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TOP TEN lists always help me figure out where I relate to a reviewer. I thought it’s about time I crank these out for you guys. I’ll tackle each major genre leading my way up to the TOP 10 of any genre. I hope this helps inform my opinion on all the current movies I’ve been reviewing lately.
Coming up with a TOP 10 list of any genre is incredibly hard, let alone the BEST OF ALL TIME.
These lists will have only one film (from a series / sequel) on one list in one genre. So something like JURASSIC PARK might be action and fantasy. Or MATRIX might be science-fiction or action. I’m deciding based on what I remember the movie for. And what I enjoyed most out of it. While I love the sci-fi elements & philosophy of THE MATRIX, I think it’s kicks too much ass to not be an action flick.
These lists will also have a revolving door, where new releases can squeeze in. Trust me, I weighed JOHN WICK hard. It’s too fresh though. It’s my favourite ACTION FILM of 2014, but I’m not ready to say it’s in the Top 10 of the genre’s history.
A brief summary will follow each selection explaining its inclusion.
Alright, enough of a preface…
Dig in and enjoy.
Debate me in the end and leave me a comment if you like.
MY TOP TEN FAVOURITE ACTION FILMS OF ALL TIME
10. T H E R A I D
Stuffed to the rim full of the craziest martial arts action sequences ever. One after the other, each fight gets more and more elaborate. Each floor of a skyscraper needs to be cleared of baddies. Our hero is a cop tasked with the job. About floor 2 he runs out of bullets. This leads to the best knife fights I’ve ever seen. The numerous fights are performed by real artists. The one thing lacking in this movie is a stronger emotional connection with character… and a little plot.
Simple and effective. Cracking with energy. THE RAID has the most insane martial arts fights from start to finish.
9. T H E K I L L E R
CHOW YUN-FAT stars in JOHN WOO’s balletic gun opera. This super stylish action flick used gunplay and slow motion to ultimate success. Hollywood copied it years later. Generations of directors are still influenced by this cult classic from Hong Kong. The story is engaging. You actually care about the characters. It’s surprisingly emotional.
Chow Yun-Fat is one of cinema’s greatest bad asses. See the movie that influenced Grindhouse directors QUENTIN TARANTINO and ROBERT RODRIGUEZ.
8. S P E E D
KEANU REEVES proved he could be an action star with SPEED. His co-star SANDRA BULLOCK also burst onto the scene providing a lot of comedic relief. From the opening elevator sequence, to the bomb on the bus, through to the end this film never lets up in intensity. We get great characters. A noble hero. A comedic sidekick. And a delicious villain from DENIS HOPPER.
SPEED is fun from start to finish. A strong concept- if the bus goes below 50mph it blows up – goes a long way in making this one of the most exciting action films ever.
7. R A I D E R S O F T H E L O S T A R K
STEVEN SPIELBERG reinvented the cliffhanger serial from his and GEORGE LUCAS’ younger days. They created one of cinema’s all-time greatest heroes: INDIANA JONES. No matter how impossible the situation, Indy always manages to find a way out. He uses his wits and his sarcastic wit to great effect. His whip-cracking sense of humour conveyed with expressions like a wry smile, make this unlikely adventurer a lot of fun.
When you want true adventure with tons of excitement and pulp elements dig into the first and best INDIANA JONES movie.
6. D I E H A R D
BRUCE WILLIS became an unlikely action hero with the original DIE HARD. A strong concept from SHANE BLACK compliments his acidic humorous dialogue and catchy one liners. The villain here played by ALAN RICKMAN is just as important to the film’s success. It’s really a stop-the-bad-guy type of movie, but it’s the best executed of the sub-genre.
Great characters, intense action sequences, and hilarious dialogue make DIE HARD one of the best action flicks ever.
5. L E O N : T H E P R O F E S S I O N A L
LUC BESSON (he of LA FEMME NIKITA, FIFTH ELEMENT, LUCY) directs an emotionally charged action-packed thrill-ride. I remember the quote on the VHS when I rented it: “Makes SPEED look like a slow drive to Grand-Ma’s house.” JEAN RENO plays a stoic hitman, LEON, who lives in a shoddy apartment. His neighbours are killed by dirty cops and their daughter (NATALIE PORTMAN in her stellar debut) comes to Leon for help. He unwillingly becomes a father figure and vessel for vengeance for the young girl. GARY OLDMAN rounds out the cast as an over-the-top neck-cracking baddie.
Your standard revenge tale gets a fresh spin with an emotional father-daughter relationship between a hitman and a young girl seeking vengeance and training. Super stylish, super intense, super action sequences – don’t miss LEON.
4 P O I N T B R E A K
KEANU REEVES solidified his action hero status with this bank robbery / surfing / undercover cop story. PATRICK SWAYZE leads the gang of baddies. The chemistry between these two make us care about their characters. But it’s really the over-the-top dialogue and frenetic adrenaline of the action sequences that makes POINT BREAK one of the best action films ever.
Epic chase scenes, great one-liners, skydiving, surfing, bank robberies, shoot-outs… it’s got it all.
3. P R E D A T O R
The movie starts and it never stops. Right from the opening chopper ride to the jungle, we are immediately thrust into danger. The mission veers into horror as the squad of mercenaries lead by ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER find their soldiers hanging from trees in the jungle – their skin completely flayed.
The big sell here is Arnold vs PREDATOR – a lethal hunter from the cosmos. The relentless action along the way doesn’t hurt,
2. T H E M A T R I X
In the special effects era, it’s easy for a movie to go too far. A lot of the times it’s like watching a videogame. And we have THE MATRIX to blame. However, this blend of Hong Kong John Woo-ness and cyberpunk anime, managed to balance its FX with action and story. Some of us even learned philosophy through this movie. KEANU REEVES leads the way once again, landing his 3rd movie in my Top 10, as a hacker turned action hero / savior.
Slow-mo bullets and weaving cameras, intricately choreographed martial art sequences, surreal plot, and a whole lot of thinking man’s fun makes THE MATRIX the penultimate action film.
1. T E R M I N A T O R 2 : J U D G E M E N T D A Y
Action spectacle. Fascinating special effects. Time travelling robots that can morph into liquid metal. T2 is the best action film ever. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER returns as the Terminator, except this time he’s turned from villain into hero. His character arc over these two films is massive. And he convinces us without being able to emote. Actions speak louder than words. We form great bonds with the three main characters. The finale gets even the most steel hearts to tear up.
Amazing action sequences. Memorable one-liners. Great characters. A good sense of humour. Ground breaking special FX. And science fiction tropes like robots, the apocalypse, and time travel.
FIRST BLOOD / CONAN THE BARBARIAN / THE DARK KNIGHT / SPIDER-MAN 2 / IRON MAN / DEATHPROOF / JOHN WICK / BLOODSPORT / BLADE / THE FUGITIVE / DESPERADO / FROM DUSK TILL DAWN / ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA / ENTER THE DRAGON / BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA / ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK / LETHAL WEAPON / IRON MONKEY
What do you think? Leave a comment below.