Action Movies to Watch Absolutely

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Action movies are a genre of film where the main character is thrust into a series of events which include violence and physical action. The category tends to feature resourceful heroes who endure incredible odds. Improvements in computer-generated imagery have made it more accessible and easier to develop action scenes and other visual results that previously required the efforts of skilled stunt teams. Responses to action movies consisting of computer scenes have been mixed, as some movies use digital effects to produce extremely incredible events. While action has long been a recurring element in movies, the “action movie” category began to take hold in the 1970s with stunts and special effects.

This category is closely related to the thriller and adventure categories and may include espionage components. Some historians think The Great Train Robbery (1903) is the very first action film. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, action movies were typically adventure movies, in which stars such as Douglas Fairbanks brandished swords in historical movies or westerns. The 1940s and 1950s saw “action” in a whole new kind, through war and cowboy movies.  Alfred Hitchcock introduced the spy adventure category using action scenes.

action-movies

In the Japanese cinema, the 1950s saw the development of jidaigeki action movies, especially the samurai cinema, promoted by director Akira Kurosawa. His 1954 film Seven Samurai is considered among the best movies ever, and it was hugely important. Its images, storyline and dialogues have influenced a wide range of directors, from George Lucas and John Landis to Quentin Tarantino and George Miller. Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961) was also remade under the title A Fistful of Dollars (1964) by Sergio Leone, which in turn developed the “Spaghetti Western” action category of Italian cinema, while The Hidden Fortress (1958) by Kurosawa later inspired Star Wars (1977).

The long-running success of the James Bond movies has been a staple of modern action filmmaking. Bond movies used fast montages, car chases, fist fights, weapons and sophisticated action scenes. Producer-director John Sturges’ 1963 film The Great Escape, about Allied prisoners of war trying to leave a German POW camp during World War II, features future action genre icons Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson , and is an example of an action movie template.

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7 Samurai (1954)

It is a epic movie written, edited and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The story takes place in 1586 throughout the Sengoku period of Japanese history. It follows the story of a town of desperate farmers who work with 7 rōnin, masterless samurai, to fight off the outlaws who want to take their crops.

At the time, the film was the most expensive film made in Japan. The film took a year to make and faced numerous problems. It was the second highest-grossing film in Japan in 1954. Many reviews compared the film to westerns. Since its release, Seven Samurai has regularly ranked number one on critics’ lists of the best movies in cinematic history. Its impact on the motion picture market was unmatched, and today it is often considered one of the most remade and imitated movies. 

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

It is a adventure movie 1958 Japanese jidaigeki Akira Kurosawa. It tells the story of 2 peasants who agree to walk a man and woman down the line of fire in exchange for gold without realizing that he is an officer and the lady is a princess. The film stars Toshiro Mifune as General Makabe Rokurōta and Misa Uehara as Princess Yuki while the role of the peasants, Tahei and Matashichi, are played by Minoru Chiaki and Kamatari Fujiwara respectively. It was the fourth highest-grossing film of the year in Japan and Kurosawa’s most popular film up to that point. It had a major impact on the 1977 American film Star Wars.

North by Northwest (1959

It’s a thriller movie of 1959, American spy action directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. The screenplay of the film is by Ernest Lehman. North by Northwest is a story of mistaken identity, with an innocent man being chased across the United States by men from a strange government-connected company that smuggles microfilm. This is among a series of Hitchcock movies that feature music by Bernard Herrmann and a series of opening credits by graphic designer Saul Bass. North by Northwest is often listed among the best movies ever.

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Yojimbo (1961)

It’s a Japanese samurai movie of 1961. The film stars Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yoko Tsukasa, Isuzu Yamada, Daisuke Katō, Takashi Shimura, Kamatari Fujiwara and Atsushi Watanabe. In the film, a rōnin shows up in a village where crime bosses compete for supremacy. The two bosses each attempt to work with the rookie as a bodyguard. Yojimbo garnered extremely favorable ratings and, over the years, came to be widely regarded as among Kurosawa’s best movies and among the best movies ever made. It was remade without permission by Sergio Leone with the Spaghetti Western A Fistful of Dollars (1964), prompting a lawsuit from Toho.

Dr. No (1962)

It’s a 1962 spy movie directed by Terence Young, and it’s the first film in the James Bond series. Starring Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman and Jack Lord, it was adapted by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood and Berkely Mather from Ian Fleming’s 1958 book of the same name. It was followed by From Russia with Love in 1963. In the film, James Bond is sent to Jamaica to look into the disappearance of a fellow Brit. The path leads him to the underground base of Dr. Julius No, who is planning to disrupt a launch into the American area from Cape Canaveral with a radio beam weapon.

