film. A.C.A.B: All Cops Are Bastards is an excellent Italian flick about riot cops, maybe not top 25 but worth a mention.

Would you call Attack the Block an action movie? It was kind of awesome.

I seem to remember enjoying Transporter II. And the latest Jason Statham flick, Redemption, was quite entertaining.

Oh yeah, sorry folks, The 13th Warrior makes my list, and Valhalla Rising just barely misses it.

Also, I would include Apocalypto, Mel Gibson's movie about the messiah.

Top twenty-fives are hard.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:42 PM on July 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


RED is worthy of your best of the last 25 years consideration.
posted by humanfont at 7:43 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is there no love for "The Replacement Killers"? I quite like it.
posted by wintermind at 7:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


In Die Hard, John McClane is scared in most scenes. It's kind of amazing how many screenwriters and directors (and actors) can't seem to add this element to their action movies.

Minor derail but this is exactly what's been missing with the last two sequels. I still think the first one is the best (and it's my favorite action movie) but I like With a Vengeance a lot and I think 2 is still pretty great. The 4th one is just okay and this last one was dumb. I think it was because it was made by people who grew up with Die Hard and they retconed John Mcclane into a fearless badass when the thing that made the movies work was that is that he was a pretty normal guy who felt a need to act and was in way over his head.
posted by VTX at 7:47 PM on July 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I am surprised to see that no one's mentioned Boondock Saints.

Probably because we've seen it.

Nothing personal, dobbs, but "Jack Reacher"? Are you kidding me? I thought it was pretty weak because it managed to make Reacher boring. Only Tom Cruise could do that. Outside of the final setpiece there wasn't much action there.

No, I'm not kidding. I thought it was among the best American movies of the last few years. Extremely well-made--good dialogue, no spoon feeding, great chase sequence. I think the female is miscast, but otherwise I don't really have any complaints.

And I don't think it made Reacher boring. However, I've only read one Reacher novel (the first) and thought it was shit and that Lee Child is a terrible writer.
posted by dobbs at 7:48 PM on July 16, 2013


RED is worthy of your best of the last 25 years consideration.

For a moment I thought you were talking about Red with Brian Cox, about a man and his dog, and I was going to say that's a real strong choice, one that made me cry, but not necessarily action in the Die Hard vein. Then I remembered RED.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:48 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Predator 2! (Ok, maybe not the whole thing...but the last hour is just amazing)

I was arguing with myself whether to put Desperado or Predators, as they're both Rodriguez films I liked a lot. I went with Desperado, buy Predators had some memorable scenes.
posted by FJT at 7:51 PM on July 16, 2013


What about the entire Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series?
posted by Vibrissae at 8:01 PM on July 16, 2013


My god, it's amazing how badly these folks misread Nikita:

all about transcending mundane reality: A tale of an ordinary, anonymous person discovering that they can do extraordinary things under the right circumstances.

Did they skip the last 60% of the movie or something? How did they fail to notice that Nikita is increasingly repulsed/horrified by the violence, to the point that she breaks down crying at one point in the final action sequence?

In fact the plot is almost exactly the opposite of what the list claims. Nikita has some cautious enthusiasm for the action-y life when she finishes training, but she quickly realizes that it's just a senseless game and that "ordinary" life is much more fulfilling. Her assignments never amount to much more than being told "go here, do X" without any context--she has no agency there. Her challenges are in learning how to do ordinary things like cooking, socializing, falling in love. She's transcending her nihilistic past and her brutal occupation, not "mundane reality".

By the end she desperately wants out, but tragically, she has sealed her fate long before, by killing the cop at the start of the movie--with that act she committed herself to a life of violence, even though she was too alienated to understand what she was doing.

And still the movie manages to balance all this with action scenes that are tense and exciting, without making us cheer for the senseless violence, by making us sympathize with Nikita but not with her immediate goals (like "kill X"). We're not rooting for her to succeed in her missions, we're rooting for her to make her way out of the horrifying situations she's placed in.
posted by equalpants at 8:02 PM on July 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


How about Versus? The good thing about supernatural zombies is that your yakuza deathmatches can be replayed!
posted by Iosephus at 8:03 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Apocalypto
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 8:08 PM on July 16, 2013


Re: Boondock Saints — It's fun and trashy, and I have a set of friends who will mention it every time there's a discussion on action movies.

"Amongst the lesser Strathams I am quite fond of Death Race. Practical effects!"

Drive Angry with Nick Cage is pretty much exactly on that level too.

"What about the entire Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series?"

Way too slow to be action movies, much as I like them.
posted by klangklangston at 8:09 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


If we're going to count Drive in the action genre (alongside Die Hard), then surely we can also include Brick? The pacing's on the slow side, but thinking back, the movie's got more than a few intense action scenes.

They all share a hero who's incredibly (and reluctantly) badass, while walking the line between being scared shitless, and having nothing left to lose. Brick rescued JGL's career, and doesn't get nearly enough credit for doing so.

