Off Topic: Best Action Movies Of All Time

Off Topic: Best Action Movies Of All Time

So I managed to see Mad Max: Fury Road over the weekend. Holy crap. It got me wondering — where does it rank in terms of the greatest action movies ever made?

For me personally, it’s up there. Just in terms of its ability to make the action tell a story. These aren’t action ‘sequences’ or ‘set-pieces’, the action is the story. Everything is communicated through the action, and it’s seamless.

I loved it. Zero exposition. Just this is what is happening, right now. You fill in the blanks. Loved it.

Other action movies I loved? Terminator 2, Aliens, Predator, Die Hard, Mad Max 2. I truly believe Fury Road is up there with that group. Your thoughts?


  • As an underrated/left field nomination. Welcome to the Jungle with the Rock and Sean William-Scott. So reminiscent of the awesome 90’s buddy action flicks like Tango and Cash.

  • You’ve pretty much nailed them with terminator 2, aliens, die hard, predator and mad max 2. That’s a very solid list. I’d add the first Rambo film to it as well. I think most action movies these days are too silly and some how end up boring for me.

  • Outside of the already mentioned 80s-90s staples
    The Rock
    The LEGO Movie
    MI: Ghost Protocol
    The Dark Knight

    • I’d agree with The Rock…

      The rest I would include in action movie categories… maybe Mission Impossible.

  • My top 3 are Terminator 2, Die Hard, and Die Hard: With a Vengeance.

    Can’t wait to see Fury Road!

    • 100%

      Still trying to decide if I love Casino Royale or Skyfall more…

      Daniel Craig’s Bond feels so much more grounded and personal than the Brosnan flicks.

      • I think Casino Royale was probably more exhilarating, and hence a better action movie, but damn Skyfall was beautiful. Might have to watch them back-to-back to decide!

  • The Expendables for fun.
    Total Recall is a classic.
    Commando, Universal solider and Under Siege,

  • True Lies, Total Recall, The Raid 2.

    Also,I have a very large soft spot for Unleashed/Danny the Dog.

    • Ah, I love the Raid series. They’re both so impressive and fun to watch.

      Also Merantau, the first film by Iko Uwais, is also worth a watch.

      • The Raid films are troublesome for me.

        They’re a great action movies, and some of the best martial arts films of the decade, but a lot of that is due to the fact that martial arts movies have generally sucked this decade (actually, for almost 2 decades).

        The fighting in The Raid is average. Everyone fights like a stuntman without the necessary intent and emotion. Enemies are lining up to take their hits, injuries and exhaustion play no part in the narrative of the fights, it’s kind of a mess.

        But they have great direction, really creative camera work, and the stories are absolutely perfect for an action film.

        Edit: “Marital arts” made it sound like a fancy porno

        • But that’s the thing. For me, the fighting feels very weighty, which I enjoyed.

        • Check out Daredevil on NetFlix if you want more from you fight scenes. VERY weighty.

        • The almost-endless montage of hyper-realistic fighting should be dull, but exercising discipline in choreography, framing and editing The Raid spins a far more engaging fight movie than Hollywood ever has.

    • I thought The Raid would be unbeatable as the best action movie of the last decade…

      … and then I saw The Raid 2. I was mistaken.

      • After you saw The Raid 2, what were you mistaken about?

        To call it a better action movie than the first one is a stretch – its a better drama and better thriller, but not a better action movie

        Going along the whole Raid inspiration – Dredd with Karl Urban is pretty cool. Yes, the similarities are close, but more coincidence than anything else

        • The entire premise of Dredd was too similar to The Raid to be coincidence – Mama talking to the residents of the block and the judges is almost identical to Tama’s speech to the residents and the cops in The Raid.

          The Raid 2 was a better movie than the original, IMHO. They are both action movies. So I stand by my point – the action in The Raid might have been better, but TR2 is still the best movie in the action genre in the last decade.

          • It seems that it was pure coincidence. Dredd was apparently written first, but took longer in development. Gareth Evans has said he hadn’t heard anything about Dredd until a friend told him about it while he was in the middle of editing The Raid.

          • I stand corrected! I saw The Raid well before Dredd, so just assumed that it was a classic case of Hollywood seeing something cool come out of foreign cinema and jumping on the remake/adaptation bandwagon (a la Death at a Funeral).

          • Well… They’re doing that too. I believe that the remake is scheduled for next year. Last I heard they were eyeing the Hemsworth brothers as the opposing leads.

          • You said it was a better movie than the original, but the action in The Raid was better. Then you say The Raid 2 is the best action movie in the last decade… confusing…

          • Well, there are more factors that make an action movie good than just the action sequences. I think TR2 was a better movie overall, despite the action being better in the original, and since they both fall into the action genre, that makes TR2 the best action movie.

            If you are talking about the best action IN a movie, then The Raid wins.

