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Recommend some *good* action movies


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#1 of 35 Paul_Scott

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Posted February 20 2004 - 02:02 PM

i'm probably going to sound like a snob (what else is new). but the subject of the Criterion version of the Rock came up and the person asked if he should buy that or some other title.
To me, The Rock is one of the weakest action movies i've ever seen for many reasons.
yes i will agree the 'action' scenes are well choreographed and nice and glossy, but the characters and situation and patriotic posturing are so damned inane, i can't view the movie as anything but obnoxious drivel.
so then i was asked to list some of the action movies that i thought were better, so they would know where i was coming from.
i thought a few minutes and came up with this short list;

The Great Escape
Bridge On The River Kwai
The Professionals
Bite the Bullet
(really more adventure than action)
Bend Of The River ( " ")
The Train
The Bourne Identity
Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Sahara
( the Bogart version)

with the couple qualifications noted, i was pretty satisfied with this list as it represents to me movies that not only have gunplay and explosions, but also well drawn characters who behave in intelligent and believable ways (this is where The Rock fails miserably for me).

beyond these though, i had a hard time racking my brain.
especially trying to find movies that fit the term 'action' in the more contemporary meaning of the word.
a few more that i came up with were
Hard Times (not much on guns or explosions, but some rough bare knuckle brawling)
Mr Majestyk
The Guns Of Navarone


so based on the criteria of good stories having believable characters taking precedence over the explosions and mayhem, what titles would you add to a list like this?

edited to add a running list of the suggestions so far

The Dirty Dozen
The Getaway
La Femme Nikita
Leon: The Professional
The French Connection
Die Hard (1,2,3)*
Ronin
Hard Boiled
The Killer
Police Story 2: Supercop
The Road Warrior
Lethel Weapon (1,2)
Saving Private Ryan
The Fugitive
The Rock
Mad Max
The Day of the Jackal
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
The Towering Inferno
Three Days of the Condor
Marathon Man
The Parallax View
48 Hours
Rififi
From Russia With Love
Goldfinger
(most of the Bond movies as a matter of fact)
Bullitt
Where Eagles Dare
The Thomas Crown Affair (both versions)
Patton
Tora! Tora! Tora!
The Poseidon Adventure
Air Force One
The Replacement Killers
Rush Hour
Blade
Entrapment
X-Men
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Enemy at the Gate
Under Siege
The Hunt for Red October
Gettysburg
Cliffhanger
Speed
True Lies
Crimson Tide
Black Hawk Down
Cliffhanger
Demolition Man
Equilibrium
Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974)
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Mad Max
The Road Warrior
Speed
The Negotiator
Terminator
Pulp Fiction
Heat
Big Trouble in Little China
Tango & Cash
Young Guns
Total Recall
The Running Man
Silverado (good western action)
Tombstone
U-571
El Mariachi
Desperado
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
The Thing
Brotherhood of the Wolf
Rambo trilogy (the first in particular)
The Mask of Zorro
Commando
North By Northwest
Enter the Dragon
Chinese Connection
Fists of Fury
Return of the Dragon
Lawrence of Arabia
The Hunted
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Reservoir Dogs
Scorpion King
Gladiator
Gangs of New York
The Patriot
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Apocolypse Now
Full Metal Jacket
Robocop
Under Siege
The Quick and the Dead
Independence Day
Fight Club
Jurassic Park and Lost World
Braveheart
True Romance
S.W.A.T.
Spartacus
Marked For Death
The Last Boy Scout
Rob Roy


#2 of 35 Haggai

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Posted February 20 2004 - 02:15 PM

The Train, woo-hoo! I love that movie, although it's not very well known these days. I would definitely add The Dirty Dozen to the list, I love the characterizations in that movie. Sam Peckinpah's original version of The Getaway, as well, if you're willing to call it an action movie, which I think is a fair classification.

#3 of 35 Paul_Scott

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Posted February 20 2004 - 02:19 PM

both excellant choices.
the subject really came up in the context of which disc he should buy and PQ was a criteria. i've heard that the DD disc doesn't look so hot (and i think the Getaway is probably a little long in the tooth now as well).
Hopefully Warner will get around to remastering these sometime in the future.
as soon as they do, they'll be a must buy for me.

#4 of 35 Haggai

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Posted February 20 2004 - 02:21 PM

Ah, I see, PQ on DVD was part of the discussion. I don't own either of the titles I mentioned either, and will also nab them when (hopefully) they get re-done.

#5 of 35 Chris

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Posted February 20 2004 - 02:25 PM

Bourne Identity has quickly become one of my favs Posted Image I'm glad it's on your list as well.

I've always been partial to La Femme Nikita (original) and Leon, which I felt both were great suspense action flicks Posted Image
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#6 of 35 Dome Vongvises

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Posted February 20 2004 - 02:36 PM

The French Connection
- It's not exactly what you would call an action movie, but you'll be hardpressed to find something as great as the car chase and the opening sequence.

#7 of 35 Alex Spindler

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Posted February 20 2004 - 03:16 PM

You may like Ronin some as well. Based on your reaction to The Rock, I'm fairly sure you wouldn't like my other suggestions (like Hard Boiled, The Killer, or the good 80s/90s action films).

#8 of 35 Robert Anthony

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Posted February 20 2004 - 03:26 PM

I can't believe no one's mentioned "Die Hard" yet.

And while some consider it Horror, and some consider it a War movie, I've always considered "ALIENS" as an action movie.

and while we're on the subject of Cameron--gotta mention T2. Call it Sci-Fi if you want--but that's one of the purest Action movies ever made.

Hard Boiled should be mentioned, without a doubt. hell, I know people denigrate it now--but I thought Face/Off was by far his best American movie, and is a good movie in it's own right.

