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25 Classic Action Movies That Never Get Old

Any given year has provided audiences with a seeming abundance of action films, most of which hit the new release DVD shelf at department stores before swiftly making their way to $5 bins in either single editions or, more often, as part of a collection. But then there are the ones that stick in the viewer’s memory, the ones that are more than flying bullets and exploding eighteen-wheelers.

These are the action films that fans just can’t shake. These actioners stand above others thanks to memorable set pieces and well-drawn characters, and more often than not film fans find themselves revisiting them.
Updated on August 24th, 2023 by Darren Gigool: This article has been updated with additional content to keep the discussion fresh and relevant with even more information and new entries.

25 Blade Runner (1982)

Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner (1982)

Warner Bros.

In the futuristic Blade Runner realm, science fiction fuses with action, crafting a film that feels timeless and is fun to watch even decades later. Set in a dystopian future, the combination of advanced technology and ceaseless action crafts an arresting spectacle.
The complex is Harrison Ford’s interpretation of Rick Deckard in the movie. His detailed performance depicts a character both compassionate and resolute, traversing an unclear and uncertain world. Ford’s acting skills make Deckard’s struggles seem both human and pressing. Themes such as identity, humanity, and existence echo throughout, leaving a lasting legacy that shapes contemporary cinema.

24 Total Recall (1990)

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall (1990) Tri-Star Pictures

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of Douglas Quaid is magnetic and vigorous, sustaining the movie’s dynamic tempo. Melding physical strength and unexpected vulnerability is Schwarzenegger’s performance throughout the film. Groundbreaking was the film’s special effects and imaginative settings for its time.
From the Martian terrains to the elaborate futuristic technology, Total Recall’s visuals captivate the audience with a surreal experience. Complex and inventive is the movie’s plot. The storyline twists and winds, maintaining the viewers’ attention. Is it reality or a memory implant? forms the film’s core question. It adds a touch of mystery, this unique layer, transcends the movie beyond a mere action spectacle.

23 Heat (1995)

Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley in Heat (1995) Warner Bros.

Masterful is Michael Mann’s direction of Heat, an expansive urban epic that encapsulates the extensive Los Angeles scenery with accuracy. Mann’s precise direction, along with wide shots of the city, builds a raw and enveloping universe where crime and law mingle.
Central to Heat is the thrilling face-off between Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Their performances, brimming with fierceness and subtlety, shape an unforgettable movie encounter. Going beyond crime drama, Heat; it’s a heart-racing action flick that doesn’t forfeit depth for excitement. Combining intense action and rich narrative seamlessly, the carefully planned heist scenes and character-driven plot, ensure that Heat remains an undying classic.

22 Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe in Gladiator (2000) DreamWorks DistributionUniversal Pictures

This movie brings the ancient world of Rome alive with brutal realism. Ridley Scott’s interpretation plunges the audience into the chaos of the gladiatorial arena, political schemes, and battlefield turmoil.
With breathtaking visuals, the blend of cutting-edge technology and practical effects, combined with intricate fight choreography, the film showcases ferocity and barbarism that have been leaving audiences in awe since its release. All of these themes come alive with visceral excitement, the Colosseum’s roar of the crowd, the clashing of weapons, and the sheer intensity of gladiatorial warfare make it a spectacle that never gets old.

21 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Michelle Yeoh as Yu Shu Lien holds a sword and palm out in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Sony Pictures ClassicsColumbia TriStar Film

The movie manifests and showcases the ancient martial arts tradition of Wuxia. The ethereal settings, the effortless swordplay, and the dance-like choreography constitute a visual masterpiece. Directed by Ang Lee this film blends storytelling and cinematography, it’s art in motion essentially.
Haunting and visually stunning, the film’s score leaves a lasting impression. Although embedded in Chinese culture, the film overcame geographical limitations. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became a global sensation, for its themes of love, honor, and freedom.
Related: Best Michelle Yeoh Movies, Ranked

20 First Blood (1982)

Sylvester Stallone in First Blood (1982) Orion Pictures

The original Rambo film, First Blood, may not be the bombastic action flick its successors are, but it’s both equally fun and a better film (almost as much as the rest combined). The plot is legendary: A veteran returns from Vietnam to find a country, one he just fought for, that hates him.
Walking through a small, fog-coated mountain town, he’s harassed by local law enforcement. A timid man with no axes to grind at this point in his life, John Rambo deserves no harassment, but the cops won’t stop, and before long it’s one man against an army. First, in the woods. Then, in the very fog-coated mountain town he initially just hoped to pass through.