It was the first of the Bond books to be made into a film, Dr. No being the sixth in the Fleming series, starting with Casino Royale. Produced on a low budget, Dr. No was a commercial success. While the film garnered a lukewarm critical response upon release, it has actually gained a cred over time as one of the best installments in the Bond franchise. Similarly, Dr. No introduced a category of secret agent movies that grew in the 1960s.

Many elements of a typical James Bond film were developed in Dr. No. The film begins with an introduction to the character through the view of the barrel of a weapon and a series of highly stylized opening credits, both developed by Maurice Binder . It likewise presented the famous music of 007. Production designer Ken Adam developed a whimsical visual design that is among the trademarks of the film series.

The Great Escape (1963)

It is a 1963 American war adventure movie starring Steve McQueen, James Garner and Richard Attenborough and includes James Donald, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, Hannes Messemer, David McCallum, Karl-Otto Alberty, Gordon Jackson, John Leyton and Angus Lennie. It was recorded in Panavision and its musical arrangement was composed by Elmer Bernstein. The film is based on Paul Brickhill’s 1950 book of the same name, an account of the mass escape of British Commonwealth POWs from the German prison camp Stalag Luft III at Sagan during the Nazi era.

The film portrays a heavily fictionalized variation of the escape, with various compromises, such as focusing more on American participation in the escape. The film was made by The Mirisch Company, pitched by United Artists, and produced and directed by John Sturges. The Great Escape became one of the highest-grossing movies of the year, giving McQueen the Best Actor award at the Moscow International Film Festival. The Great Escape is also known for its motorcycle chase and dive scene, which is considered one of the best stunts ever done.

That Man from Rio (1964)

It is a 1964 Italian-French co-production film directed by Philippe de Broca and starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Françoise Dorléac. The film enjoyed considerable success, ending up being the fifth highest-grossing film of the year. This satire of James Bond-like movies includes stunning images of Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Paris. At the 37th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The story was influenced by the comic series The Adventures of Tintin and was among the main inspirations for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). It seems Steven Spielberg informed de Broca that he watched it 9 times.

The Wild Angels (1966)

It is a 1966 movie about an American criminal biker produced and directed by Roger Corman. Shot in Southern California, it was the first film to associate star Peter Fonda with 1960s Harley-Davidson and the motorcycle counterculture. It influenced the biker film category that continued into the early 1970s. The story stars Fonda as the fictitious Hells Angels San Pedro, president of California group ‘Heavenly Blues’ (or ‘Blues’), Nancy Sinatra as his mistress ‘Mike’, Bruce Dern as convicted fellow criminal ‘The Loser’ ‘, and Dern’s then-real-life partner, Diane Ladd, as the loser’s wife, ‘Gaysh’. Small supporting roles are played by members of the Hells Angels of Venice, California and members of the Coffin Cheaters motorcycle club.

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Bullitt (1968)

It is a 1968 American neo-noir action thriller movie directed by Peter Yates and produced by Philip D’Antoni. The film stars Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn and Jacqueline Bisset. The screenplay for the film by Alan R. Trustman and Harry Kleiner was based on the 1963 novel Mute Witness, by Robert L. Fish, written under the pseudonym Robert L. Pike. Lalo Schifrin composed the film’s jazz-inspired music.

The film was made by McQueen’s Solar Productions and was a major box office success, later winning the Academy Award for Best Film Editing (Frank P. Keller) and garnering a nomination for Best Sound. Writers Trustman and Kleiner won a 1969 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Screenplay for a Motion Picture. Bullitt is famous for his car chase scene in the streets of San Francisco, considered among the most important action scenes in the history of cinema.

Diabolik (1968)

It is a 1968 crime and action film directed and co-written by Mario Bava, based on the Italian comic series Diabolik by Angela and Luciana Giussani. The film deals with a criminal called Diabolik (John Phillip Law), who prepares criminal actions with his girlfriend Eva Kant (Marisa Mell). Diabolik is pursued by Inspector Ginko (Michel Piccoli), who blackmails gangster Ralph Valmont (Adolfo Celi) to capture Diabolik for him. An adaptation of the comics was initially conceived by producer Tonino Cervi, who set up a worldwide co-production in 1965 and hired Seth Holt to direct the film with a cast including Jean Sorel, Elsa Martinelli and Gilbert Roland. Disgusted with Holt’s film, producer Dino De Laurentiis took over production, opting to redo the project from scratch with a new script and Bava as director. 