  • They Live.
    Escape from New York.
    Enter the Dragon or The way of the dragon.
    Sword of doom.

  • To me, these are the quintessential action movies:

    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Die Hard
    Terminator 2
    The Matrix
    The Dark Knight
    The Raid series
    Mad Max: Fury Road

        • Just my opinion though, but some of the things I didnt like:

          * Slow build ups to a lot of scenes – its not wham-bam like the first movie
          * Very plot driven story with the whole double cross and infiltration angle
          * Since when does it snow in Indonesia
          * I like that we see some of the same actors, but if you remember the first film where at the end the two brothers have that 10-15 minute fight scene with that awesome dude – Awesome dude is in this film in a completely different role. This was a little confusing
          * Too much Hollywood in the set-up of the action scenes. They dont seem natural and plausible like the first film, its more about setting up big things, which I feel is against the grain of the first film. There is nothing cool like the fridge explosion from the first film
          * Not convinced the main character is a good actor. He is an awesome action star, but not the best actor. He didnt say much in the first film, but 2 is different

          If it was called anything other than “The Raid 2” then I would have thought more highly of it

  • Loved Mad Max Fury Road. Was nothing short of amazeballz.

    I wouldn’t really call it an action film as it was off a real life incident. But I really do love Black Hawk Down. From start to finish it’s just one big cluster f*k.

    As for normal action, Aliens and Terminator 2, would be right on the money for me as well.

  • True Lies > every other action movie ever made….. Die Hard 1 & 3 are a close second…. Oh, and Terminator 2

  • For me, besides many of those mentioned here already, “Lethal Weapon”, “Hard Boiled”, “Flashpoint” (Donnie Yen), and “The Matrix” all deserve a mention.

    • Yeah, early John Woo + Chou Yun Fat from the 90s, unbeatable. Don’t make em like that any more.

  • I always liked Cellular (starring a young Chris Evans), thought it was very underrated.
    District 9, Paul Verhoeven sci-fi (Total Recall, Robocop, Starship Troopers), Terminator 2, Die Hard, Predator, The Raid, Aliens….. all good stuff.

  • How has nobody expressed their undying love for Commando? What a ridiculous movie hahaha. Otherwise…

    Die Hard (Best Christmas movie ever)
    Die Hard with a Vengeance
    Terminator 2
    True Lies (one of my top 3 films of all time)
    Mad Max 2
    Mad Max Fury Road (you’re right @markserrels, it is that good)
    The Matrix
    Raiders of the lost Ark
    The Bourne Identity (just the first one, don’t get me wrong the others are great but it stands above).
    Lethal Weapon 2 (I’ve got diplomatic immunity! It’s just been revoked…)

    Yeah. I love my brainless action flicks.

  • Terminator 2, Aliens, … Die Hard
    We were just discussing this at lunch (prompted, as seems common, by someone having seen Fury Road) and agreed on these being fantastic. I’m happy to add Predator and True Lies to the list too. I haven’t seen any Mad Max movies, but have the trilogy at home to correct this ASAP.

    • I watched them all recently. I’d seen the first one and parts of the second one before, but it was my first viewing of Beyond Thunderdome (3). The first half of it is alright, but then it just nosedived and it was just awful.

  • Looks like all the usual suspects have been picked already but nobody has mentioned ‘John Wick’ which I thought was an excellent action flick. Also, how about ‘The Raid’ from Indonesia? And Dredd with Karl Urban and Cersei Lannister, a heap of fun right there…

  • No love for the Muscles from Brussels? Universal Soldier is a pretty great action movie though the sequels stink. Face/Off for some Nic Cage/John Travolta/John Woo action and Under Siege for some Steven Seagal.

    Not sure if you’d call it an action movie but Jarhead with Jake Gyllenhall ranks pretty highly in my list. Oh and Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now if only for the eminently quotable lines and subverted approach to action.

    • Oh yeah… Under Siege. That movie gets forgotten a lot because it’s Seagal, but it really was a good film. Definitely him at his fullest potential.

      • Seagal is the biz! Who else can pull off doing full neck snapping aikido with hair transplants and a paunch in a kaftan?!

    • I wouldnt go as far as to say ALL of the sequels stink. I quite liked Day of Reckoning.

  • Yeah, Mad Max: Fury Road was freakin’ awesome.

    Don’t know why nobody’s mentioned Kingsman: The Secret Service.

    Also, I haven’t watched it for a very long time, but I remember Last Action Hero being pretty good. Think I might have to watch it again.

    • I watched Kingsmen recently. I thought it was super weird! I mean, i get that they’re trying to do their version of a spy movie, but the stylised violence, realism (with the domestic violence stuff), and the overt sex (the Swede at the end…), it just seemed odd. Like, all this suave smooth stuff and then, out of no-where, brutal killing, domestic abuse, and sexy times. It was like the film was flip flopping between child-like comic book and R-rated stuff…

    • That’s a good point, but maybe that just shows even though Kingsman was absolutely awesome to watch, that it doesn’t have a lasting impact? You have made me want to watch it again though 😀

  • There has been nothing good since The Last Action Hero. He was the last.