19 Red Dawn (1984)

C Thomas Howell in Red Dawn (1984) MGMUA

While the acting can be a little hit or miss, 1984’s Red Dawn is nonetheless an iconic bit of Cold War paranoia. It’s a great concept: A small American mountain town suddenly finds itself consumed by Russian troops.
The hometown vibe is Red Dawn’s ace in the hole. The viewer isn’t spending time with nameless soldier after nameless soldier, they’re spending time with a group of friends who have been put in a precarious, violent situation.

18 Commando (1985)

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando (1985) 20th Century Fox

If there’s a non-Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that pops into most people’s minds, cinephile or layperson, it’s probably Commando. Riddled with absurdly quotable dialogue and utterly unbelievable action sequences, it’s arguably the ultimate one-man-against-an-army movie.
As John Matrix, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel, Schwarzenegger is fully in his element. He’s brought back into action via the kidnapping of his daughter (played by Alyssa Milano), which is the ultimate macho-man action movie plot if ever there was one.

17 Lethal Weapon (1987)

Mel Gibson as Sergeant Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon (1987) Warner Bros.

With Superman’s Richard Donner directing and an early script from Christmas action movie master Shane Black, Lethal Weapon had all the right people behind it to make it a hit. Toss in sublime chemistry between Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in the lead roles and Lethal Weapon’s quality manages to match its box office potential (and reception).
It even managed to spawn a franchise, though only the second one (which successfully adds an admittedly occasionally too much Joe Pesci to the mix) is a film worth watching more than once. But the third and fourth installments had some fine additions of their own, with Rene Russo being a particular highlight.

16 Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

A scene from Big Trouble in Little China (1986) 20th Century Fox

John Carpenter is primarily known as a master of horror, primarily thanks to Halloween, The Fog, The Thing, and They Live. But he also directed some action movies back in his heyday, most notably Escape from New York. However, there’s also the more comedic and fantastical Big Trouble in Little China, which ultimately has more rewatch value than the grim Escape from New York and L.A. films.
Either way, the audience gets Kurt Russell having the time of his life. But Big Trouble in Little Chinais the more inventive of the two films (both of which qualify for the adjective), with phenomenal practical effects that rival Rob Bottin’s work in The Thing.
Related: Best Films Set in New York, Ranked

15 RoboCop (1987)

Peter Weller holding a gun in RoboCop (1987) Orion Pictures

Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop may very well be his best film, which is no small feat. At the very least, it’s a perfect merging of acute political commentary and graphic science fiction-infused violence. And, considering that violence is dispensing equally among the ludicrously cruel villains and unsuspecting innocents alike, RoboCop’s world is one that never feels safe. The mostly-dead Alex Murphy is just there to keep it from sinking in on itself.
RoboCop inspired an ongoing franchise, with major studios such as Amazon toying with the concept of a movie and TV series. That being said, Verhoeven’s original stands as the franchise’s apex by a country mile.

14 Predator (1987)

A scene from Predator (1987) 20th Century Studios

John McTiernan’s Predator works on several fronts. Most notably, as a quotable macho-man movie, it can’t be topped. But it also works as a slasher, with Arnold Schwarzenegger stepping in for the typical “Final Girl” role. It’s essentially two films, not unlike Jaws, and, also like Jaws, it’s pretty darn difficult to say which half is better. Admittedly, Predator’s latter, survival film half is more like its last third.
But, it’s a stretch of runtime that both feels like an entirely different movie and perfectly in tonal line with what’s come before. Predator is a blast from front to back, an action film where everything works, including the titular antagonist. However, it’s interesting to imagine what the film’s effect would be were the titular creature not effective. And this very nearly happened, as none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast as the more insectoid alien before it was ultimately shifted to the dreadlock-adorned, mandible monster it is now.

13 Road House (1989)

A scene from Road House (1989) United Artists

One of the 1980s’ best action movies (and also one of its most warmly rewatchable), Road House is Patrick Swayze in his element. He stars as James Dalton, a good-hearted everyman who is well-known as a “cooler.”
This is someone who settles conflicts in social situations, particularly ones involving alcohol. He’s effectively a bouncer, but a bouncer with a method and a philosophy. There’s an inspiring nature to Dalton’s altruism, just as there is to his Jack Reacher-like nomadic tendencies.

12 Point Break (1991)

A scene from Point Break (1991) 20th Century Fox

The great consistency with Patrick Swayze’s action movies (including the underrated Black Dog) is a fleshed-out lead (or, in the case of Point Break and Red Dawn, co-lead). The film was also important as an early example of the fact that great female directors could turn out a successful, memorable big-budget actioner. Kathryn Bigelow was no stranger to character-driven action films, with even her cult-classic Near Dark containing elements of the genre.
Her atmospheric 1990 Jamie Lee Curtis cop movie Blue Steel, featuring a legitimately scary antagonistic performance by Ron Silver. But Point Break seems to have had more studio money and equipment behind it than both of those films combined, and Bigelow’s character-driven shoot-out-laden movie makes the most of it. This was also Keanu Reeves’ first foray into the genre, and surprisingly enough it’d be three years before he’d revisit it.