A good action movie needs a hero who's mortal, and scared to death. If we also include fast pacing in our criteria, Children of Men possibly jumps out as a better contender than Die Hard as the leader of the pack. I dare you to come up with another movie that's as relentlessly intense. (Versus doesn't count. While it's certainly intense, that's pretty much the film's sole characteristic. There's literally no plot or characterization.)
posted by schmod at 8:14 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


brundlefly: "One of the things that I love about Hot Fuzz is that it's an action movie-themed comedy and ends with a big gun battle, but for most of the running time it's actually a giallo."

A few years ago, a bunch of friends and I watched Pan's Labyrinth, which is a sad and depressing film to say the least. We decided to follow that film with a comedy to lift our spirits, and settled on Hot Fuzz.

Let's just say that this was a bad choice. For a comedy, Hot Fuzz is surprisingly dark, and incredibly violent. Along with Drive, it's one of only a few movies to make me realize that I might not be completely desensitized to gratuitous movie violence...
posted by schmod at 8:19 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hot Fuzz has got something Drive doesn't...

...

A big bushy beard!
posted by Artw at 8:38 PM on July 16, 2013 [16 favorites]



One of the things that I love about Hot Fuzz is that it's an action movie-themed comedy and ends with a big gun battle, but for most of the running time it's actually a giallo.


I literally watched Hot Fuzz this weekend, and I realized how much of a giallo it was. Also a horror film, and an action film, and a bit of a comedy too. And last night I had a nightmare about a Creepy Small Town, which is one of my biggest fears... thanks, Hot Fuzz.

I'm seeing the creators tonight. I'll ask about the giallo influence!
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I dare you to come up with another movie that's as relentlessly intense.

Mad Max/Road Warrior has the character carrying permanent injuries from the first movie into the second, showing that even though Max is a skilled driver and fighter, he's still very much human. A lot of characters that are set up in Road Warrior that you think are going to survive get killed in the last battle, which definitely ratchets up the intensity.

Predator is pretty much a spec ops team running around scared shitless as the jungle seems to literally come alive to kill them.

Aliens, but moreso Alien uses fear effectively too, partly because the movie draws inspiration from the horror genre.

Terminator was another film that borrowed liberally from the horror genre, this time from slasher movies with the Arnie model going around killing Sarah Connors.

Of course, all these are pre-1988 movies...
posted by FJT at 9:03 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Alien was definitely a horror movie and Aliens was definitely an action movie. Still, two of the greatest of each genre and it's a pity that no one ever thought to follow up and make a followup movie or a prequel. YMMV.
posted by Ber at 9:13 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's so nice that charities will employ the author after his repeated head injuries.
posted by Gin and Comics at 9:14 PM on July 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Someone mentioned Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan earlier, and it also has characters that mostly avoid plot shield. They kill off Vin Diesel in the first twenty minutes and oh yeah, that's after the D-Day invasion. Spielberg does something similar with Munich, showing the Black September raid on the Olympic village with every gory detail. I'm aware of the factual inaccuracies of Munich, but I enjoyed as a movie save for one Eric Bana sex scene that prevented me from heartily recommending it. And also it's not an old school action movie.
posted by FJT at 9:24 PM on July 16, 2013


I dare you to come up with another movie that's as relentlessly intense.

I hated Children of Men and didn't find it tense at all. In fact, I laughed a lot during it.

The most tense films I know are the original Funny Games and Le Trou, the greatest prison escape movie ever made.
posted by dobbs at 9:27 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Le Trou, the greatest prison escape movie ever made.

What?! A French movie, that's too high brow. The Great Escape is the best movie, cuz 'Merica.

And Elmer Bernstein. But Le Trou sounds interesting.
posted by FJT at 9:37 PM on July 16, 2013


I am surprised to see that no one's mentioned Boondock Saints.

Boondock Saints was mainly good because it gave us Overnight.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:23 PM on July 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Damn right District 9 needs to be on there. When Wikus got the suit on, there was cheering in my local theater. That never happens around here.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 10:24 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Artw: "Hot Fuzz has got something Drive doesn't...

...

A big bushy beard!
"

Yerp.
posted by Samizdata at 10:32 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ironclad.
posted by buzzman at 10:42 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yerp.

The Hound!
posted by Artw at 10:47 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


This wouldn't be my list of favorite action movies, but it's good enough for a discussion-starter. I mostly just wanted to chime in on the love for "Haywire," which isn't particularly high-concept or high-budget, but still is very well-executed and entertaining.

I gather that Steven Soderburgh thinks of this sort of film as something just to toss off for a laff, but he's actually pretty good at the thriller/action/suspense genre. And I liked Gina Carano, too, enough to want to see whatever similar film she's in next.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 11:00 PM on July 16, 2013


Haywire has a perfect figure 8 story structure. I love it.
posted by The Whelk at 11:11 PM on July 16, 2013


Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner: "This wouldn't be my list of favorite action movies, but it's good enough for a discussion-starter. I mostly just wanted to chime in on the love for "Haywire," which isn't particularly high-concept or high-budget, but still is very well-executed and entertaining.

