Shove all time for this list we’re looking at the most beloved well-executed influential and iconic best action movies ever made. Most subgenres like action sci-fi and martial arts films will be considered however we will be limiting it to one entry per franchise.

50.) Bad Boys

IMDB – 6.9

Release Date – 7 April 1995

Director – Michael Bay

The third entry in this fan-favorite action-comedy franchise might be the best-reviewed. But the first installment is the one we keep coming back to. Released in 1995 Bad Boys stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. Two detectives working narcotics in Miami who must solve a major case or see their department get shut down.

The film not only launched the career of Michael Bay but also solidified his reputation for over-the-top action and explosions galore. Is it a film that’ll make you think? No, but the chemistry between Lawrence and Smith who improvised many of the film’s funniest lines. It is guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time and be on a list of best action films.

“Now back up, put the gun down, and give me a pack of tropical fruit bubblicious got some skittles. “

49.) Beverly Hills Cop

IMDB – 7.3

Release Date – 1 December 1984

DirectorMartin Brest

No matter how unique entertaining or well-crafted action films rarely get any sort of love from the major award bodies. So it’s a real testament to the quality of Beverly Hills Cop that it was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Not only that it also got an Oscar nod in the category of Best Original Screenplay. The movie almost starred Sylvester Stallone who tried to rewrite the film and cut out most of its comedy. Eddie Murphy absolutely shines it’s Detective Axel Foley showcasing not only his flawless comedic chops. But also proving he’s got what it takes to sell himself as a viable action star. It is a blast from start to finish.

“Nigel Porsche is it how to me to have the IRS come down here and curled your Nance with a microscope cuz they’ll do it I’ve seen him do it it’s not a pretty sight number”

48.) Police Story 3

IMDB – 6.9

Release Date – 4 July 1992

Director –  Stanley Tong

You cannot make a list of best action films without Jackie Chan’s name coming up. At least once if not a few times. The third movie in the popular Police Story franchise. This Hong Kong action film took on a life of its own finding international success in markets where past installments had limited releases. Supercop pairs Jackie Chan with fellow superstar Michelle Yeoh who impressively manages to keep up with the expert stuntmen. Together is Cucuy and inspector Jessica yang they must take down a drug lord. The hand-to-hand combat in this film is top-notch. As are the stunts but it’s Chan’s natural tendency towards physical comedy. That makes super cops so rewatchable.

47.) Baby Driver

IMDB – 7.6

Release Date – 11 March 2017

Director –  Edgar Wright

46.) Dread

IMDB – 7.1

Release Date – 21 September 2012

DirectorPete Travis

45.) Furious 7

IMDB – 7.1

Release Date – 2 April 2015

Director – James Wan

“Okay, here we go”. The first Fast and the Furious film was a unique look into the street-racing subculture. It was a fun and thrilling ride. But few people could have predicted that it would one day evolve into one of the biggest and highest-grossing action franchises of all time.

Tokyo Drift made it seem as if the series had run out of gas. But the fourth installment gave it a new lease on life and a fresh direction. Each film has its moments, but Furious 7 is the franchisee operating at peak performance. It pushed the adrenaline to new extremes with epic set-pieces. Ah! inspiring car chases and bone-crunching brawls in it manages to do all that, while also delivering a dramatic and emotional journey. This is one of my fav in the list of best action movies.

“As I say I live my life a quarter-mile at a time, and I think that’s why we were brothers because you did too”.

44.) Nikita also known as La Femme Nikita

IMDB – 7.3

Release Date – 21 February 1990

Director – Luc Besson

43.) The French Connection

IMDB – 7.7

Release Date – 7 October1971

Director –  William Friedkin

42.) Gladiator

IMDB – 8.5

Release Date – 1 September 2000

Director –  Ridley Scott

41.) Assault on precinct 13

IMDB – 7.4

Release Date – 3 September 1976

Director –  John Carpenter

40.) The fugitive

IMDB – 7.8

Release Date – 6 August 1993

Director –  Andrew Davis

Following his meteoric rise to fame in the late 70s and early 80s as Han Solo. Harrison Ford easily could have found himself typecast as his performance in this film proves, however. He is just as believable in a grounded and gritty thriller released in 1993.

The Fugitive stars Ford as Dr. Richard Kimble, a renowned surgeon who after being wrongfully convicted of murder must prove his innocence and avenge his wife. Ford delivers a committed performance conveying grief and righteous anger simultaneously.

Directed by Andrew Davis master of the action-thriller genre. The Fugitive makes for a tense but enthralling viewing experience with just enough comic relief to take the edge off. It was even nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

“He almost got away with it didn’t you. Know all about it, I can prove it.”