De Laurentiis produced the film with another comic book adaptation, Barbarella, with the two works garnering financial backing from Paramount Pictures and sharing numerous cast and team members. Catherine Deneuve was initially cast as Eva, however her incompatibility with Law and differences with Bava caused the part to be switched to actress Mell. Working under a bigger budget than he had in his previous works, Bava made the film far below his prearranged spending plan using much of the low budget strategies he had employed in his previous movies; it is the only film he has directed for a major Hollywood studio.

Upon its theatrical release, the film fell short of De Laurentiis’ expectations at the box office, and received unfavorable reviews in the United States. With the reevaluation of Bava’s filmography, the film’s retrospective reception has been more favorable, with its visuals, performances by Law and Mell, and music by Ennio Morricone receiving praise. Bava’s use of staging to reproduce the imagery and stylization of comics and the film’s reflection of the socio-political turmoil of the 1960s was appreciated. 

The Wild Bunch (1969)

It’s a Western film of 1969 directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien, Ben Johnson and Warren Oates. The plot tells of a criminal gang around Mexico and the United States trying to adapt to the changing contemporary world of 1913. The screenplay of the film was co-written by Peckinpah, Walon Green and Roy N. Sickner. The film was shot in Technicolor and Panavision, in Mexico at the Hacienda Ciénaga del Carmen, deep in the desert between Torreón and Saltillo, Coahuila and on the Rio Nazas.

The film is known for its complex and spectacular, multi-angle and rapid editing using slow motion images, an avant-garde method for cinema in 1969. The screenplay by Green, Peckinpah and Sickner was shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay, and Music by Jerry Fielding was chosen for Best Original Score. 

The French Connection (1971)

It is a 1971 American crime action thriller movie directed by William Friedkin. The screenplay for the film, composed by Ernest Tidyman, is based on the 1969 book of the same name by Robin Moore. It tells the story of NYPD detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo, whose real-life equivalents were narcotics detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, as they search for wealthy French heroin smuggler Alain Charnier. The film stars Gene Hackman as Popeye, Roy Scheider as Cloudy and Fernando Rey as Charnier. In the cast also Tony Lo Bianco and Marcel Bozzuffi.

At the 44th Academy Awards, the film was nominated 8 and won 5 for Best Picture, Best Actor (Hackman), Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay, and was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Scheider), Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing. Tidyman won a Golden Globe Award, a Writers Guild of America Award and an Edgar Award for his film screenplay. A sequel, French Connection II, followed in 1975 with Hackman and Rey reprising their roles.

The Big Boss (1971)

It is a 1971 Hong Kong martial arts action movie produced by Raymond Chow and starring Bruce Lee in his first significant film in a lead role. The film also stars Maria Yi, James Tien, Tony Liu and Nora Miao. Originally written for Tien, the lead role was given to Lee when the film’s initial director, Ng Kar-seung, was replaced by Lo. The film stood out and was a great success. Lee’s strong performance outshone Tien, and made Bruce Lee popular in Asia and around the world. The film grossed nearly $50 million at the time worldwide, roughly 500 times its initial financial investment. It was the highest-grossing Hong Kong film until Lee’s next film.

Fist of Fury (1972)

It is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts action movie written and directed by Lo Wei, produced by Raymond Chow and starring Bruce Lee in his second major role after The Big Boss (1971). Lee, who was also the film’s action choreographer, plays Chen Zhen, an apprentice of Huo Yuanjia, who fights to safeguard the honor of the Chinese in the face of foreign hostility and to bring those responsible for his death to justice. master. 

The film was produced by Golden Harvest film production company, still in its infancy at the time, and was Lee’s second kung fu film. The film discussed sensitive issues in Japan. It differs from other movies in the category for its social and historical reflections, especially for Japanese imperialism. The film earned an estimated $100 million at the time worldwide, against a $100,000 budget plan. It was the highest-grossing Hong Kong film until Lee’s The Way of the Dragon (1972).

