Action movies are a genre of film we associate today with explosions, fights, stunts, choreography and a lot of CGI. Although the action genre wasn’t really identified until the 1970’s, action style movies had already been made as early as 1927 (Metropolis). Most action movies has the good vs. evil plot and we usually want the good guys to win. Here’s a list of the greatest action movies of all time that we believe blows you out of your seat. These movies are chosen from movies including B films to Hollywood blockbusters. Mind you, the biggest explosions don’t automatically qualify you for the top 10 action movies. When we watch action movies, we do not expect the adrenaline rush that comes from the chase scene or the amount of bullet shells that fall like raindrops on a Seattle day, but how the action lends to the overall movie’s story and viewing experience. Go over the list and tell us what you think. We welcome all comments and suggestions, please comment intelligently. If you think another action movie belongs on this list, please list the action movie and explain why.
10 Reasons to Choose Side:
Reason #1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
This film masterly directed by Sergio Leone is the epitome of cowboy badass. Leone had directed this spaghetti western beautifully weaving an immersive story with badass cowboy action and drama. Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach put on an excellent performance as the good, the bad and the ugly. This film is a timeless international action movie that we believe is a requirement for viewing for any action movie enthusiast.
Reason #2: The Dark Knight (2008)
We consider The Dark Knight this decade’s gem of great action movies. Director Christopher Nolan is at the top of his game. An excellent blend of comic book interpretation, The Dark Knight is a modern reexamination of the Batman movies. The movie cuts back on the 90’s cheese and add a healthy dose of darkness and fast pace action to the movie. Christian Bale takes Batman to a new level of action hero badass who leaves destruction in his wake as he attempts to keep Gotham and his love (Rachel Dawes) out of harm’s way. Oh yeah, did we mention Heath Ledger? The single most recognized character in this film is The Joker, who Ledger masterfully re-characterizes as a sinister no-bullsh*t kinda villain. Buy, rent, borrow or steal; you need to get your hands on this film! (We’re joking about the stealing…)
Reason #3: Star Wars Trilogy
Star Wars (1977)
The first Star Wars movie directed by George Lucas introduces the world to epic sci-fi action. In this movie, we are introduced to some of the key characters of the story, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the Emperor (as well as the loved Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princes Leia and Obi-wan Kenobi). The movie is far from perfect, but offers some of the best action sequences a sci-fi geek can ask for. Impressive CGI (for their time) and some miniature tricks gave viewers a taste of the sci-fi action genre to come.
Probably one of the most undisputed facts about Star Wars is that they’re all pretty good. From the trilogy, this one is the best when it comes to action. From uber Jedi light saber action to epic space ship and ATAT walker fights makes this sci-fi saga the best action movie for it time. Dark Vader: “Luke! I am your father!” Luke squeal: “NOOOOOOO!”
Han Solo and friends return to destroy the second Death Star and eliminate the Empire once and for all. Luke confronts his Father (Dark Vader) and the Emperor to bring balance to the force. Not the best from the Trilogy, but still a really good movie to end the story.
Reason #4: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
A milestone in action adventure movies, The Fellowship of the Ring is the first movie in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The movie includes fantasy action and adventure in epic proportions. Peter Jackson’s first installment of the series provides a breathtaking environment and immersive storyline that brings Tolkien’s novel to life. The Fellowship of the Ring brings orc busting action to a whole new level. The action sequences will have you squealing like a thirteen-year-old girl at a Jonas Brothers concert.
Great storytelling, amazing visuals, and exceptional score, what else can you ask for? The Two Towers set a landmark for all action movies to come and it clearly identifies good vs. evil and prepares everyone for the final installment. Some may say that the Two Towers is the least important of the 3 movies, but for a movie to be good, you need the beginning, the middle and the end. Just like a tripod, all 3 movies are part of one; a tripod missing a leg is pretty much useless.
“One ring to rule them all.” This epic action adventure movie based on JR.R. Tolkien’s final novel on Middle Earth receives a first true visual presentation of what is by far the best action adventure movie of all times. The final installment of the trilogy wraps up the three movies directed by Peter Jackson. The Return of the King weaves action, CGI and adventure into the story of the Lord of the Rings and brings it to life. Containing some epic battle sequences as well as thrilling scenes, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy takes the #4 spot. Go Frodo!
Reason # 5: Shichinin no Samurai (The Seven Samurai) (1954)
Who says the top 10 best action movie list can’t include a black and white movie? Action movies don’t always have to include impressive explosions or CGI. Legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa brilliantly tells the story of 7 samurai hired to defend a village from bandits. In addition to the immersive plot and interesting characters, the action sequence and choreography of the action sequences is top notch. This film has excellent action sequences but the longer movie time may make some viewers wary. For this particular movie, patient viewers will be rewarded with one of the masterfully crafted action movies of all time.
Reason # 6: C'era una volta il West (Once Upon a Time in The West) (1968)
This epic spaghetti western has a flawless cast including Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards and Charles Bronson. Sergio Leone masterfully takes the viewer on an epic storyline that has thrilling and subtle action scenes that are hard to find in modern films.
Reason # 7: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
What do you get when you put Harrison Ford in a movie directed by Steven Spielberg and co-written by George Lucas? Raiders of the Lost Ark is an explosive action movie that is balanced with comedy and entertainment. Indiana Jones is Harrison Ford’s identifying role in his career. From the excellent set to the music that lends to the action and adventure, The Raiders of the Lost Ark is a fun and exciting action movie that keeps you interested from start to end.
Reason # 8: Fight Club (1999)
In 1999, Director David Fincher took us through a thrilling action movie with a surprise ending. This movie offers raw action, anti-social behavior, and language, all which is required to entertain. Cool characters, good drama and violent action scenes puts Fight Club on our list as number 9. Edward Norton and Brad Pitt put up excellent performances in their characters. For us, the first rule for Fight Club is: “It’s a great movie!”
Reason # 9: The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix was the sci-fi action blockbuster that made all the geeks and hardcore action geeks squeal. Andy and Larry Wachowski put together a mind-boggling story, mixed with sci-fi/ martial arts action to present us with one of the best action movies of all time. Neo: “I know kung fu.” No you don’t Keanu!
Reason # 10: Apocalypse Now (1979)
After the success of The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola and Marlon Brando unite again and create a complex war movie that defines reality and the truth about each individual. People usually love this movie or they hate it because it is not a regular movie you can just watch one time and expect to understand everything. To really enjoys and appreciates this film, make sure to watch it a few times before making judgment.
What other action movies need to be on the greatest action movies of all time list? List your favorite action movies and tell us why you think they are the greatest. We all have differences of opinions and there is no right or wrong when selecting a movie. This list is not based on my opinions alone, but the opinions of many viewers who love the action genre.