Top 10 Action Movies of All Time – Part 2

Top 10 Action Movies of All Time – Part 2


Last time we spent five slots covering
the major action sub genres and this time we’re back rounding out our list with some
of the more important aesthetic trends. These are the rest of our picks for the top ten action films of all time,
part two. (Music) It’s pretty much impossible to talk
about action movies style especially, as far as Hollywood is concerned,
without a serious look at its Golden Age. The 80s and 90s saw the newly formed
Hollywood tentpole machine pour a never before seen energy into the creation of
ever bigger, ever crazier testosterone fueled shoot ‘ ups that launched the
increasingly muscular action star careers of Mel Gibson Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris,
Sly Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. These decades and
their seemingly insatiable taste for sweat-beaded biceps carrying
absurdly sized machine guns. Brought us the ridiculous
likes of Robocop, True Lies, Total Recall, Tango and Cash, ConAir,
Point Break, Big Trouble in Little China, Predator, First Blood, They Live, Top Gun, Running Man, Demolition Man,
The Freaking Rock, and on and on and on. But if there’s one best of the bunch,
one crowning achievement of the entire 20 year period where Hollywood’s
ammo budget rival the Army’s, God help us if it isn’t
mother (Bleep) Die Hard. (Sound)
>>Aah!>>You are done. No more table. Where are you going now?>>Next time you have a chance
to kill someone, don’t hesitate. (Sound)
>>Thanks for the advice.>>So much energy has been spent
singing the praises of what may be the most iconic film in
the Hollywood action cannon. And for good reason. The film is structurally perfect. It balances its heaviness with
its levity with grace and manages all its ballistic chaos
without ever seeming excessive. John McClane is built with bottomless
competence and an endearing vulnerability. A rare combination amongst his cohorts
in the era and then there’s the villain. Every single detail of the film
fits perfectly amidst the others, advances the action precisely and
is also communicated with perfection. Which if you saw our last install, is an important piece of subtle
praise that is rarer than gold. Awesomeness fills seats. Awesomeness is easy maintaining sense and coherence while blowing our minds with the
newest, coolest, set piece over and over. That’s enough to get you
in the history books. And if you’ve got some of the genre’s
best characters at the same time, well, you might just be Die Hard. (Sound) Hollywood wasn’t the only
national cinema going through its heyday in the 80s and 90s. Just as important and influential, and
maybe even a little bit more insane, was the appetite for action in Hong Kong. Coming in on the heels of the 70s Kung Fu
new wave that saw the Shaw Brothers and Bruce Lee launch the regional cinema
into the international spotlight. The 80s and 90s brought us Jackie Chan and
Jet Li, and Donny Yen. And Tsui Hark. And Yuen Woo-Ping. And Johnnie To, and so much more. Here we find Police Story, and
SuperCop, and City on Fire, and Tiger Cage, and A Hero Never Dies. But nobody’s work exemplified and
emblemized the egregiously violent excesses of the era like the step print
dove flying bullet ballistics of John Woo. His entire pre-Hollywood career is
a catalog of ever-improving balls to the wall ballistics and saxophone from
A Better Tomorrow to Just Heroes, Killer, and Bullet in the Head. But he really topped himself and everyone else in the entire world with his career high watermark, Hard Boiled. (Sound) Hard Boiled starts in the Tea house and
ends in the hospital. Bookending itself with two of the best,
most Hong Kongiest, most John Wooiest sequences this
side of The Killers church finale. And there’s no tea party
in between them either. The film is chock full of
Woo’s signature tropes. Our drinking, jazz listening, brooding cops who dual wield
pistols as birds flap in slow mo. Jumping from cover to unleash never
ending clips before engaging in kung-fu. And in the two cops team up
to take down bad guys plot, we just want to make sure
you all either learn or remember that Chow Yun-fat’s sax playing
hero character is named Tequila. We think that says quite a lot. (Music) In the aftermath of two decades that
saw action productions numbers crash back to earth as the various bubbles pop. It seems to us that from the ashes, three distinctive aesthetic
trends in the genre have emerged. The first seems like the simplest
outgrowth of last millenniums access. A style that leans into the humor and
insanity permitted by the increasingly bonkers conflicts that audiences
have learned to enjoy. This is the over the top action trend. Increasingly invincible heroes take on
increasingly impossible obstacles in increasingly suicidal ways. The set pieces are ever bigger, focus
is on the novel and new in stunt, and vehicle and CGI work. And there’s a progressive sense of no,
they won’t, yes, they did. Movies like Total Recall and Desperado
gave way to modern action insanity like those in the later Fast and Furious
franchise, and in Crank and in John Wick. John Woo comes to America and
makes Face Off. Robert Rodriguez gives us Sin City. We find more explicit parodies
of the decades past and films like The Expendable and Shoot Up. But as far as contemporary excess in
action is concerned, our favorite belongs to a loving send-up slash homage slash
rip off slash evolution that seems to operate on a never enough ethos from our
very own Quentin Tarantino the Kill Bills. (Music)>>Kill Bill sits at the access nexus
of all things both awesome and extra as an exploitation kung fu Samurai spaghetti
western animation revenge extravaganza. Where else but in this action epic in two
parts can you find 1 on 80 bloodbaths, chain mace duels, insanely campy