King Boxer (1972)

It is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts movie directed by Jeong Chang-hwa and starring Lo Lieh. It was produced by Shaw Brothers, the largest film production studio in Hong Kong at the time. The screenplay was written by Chiang Yang. Made in Hong Kong, it is one of many kung fu movies starring Indonesian star Lo Lieh. He appeared in a number of comparable 1960s martial arts movies, before Bruce Lee. The film was responsible for starting the North American kung fu cinema fad of the 1970s with over 30 comparable movies released in the US in 1973 alone.

The Seven-Ups (1973)

It is a 1973 American action movie produced and directed by Philip D’Antoni. It stars Roy Scheider as a policeman who is the leader of the Seven-Ups, a team of plainclothes officers who use illegal and unconventional techniques to ensnare their prey on charges leading to prison sentences of 7 years or more after the indictment, hence the name of the group.

D’Antoni did his only directing with this film. He was previously in charge of producing the action thriller Bullitt, followed by The French Connection, which earned him the 1971 Academy Award for Best Picture. All 3 movies have amazing car chase scenes. Pal Manucci, played by Scheider, is a loose remake of the Buddy “Cloudy” Russo character he played in The French Connection, a character who similarly used dirty methods to catch his opponents, and who was also based on Sonny Grosso.

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Enter The Dragon (1973)

It’s a 1973 martial arts movie directed by Robert Clouse and written by Michael Allin. The film stars Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly. It was Lee’s last film before his death on July 20, 1973 at the age of 32. It premiered in Los Angeles on August 19, 1973, one month after Lee’s death. The film is estimated to have actually earned over $400 million worldwide ($2 billion as of 2022), against a spending plan of $850,000. Having actually made more than 400 times its budget plan, it is one of the most successful movies ever made as well as the best martial arts film.

The thread it is widely considered to be among the best martial arts movies ever. Among the very first movies to integrate martial arts action with spy film aspects and the emerging blaxploitation category, its success has spawned a number of comparable productions integrating the martial arts and blaxploitation categories. His themes produced controversy about the changes that occurred within postcolonial Asian societies after the completion of World War II. It is also regarded as one of the most important action movies ever, with its success adding to the global mainstream and inspiring various works, including action movies, television shows, video games, comic books, manga and anime.

Death Wish (1974)

It is an action thriller film neo-noir loosely based on the 1972 book of the same title by Brian Garfield. Directed by Michael Winner, the film stars Charles Bronson as Paul Kersey, a designer who becomes a vigilante after his wife and son are attacked during a home break-in with his wife dying of her wounds reported. This was the first film in the film series – it was followed 8 years later by Death Wish II and other similar movies.

Upon release, the film was criticized for its overt support of vigilantism and for promoting violent punishment for criminals. The film resonated with audiences and was an industrial success with the general public in the United States, which was experiencing rising crime rates in the 1970s.

Earthquake (1974)

It’s a drama movie of 1974 directed by Mark Robson and starring Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner. The story chronicles the battle for survival after a disastrous earthquake destroys most of the city of Los Angeles, California.

Directed by Robson with a screenplay by George Fox and Mario Puzo, the film stars a large all-star cast, including Heston, Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, Geneviève Bujold, Richard Roundtree, Marjoe Gortner, Barry Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan , Victoria Principal and Walter Matthau. It is significant for using an ingenious sound achievement called Sensurround, which has developed the feeling of actually experiencing an earthquake in cinemas.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

It is a 1977 American action comedy movie starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Pat McCormick, Paul Williams and Mike Henry is the directorial launch from stuntman Hal Needham. The film follows Bo “Bandit” Darville (Reynolds) and Cledus “Snowman” Snow (Reed), 2 bootleggers who try to illegally move 400 cases of beer Coors from Texarkana to Atlanta. While Snowman drives the beer truck, the highwayman drives a Pontiac Trans Am to distract the police and divert attention from Snowman. During their race, they are chased by the agent of the county Texas Buford T. Justice (Gleason). The film was the second highest grossing domestic film of 1977 in the United States. Sally Field and Burt Reynolds began a relationship after meeting on the set.

Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978)

It is a 1978 Hong Kong martial arts action comedy movie directed by Yuen Woo-ping in his film debutdirection. It stars Jackie Chan, Hwang Jang-lee, and Yuen Woo-ping’s real father, Yuen Siu-tien. The plot of the film deals with Chien Fu (Jackie Chan), an orphan who is bullied in a kung fu school, who meets an old beggar, Pai Cheng-tien (Yuen Woo-ping), who becomes his sifu (instructor) and trains him for Snake Kung Fu.

