After a short break in which much time has been spent checking out more recent action movies to add to this list, it’s time to get back to the 100 Action Movies You Must See! countdown. This next selection of movies will blow the socks off any action fans unlucky enough to not have seen them already! Click here to see the previous part.
50 – ‘John Wick’ (2014) / Stars: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nygvist. Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch.
Keanu Reeves stars a former hitman who is forced back into action when he is brutally attacked, his classic car is stolen and his dog is murdered. His dog was a final gift from his wife who dies, hoping he would bestow his love upon the small cute animal. But as the criminals celebrate their latest evil deeds, Wick is about to show them there’s more to him than meets the eye. Keanue Reeves has never been someone I’d consider to be a top classic actor, although a very decent movie star. For some reason, he mostly always came across as somewhat wooden and lifeless, with his static expressions and monotone voice. But ‘John Wick’ reverses all of that, as it unleashes Keanu upon a new generation, as a psychotic, hyper-violent super-cool assassin, who hunts down villain and villain in a magnificent display of blood and carnage. An absolutely incredible action thriller, one of the very best in the genre, and proof that Keanu is far more than just the cool dude with the boring voice.
49 – ‘Getaway’ (2013) / Stars: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, Jon Voight. Director: Courtney Solomon.
Ethan Hawke plays a former racing driver who’s wife is kidnapped. When the driver is forced to steal a car by a mysterious man, he ends up in a deadly game of cat and mouse, as he is ordered to smash through the streets of a a city at night, to save his wife. With the car’s owner (Selena Gomez) along for the ride, the car and the action rarely stop. A movie with a 2% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I can’t do anything but question the sanity of the world’s professional film critics. While ‘Getaway’ is silly and very over the top, it’s 90 minutes of action-fueled joy, with mind-blowing car chases and death-defying stunts from start to finish. With a pumping score, a great performance from Hawke and the dazzling Selena Gomez to look at, this is hands down one of the most exciting movies I’ve seen in my life.
48 – ‘Daylight’ (1996) / Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Amy Brenneman, Viggo Mortensen. Director: Rob Cohen.
From Rob Cohen, the director of ‘The Fast And The Furious’ and ‘xXx’, ‘Daylight’ is a mid-90’s disaster classic that pits action legend Sylvester Stallone against the Holland Tunnel, which is situated 100 feet below the Hudson River. With a connection between New York City and Jersey City, many people pass through it each day. But on one horrific night, a random street robbery leads to a massive series of explosions inside the tunnel, an event which claims many lives. With a small few survivors trapped beneath the river, it’s up to former emergency work Kit Latura (Stallone) to break in and somehow get those last few people out alive. Jaw-dropping and heart-breaking, ‘Daylight’ is, for me, the greatest disaster movie to emerge from the 1990’s and up to now. Making use of all the classic cliches from past disaster epics and adding a whole new twist to them, Cohen paves the way for a whole new batch of trapped below ground movies, and still this remains unbeaten. The action and special effects are beyond incredible, and the fantastic Randy Edelman score makes it so much better. Many people have their own favorite Stallone movie, but ‘Daylight’ is my personal favorite.
47 – ‘Total Recall’ (2012) / Stars: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel. Director: Len Wiseman.
A loose remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic from 22 years before, and mostly based on the original sc-fi novel from Philip K. Dick, ‘Total Recall’ sees Irish movie icon Colin Farrell as Doug Quaid facing off against his own wife (Kate Beckinsale) when he goes to a company called “Rekall” to purchase the memories of a secret agent. When it goes wrong, he ends up in a fight for his life, as his wife hunts him down, and the girl of his dreams (Jessica Biel) aids him in his many escapes. Although very different from Arnie’s classic and possibly not on the same level, this remake is worthy of so much more love than it gets. It’s spectacular, the effects are fantastic, the action is glorious and Farrell, Beckinsale and Biel are all on top form. There’s so much to love with ‘Total Recall’. Two hours of total escapism.
46 – ‘Collateral Damage’ (2002) / Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cliff Curtis, Francesca Neri. Director: Andrew Davis.
Andrew Davis is one of the best filmmakers in action cinema. With classics like ‘The Fugitive’ and ‘Under Siege’ to his name, Davis always delivers a slam-bang action movie that proves to be a big hit. But he had yet to make a movie with the biggest name in action movies until he teamed up with Arnold Schwarzenegger for the explosive ‘Collateral Damage’. Arnie stars as Gordy Brewer, a firefighter who witnesses a brutal terror attack which takes the lives of his wife and young son. Hellbent on justice and vengeance, Brewer hunts the terrorist to Colombia, determined to avenge his beloved family. Once there, an all-out war is waged, as the fireman brings the fight straight back to an entire terrorist cell, who intend to bring America to its knees. ‘Collateral Damage’ has Arnie in fantastic form, once again starring in a movie delivering spectacular action and stunts, along with a dark trace of humor throughout. Although not one of his celebrated movies, any true lover of action movies will enjoy the heck out of this.
