Movies like 'John Wick,' clockwise from top left: 'Kill Bill: Volume 1,' 'The Equalizer,' 'Atomic Blonde,' and 'The Raid'

Movies Like ‘John Wick’ That Will Blow Your Mind

I’d like to submit for the record that none of these action movie protagonists would be able to beat John Wick in a fight. I don’t even think death itself can do that. However, it is POSSIBLE that these protagonists would be able to get the upper hand (or fist) on ol’ Johnny if it was a one-against-10 battle.

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If you just had your face utterly melted off by John Wick: Chapter 4, you might be craving a little more action—and not just any action movie, but a very specific kind of “kick your f—ing head in” action movie. Rest assured, the following films will cause brain damage. The good kind.

The Equalizer

Denzel Washington in 'The Equalizer'
(Sony Pictures)

You know what? Denzel Washington in The Equalizer might almost be able to take on John Wick. Almost. Washington plays a former government operative who is tasked with taking down some unscrupulous criminals doing what they do best: crime. It’s got some seriously incredible action sequences, and it shows that Denzel’s Equalizer is able to take down multiple opponents at once. He can do it with bullets, but can he do it with nothing but a stable full of horses like Keanu Reeves did in John Wick: Chapter 3? That remains to be seen.

Atomic Blonde

Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde
(Focus Features)

A Cold War thriller! Reagan! Gorbachev! The Berlin Wall! Faceless KGB operatives! Atomic Blonde has the works. Charlize Theron is a top-secret super spy tasked with retrieving a top-secret document. Like John Wick, this movie has style—probably because it was directed by David Leitch, the co-director behind the first John Wick movie. Sexy, dark, and violent, Atomic Blonde is known for some sweet-ass fight sequences, including one of the most impressive one-take shots in history. And c’mon y’all, it’s Charlize Theron. She already proved herself to be an Action Movie Queen with her role as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. She doesn’t disappoint this time around, either.

The Raid: Redemption

The Raid: Redemption fight scene!
(PT Merantau Films)

Okay, so here’s the thing: On average, Eastern action films blow Western action films out of the water. I will say that John Wick is an exception to this rule. However, The Raid arguably gives the Wick franchise a run for its money. (Doubloons? Whatever they use at The Continental.) The Raid: Redemption is an Indonesian action film about a SWAT team that goes into a high-rise apartment complex controlled by a nasty drug lord. It has some of the most impressive hand-to-hand combat sequences I’ve ever seen. Be warned, though: The Raid movies are brutal. And yes, there are multiple. Do you like this one? Watch The Raid 2 next for the prison yard fight sequence alone.

Kill Bill: Volume 1

The Bride in Kill Bill
(Miramax Films)

I mean, c’mon. It’s Kill Bill! One of the most stylish and iconic action movies ever made. If you haven’t seen it, well, I don’t even know how that’s possible. But if you truly haven’t, Quentin Tarantino’s action-packed double-header is about a young woman known as The Bride (Uma Thurman) who is taking revenge on the group of assassins that left her for dead. EVERYONE has seen it. So if you’ve seen it already, WATCH IT AGAIN. And then watch Kill Bill: Volume 2!

The Protector

Tony Jaa in the protector
(The Weinstein Company)

The Protector stars Tony Jaa, who is probably the greatest martial artist/actor in the entire world. His movies are BATSHIT. Jaa grew up on old-school kung-fu movies, where actors had to be on wires to do their high-flying stunts, but he didn’t know that. So he learned to actually do those stunts himself. And holy shit, does it make for a good action movie. The Protector is about a man whose job it is to protect royal elephants. One of his precious elephants is kidnapped, and he has to use his fists to get the elephant back.

Taken

Liam Neeson in Taken
(20th Century Fox)

“I will find you, and I will kill you”

Perhaps one of the most quoted movie lines of the past 10 years, it sums up the plot of Taken in a nutshell. Liam Neeson plays an Action Dad whose daughter is kidnapped by sex traffickers while on vacation in Europe. Liam Neeson has to use his “very particular set of skills” to turn the lives of her captors into a living nightmare. It’s a revenge thriller fueled by dad love. What’s not to dad-love about it?

Hardcore Henry

Cover for Hardcore Henry
(STX Films)

Hardcore Henry is something of an outlier among action movies. It is the only action flick I know that is shot entirely in first person. Director Ilya Naishuller basically put a GoPro on the main actor’s head and said “go, pro.” And he went. Hardcore Henry is about a cyborg named Henry who fights his way through a city to rescue his wife. It doesn’t win any awards for the plot, but the action sequences are stunning.