After this film, Yuen Woo-ping directed Drunken Master, released in the same year, which also starred Jackie Chan, Hwang Jang-lee and Yuen Siu-tien. The film developed Chan’s fun slap-stick kung fu design which he further solidified with Drunken Master, while similarly developing the standard plot structure used in many martial arts movies around the world since then.

Drunken Master (1978)

It’s a comedy movie of 1978, Hong Kong martial arts directed by Yuen Woo-ping and starring Jackie Chan, Yuen Siu-tien and Hwang Jang-lee. It was a hit in Hong Kong, grossing 2.5 times the amount of Yuen and Chan’s previous film Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow which was also considered a hit.

It is an early turning point in the comedy genre of kung fu and helped popularize Jackie Chan in Asia. The film popularized Zui Quan, a special fighting style. In 2017, it was ranked number three on GamesRadar’s list of the 50 greatest kung fu movies forever. It spawned a main sequel, Drunken Master II (1994), and a series of spin-offs. It has had a significant cultural effect, inspiring various subsequent movies, music, manga, video and anime video games.

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Good Guys Wear Black (1978)

It is a 1978 American martial arts action movie starring Chuck Norris and directed by Ted Post. This was the second film to feature Norris as the lead. After years of importing kung fu movies from Hong Kong action theaters in the 1970s, especially Bruce Lee movies followed by Bruceploitation movies, this work introduced Chuck Norris as America’s first true martial arts star , known for his cinematic cast as a villain in Bruce Lee’s Way of the Dragon (1972). 

The film set itself apart from previous martial arts movies with its American setting, characters, politics and themes, a formula Norris continued with the equally effective Force of One (1979). The film included a very first screen appearance by Norris’ brother Aaron Norris and final appearances by Lloyd Haynes and Dana Andrews.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 

It is a 1981 American action-adventure movie directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Lawrence Kasdan, based on a story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman. In the cast Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies and Denholm Elliott. Ford depicts Indiana Jones, a globetrotting archaeologist who is competing with Nazi German forces in 1936 to recover the long-lost Ark of the Covenant, an ancient treasure that has the power to make an army invincible. Coordinating with his former lover Marion Ravenwood (Allen), Jones is quick to stop archaeologist Dr. René Belloq (Freeman) from directing the Nazis towards the Ark and its power.

Lucas developed Raiders of the Lost Ark in the early 1970s. Seeking to update early 20th-century serial movies, he honed the ideas even further with Kaufman, who recommended the Ark as the film’s focus. Lucas ultimately focused on creating his 1977 science fiction film Star Wars. Advancement in Raiders of the Lost Ark picked up again that year when he shared the idea with Spielberg, who took over the project some months later. Although the pair actually had ideas for set designs and stunts for the film, they worked with Kasdan to complete the script. 

Principal photography began in June 1980 with a budget of $20 million and concluded the following September. Recording took place on sets at Elstree Studios, England, La Rochelle, France, Tunisia and Hawaii. Raiders of the Lost Ark ended up being the highest-grossing film of 1981, earning an estimated $330.5 million worldwide, and played in select theaters for over a year. The film was picked up for numerous awards and won 5 Academy Awards, 7 Saturn Awards and a BAFTA, to name a few. Raiders of the Lost Ark has had a lasting effect on pop culture, spawning a myriad of imitators across different media and motivating other filmmakers. 

Escape from New York (1981) 

It is a 1981 American science fiction action film co-written, co-written and directed by John Carpenter. In the cast Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau and Harry Dean Stanton. The story of the film, set in the near future of 1997, shows the crime-ridden United States, which has turned the island of Manhattan in New York City into a large maximum security prison of the nation. Flying Force One is pirated by anti-government rebels who intentionally crash into the prison. Former soldier and federal prisoner Snake Plissken (Russell) has only 24 hours to enter and rescue the President of the United States, after which, if he reaches his objective, he will be pardoned.

Carpenter wrote the film in the mid-1970s in response to the Watergate scandal. After the success of Halloween (1978), he had enough impact to start production and shoot it in St. Louis, Missouri with a budget of about $6 million. Debra Hill and Larry J. Franco served as producers. The film was co-written by Nick Castle, who had actually collaborated with Carpenter by designing Michael Myers in Halloween.

The film garnered favorable reviews from critics and was a commercial success, earning over $25.2 million. The film was nominated for 4 Saturn Awards, consisting of Best Science Fiction Film and Best Director. The film became a cult film and was followed by Escape from LA (1996), also directed and written by Carpenter and starring Russell.

