10 More Great Action Movies

Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

If you’re a fan of the genre, I’ve got 10 more great action movies for your enjoyment. Each of the following is guaranteed to include liberal doses of punches, kicks and gunplay, as well as a bevy of beautiful bodies to stare at. The next time you’re bored out of your mind on a weeknight, give one of these great action movies a try.

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District B13 (2004) – In 2010, a crime-ridden Paris shuts off part of the city and surrounds it with concrete walls and barbed wire. This area becomes known as District 13. When Taha Bemamud, a crime lord in this dangerous borough gets his hands on a neutron bomb, an undercover cop, Damien Tomaso (Cyril Raffaelli), is sent in to defuse it. But he’ll need the help of Leito (David Belle), a street-smart former resident of District 13 who’s been rotting in prison for six months. Leito has plenty of incentive to help, as his sister (played by former porn star Dany Verissimo) is being as a sex slave by the villainous Taha. Luc Besson is involved in this French film, so you can bet they’ll be plenty of action. District B13 is also notable for the use of parkour, a physical art that allows practitioners to navigate up walls and around obstacles with amazing dexterity. It may not sound like much, but watch the opening action scene and then tell me you’re not impressed.

Kiss of the Dragon (2001) – Jet Li plays Liu Siu-jian, a Chinese intelligence operative who heads to Paris to help nap a Chinese crime boss. He’s supposed to work with the French police, but he quickly realizes that their boss, Inspector Jean-Pierre Richard (the always-wonderful Tcheky Karyo), is a completely corrupt psychopath. When the operation goes horribly wrong, Liu finds himself on the run. Things get even more complicated when he befriends an American woman (Bridget Fonda) who’s forced to work as a prostitute to protect her young daughter. Tons of great fights, and the final battle actually had to be slowed down because Jet Li and Cyril Raffaelli were moving too fast to be captured by the traditional recording speed of the camera. Tcheky Karyo is the man!

The Human Tornado (1976) – If you’ve never experienced the comic goodness that it Rudy Ray Moore, it’s never too late to start. In this blaxploitation sequel to Dolemite, our hero rhymes, gets freaky with the white wife of a racist sheriff, and executes marital arts moves that have to be seen to be believed. Rudy Ray Moore even performs the film’s theme song, and half of the credits are printed across his outlandishly stylish capes and costumes. Look for Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle) in an early role.

Shaft (2000) – I know the original with Richard Roundtree is considered a classic, but I prefer this Samuel L. Jackson sequel. Jackson plays John Shaft, the nephew of the original character (who also appears) and a member of the NYPD. When wealthy killer Walter Wade Jr. (Christian Bale) walks free, Shaft begins searching for the one eyewitness who can put him behind bars permanently. But Wade isn’t taking any chances, so he hires a ruthless drug lord named Peoples Hernandez (Jeffrey Wright) to find and kill her first. Plenty of violence and attitude from Jackson, plus Bale is a delight in the role of a scumbag.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) – The fourth and last film of the series finds badass cop Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) finally starting to show his age. He and partner Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) are both trying to take it easy in their advancing years, but they still have to contend with a Chinese immigrant smuggling ring and a lethal crime boss played by Jet Li. Joe Pesci, Rene Russo and Chris Rock all co-star, and it’s an enjoyable send-off for the gang. The final showdown between Gibson/Glover and Li is a nice twist on the standard action movie fight scene.

GoldenEye (1995) – When an arms syndicate tries to use a satellite to cause a global financial meltdown, it’s up to everyone’s favorite spy to save the day. Pierce Brosnan takes over the role of James Bond, and Judi Dench becomes the first woman to portray M. Sean Bean is all kinds of rugged as 006, a former agent who becomes a deadly adversary for Bond. The “Bond Girls” are admirably represented by good girl Izabella Scorupco and bad girl Famke Janssen (who plays Xenia Onatopp).

Last Action Hero (1993) – Combining action goodness with clever satire, Last Action Hero pokes gentle fun at every aspect of the genre. A young movie fan named Danny Madigan is given a golden movie ticket that once belonged to Houdini, and he soon finds that it has the power to transport him inside the movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger appears as both himself and action hero Jack Slater, while Ian McKellen has a brief role as Death. The cast is jam-packed with stars and cameos, including Charles Dance, Tom Noonan, Joan Plowright, Anthony Quinn, Bridgette Wilson, F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney, Tina Turner and Mercedes Ruehl. Yes, it was a box office dud, but it’s way better than its performance would indicate.

Face/Off (1997) – John Woo takes on the director’s duties in this film starring Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. Due to a procedure involving switching faces, both actors get to play dual roles as FBI agent Sean Archer and insane terrorist Castor Troy. Joan Allen is Archer’s supportive wife, while Dominique Swain is his hot daughter. Gina Gershon also adds a nice performance as Troy’s sometime lover. Wildly over the top, it’s peppered with such Woo tropes as flying doves, Mexican standoffs and slow motion shootouts. It also marked the first time he had complete control over a Hollywood film.

Above the Law (1988) – Steven Seagal earns a place on my list of “10 more great action movies” by making a powerful debut in this crime film co-starring Henry Silva, Pam Grier and Sharon Stone. He plays Nico Toscani, a Chicago cop who used to work for the CIA during the Vietnam War. When ghosts from the past start appearing, Nico finds himself in the middle of a shadowy plot to murder a politician. Seagal’s bone-breaking style of martial arts hadn’t really been seen before by American audiences, and his lean face and ponytail made him instantly recognizable.

The Last Boy Scout (1991) – Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans team up in this action flick written by Shane Black. Joe Hollenbeck (Willis) is a former member of the Secret Service turned grizzled private detective. Jimmy Dix (Wayans) is a former football player kicked out of the league for gambling and drug possession. Joe is hired to protect a stripper (Halle Berry in an early role) who just so happens to be dating Jimmy, and her murder lands the unlikely duo in the middle of a plot to assassinate a senator and legalize sports betting. The excellent supporting cast includes Danielle Harris, Chelsea Field, Noble Willingham, Bruce McGill and Taylor Negron. If you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll be pleased to know that the film is filled with loads of bloody violence and foul language.

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Check back often, as I’ll be posting a list of 10 more great action movies very soon. In the meantime, why not peruse the following:

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