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The Best Action Movies Of All Time (That You Probably Haven’t Seen Yet)

I KNOW ALL THESE MOVIES LIKE THE BACK OF MY ALWAYS CLENCHED FISTS!

You are approached by a man who looks like this, but less handsome.

*explosions. gunfire. screaming. a helicopter lands*

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COME WITH ME IF YOU WANNA LIVE!!!

*the helicopter door slams shut*

Listen, kid, we don’t have a lot of time. The Syndicate planted a miniature nuke in your head that could level half of the city. SO DO ME A FAVOR AND PANIC! Good. That’s good. Keep freaking out. The bomb in your head is primed to detonate when your heart rate goes DOWN to a resting level. So do me a favor and do some burpees. Play really hard with this action figure. AND MAN THE .50 CAL BECAUSE WE’VE GOT COMPANY!!!!!

*more gunshots, screaming*

*lighting a cigar with a flame thrower*

SATAN’S TITS THAT WAS CLOSE! Well don’t stop now. KEEP GOING! WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE ACTION FIGURE FELL OUT THE DOOR? GODAMMIT NOW I GOTTA THINK OF SOMETHING.

*takes out a T.V. from a rocket launcher case*

Okay this is where I keep my boob tube I can watch during downtime. I’ve got only one kind of movie: ACTION MOVIES. AND YOU’RE GONNA WATCH THEM WHILE WE FLY BACK TO BASE. They’re some of the GREATEST action movies. But they won’t be ones you’ve SEEN BEFORE. IF YOU KNOW THE ENDING THERE WON’T BE ANY SUSPENSE, SO YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO KEEP YOUR HEART RATE UP. You wanna watchKill Bill Vol. 3—But Should We Want That?”> Kill Bill or something? Maybe some Die Hard Is a Christmas Movie (and It Is!), Then So Are These 7 Movies”>Die Hard? Well TOO BAD.

*a bullet hits the T.V.*

SHIT! NOW I’M GONNA JUST HAVE TO TELL YOU THE PLOTS! BUT DON’T WORRY! I’VE GOT A GREAT MEMORY! IT’S HOW I MEMORIZE SECRET CODES. I KNOW ALL THESE MOVIES LIKE THE BACK OF MY ALWAYS CLENCHED FISTS!

John Wick (2014)

Keanue Reeves as John Wick in John Wick film
(Lionsgate)

Now THIS IS A GREAT FUCKING MOVIE. You wanna see REAL ACTION? ACTUAL ACTION? THIS IS IT. This little number is about a former HIT MAN who quits his job to live with is WIFE. Problem is, his wife loses a TRAGICALLY ACTION PACKED BATTLE WITH TERMINAL ILLNESS. But before she dies, she buys him an ADORABLE PUPPY so he’ll ALWAYS REMEMBER HER. And then an ASSHOLE who is the son of a RUSSIAN MOB BOSS breaks into Johnny’s house to steal shit and KILLS IT. AND JOHN GOES APESHIT. He decides to take “one last job” and the job is KILL THE ENTIRE RUSSIAN MOB. AND HOLY SHIT THE WAY HE DOES IT. THE COMBAT IS ACCURATE. DEADLY ACCURATE. NO MORE “INFINITE AMMO” WITH NO RELOADS FOR THE PROTAGONIST. The film makers count EVERY SHOT that gets fired and John Wick reloads EXACTLY when the magazine is empty. You want an action film that feels REAL? WELL THIS IS IT. It has some of the best fight choreography of ANY ACTION FILM EVER MADE. AND THE SEQUELS ARE EVEN CRAZIER. Sure, Die Hard might be a “better movie,” but BETTER ain’t gonna solve your head-bomb problem, kid, what you need for me to tell you a movie with AMAZINGLY REALISTIC VIOLENCE. AND CUTE PUPPIES.

The Protector (2005)

(Sahamongkol)

PRETTY CRAZY RIGHT? AND SUCH AN ADORABLE LITTLE ENDING! MAKES ME WANNA SQUEEZE SOMETHING TO DEATH. Alright, NEXT we’ve got “The Protector,” which is a film by the WORLD’S GREATEST MARTIAL ARTIST, TONY JAA. See, Tony grew up in Thailand watching high budget foreign action movies and then learned to do all the stunts himself. He stars in each one of his movies too! His most famous film is called Ong Bok about a warrior named YOU GUESSED IT: Ong Bok. But that’s not his BEST. His BEST is called “The Protector” where he plays a dude whose best friend is an ELEPHANT. But one day, some assholes KIDNAP his elephant and he has to go on a MURDER QUEST to SAVE IT. And in doing so he performs features one of the GREATEST ACTION SCENES OF ALL TIME. He fights his way up MULTIPLE FLOORS OF A HOTEL in order to find his elephant, and he does it all in ONE SHOT. IT’S A ONE TAKE. PERHAPS THE GREATEST ONE TAKE EVER MADE. And then he fights a group of GIANTS with the SHARP ENDS OF ELEPHANT BONES. IT’S TOTALLY BATSHIT. LET ME TELL YOU THE DETAILS!