First Blood (1982)

It is a 1982 American action film directed by Ted Kotcheff and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, who also plays Vietnam War veteran John Rambo. It stars Richard Crenna as Rambo’s trainer Sam Trautman and Brian Dennehy as Sheriff Will Teasle. It is the first part of the Rambo series, followed by Rambo: First Blood Part II.

The film is based on David Morrell’s 1972 novel First Blood, which many filmmakers and studios had tried unsuccessfully to adapt in the 1970s. In the film, Rambo is a distressed Vietnam vet who must rely on his battle and survival skills when a series of ruthless events lead him to overcome a huge manhunt by police and federal government soldiers near the city imagery of Hope, Washington.

The film was released in the United States on October 22, 1982. Reviews were mixed, but the film was a box office success, earning $156 million. In 1985, it was also the first Hollywood blockbuster to be released in China, holding the record for the most tickets sold for an American film until 2018. Since its release, it has been re-evaluated by critics, highlighting the by Stallone, Dennehy and Crenna and recognizing it as a top film in the action category. Its success has spawned a franchise, which includes 4 sequels (co-written by and starring Stallone), an animated TV series, a comic series, a one-off series, numerous computer games and Indian remakes.

48 Hours (1982)

It’s a action comedy movie of 1982 directed by Walter Hill, who co-wrote the film with Larry Gross, Steven E. de Souza and Roger Spottiswoode. It stars Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, the latter in his launch film, as a cop and a guilty man respectively, who team up to catch 2 established criminals. The title describes the amount of time they have to solve the crime.

It was among the most commercially successful movies of 1982, and received widespread critical acclaim. It introduced Murphy to the film profession and earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for New Actor of the Year. A sequel was released in 1990, also directed by Walter Hill, with Nolte and Murphy reprising their roles.

Police Story (1985)

It is a 1985 Hong Kong action comedy movie starring and directed by Jackie Chan, who also composed the film’s screenplay with Edward Tang. It is the first film in the Police Story series. It includes Chan as Hong Kong government investigator “Kevin” Chan Ka-Kui, alongside Brigitte Lin and Maggie Cheung. In the film, Ka-Kui helps catch a drug lord but must clear his name after being implicated in murder.

Chan took up film after a frustrating experience with James Glickenhaus in The Protector (1985), which was to be his entry into the American film market. The film consists of lots of action scenes with amazing stunts performed by Chan and his crew. Much of the film was built around the action scenes.

The film was a blockbuster hit in Asia and Europe. It won the Best Film Award at the 1986 Hong Kong Film Awards. According to Chan’s autobiography, Police Story is his best action film. Chan’s last action scene in the mall is considered to be among the best stunts in the history of action cinema.  

Aliens (1986)

It is a 1986 science fiction action movie written and directed by James Cameron. It is the sequel to the 1979 science fiction horror film Alien and the second film in the Alien series. The film is set in the distant future; Sigourney Weaver plays Ellen Ripley, the sole survivor of an alien attack on her ship. When interactions are lost with a human colony on the moon where her team initially saw the alien animals, Ripley decides to return to the location. 

Regardless of the success of Alien, its sequel took years to make due to a lack of conviction from 20th Century Fox. Still inexperienced, in 1983 Cameron worked to write a story for Aliens based on his scripts for The Terminator (1984) and Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985). The project stalled once again until new Fox executive Lawrence Gordon gave his deal. With a budget of approximately $18.5 million, Aliens began filming in September 1985. Filming was plagued by disputes between Cameron and the British team at Pinewood Studios.

Aliens was launched on July 18, 1986, obtaining an important recognition. Viewers enjoyed its action, but some criticized the violence of some scenes. Weaver’s performance has garnered consistent praise as well as that of Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein. The film garnered numerous awards and elections, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for Weaver at a time when the science fiction category was generally ignored. Aliens was among the top-grossing movies of 1986 worldwide.

Aliens is now considered among the best movies of the 80s and among the best sci-fi and action movies ever made. Aliens have influenced a range of products, consisting of computer games, comics and toys. The film was followed by 2 sequels and 2 prequels.

A Better Tomorrow (1986)

It is a 1986 Hong Kong action crime movie directed and co-written by John Woo and starring Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung and Chow Yun-Fat. The film had a great impact on Hong Kong action cinema, and was actually recognized as a film with significant impact on the Hong Kong and Hollywood film market.

