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The 100 Greatest Action Movies on Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

John Dirk

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So, one thing I think has really been lost is building up to an action sequence in a picture. This always made the moment that much bigger and more dramtic. These days they kind of just throw the scenes at you rapid fire. It's more about sheer quantity and movement on screen than it is making the scenes meaningful. I think you can kind of feel battered by current action films because they just throw more and more at you because they think you will get bored if they don't.
That is a great point. I'd cite any of the John Wick films as perfect examples of this phenomenon. I still enjoyed them to varying degrees but the formula has definitely changed.
 

Reggie W

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That is a great point. I'd cite any of the John Wick films as perfect examples of this phenomenon. I still enjoyed them to varying degrees but the formula has definitely changed.

I think on a 2022 list there would be at least one of the Wick films on it. Actually, in the Wick pictures I think the action scenes are pretty well staged. I was thinking watching the opening action sequence in The Gray Man how poorly staged and thought out it was. One of the strengths of the Wick pictures is the people making them know how to lay out an action scene. That said, you are correct, that the films are loaded with action sequences. That is the modern action film.
 

Walter Kittel

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I'll mention a few films that probably should have made the list (even in 2003), if we are just discussing action and how well it is executed in the feature (not necessarily a better film)...

The Mummy (1999) - A fun summer adventure film that is not without its charms. Plenty of adventure and action in this feature. Not a great film, but just a fun time and feels like a throwback feature in some ways.

Time and Tide (2000) - A superior Tsui Hark film that features non-stop action and is worth being considered in the same context as the two John Woo films featured in the list. In a word - kinetic.

Cliffhanger (1993) - Really surprised that this didn't make the list. It features some great stunt work and has more well choreographed action than probably at least half the films in the list. One of the biggest omissions that comes to mind, for me.


I think the first John Wick film is the best of the franchise and would agree that the action sequences are well staged. This isn't surprising when you look at the background of the director.

- Walter.
 

Reggie W

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I would add
Remo Williams
To Live And Die In L.A.
The Lives Of A Bengal Lancer
The Three Musketeers / The Four Musketeers
(Richard Lester versions)
The Mark Of Zorro
The Adventures Of Robin Hood


Only on DVD (so far)
Captain Blood
Gunga Din
They Died With Their Boots On
The Charge Of The Light Brigade
Scaramouche

I am guessing a bunch of these may not have been available on DVD in February of 2003. Pretty certain it took a long time before To Live and Die in LA came out on DVD. I could be wrong though. It was a film I had on VHS when it first came out. Then DVD and of course, now Blu-ray. It does have a car chase to rival The French Connection car chase.
 

Worth

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There are a few I can think of:

-Crank
-Where Eagles Dare
-The Driver
-Fear is the Key
-Blue Thunder
-Face/Off
-Le Marginal
-Nighthawks

And I'd throw in the last few Mission Impossible movies, as well.
 

John Dirk

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There are a few I can think of:

-Crank
-Where Eagles Dare
-The Driver
-Fear is the Key
-Blue Thunder
-Face/Off
-Le Marginal
-Nighthawks

And I'd throw in the last few Mission Impossible movies, as well.
Forgot about this one. One of the "hits" in the hit & miss catalog of Nicholas Cage, courtesy of John Woo.
 

Alan Tully

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I think the choice could be a bit too wide ranging for the description "Action Movie". I mean, where's, The Rock, Con-Air or Bad Boys 2 & probably a dozen others. I wouldn't include westerns or epics, & any list that has The Wild Bunch in at 97 out of a hundred, well there's something wrong there (unless it's in a top 100 family films list:))
 

JoshZ

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any list that has The Wild Bunch in at 97 out of a hundred, well there's something wrong there (unless it's in a top 100 family films list:))

Considering that the list is alphabetical, I expect that it would be really hard to come up with 96 other action movies with titles beginning W-Z.
 

uncledougie

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Watched The Gray Man this past weekend. Just another mundane, lowest common denominator action flick with nonstop mayhem and expensive (if not always convincing) CGI. Very tiresome, nothing wrong with the performances, but aimed at the attention span of a five year old. It doesn’t hold a candle to classics like Bullitt or The French Connection, which had actual story lines, took breathers for actors to, you know, act, and offered chase scenes done by actual drivers on real streets and highways.
And I agree, some of the films included (Ben-Hur, Spartacus, Patton, Lawrence of Arabia) show a broader definition than would be used nowadays for “action film.”
I would suggest Speed or Ronin as later, quality examples relative to this list time frame here.
 