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

(PT Merantau Films)

DON’T WORRY, KID, WE’RE HALFWAY THERE. JUST KEEP HYPERVENTILATING, BUT DON’T PASS OUT OR WE ALL DIE. I’m gonna help you stay conscious by telling you about ANOTHER amazing action movie that you might not have heard of. It’s called The Raid: Redemption. I know that sounds like the title of a sequel BUT IT ISN’T. It’s the first movie. The sequel is called The Raid 2. ANYWAY, The Raid: Redemption is about the Indonesian equivalent of S.W.A.T. getting sent in to a dangerous apartment complex to arrest a crime lord who does CRIME there. It doesn’t go well. They get AMBUSHED by the crime lord’s men and one of the rookies has to lead a small team of survivors to complete the job. This movie is SERIOUSLY VIOLENT and has some AMAZING HAND TO HAND COMBAT SCENES that will TOTALLY FREAK YOU OUT. This ain’t no “oh no, that guy got shot and there’s a little bit of blood” it’s more like OH MY GOD THERE’S SO MUCH BLOOD! I’M COVERED IN IT! NOW I HAVE TO FIGHT MY WAY OUT WITH MY FISTS AND TEETH. LEMME TELL YA ALL ABOUT IT.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

charlize theron
(Warner Bros.)

Okay, this one is a little more on the famous end but FOR A DAMN GOOD REASON. Have you seen it? YOU HAVEN’T? WHY NOT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T LIKE ACTION MOVIES!? ALL LIFE IS IS ACTION. ART IMITATES LIFE AND I’M PRETTY SURE IT’S IMITATING YOURS RIGHT NOW. Okay on the bright side I can tell you about this one without you knowing the ending and blowing us all away. So Mad Max: Fury Road is set in the post apocalyptic future after what was probably a nuclear war. The world is a desert, and a man named, you guessed it, “Mad Max” is trying to survive that desert. Mostly by eating two headed lizards and shit.

But ONE DAY he gets captured by some cultists who basically worship cars and—YES I’M SERIOUS. THEY WORSHIP CARS. DON’T MAKE FUN OF A MAN’S FAITH. Then he’s taken back to their fucked up leader, a slob named Immortan Joe. These names, right? So Joey the leader keeps a group of women enslaved to him for horrible reasons you can only imagine, and so Max and one of Joe’s main lieutenants conspire to free the women and escape into the desert. And then shit gets WILD. They flee into the desert and Joe sends his goons to chase them. CAR CHASE THEM. YOU WANNA HEAR ABOUT PEOPLE JUMPING FROM CAR TO CAR THROWING EXPLODING SPEARS AT EACH OTHER WHILE ONE GUY STRAPPED TO A TRUCK PLAYS METAL GUITAR RIFFS? YOU BETTER SAY “YES” BECAUSE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT.

Oldboy (2003)

(image: CJ Entertainment)

Don’t worry, kid! We’re almost at the base! We can have the medical team de-nukify your skull in just a minute! So to keep your heart rate up and all of us breathing, I’ve saved the most fucked up movie for last. This is a Korean film about a drunken deadbeat dad who misses his daughter’s 4th birthday because he’s too bust getting ARRESTED for public intoxication. After he’s released from jail, he then gets KIDNAPPED by a shady group of thugs who lock him in a hotel room for 15 YEARS. He passes his time by crying, screaming, hallucinating, watching t.v., attempting suicide, and shadowboxing. And he gets PRETTY GOOD at shadowboxing. Like DANGEROUSLY GOOD.

One day, he gets RELEASED for NO APPARENT REASON. So what does he do? He goes on a REVENGE QUEST TO FUCK UP WHOEVER FUCKED UP HIS LIFE. It leads him down a mysterious rabbit hole of VIOLENCE that culminates in one of the most famous action movie scenes in HISTORY, the “hallway scene,” which is a one shot take of him fighting off a like 20 dudes with nothing but a HAMMER. YES IT’S AS GRAPHIC AS IT SOUNDS. But eventually there’s a PLOT TWIST WHERE—OH WAIT WE’RE HERE. Alright, get this kid to the medical team!

*you get put on a stretcher*

Don’t worry, kid, these are some of the finest doctors in the world! You’re in good hands! We’re just gonna do a little brain scan right now to find out EXACTLY where the bomb is and then we’ll get you prepped for surgery! And afterwards we can all go out for ICE CREAM. My favorite is banana creme—wait. Wait what do you mean there’s no bomb? Doc what are you telling me? CHECK AGAIN! IN ALL MY YEARS ON THE TEAM I’VE NEVER ONCE FUCKED UP ONE—WHAT DO YOU MEAN I GRABBED THE WRONG PERSON!? LEMME SEE THAT SCANNER.

Oh.

Oh shit.

*a nuclear explosion is heard in the distance*

Well, kid, the way I see it we’ve got 30 seconds to get into the fallout shelter before the shockwave hits us, and then we won’t be able to leave for weeks until headquarters sends an evac team to get us out. But don’t worry, there’s a T.V. down there! We can watch all sorts of—WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT ONLY TAKES VHS? DOC YOU’RE KILLING ME! I’VE ONLY GOT BLU-RAY.

*The fallout shelter door slams*

Wanna hear another one? Or you wanna watch Mulan on tape? Okay, I respect that.

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

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Author

Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels in crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.

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