Looking for films that kick ass? Need to fill your eyeballs with explosions, gunfights, and kung fu? Look no further. Have I got a list for you...
10. A Fistful of Dollars
The Man With No Name wanders into a town that bears a passing resemblence to Capua, where two warring families struggle for supremacy. By the end, only Clint Eastwood and bullet riddled bodies are left.
James Cameron transfers the Alien series from horror to the action genre in this breathless entry. Ripley, conned into joining an expedition of cocky, can-do Space Marines, heads back to the planet were it all started. Bad move. Needless to say everything goes horribly, horribly wrong--for them, resulting in an entertaining thrill ride for us. Vietnam meets Jaws in space. Ewoks done right, with lots of teeth. They'd have made more sense if they were like the little blue guys in Galaxy Quest.
8. The Matrix
Known for Keanu Reeves kick-boxing with cascading code while defying gravity and wearing sunglasses. The alternative lifestyle set rebels against our New Machine Overlords in the far, far future, and more importantly look stylish doing it. Competing priorities. Still knocks socks off, with Neo representing faith and Agent Smith cynical, nihilistic intellect. Like Aliens, does double duty as a top sci-fi flick.
7. From Russia with Love
Stylish with a side serving of ruthlessness. 007's second outing is one of his best; the stunts are at the limit of believability but not yet outside of it. Take that, Moonraker! The classic train fight sequence started a trend and has become a Bond staple. Revisited multiple times over the years, for good reason, this one's still the best. Robert Shaw sizzles as the cold blooded psychopathic killer Grant, and Krebs is disturbingly creepy for a former ballerina.
6. Lethal Weapon
Mel Gibson playing batty before he went batty, the film portends what is to come with maniacal glee. Crazy Cop joins Weary Cop a week before Weary Cop is going to retire, and they get caught up in cocaine coated Shizz. Or something like that. Began a series of buddy movies that lasted through the nineties. Still one of the best. Busey (playing batty while already batty) and Gibson go mano a mano in an intimate kick boxing climax atop a lawn sprinkler.
5. Kill Bill Vol. 1
Uma Thurman dices her way through this flip, hip, blood spurting revenge flick. More limbs are lopped off in this film than in any other, including Lord of the Rings. The Bride would make mince meat out of Aragorn. Tarantino merges music, violence, and snappy quips into the coolest, hippest of action pics. A stylish music video with a story.
4. The Road Warrior
Mel Gibson does Clint Eastwood: he wears one expression for the entire film, which is harder than it looks without Botox. He's super serious Melwood, and it's easy to understand why, given the setting: a road trip across the wastelands of post-apocalyptic Australia in search of gas. I'd frown too. Made the leather, hockey padding, and mohawk look cool, and spawned a series of cheap knock-offs that just made the art direction in the original all the more impressive. A classic.
3. The Bourne Identity
Quick cut fight scenes and a deadly amnesiac hero puzzling together the mystery of his past make this a must see. Matt Damon does bewildered so well you'd think it was Keanu Reeves. Updates the Bond formula for the 21st Century with hand held cameras and a European aesthetic.
2. Die Hard
Bruce Willis faces off against the diabolical Alan Rickman in Ten Little Terrorists in an Office Tower. Poor terrorists seize a building only to find an unkillable Monster Cop lurking in the air ducts, waiting to pick them off one by one. They say an action film is only as good as its villain, and Rickman is the best as he leads his group of doomed Eurotrash terrorists against the unstoppable but casual, barefoot Willis.
1. Raiders of the Lost Arc
A return to the cheap serials of the Thirties, only this time with a big budget, great effects, and real locations, all set to a magnificent musical score. Harrison Ford rocks as the affable action-hero professor criss-crossing the globe in search of lost artifacts. Made archeology seem exciting; a pulse-pounding occupation filled with danger, poisonous spiders, deadly tombs, murderous Nazis, and ghosts. Probably raised their insurance rates, too. Certainly put me off it as a career option.
Honorable Mentions: The Bourne Ultimatum, Last of the Mohicans, Goldfinger, Romancing the Stone, The Raid: Redemption, District 13.