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Reggie W

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I think the choice could be a bit too wide ranging for the description "Action Movie". I mean, where's, The Rock, Con-Air or Bad Boys 2 & probably a dozen others. I wouldn't include westerns or epics, & any list that has The Wild Bunch in at 97 out of a hundred, well there's something wrong there (unless it's in a top 100 family films list:))

When I read the list I could tell that there was an effort made to include a wide range of action pictures from different decades of film. I kind of like this aspect of this list because it acknowledges how the action film changed over time.

The thing I really have not cross checked the list for is what were all the action films available on DVD in early 2003, because they are working off of whatever that was. However, because I was using the list for a couple reasons and to start a discussion, I thought it worked well for those purposes.

I really love the idea of looking at a list of what were considered great action pictures 20 years ago because I think the idea of action films has radically changed in that specific time frame. Far more than they changed from say the 1930s through to 1980.

In the years between 2002 and 2022 they took the phrase "cut to the chase" very literally. I mean basically what you get now is very brief dialogue scenes that then cut to the action sequences with zero build-up or any thought to pacing. Quite honestly modern filmmaking hates character development. Just get to the chase, the fight, the explosions as quickly and as often as possible.

There is no feeling that these scenes matter or are a big deal because a modern audience is trained to expect the next one just seconds after the last one.

I'll pull out some quotes on the films that seem to stick out on the list, like Lawrence of Arabia.
 

Reggie W

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There are a few I can think of:

-Crank
-Where Eagles Dare
-The Driver
-Fear is the Key
-Blue Thunder
-Face/Off
-Le Marginal
-Nighthawks

And I'd throw in the last few Mission Impossible movies, as well.

Nighthawks did make the list I posted. Love The Driver and Where Eagles Dare. I would include The Driver in the greatest action pictures of all time.

I have seen Face/Off on a number of best action lists. I have been looking at lists of Best Action Movies that were made more recently and interestingly, Face/Off does get lot of love. I confess, I have not seen it. I guess I should fix that.
 

Reggie W

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Baby Driver.. baby.

One of the things I like about Baby Driver, it was influenced by Walter Hill's The Driver. I would take Hill's film over Baby Driver any day (Baby Driver as a title kind of implies what it is, ha) but Baby Driver is a lot of fun.
 

Walter Kittel

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In the years between 2002 and 2022 they took the phrase "cut to the chase" very literally. I mean basically what you get now is very brief dialogue scenes that then cut to the action sequences with zero build-up or any thought to pacing. Quite honestly modern filmmaking hates character development. Just get to the chase, the fight, the explosions as quickly and as often as possible.

I've watched my fair share of action cinema over the years and I think the phenomena discussed in the quote has always been there to one degree or another. I believe what has happened is that the reliance on action as opposed to stronger character development used to be more the province of low budget 'drive-in' style films and that approach migrated to larger budgeted features as the nature of cinema changed over the past few decades.

Having said that though, there are still action oriented features that do establish character and story threads without just 'jumping into' the action. In particular the films of Christopher Nolan come to mind - Inception, the Dark Knight series, Interstellar, and Dunkirk. Others that (for me) fit that bill include: Open Range, Layer Cake, Collateral, Eastern Promises, The Last Samurai, The Revenant, Logan, Inglourious Basterds, The Equalizer, Tai Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War, and Man On Fire. Generally speaking these films have strong creative talent helming them. In some cases, there may be an opening action 'stinger' but then the film settles down and tells the story. (A technique that I tend to associate with some of Spielberg's films.)

- Walter.
 

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