39.) Mission Impossible Fallout

IMDB – 7.7

Release Date – 12 July 2018

Director –  Christopher McQuarrie

38.) Drunken Master 2 Also known as The Legend of the drunken master

IMDB – 7.6

Release Date – 5 February 1994

DirectorJackie ChanLau Kar-leung

37.) Conair

IMDB – 6.9

Release Date – 2 Ju

Director –  Simon West

36.) Fist of Fury

IMDB – 7.4

Release Date – 22 March 1972

Director –  Lo Wei

35.) Goldfinger

IMDB – 7.7

Release Date – 17 September 1964

DirectorGuy Hamilton

“Who you? Bond, James Bond.” With dozens of films in the franchise, picking a single James Bond movie to include in this list was no small feat. Daniel Craig’s iteration of the character has starred in one action-packed installment one after another. With his debut as 007 Casino Royale being especially memorable that being said Pierce Brosnan’s first outing 1995’s Goldeneye.

Similarly stands out forced to decide. However we have ultimately settled on Goldfinger, the first Bond film to be a true blockbuster. Sean Connery fully embodies the character, the film is a whole skirt of fine line of access and self-parody. All the while delivering genuinely thrilling action it loses with sexuality and is packed to the brim with gadgets cool one-liners and over-the-top villainy it all works.

“You expect me to talk? Mr. Bond, I expect you to die “

34.) Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

IMDB – 7.8

Release Date – 6 July 2000 

Director Ang Lee

33.) Total Recall

IMDB – 7.5

Release Date – 1 June 1990 

Director –  Paul Verhoeven

32.) Commando

IMDB – 6.7

Release Date – 4 October 1985

Director –  Mark L. Lester

31.) Speed

IMDB – 7.2

Release Date – 13 June 1997

DirectorJan de Bont

30.) Heat

IMDB – 8.2

Release Date – 15 December 1995

Director –  Michael Mann

Having Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in a crime drama slash action thriller and keeping them apart for much of the film. It seems like a wasted opportunity. But there is no arguing with the results. Directed by Michael Mann.

This 1995 film follows the conflict between Neel McCauley a career criminal and lieutenant Vincent Hanna who’s on the hunt for the men responsible for a heist that turned deadly. Gritty, grounded, and boasting top-notch performances. All around including Belle Kilmer’s heat is utterly riveting it’s often classified as more of a drama than an action film. But when the gunplay, erupts it earns a spot on the list.

Man has a real knack for pulling the viewer into the action sequences for an extremely visceral viewing experience. “We want the hurt no one we’re here for the bank’s money, not your money your money’s insured by the federal government you’re not gonna lose it guys”

29.) Hot Fuzz

IMDB – 7.8

Release Date – 14 February 2007 

DirectorEdgar Wright

28.) Point Break

IMDB – 7.3

Release Date – 12 July 1991

Director –  Kathryn Bigelow

27.) Dirty Harry

IMDB – 7.7

Release Date – 21 December 1971

DirectorDon Siegel

26.) You Jimbo

IMDB – 8.2

Release Date – 25 April 1961

Director –   Akira Kurosawa

25.) Enter the Dragon

IMDB – 7.7

Release Date – 26 July 1973

Director –  Robert Clouse

Considered by many to be the defining martial arts movie Enter the Dragon is also notable for being Bruce Lee’s last completed film before its passing.

Blending kung-fu cinema with the then rising blaxploitation genre Enter the Dragon holds nothing back. Lee is in top form in terms of fighting and acting, while the fight scenes alone are enough to earn this film a spot on our list.

What really makes it such a standout is the attention to detail beyond the action. The film is beautifully shot the color scheme is visually arresting and the score is a plus. It’s a perfect send-off worthy of its iconic star but is even better as part of a double feature with the way of the Dragon.

24.) Stagecoach

IMDB – 7.9

Release Date – 2 February 1939

Director –  John Ford

23.) The Bourne Ultimatum

IMDB – 8

Release Date – 25 July 2007 

Director –  Paul Greengrass

22.) Escape from New York

IMDB – 7.2

Release Date –  23 May 1981

Director –  John Carpenter

21.) Bullet

IMDB – 7.4

Release Date –  17 October 1968

Director –  Peter Yates

20.) Once Upon a Time in the West

IMDB – 8.5

Release Date – 21 December 1968

DirectorSergio Leone

Westerns are a distinct genre, but they tend to feature more than enough action to warrant consideration on our list. Besides just look at this movie poster its screams action.

Directed by the man who invented the spaghetti western sub-genre, Sergio Leone. Movie stars Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson in a tale of vengeance. He has already completed his dollars trilogy at this point.

