Monday, March 09, 2015

101 Action Films I Must See Before I Die

Having covered which 101 science fiction movies I should see before I die yesterday, today I move on to action films. Action is a frustrating genre; the best action films are compelling, edge-of-your-seat excitement, and the very best even have a strong message - or at least raise some issues to consider. The worst action films are an agonizing chore to watch, one mindless fistfight or car chase after another. So which of the best (at least according to the authors of 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) action films have I already seen, and which do I need to see? Let's find out...as ever, movies I've seen are listed in bold type.

The Great Train Robbery
The Perils of Pauline
Safety Last!
The Thief of Bagdad
Captain Blood
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
The Mark of Zorro
The Three Musketeers
The Wages of Fear
North by Northwest
From Russia with Love
Goldfinger
Thunderball
Come Drink with Me
Our Man Flint
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Airport
The Anderson Tapes
Diamonds Are Forever
Dirty Harry
Five Fingers of Death
The Getaway
The Poseidon Adventure
Slaughter
Enter the Dragon
Foxy Brown
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
The Towering Inferno
Death Race 2000
Rollerball
Assault on Precinct 13
Cannonball
The Spy Who Loved Me
The Driver
Drunken Master
Five Deadly Venoms
Superman
For Your Eyes Only
Knightriders
Raiders of the Lost Ark
48 Hrs.
First Blood
The Shaolin Temple
Commando
Police Story
Top Gun
Lethal Weapon
Bloodsport
Die Hard
Batman
The Killer
La Femme Nikita
The Hunt for Red October
Point Break
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Patriot Games
Under Siege
The Fugitive
The Heroic Trio
In the Line of Fire
Iron Monkey
Clear and Present Danger
The Crow
Fist of Legend
Leon: The Professional
Speed
True Lies
Bad Boys
Desperado
GoldenEye
Mission: Impossible
The Rock
Air Force One
Face/Off
Con Air 
Armageddon
Blade
Taxi
Ronin
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Gladiator
X-Men
The Fast and the Furious
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Spider-Man
The Transporter
Kill Bill: Volume One
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Ong-Bak
District B13
The Bourne Supremacy
Kill Bill: Volume Two
Casino Royale
300
The Bourne Ultimatum
Hot Fuzz
The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Taken
Avatar

I've seen 71 of these, and there are quite a few I don't enjoy: the Kill Bill movies (I love most of the rest of Tarantino's work, but these just feel excessive), Gladiator, True Lies (have you re-watched it lately? oof), Speed, the Tom Clancy thrillers that came after Red October, Top Gun, Armageddon...bleah. But I suppose they're important to the action canon (well, Top Gun and Armageddon and the Tarantino films, maybe..)

I've heard of most of these on the list, including, of course, the obvious "How can you not have seen this yet?" choices: 300, The Fast and the Furious, Air Force One, Lethal Weapon, Five Deadly Venoms, Foxy Brown, Rollerball, The Mark of Zorro.

My favourites from this list? Safety Last!, Die Hard, the Bond movies, Ronin, Iron Monkey, Dirty Harry, Captain Blood, Death Race 2000, Assault on Precinct 13, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Our Man Flint, Enter the Dragon. There are plenty of wonderful moments in all of these films. 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...


Are you sure you've never seen Rollerball? I'm pretty sure back in our high school days a bunch of us rented it and watched it. It was pretty forgettable with much less action then you'd expect.

Vern

Earl J. Woods said...

Vern, you could very well be right, but I'm pretty strict about my "have I seen it/read it?" criteria; I err on the side of caution and don't add a book or film to the list unless I'm certain I've actually watched or read it.

Jeff Shyluk said...

I recall you commenting on James Caan blowing up a tree... it doesn't get any more Rollerball than that.