11 Die Hard (1988)

Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard (1988) 20th Century Fox

John McTiernan followed up his masterful Predator with the (somehow) even better Die Hard. To put it simply, the original Die Hard is the definitive action film. When a layman imagines an action film, with whatever star they’ve most recently seen on the cover of a DVD in the Walmart $5 bin, they’re either thinking of something that originated from Die Hard or was inspired by Die Hard.
Bruce Willis starred in several classics throughout his career, but no matter how many The Sixth Sense’s there were, he’ll always at least partially be John McClane over all else. That’s because not only is he (both McClane and Willis) the perfect everyman, but the first Die Hard is a perfect film. It’s clockwork, and thankfully it bolstered Alan Rickman’s career just as much as it did Willis’. It’s the Christmas gift that keeps on giving, “Ho ho ho.”
Related: These Are The Best Bruce Willis Movies, Ranked

10 Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 and Edward Furlong as John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Tri-Star Pictures

Many would argue that James Cameron managed to top himself with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, an action epic with a breakneck pace that makes its 137 minutes seem like a breeze. Edward Furlong’s John Connor became an overnight cinema icon, not just because of the performance the American History X actor brought to the table but also because of the quippy dynamic he shares with Schwarzenegger’s reprogrammed, protective T-800.
Speaking of reprogrammed, T2 is also notable for flipping a film’s protagonist on its head. Specifically, Sarah Connor has gone from timid former waitress bored with her life to battle-ready survivor of a nearly-immortal cyborg’s future-altering killing spree. She’s just as interesting to watch as John and the T-800, not to mention Robert Patrick’s all-time great villain the T-1000. In other words, Cameron’s sequel (like the much shorter original) doesn’t have a dull moment.

9 Hard Boiled (1992)

Chow Yun-fat in Hard Boiled (1992) Golden Princess Film Production

Quite possibly the most impressive film John Woo ever made, Hard Boiled stars Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’s Chow Yun-fat and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ Tony Leung as an inspector and undercover cop, respectively, who take on a triad. It’s one of the definitive action films, with set-piece staging that’s a cut above anything seen before or much of what’s been seen since.
It’s also loaded with Woo trademarks, e.g. slow motion, flying doves, traded barbs in the screenplay, a source of wisdom (played by Woo himself in this case)… In short, Hard Boiled is a must-see. It’s just too bad it’s hard to find in the United States; talk about a movie that would profit from a North American 4K release.

8 Under Siege (1992)

Steven Seagal in Under Siege (1992) Warner Bros.

“Die Hard on a…” became a phrase screenwriters used in their pitches throughout the late 1980s and the early ’90s. Oddly enough, one of the best results of this was a Steven Seagal movie.
Under Siege is Die Hard on a submarine, and while Seagal is his usual self, the movie is significantly bolstered by some intense action sequences. And then there are the two antagonistic performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey, which are the real reason to check it out.

7 Hard Target (1993)

Jean-Claude Van Damme in Hard Target (1993) Universal Pictures

John Woo’s first United States film was a sign of further highs he’d go on to hit, but it’s also extremely fun in its own right. The plot follows the impeccably named Chance Boudreaux, a former sailor turned drifter hired by a woman to guard her as she searches for her father. But she won’t like what she finds, considering he was just the latest target of a group of white-collar human hunters.
There’s an argument to be made that The Most Dangerous Game-inspired actioner Hard Target is Jean-Claude Van Damme’s best movie, though Bloodsport and Sudden Death have their merits. This would be fair considering it’s the only one to have him punch a snake in the face. Where’s Van Damme’s Oscar?

6 Speed (1994)

Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on a bus in Speed (1994) 20th Century Fox

The best “Die Hard on a” movie is bar none Jan de Bont’s Speed. The seasoned cinematographer (who shot John McTiernan’s 1988 classic), stepped up to director and his expertise is perpetually evident. The film isn’t just one of the 1990s’ best action movies, it’s one of 1994’s best films, period.
The filmmakers behind Speed make every moment riveting, whether the narrative is currently focusing on Annie and Jack in the bus, the cops and their useless planning, or Dennis Hopper’s bomber and his growing frustration. It’s a film with expert pacing and all-around terrific performances from Keanu Reeves, Jeff Daniels, Sandra Bullock, Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s Joe Morton, and Dennis Hopper.
Related: Keanu Reeves’s Best Action Movies, Ranked

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‘I am officially off the market’: When Margot Robbie revealed she made the ‘conscious’ decision of not dating actors

Margot Robbie revealed her decision to not date actors because of the media scrutiny that came with a public relationship of two high-profile actors
Back in 2015, A-lister Margot Robbie made a declaration that she would not be dating any actors. The actress may have alluded to her fiance Tom Ackerley, who she married the following year in 2016. In an exclusive interview with Marie Claire, she revealed that being in a relationship as an actor herself came with its own set of challenges. She believed that dating someone who was popular would add on to the media scrutiny.