Produced on a tight budget plan and launched with virtually no marketing, the film broke the Hong Kong box office record and became a hit in Asia. The film is highly praised, ranking second among the top 100 Chinese movies. Its success led to a sequel, A Better Tomorrow II, also directed by Woo, and A Better Tomorrow 3: Love & Death in Saigon, a prequel directed by Tsui Hark. It has also been remade a number of times.

The film was a hit for Chow Yun-fat and launched him as a major superstar in the Hong Kong film market. Chow’s character “Mark Lee” was imitated by many fans even years after the film’s release. After this film, Chow went on to make a number of significant movies with Woo.

Lethal Weapon (1987)

It is an American crime and action comedy movie franchise produced by Shane Black. It focuses on 2 detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department, Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. The franchise includes a series of four movies that launched between 1987 and 1998 and a TV series that aired from 2016 to 2019. The four movies were directed by Richard Donner and also share the same main cast members. The first movie wasn’t explicitly funny, the later movies and TV series slowly ended up being comical in nature.

Alien Nation (1988)

It’s an action sci fi movie of 1988 directed by Graham Baker. The cast includes James Caan, Mandy Patinkin and Terence Stamp. The film ushered in the beginning of the Alien Nation franchise. The story tells of the “Newcomers”, an alien race that settled in Los Angeles. The plot incorporates the categories of crime movies and neo-noir with a science fiction style, focusing on the relationship between a private investigator (Caan) and an extraterrestrial (Patinkin), the first Newcomer investigator. The two investigate a criminal underworld as they try to solve a murder. 

Alien Nation Explore the themes of discrimination, murder and science fiction. The film opened to mixed reviews prior to its theatrical release. The film spawned an interim TV series, 5 TV movies, a comic book series.

Die Hard (1988)

It is a 1988 American action movie directed by John McTiernan, with a screenplay by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza. Based on the 1979 book, Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorp, it stars Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov and Bonnie Bedelia. The plot follows New York City investigator John McClane (Willis) who becomes involved in a terrorist operation in a Los Angeles high-rise while visiting his ex-wife. 

The role of McClane was rejected by the most famous stars of the period, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Known primarily for his television deal, Willis was paid $5 million for his participation, placing him among the highest-paid stars in Hollywood. Upon its release in July 1988, reviews were mixed: negative critics focused on its violence, storyline, and Willis’ performance, while McTiernan’s direction and Rickman’s charming portrayal of villain Hans Gruber were applauded .  

Defying predictions, Die Hard earned an estimated $140 million, ending up being the 10th highest-grossing film of the year and the highest-grossing action film. It garnered 4 Academy Award nominations and lifted Willis to leading man status and made Rickman a star. Die Hard was actually seriously re-evaluated and is now considered among the best action movies, it is thought to have revamped the action category, especially for its portrayal of McClane as a flawed and touchy protagonist, as opposed to the muscular heroes and invincibles from other movies of the same era. 

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The Killer (1989)

It is a 1989 Hong Kong action thriller movie written and directed by John Woo. The film stars Chow Yun-fat, Danny Lee and Sally Yeh. Chow plays assassin Ah Jong, who unintentionally damages singer Jennie’s (Sally Yeh) eyes during a shootout. He later learns that if Jennie doesn’t have an expensive operation, she will go blind. To get Jennie’s money, Ah Jong chooses to perform one last heist. Woo entered the production of The Killer with a plot whose storyline was influenced by the movies Le Samouraï, Mean Streets and Narazumono. 

Woo wanted to make a film about honor, relationship and the rapport of 2 opposite individuals. After finishing shooting the film, Woo described The Killer as an homage to directors Jean-Pierre Melville and Martin Scorsese. The Killer was not an instant hit in Hong Kong, however it gained crucial recognition in the western world with viewers applauding the action scenes and its excessive style. The film became Woo’s stepping stone to making Hollywood movies and had a strong impact on many directors, including Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Johnnie To.

Hard Boiled (1992)

It’s an action thriller movie of Hong Kong of 1992 directed by John Woo from a screenplay by Gordon Chan and Barry Wong. The film stars Chow Yun-fat as Inspector “Tequila” Yuen, Tony Leung Chiu-wai as Alan, an undercover cop, and Anthony Wong as Johnny Wong, a leader of the criminal triads.

It was John Woo’s last film in Hong Kong before his move to Hollywood. After making movies about gangsters Woo wanted to make a Dirty Harry-style film about cops. With the death of screenwriter Barry Wong, the film’s script underwent significant changes during filming. New characters such as Mad Dog and Mr. Woo were introduced, while the initial storyline of a psychopath who poisons a child was cut.