45 – ‘Replicant’ (2001) / Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Michael Rooker. Director: Ringo Lam.
Ring Lam reunites with the legend that is Van Damme for the third time after ‘Maximum Risk’ and ‘In Hell’ with the action-packed sci-fi thriller ‘Replicant’. Van Damme stars in a duel role, one a psychotic serial killer named “The Torch”, and the other a clone of that killer, created by the FBI to track down the murderer before he claims yet another victim. With only the help of the clone to track the killer’s whereabouts and thoughts, the detective in charge of the hunt, Jake Riley (Michael Rooker) will stop at nothing to get the job done. As killer and clone eventually meet, will the FBI be able to stop the horrific murders? Or have they just created a second murderous villain? ‘Replicant’ is classic Van Damme, filled with amazing fight sequences, a brilliant science fiction story and a little twisted humor to lighten an extremely dark movie just a little. One of the finest in the career of the “Muscles from Brussels”.
44 – ‘Missing In Action’ (1984) / Stars: Chuck Norris, M. Emmet Walsh, James Hong. Director: Joseph Zito.
Two years before the producers would go on to helm ‘The Delta Force’, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus teamed with the one and only Chuck Norris for possibly his most famous movie, ‘Missing In Action’. In the first of a trilogy, Norris stars as Braddock, a tough soldier who was held captive in Vietnam, who is convinced that there are more POWs being held in the war-torn country and sets out on a deadly mission to free his fellow comrades. Although a little irritating at times thanks to a series of flashback scenes, ‘Missing In Action’ delivers plenty of stunning war action with our beloved Chuck Norris kicking ass and blowing stuff up, as he barrels through crazy shootout to another. Classic 80’s action fun.
43 – ‘Tekken’ (2009) / Stars: Jon Foo, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Director: Dwight H. Little.
A lot of people are harsh on movies based upon video games. But I’ve actually always been a fan of them. And this little beauty is as good a reason as any. Based on the classic ‘Tekken’ game franchise, the first live action movie sees Jin Kazama (Jon Foo) enter the Iron Fist Tournament in Tekken City, in an attempt to avenge the death of his mother, as he faces his grandfather Heihachi Mishima, believing him to be responsible for the tragic event that has brought him to the ultimate fighting tournament in the world. Although very silly, and difficult to follow at times, ‘Tekken’ is a kick-ass monster of an action thriller, with gorgeous set designs, brilliant performances from the lead cast and incredible fighting set pieces. I’m a big fan of this movie, check it out if you’ve never seen it. From awesome action director Dwight H. Little, director of action gems like ‘Marked For Death’ and ‘Rapid Fire’, along with episodes of TV’s ’24’, ‘The X-Files’ and ‘Prison Break’, among others. Little is also the director of the fantastic ‘Halloween IV: The Return Of Michael Myers’.
42 – ‘Recoil’ (1998) / Stars: Gary Daniels, Gregory McKinney. Director: Art Camacho.
Time for another action gem from Gary Daniels. This time, the kickboxing champ stars as a detective who guns down a mob boss’s son. When the mobster in retaliation has the detective’s family murdered, an all-out war is fought on the streets of Los Angeles as both cop and criminal face off for vengeance. Although very overlooked, Gary Daniels’ movies are very hard to beat for non-stop action and spectacular fight scenes. While he does star in a lot of below-par cheap movies, it’s the wonderful stuff like ‘Recoil’, ‘Riot’ and ‘Rage’ that prove him to be a fantastic action star, even if he’s not too great an actor. The last half hour of ‘Recoil’ is especially exciting, something all action fans need to experience. Also starring the late great Gregory McKinney, who had roles in many fantastic action movies such as ‘Eraser’, ‘Money Train’ and ‘Mortal Kombat’, and appeared in TV shows including ‘JAG’ and ‘Babylon 5’.
41 – ‘The Marine’ (2006) / Stars: John Cena, Robert Patrick, Kelly Carlson. Director: John Bonito.
WWE legend John Cena stars as John Triton, a tough ex-marine who settles down into a new married life, now working as a security guard… For a while. But when his wife Kate (the incredibly gorgeous Kelly Carlson) is taken hostage by a gang of jewel thieves, led by the dastardly and mysterious Rome (the wonderful Robert Patrick), Triton explodes into action to save his wife from certain death, and put an end to the gang’s reign of terror. ‘The Marine’ is short, extremely violent and very funny, with a larger than life performances from Cena and Patrick, whilst Carlson just looks dazzling the whole way through. A terrific piece of action cinema, with some joyful shootouts, car chases and spectacular explosions, this is certainly a must-watch for you action junkies out there.
Check back real soon for the next round-up of knockout action movies to carry on the mammoth list of 100 Action Movies You Must See!