Oldboy

A man brandishes a hammer menacingly in "Oldboy"
(Show East)

While Oldboy is far more cerebral than John Wick, I’m including it because it contains one of the most brutally iconic action sequences in movie history. I’m talking, of course, about the hammer scene. Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy is about a drunken deadbeat dad who is mysteriously kidnapped by a shadowy organization. He is kept in solitary confinement against his will for over a decade and then released without explanation. Now he’s on the hunt for vengeance, and twenty-odd tough guys in a hallway aren’t gonna stop him from uncovering their employer’s secrets. Until they take a hammer to the face.

Blade

Blade as Wesley Snipes in Blade which is the film that made comic book movies cool
(New Line Cinema)

Stephen Norrington’s Blade singlehandedly made comic book movies cool again, all thanks to the wickedly violent exploits of vampire hunter Blade. Blade is a simple man of simple tastes. He likes black clothes, edged weapons, and killing vampires. And that’s exactly what he intends to do. The film features gloriously violent fight sequences and originated the “nightclub bloodbath” fight scene before John Wick perfected it.

Birds of Prey

Mary Elizabeth Winstead wields a crossbow as the vigilante Huntress in 'Birds of Prey'
(Warner Bros.)

Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey stars Margo Robbie as Harley Quinn, fresh off of a breakup with Jared Leto. I mean The Joker. What’s the difference? Newly single and ready to mingle, she decides to team up with Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya to rescue a young girl named Cassandra Cain from the clutches of crime boss Roman Sionis. The movie is essentially an apology for the cinematic disaster that was Suicide Squad and features all the good parts *cough* Harley while getting rid of the bad *cough* everything else *cough*. Apology accepted.

Deadpool II

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in 'Deadpool 2'
(20th Century Studios)

The Merc with the Mouth returns! David Leitch’s Deadpool II stars Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, the sword-swinging, gun-slinging, trash-talking fourth wall-breaking soldier of fortune. Deadpool has to face off against Cable, a time-traveling soldier with a chip on his shoulder. I’d be pretty mad too if I was named after something no one watches anymore. What about Roku? Netflix? Hulu? Acorn even? Anything is better. In order to protect a young mutant from the horrors of Cable, Deadpool assembles a team of lowlife killers called the X-Force. X-cellent.

Kick-Ass

Costumed vigilantes Kick-Ass and Hit Girl preparing to fight in "Kick Ass"
(Lionsgate)

Have you ever wanted to go John Wick on some neighborhood bullies but are too afraid to get your ass kicked? Let Kick-Ass do it for you! Matthew Vaughn’s Kick Ass is about a teenager who takes on the mantle of the titular hero after being shoved into one too many lockers. While fighting crime, he runs into a professional vigilante father/daughter pair, who are fighting to take down a deadly crime boss.

The Bourne Identity

Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity
(Universal Pictures)

Another classic. The Bourne Identity stars Matt Damon as a renegade assassin who suffers from amnesia. He’s being hunted by other trained assassins, but he doesn’t know why. He also doesn’t know why he is really good at killing people, but dammit, he’s gonna find out. The Bourne Identity was one of the most impactful action flicks of the ’00s and inspired multiple sequels and a spinoff.

Extraction

Chris Hemsworth in Extraction
(Netflix)

Extraction stars Chris Hemsworth in a rare “anti-hero” role. He plays a black market mercenary who is hired to rescue the abducted son of a notorious Indian crime lord. While the action sequences are astounding (including one of the best car chases I’ve ever seen), what makes this movie shine is surprisingly the power of its protagonist. Hemsworth’s action hero is not grizzled, heartless, and too cool for school. He’s a deeply traumatized man who is unable to function in society, so he seeks out high-adrenaline jobs because it’s the only place where he feels comfortable. It’s a unique look into the psyche of a character archetype that tends to lack depth in other movies.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Colin Firth and Taron Egerton in 'Kingsman: The Secret Service'
(20th Century Fox)

Action! Comedy! British people! What more could you ask for? Kingsman follows a young lad (Taron Egerton) who is recruited into a secret organization made up of Her Majesty’s most elite spies. Their target? A madman played by Samuel L. Jackson who intends to solve the problem of climate change with a killing spree. Bet the libs never thought of that solution, huh?

(featured image: Miramax / Sony / Focus Features / PT Merantau / The Mary Sue)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels 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.