Margot Robbie opened up on why she made a conscious decision to not date actorsTalking to Marie Claire, she claimed, “I am officially off the market.” She then shared the reasoning behind her decision and added, “I made a conscious decision not to date actors.” She continued to explain, “But not because I hate actors. That’s a nasty generalization to make, and that’s not the case. People take such an interest in your love life when you have a profile, it puts a lot of stress on a relationship.”
The Barbie actress continued, “So two people with profiles, I figure it’s just double the amount of scrutiny, and I’d like to avoid that at all costs.” This came after reports of her locking lips with Tarzan co-star Alexander Skarsgard started making rounds. It was reported that she was caught kissing the actor during the Sundance Film Festival.

Margot Robbie revealed she opted for a minimal lifestyle even after becoming an actorIn the interview, Robbie also opened up about how she was adapting to fame. She shared, “I have a normal 24-year-old life. If I were a waitress, I’d probably have the exact same lifestyle. I’d go to the same clubs I go to already, live in the same house with the same housemates, hang out with the same people.”
However, Margot Robbie tied the knot with Tom Ackerley who is an English producer and actor. The duo met on the sets of 2013 movie Suite Francaise where Tom was working as an assistant director. Post marriage, both of them launched their production company LuckyChap Entertainment.

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Monica Bellucci and Tin Burton at lunch in the restaurant in Selci Lama

For All Saints’ Day, the Hollywood star from Tiferno returned to his native Umbria to enjoy a moment of relaxation and then visit his parentsOn the occasion of the All Saints’ Day celebrations, the Hollywood star of Tiferno origin, Monica Bellucci, returned to her native Umbria to enjoy a moment of relaxation and to visit her father Pasquale and her mother Brunella.Flanked by her current partner Tim Burton, she went to lunch, together with about twenty old friends, at the Osteria del Musicista, which has always been her favorite restaurant, in Selci Lama.Menu dedicated to typical dishes of the area, which includes an appetizer with breadsticks lined with coppa, duck in porchetta and grilled pork livers, polenta with wild boar sauce accompanied by the very typical cappelletti in broth.To conclude, a dessert based on fried “ciaccia” with Nutella and roasted chestnuts.
Having paid the bill and greeted the restaurant owner and lifelong friend, Roberto Polchi, Monica brought home cappelletti and broth for a family dinner.

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‘Rocky’ Was Quite Different In His Original Screenplay, Sylvester Stallone Claims

Sylvester Stallone took his friend’s advice on a rewrite of the original screenplay to Rocky. A few tweaks later, he was on his way to major success.
In the new Netflix documentary Sly, Stallone discussed how he initially conceived of the project, which had a much harder edge. In the early version, Rocky was depicted as a “thuggish” character, inspired by Martin Scorsese’s crime drama, Mean Streets.

But Stallone’s perspective changed when a friend read the script and thought the boxer was too cruel for audiences to actually care about him.
Stallone recalled her crying.

“She goes, ‘I hate Rocky. I hate him. He’s cruel. He hits people. He beats them up.’”
Stallone took it to heart, and asked what he could do to soften the character.

“I said, ‘what if you stop short of it?’ Like, maybe he almost did. He could have, that’s his job, but he doesn’t?’ ‘That’d be nice,’” he added. “I said, ‘What if he had a girlfriend or something?’ ‘Yeah, that’s nice.’ So I go back, start writing that: ‘Girlfriend. Nice.’”
$117 million in box office later, a franchise was born.

Stallone also revealed that actor Dolph Lundgren sent him to the hospital during one fight scene in Rocky IV.
“Dolph Lundgren… he pulverized me,” Stallone says in the documentary. “Later that night, my heart started to swell—which happens when the heart hits the chest—and then my blood pressure went up to 260, and they thought I was going to be talking to angels. Next thing I know, I’m in intensive care, where I’m surrounded by nuns, and I thought, ‘OK, that’s curtains.’”
Stallone was in the hospital for nine days following the incident, praying for “one more round.”
“For the first minute of the fight, it is going to be a free-for-all,” Stallone told Lundgren. The Swedish actor joked in a separate interview that all he did was “obey orders,” explaining, “[Stallone] was the boss. I did what he told me.”
Doctors allegedly told Stallone that he received a blow to the ribs that made his heart rattle around in his ribcage, a condition typically seen in head-on collisions. “I did hit a bus, of sorts,” Stallone joked.

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