Oh, and "The Road Warrior" which has possibly the best stuntwork ever.

or maybe not, if you're going to take fighting into account--I know "Police Story 2: Supercop" (aka just "Supercop") is considered a Kung Fu movie, but it's really an action-fest--and Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh are doing a lot of crazy stunts aside from gunplay and whupping ass.

#9 of 35 Jim Williams

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Posted February 20 2004 - 03:34 PM

Saving Private Ryan

I just re-watched this and was blown away again.
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#10 of 35 David C Lin

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Posted February 20 2004 - 05:42 PM

Aliens. It's a sci-fi movie but action packed. Posted Image

Also, don't forget all the Indy movies. Good action movies.
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#11 of 35 Alex Spindler

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Posted February 20 2004 - 06:10 PM

I can't believe no one's mentioned "Die Hard" yet.
I have that in my stable of essential 80s and 90s movies, but his post suggests its the type of film he doesn't like ("but also well drawn characters who behave in intelligent and believable ways").

#12 of 35 Robert Anthony

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Posted February 20 2004 - 06:35 PM

I always thought that was the appeal of Die Hard at the time--the character isn't a superman, gets hurt, reacts accordingly, and while he spouts off a one liner or two, he's more human than any action hero up to that point had been. He's not trying to stop crime, or rescue treasure--he just wants his wife back. The only reason he's there in the first place is to reconcile with his estranged wife.

I don't know if "The realistic action movie" has been filmed yet, and I wouldn't call Die Hard in any way realistic, but I think McClane fits into that story just as intelligently and believably as Indy Jones fits into Raiders. I think that's a major reason the movie resonated as it did at the time, and spawned it's own sub-genre of action movie, much like Indy did in 1981.

and actually, now that I think about it, maybe instead of Hard Boiled--it's "The Killer" that should be mentioned in this thread. I haven't seen "bullet in the head" or "A Better Tomorrow" so I can't comment on those, but The Killer is actually VERY character driven.

#13 of 35 Kevin Grey

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Posted February 20 2004 - 07:18 PM

The Fugitive perhaps? The first two Lethal Weapon Films?

Considering the extreme lack of movies from the last twenty years its kind of hard to figure out your taste. Particularly since I don't think I would classify Bridge on the River Kwai or Great Escape as "action" films. There's been a lot of action movies between Raiders and Bourne Identity and while there's certainly a lot of crap there's been a lot of good ones too.

#14 of 35 Shad R

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Posted February 20 2004 - 09:31 PM

I agree. Die Hard is one of the only action movies I've ever started to ROOT for the main charector. It's very involving, cause you can relate. He's just an average joe, trying to do the best he can with what he can to stop some thieves. It's my favorite action movie. BTW, I liked Rock, and thought it had the most action you could fit into a movie.

#15 of 35 Paul_Scott

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Posted February 20 2004 - 11:28 PM

ok guys- good suggestions so far, and i'm putting 'em down.

i think what i would like to do is compile a list of what should be reference standard action movies.

what i'm proposing is for people to nominate what they think are the best representations of the genre and i will compile these and then when we get to about 50 or 60 (maybe up to 100), i'll close the nominations and then we'll figure out some way to pare the list down to about 25-30 representing the finest action films ever made.
i'm going to refrain from criticizing anyones choices at this stage because i don't want to inhibit anyone from nominating what they think is a good movie.
even though i already made a statement against The Rock, i know it's some peoples idea of a great action movie so i'll throw it on the list.
in the de-selection process i may mention it though Posted Image

keep 'em coming guys- and don't be afraid to nominate films that aren't widely known or popular
i'll be a little lenient in this phase- as long as a film contains several action set pieces, it will qualify.
it doesn't have to be wall to wall explosions.

#16 of 35 george kaplan

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Posted February 21 2004 - 12:24 AM

Well I think much more highly of the Rock than you do, so I don't know what you'll think of these, but I'd suggest the following not already mentioned:

Mad Max
The Day of the Jackal
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
The Towering Inferno
Three Days of the Condor
Marathon Man
The Parallax View
48 Hours
Rififi
From Russia With Love
Goldfinger
(most of the Bond movies as a matter of fact)
Bullitt
Where Eagles Dare
The Thomas Crown Affair (both versions)
Patton
Tora! Tora! Tora!
The Poseidon Adventure
Air Force One
The Replacement Killers
Rush Hour
Blade
Entrapment
X-Men
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Enemy at the Gate
Under Siege
The Hunt for Red October
Gettysburg
Cliffhanger
Speed
True Lies
Crimson Tide
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#17 of 35 DonMac

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Posted February 21 2004 - 01:39 AM

I would add the original The Terminator to the list because the characters of Sarah and Reese easily meet the requirement of being well-drawn characters who behave in intelligent ways in their situation. And the movie itself is just as much an Action Movie as it is a Sci-Fi Film, if not more so.

(And, despite the movie's low budget showing through time to time, I think it's much better than either sequel due to a tighter storyline and virtually no tongue-in-cheek "cutesiness")

#18 of 35 Holadem

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Posted February 21 2004 - 01:55 AM

I find the Negotiator and excellent action movie that never gest mentioned for some reason.

My top 3 are Aliens, T2 and The Matrix.

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#19 of 35 Clem

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Posted February 21 2004 - 02:01 AM

How about Pulp Fiction & Heat as a couple more.

#20 of 35 Alex Spindler

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Posted February 21 2004 - 07:43 AM

Holadem,
I'm a huge fan of The Negotiator, but I've always put it in the thriller category.

Opening up the gates, I'd add the following into the ring:
Black Hawk Down
Cliffhanger
Demolition Man
Equilibrium
Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974)
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Mad Max
The Road Warrior
Speed