I gather that Steven Soderburgh thinks of this sort of film as something just to toss off for a laff, but he's actually pretty good at the thriller/action/suspense genre. And I liked Gina Carano, too, enough to want to see whatever similar film she's in next.
"

Because of Haywire, my current winner for Wonder Woman is Ms. Carano. She has acting chops and fighting chops and could, IMO, rock the WW duds. Derail over.
posted by Samizdata at 12:07 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dangit, I was hoping I'd be able to get to the end and post "I'm glad nobody's tried to mention Boondock Saints."
posted by rhizome at 12:40 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you fancy a bit of French action, I strongly recommend Point Blank, not the most original title but punchy, well paced and with a sympathetic main character - a male nurse no less, that should get him extra points in here.
posted by biffa at 12:53 AM on July 17, 2013


I'm not sure where to put samurai films...

13 Assassins
posted by kliuless at 3:13 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


For reference, The Dark Night is also clearly the best romantic comedy since His Girl Friday, the best horror film since The Exorcist and the greatest epic since Lawrence of Arabia. What is wrong with all of you? Someone who acted in the movie died, people.

Jesus. I look very forward to say ten or so years from now, when every mid-20's-to-mid-30's aspiring online film and culture authority gives up the notion that pretending The Dark Knight was the Citizen Kane of the millennial generation gives them street cred.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:30 AM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Batman Begins was a better movie. When Heath Ledger died it was like they couldn't bear to leave any of him on the cutting room floor, and The Dark Knight suffered for it. Also that cell-phone goggles shit at the end was an insult to human intelligence.

Then again, I was just dropping in to mention how much I liked Battle Los Angeles, so what do I know?
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:43 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


28 Weeks Later
posted by judson at 8:31 AM on July 17, 2013


...and I also liked Source Code and Man on Fire, but maybe not enough to make a top 25 list. I really have to stop this, it's becoming an obsession.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:31 AM on July 17, 2013


The Last of the Mohicans

I actually broke out laughing during this movie in what was supposed to be one of the key dramatic scenes when DDL yells to Stowe "Whatever you do, stay alive" or something similar.


You'll appreciate the Mohican Master 2000.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:02 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


FJT: "I was arguing with myself whether to put Desperado or Predators, as they're both Rodriguez films I liked a lot."

Predators was directed by Nimród Antal and produced by Rodriguez. The only other film of Antal's that I've seen is Armored, which I enjoyed quite a bit. It's sort of like Die Hard in the back of a truck, and I thought at the time that he might be a good choice for another Die Hard sequel. I've also heard good things about Kontroll.
posted by brundlefly at 10:17 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


LAst of the Mohicans? I haven't seen it, is it worth a watch?

Ans: Yes. Not only for the action, but for great scenery and excellent musical score, not to mention that it's a crackerjack romance.

Also, Troy. ditto.
Also, Snatch. ditto...well not so much for the romantic angle, unless you count the subplot with the dog. Or the history part.



The list is worthless.
posted by mule98J at 10:36 AM on July 17, 2013


The list is worthless.

I beg to differ. Regardless of its content, it made a lot of people spend time considering some of their favorite movies. The fact that such consideration spawned a Meffy thread you can mine for recommendations makes it worthwhile.

I hope that's not too meta for the blue.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:09 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


when every mid-20's-to-mid-30's aspiring online film and culture authority gives up the notion that pretending The Dark Knight was the Citizen Kane of the millennial generation gives them street cred.

I must be hanging out with the wrong Gen-Y film authorities, because I thought The Social Network was considered the CK of the millenials?
posted by FJT at 1:32 PM on July 17, 2013


I must be hanging out with the wrong Gen-Y film authorities, because I thought The Social Network was considered the CK of the millenials?

That insufferable, trite character assassination piece?
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:46 PM on July 17, 2013


Facebook is for old people.
posted by The Whelk at 1:48 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Like."
posted by maryr at 1:53 PM on July 17, 2013


That insufferable, trite character assassination piece?

Yeah, a rich white guy heading a big corporation that screws with people is a really easy target.

I still like it a lot, but I don't know if I'll like it in 10 years. I mean, I liked Fight Club in '99, but now it's quaint. It does make me think what movie now will be seen as great in 10 years.
posted by FJT at 2:13 PM on July 17, 2013


so inspired by this thread last night I asked Edgar Wright if he wished he was known more as an action director, but he said he was cool with how things are. The World's End had fantastic action scenes, and he talked about not moving the camera much or doing many cuts, unlike today's jumpy action films
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:10 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Forgot to add Crows Zero to this list. Directed by Takashi Miike, so right there's yer stamp of violent approval.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:59 PM on July 17, 2013


Black Death. Chop, glop, yuck.
posted by buzzman at 12:08 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


That insufferable, trite character assassination piece?

Hearst said as much about Kane.
posted by RobotHero at 12:10 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you need a superhero movie, The Incredibles is much better than Spider-Man 2.
posted by straight at 12:24 AM on July 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Very true but the list excluded animated movies for stupid reason. The Incredibles is easily my favorite Pixar movie, one of my favorite superhero movies, and would easily crack my top 20 favorite movies ever and probably my top ten. This despite the fact that I tend to like a lot of violence and blood in my action movies.
posted by VTX at 11:52 AM on July 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm adding Waterworld to the list.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:16 AM on July 19, 2013


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