The film was released in Hong Kong in 1992 to favorable reception from the public, however it was not as commercially successful as Woo’s previous movies. The reception from Western critics has been much more favorable, with numerous critics and film scholars calling its action scenes some of the best ever filmed. 

El Mariachi (1992)

It is an independent film 1992 American Spanish-language. It marked the feature film launch of Rodriguez as writer and director. The Spanish-language film was shot with an amateur cast in Mexico’s northern border town of Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico from Del Rio, Texas, the hometown of protagonist Carlos Gallardo as the protagonist. 

The US$7,225 production was initially intended for the Mexican home-video market, however executives at Columbia Pictures liked the film and purchased the American circulation rights. Columbia eventually invested $200,000 in film print, sound remix, and other post-production work, then invested millions more in marketing and syndication. Rodriguez’s successful directorial pitch led him to develop 2 sequels (Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico) with Antonio Banderas taking over from Gallardo for the character, although Gallardo co-produced both movies and had a small part in Desperado.

Sudden Death (1995)

It is a 1995 American sports action thriller movie directed by Peter Hyams and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe and Dorian Harewood. The film was released in the United States on December 22, 1995. Set at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, the film was written by Gene Quintano, based on a story by Karen Elise Baldwin, the partner of then Pittsburgh Penguins owner Howard Baldwin , who was a co-producer. It was the second collaboration between Van Damme and Hyams, following Timecop (1994).

The film grossed $64 million at the box office on a $35 million budget and received mixed reviews upon its release. Retrospective reviews have been more favorable and it is seen by many as one of Van Damme’s best. 

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Mission: Impossible (1996)

It is a 1996 American spy film directed by Brian De Palma and produced by and starring Tom Cruise from a screenplay by David Koepp and Robert Towne and story by Koepp and Steven Zaillian. An extension of the 1966 TV series of the same name and its 1988 follow-up series, it is the first film in the Mission: Impossible film series. Also starring Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Béart, Henry Czerny, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave and Jean Reno. In Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt (Cruise) tries to find out who framed him for the murders of most of his Impossible Missions Force group.

The project initially began with director Sydney Pollack, but most of the final film script was written after the hiring of De Palma, Steven Zaillian, David Koepp and Robert Towne. De Palma did most of the action scenes, while Cruise did most of his stunts.

The film was accompanied by favorable reviews from critics, with praise for the action scenes, De Palma’s direction and Cruise’s performance, but also criticism for the complicated plot. The film grossed $457.7 million worldwide, making it the third highest-grossing film of 1996. 

Ronin (1998)

It is an American action thriller movie from the 1998 directed by John Frankenheimer and written by John David Zeik and David Mamet, under the pseudonym Richard Weisz. In the cast Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård, Sean Bean and Jonathan Pryce. The film deals with a group of former agents turned mercenaries who have to take a strange briefcase with unknown contents for which secret agents from various countries do not hesitate to kill. The film was applauded for its spectacular car chases in Nice and Paris.

Frankenheimer signed on to direct Zeik’s film script, which Mamet rewrote to expand De Niro’s role and establish plot information, in 1997. The drivers collaborated and did the truck stunts, and Elia Cmiral did the column sound of the film. Ronin premiered at the 1998 Venice Film Festival. Critics praised the film’s action, casting, and technical elements, while the storyline attracted criticism. The film did quite well at the box office, earning $70.7 million on a $55 million budget. the film is Frankenheimer’s late career work. Ronin has been compared positively to movies like Bullitt and The French Connection. 

Ghosts of Mars (2001)

It is a 2001 American science fiction action film written and directed by John Carpenter. The film stars Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Pam Grier, Clea DuVall and Joanna Cassidy. Set on a colonized Mars in the 22nd century, the film follows a team of law enforcement officers and a con man who battle the homeowners of a mining colony who have actually been possessed by the ghosts of the planet’s first inhabitants.

The film garnered mainly negative reviews and was a box office failure, earning $14 million against a planned production budget of $28 million. John Carpenter was inactive until his comeback with The Ward in 2010. The film has garnered a cult following since its release, with critics applauding the action set pieces, soundtrack and mix of genres. Given the film’s cultural debt to western cinema, especially the works of Howard Hawks, has actually been regarded by a variety of critics as an example of the Weird Western subgenre.

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