    • +1000 got this ex-rental on VHS back in the day – watched it a bazillion times lol.

      Love me some Arnie

    • “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark… and Hamlet is taking out the trash.”

  • I think there is a clear consensus on the all-time “classic” list, i.e. Die Hard, Predator, Aliens, T2, Mad Max 2, etc.

    However, I’m surprised there’s not more love for the Lethal Weapon series, well, more specifically 1 and 2. The later ones lost that tricky balance between action and comedy and became parodies. But when Riggs was still clearly deranged (no one can play unhinged like Mel – and we kinda know why now), he was one of the best action characters around.

    Also, surely, some of the classic WWII movies classify as action movies. Where Eagles Dare, Guns of Navarone?

  • The matrix
    V for Vendetta
    Blood sport
    Under siege
    Conan the barbarian
    Hot Fuzz 😉

    Does A knights tale count?

  • I’m so disappointed that there have been no chop-socky movies mentioned. What about Project A? What about Police Story? What about Heart of Dragon (in my view one of Sammo Hung’s best roles

    • You have just shamed me sir. But I think the reason is I class them as their own brand of awesome. Nothing beats Police Story 1/2, Project A, Armour of god etc for Hong Kong Action flicks but I like to leave them separate. Does that seem odd?

      • I have the same feeling, although I find myself not particularly caring for western action films these days, as they tend to take themselves too seriously, even films such as The Expendables, which aren’t *meant* to be taken seriously. HK action films from the 80s and 90s tended to have a certain light-heartedness, even when treating dark subject matter. I think of films like Jet Li’s seminal Once Upon A Time in China series. Even when dealing with the tragedy of opium addiction, slavery and the disappearance of Chinese tradition, the film had characters like Porky and Bucktooth So, alongside Yuen Biao’s fantastic itinerant raggamuffin apprentice. Anyway, I’m ranting a bit, but I guess that for me, western action films, with a few exceptions like The Other Guys (more a comedy than an action flick?), just seem a bit tepid.

    • I never liked Heart of Dragon. It never felt like an honest portrayal of a person with a disability, more like a slightly insulting cutesy man-child.

      Despite having countless HK dvds I also never end up recommending any classic martial arts films as ‘best ever’ because they made most of the stories up as they went along. I don’t feel like many of them would hold up as decent movies without the incredible fights.

      My favourite is Mr Canton and Lady Rose. I think that film works on all levels, not just action.

        • Yeah, me too. I think I’m going to dig out Police Story 1 & 2 on the weekend.

          That PS2 playground fight… best group fight ever filmed.

    • Nice. Imagine if John Woo and Takeshi Kitano got together and did something phenomenal along the lines of Ichi the Killer crossed with Infernal Affairs.

      And beside the point, what about the Young & Dangerous films!?!

    • I loved him and Hard Boiled in an earlier post.

      I love The Killer, too. But that ending… John Woo is a jerk. The same applies to Better Tomorrow. But I still love him.

  • My personal favourite action films:

    Die Hard
    The Warriors
    Dirty Harry
    First Blood
    Point Break
    Con Air
    Bad Boys

    • How could I forget Point Break! I just watched Hot Fuzz the other night as well, so I don’t have any excuse.

  • the Crank movies are pretty awesome. They are a bit “different” so it depends how you like your action…

  • I dont think the Undisputed movies have gotten enough love here.

    Also Predator should be on everyone’s list at least 47 times.

  • As an afterthought, what about Dolph? There is some film where he has to run in a certain scene, but his thighs are so big that he ends up doing this kind of splay-legged waddle. My friend and I would watch that film and shout out “Run, Dolph, Run!”

  • Seven Samurai
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    The Killer
    Police Story
    Drunken Master II
    Die Hard
    Mad Max 2
    Mad Max Fury Road
    The Raid
    The Raid 2
    Born to Fight

  • Saw Mad Max last night. Loved it. So stylistically insane!
    Before the movie there was a new trailer for Terminator Genisys. In comparison to Mad Max it looked so typical Hollywood mindless CGI action garbage.
    Even the action in Avengers 2 felt very generic, mindless and forced. Actually, looking back at Avengers 2 now… I didnt really like it. I feel like I was suppose to like it, but I really didint. It was quite generically boring.
    But Mad Max was so beautifully crafted. It was a joy to watch!

    • Yeah after seeing Age of Ultron the week before, Mad Max was so refreshing. What a hoot.

  • It’s a terrible terrible movie, but when it came out I really liked Speed.

    or as Homer dubbed it:

    “The Bus That Couldn’t Slow Down”

  • Might be considered more of an Martial Arts movie but Jet Li in Romeo Must Die…unexpectedly. Really good stuff…

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