Leone’s version of the American frontier feels extremely rich in detail and is populated with characters to match. The shootouts are downright thrilling. Not to mention beautifully shot and are made all the more engrossing by Ennio Morricone score. The film is cited as an influence by many notable filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.

19.) The Great Train Robbery

IMDB – 7.3

Release Date –   1 December 1903

Director –   Edwin S. Porter

18.) Lethal weapon

IMDB – 7.6

Release Date – 6 March 1987

DirectorRichard Donner

17.) Face-Off

IMDB – 7.3

Release Date – 19 June 1997

Director –  John Woo

16.) The rock

IMDB – 7.4

Release Date – 7 June 1996

Director –  Michael Bay

15.) John wick

IMDB – 7.4

Release Date – 14 November 2014

Director –  Chad Stahelski

“I already struck my son. Yes, sir, I did. May I ask why? Yeah well because he stole John wicks car sir and killed his dog”. Have you tried to pitch me on this film before its release and you would have been a tough sell.

Keanu Reeves comes from an action film pedigree but it seemed as if those days were behind him. Oh, how wrong we were. Reeves’s trademark reserved style of acting is a perfect fit for this ex-hitman who comes out of retirement in the name of revenge.

John Wick feels like a return to the rudiments of the action genre. There are no massive set pieces or gravity-defying car chases. Just good old-fashioned fisticuffs an epic gunplay. The fight choreography is inspired, the cinematography is absolutely stunning and the visuals consistently stylish. Best of all John Wick has given birth to a franchise of uncommonly consistent quality.

“Tell them, tell them all. Whoever comes, whoever it is. I’ll kill them. I’ll kill them all.”

14.) Robocop

IMDB – 7.5

Release Date – 30 September 1988 

DirectorPaul Verhoeven

13.) Kill Bill

IMDB – 8.1

Release Date – 10 October 2003

Director –  Quentin Tarantino

12.) First blood

IMDB – 7.7

Release Date – 18 December 1982

DirectorTed Kotcheff

11.) The Raid

IMDB – 7.7

Release Date – 8 September 2011

Director –  Gareth Evans

10.) Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior

IMDB – 7.6

Release Date – 24 December 1981

Director –  George Miller

Released to critical acclaim in 1981. This is one of those rare sequels that overshadows the original. This visceral sci-fi action film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which resources are scarce and tribal warfare is the way of life.

Road Warrior boasts thrilling chases, unbridled violence, and some truly remarkable special effects. All bolstered by inspired production design. It is a wild ride. Of course, you can’t talk about the action cinema glory of Mad Max without acknowledging the 2015 sequel with Tom Hardy.

Taking over the titular role and George Miller pushing his unique visual style to the extreme. Fury road gives Road Warrior a run for its money which is saying a lot.

9.) Hard-Boiled

IMDB – 7.8

Release Date – 16 April 1992

DirectorJohn Woo

With all due respect to “Shoot ‘Em Up” (2007) in the way, Clive Owen juggles a baby in hordes of faceless goons. Hard-boiled did it first and did it better. Released in 1992 this Hong Kong action film stars Chou-Heung fat as Tequila.

When a police inspector who following the death of his partner faces overwhelming odds. In his fight against the criminal factions of the Hong Kong underworld. In terms of sheer adrenaline, inducing action.

There are a few films that can keep pace with hard-boiled. At the time of its release, the Los Angeles Times crowned John Woo the best contemporary action director anywhere. If you need further proof, The Killer is another classic collaboration between Wu and Xiao Yun Fat.

8.) The Dark Knight

IMDB – 9

Release Date – 18 July 2008

Director –  Christopher Nolan

“Good Evening ladies and gentlemen. We are tonight’s entertainment.”

As you’ve probably noticed we’ve opted to keep superhero movies out of the discussion. The thing is considering how they dominate the box-office and the contemporary pop culture landscape. Action-heavy though they might be, they become a genre onto themselves.

The Dark Knight by contrast feels much more in line with conventional action cinema. Not only is this iteration of Batman quite grounded, but filmmaker Christopher Nolan also prioritizes practical effects wherever possible.

From the Joker’s bank heist to that epic chase through the streets of Gotham. The Dark Knight is jam-packed with timeless action sequences that could equally work in a number of non-superhero action films. Of course, having an iconic villain certainly doesn’t hurt its cause.

7.) Predator

IMDB – 7.8

Release Date – 18 June 1987

DirectorJohn McTiernan

What can we say, this list was always gonna be heavy on the arty. He’s a legend of action cinema but even against the steep competition of his filmography.

Predator remains a standout released in 1987. The film follows shorts and Eggers major, Allan Dutch Schaeffer, as he and his men square off against a deadly extraterrestrial hunter.