training sequences, multiple eye plucks, and one of the most badass action
heroes this side of the Pacific. Tarantino managed to funnel all of
the best parts of his signature reference everything, steal everything,
mock everything else style into a loving elevation of all the extremes
of decades past. Nearly every fight sequence
contains a new form of craziness. The choreography comes from the very best. There’s hardly a top
it doesn’t go over and that’s exactly how something
like this should be. (Music) Seemingly reacting against the absurdity
of the over-the-top trend, a perpendicular aesthetic
has also developed. Probably most familiarly
described as gritty and realistic, this kind of action film was best typified
and popularized by the Bourne Trilogy. Here, the focus moves from bigger is
better to finding the intensity in the intimate. Camera work is more likely
handheld than swooping on a crane. Heroes are more likely flawed or past
their prime or at least a little fallible. Wounds and consequences seem more dire. And knives become a renewed threat,
whereas before bazookas and fighter planes had almost
lost their danger. Here we find modern greats like Drive,
Eastern Promises, Taken, Hanna, the Elite Squad films, Collateral,
Atomic Blonde, and Man from Nowhere. Even the Bond films forever dedicated to
the sillier side of things took a detour more towards this sort of action with
the introduction of the Daniel Craig Bond. However, we think the best film inside
this category actually predates pretty much all of these. Prescient in so very many ways,
here we gotta pick Michael Mann’s Heat (Sound)
>>Go (Sound)
>>Heat has just barely enough action sequences to even
deserve consideration as an action film. Which should tell you something about
their quality that we’re picking it. There’s perhaps never been an action movie
that felt as much like a documentary once the guns came out. Only Zero Dark Thirty and
Sicario come close. Planned, choreographed, and trained
intensively be Special Forces soldiers. Never has the sound,
blocking, photography, and intensity of an action
sequence been so deeply felt. But we also think a lot of credit is due
to the exceptional acting of Kilmer, De Niro, Pacino, and Sizemore. Bringing in performances that really
exemplify the terror, adrenaline, mania, and stakes that finding
yourself in a real life, not a movie honest to god
firefight would actually bring. They are professional but not superhuman. Disciplined under pressure but not calm. You get to see them battling within
themselves to keep their emotions under control in order to function. Creating this multi-layered
nuance of a jock lynched spring coiled internal tension. Compare that to the typical action hero
who is either uber cool, roaring loudly or indicating their fear and you see why
the attention to detail really pays off. (Music) Lastly we want to look at a newer trend
that is starting to be common place enough to be worth putting a finger on. Reductively, we call this
the hyper violent action film, fitting in complicatedly
along our last two slots. Sometimes seeming to delight in
the sadism of extra gratuitous violence. Sometimes seeming to condemn it with
how uncomfortable it makes us feel. It is realistic in the sense that it looks
unflinchingly at the worst consequences of violence even though its
frequency is seriously hype. It is over the top in the quantity and
gratuity of the gore we see on screen. But the results
are diffused with humor and moral victory like you’d expect
in your typical blockbuster. Its excess is in blood and guts,
not explosions and bullets. You hear every bone crack and
that’s relatively new. Some of the best films in this
last niche are those like Oldboy, Brawl in Cell Block 99, A Prayer Before
Dawn, Bone Tomahawk, Green Room, Ichi the Killer, 13 Assassins and Super. We can trace these films roots back to
two separate, but importance influences. The transgressive sadism of dark Japanese
action that began way back with Sword of Doom, and then resurface bigger and badder
on the global stage in Battle Royale. And the extra lethal marshall arts dynamo
of newer Southeast Asian styles first breaking out in Ong-Bak. Continuing to this day
in The Night Comes For Us, and
reaching its apex in our last pick, The Raid: Redemption. (Sound)
The Raid hit action cinema like a dumptruck. Exploding on to the global scene with
a rampage ferocity of a rabid bulldog. Serving up bloodcurdlingly
vicious action nearly from go. It trades in mostly all its plot,
character, backstory, and theme for one thing and one thing only, action. And here Gareth Evans and his Indonesian
stunt team are absolutely first rate. But when all you’re doing is fighting for two hours straight you have
to be more than good at it. You have to be constantly innovating. So The Raid, sets about exploring
all the different ways to hurt. Hardly shying away from the blood
drenched corp reality of it all but to turn to the next murder. And come climax time when it’s time
to turn things up yet another notch, the pain and maiming these ruthless men inflict upon
each other surpasses all normal decorum. And that’s what’s so special. And to some a little concern
about this new style. It reaches beyond the polite,
sanitized violence we seem to have all agreed is acceptable into
a realm usually reserved for horror. But this is action. These are modern gladiators and we’re not here to judge the moral
consequences of it all. We just picked the ones
that do what they do best, and The Raid is certainly among them. Which is why we think it’s one of
the best action films of all time. (Music) So what do you think,
disagree with any of our picks? Did we leave out any of your
favorite action flicks? Let us know in the comments below and
be sure to subscribe for more Cinefix movie lists. (Music)

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