They might have the predator out man but the creature has got a serious technological advantage. The end result is a film that blends sci-fi horror and action into one seriously potent blend of machismo.

Critics might not have appreciated it at the time but its legacy speaks for itself. Predator spawned sequels crossovers and reboots but none has managed to recapture the spirit of simple fun of the original

6.) Aliens

IMDB – 8.3

Release Date – 11 July 1987

DirectorJames Cameron

Speaking of crossovers this is the franchise that Predator most notably collided with. But long before that disappointing mashup Xenomorphs made the jump from Syfy or too sci-fi action horror in this James Cameron directed sequel.

Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley is once again forced to get up close and personal with the deadly xenomorphs. But this time she’s got some serious firepower and support from a group of colonial marines. This translates to a lot of tense explosive sci-fi action that because of Cameron’s use of practical effects still holds up today.

All the extraterrestrial carnage could have come at the expense of substance but Cameron manages to simultaneously up the emotional stakes for the heroine. Making aliens a film that satisfies in more ways than one.

5.) Raiders of the Lost Ark

IMDB – 8.4

Release Date – 10 December 1981

Director –  Steven Spielberg

The first installment in one of the most beloved franchises in film history. This movie requires no introduction. Star Wars may have put Harrison Ford on the map, but this role solidified his place there.

Sit in the 1930s Raiders of the Lost Ark followed intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones on a quest to locate the biblical Ark, of the Covenant. Taking full advantage of the time period. The film places villainous Nazis between our hero and his goal.

Ford is his usual charming self in the role and manages to get into more scrapes during the film’s 115-minute runtime than most people do in a lifetime. Who is never a dull moment and boasting creative set-pieces. This is the gold standard of action-adventure cinema.

4.) Seven Samurai

IMDB – 8.6

Release Date – 26 April 1954

Director –  Akira Kurosawa

While we’re on the subject of nostalgic films how about this absolute classic. Released in 1954 and directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa. Seven Samurai is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential films ever made, action or otherwise.

Set in 1586 Japan the film tells the story of seven samurai warriors without masters who are hired to protect a village from bandits. It’s an epic adventure with a powerful character-driven emotional court that has frequently been referenced cited and reworked but never duplicated.

The quality of the action sequences, as well as the manner in which they’re shot, feels decades ahead of its time. Any time a film memorably assembles a team you likely have this film to think.

3.) The Matrix

IMDB – 8.7

Release Date –  31 March 1999

Director –  Lana WachowskiLilly Wachowski

Though it may sound strange the widespread parodying of The Matrix is actually an indicator of its success and influence. When know which house keys released their cerebral sci-fi masterpiece of on cinema-goers in 1999. People didn’t know how to process it.

The matrix was a film without precedent blending cultures, philosophies, and cinematic genres in totally unexpected ways. Of these many innovations, the most obvious and in-your-face was its visually unique approach to actions.

From the gravity-defying combat, the bullet time to the epic chase scenes and use of urban spaces. It all felt fresh and wildly exciting. Some of the effects may feel dated today, but they work around breaking in 1999. And helped make the action all the more spectacular.

2.) Die hard

IMDB – 8.2

Release Date – 12 July 1988

DirectorJohn McTiernan

Call it an action movie, call it a Christmas movie, I call it a classic. The world of cinema is overloaded with heroes. But you can hold a candle to John McClane. When his wife’s company Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza is taken, hostage. This NYC cop rises to the occasion to single-handedly take down roughly a dozen well-armed goons.

He does it all barefoot not only is die-hard blessed with a great hero but it’s also one of the few action films. With an equally iconic villain, Hans Gruber played to perfection by Alan Rickman. Gruber is intelligent duplicitous and embodies that distinct brand of villainous charisma. Gritty, rich in heart, tightly plotted and seriously quotable. Diehard has gotten major replay value.

1.) Terminator 2 Judgment Day

IMDB – 8.5

Release Date – 24 August 1991

DirectorJames Cameron

Nonstop action from start to finish. Practical effects that many continue to put on a pedestal to this day. Technology that was years ahead of its time. T2 delivers everything that you could ask for in a great action film but also so much more.

best-action-films

It masterfully builds on the groundwork laid by 1984’s The Terminator. While upping the thrills by putting Arnie’s t800 on the side of good and pitting him against the advanced T1000. Proving that you can do it all in a single film. This epic action-driven story is further elevated by its humanity especially the unlikely father-son relationship that develops between John and the Terminator. It’s not just the best action movies of all time. It’s also among the best sequels to “hasta la vista baby. “

Hope you like the list and do tell which is your favorite action movie.

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