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Action Movie SUBGENRES

ADVENTURE |  ALL FOR LOVE  |  ARNOLD MOVIES |  BOND  |  BUDDY  |  CHASE  |  FIGHT  |  GRRRL POWER  |  HEIST
MARTIAL ARTS  |  REVENGE  |  SUPER COP
|  SUPERHERO  |  SUPER SOLDIER

This is a huge, ongoing project that I live to work on :D  If a movie that you think should be in a category is not there,
it's probably because I haven't gotten around to re-watching it to be sure. Same thing, if you see any glaringly wrong placements
of films in categories, please email me:  ripley@actionmoviefreak.com. For a list of movies, see my Hit List.


BUDDY 

MORON #1 and MORON #2 BUDDY movies are all about the relationship between the main characters: their dynamic.  Buddies can be friends or adversaries: both can be good guys, or it can be good guy v. bad guy, bad guy v. worse guy, etc. There might be times when you're not sure which side is 'right', but that's not what matters (except to them). What matters to us, and makes it worth watching, is how they do or don't get along, often with hilarious results. Take, for example, The Rundown, it's The Rock chasing Sean William Scott, but it's a Buddy movie not a Chase movie because it's all about their dynamic. You watch because you're having fun with their relationship; doesn't matter what they're doing.


ACTION MOVIE
SUBGENRE

BUDDY


48 Hrs.

Beverly Hills Cop

TOP GUN

Heat
(1986)

Lethal Weapon

Midnight Run

LETHAL WEAPON 2

TANGO & CASH

THE LAST BOY SCOUT

LETHAL WEAPON 3

TRUE LIES

DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE

MONEY TRAIN

BROKEN ARROW

LETHAL WEAPON 4

Rush Hour

BAD BOYS

RUSH HOUR 2

2 Fast 2 Furious

HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE

BAD BOYS II

THE RUNDOWN

HOT FUZZ

RUSH HOUR 3

COP OUT

UNDISPUTED III: REDEMPTION

THE OTHER GUYS

21 JUMP STREET

THE HEAT

2 GUNS

22 JUMP STREET

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

THE NICE GUYS

 

BAD BOYS 3?

 

48 Hrs. movie poster Beverly Hills Cop movie poster Heat 1986 movie poster
Lethal Weapon 1987 movie poster Midnight Run movie poster

 

Bad Boys movie poster

Hollywood Homicide movie poster

The Rundown Movie Poster

Hot Fuzz Movie Poster

Cop Out Movie Poster

Undisputed III: Redemption movie poster

2 Guns movie poster

     

48 Hrs. (8 Dec 1982)
Eddie Murphy
was on top of the world with this movie, one of his best-loved roles, Reggie Hammond. This movie paired entertaining opposites: white cop vs. and black criminal, crappy vs. crappy, mean vs. nice. Nick Nolte was excellent as the grizzled bulldog of a beat cop who uses the unconventional method of  getting a witness/criminal out of jail to solve a case. It's great to watch Nolte get annoyed by Reggie, and Reggie turn out to be right.  They get into a fistfight but end up working well together. At first Nolte abuses Murphy, but in the end they have a grudging friendship . . . qell, as much as any cop and criminal can.

This movie also starred James Remar and Predator's "Billy" Sonny Landham. Remar stole the show as "Ganz" with an intense performance that lent credibility to the script and balanced out the comic posturing and over-the-top wise ass cracks from Reggie Hammond, keeping the intensity needed for an Action Movie (something Beverly Hills Cop needed a little more of).

Beverly Hills Cop (5 Dec 1984)
Eddie Murphy the one-man show.
This Buddy movie featured a trio. Eddie's character was so entertaining, to balance it out he was paired with two cops: Partners, but like different sides of a coin. Old vs. young, mean vs. nice, by the book vs. the risk taker. Eddie messed with both of them but earned their respect, and we so enjoyed the ride, it carried us into a sequel. Not only was Eddie funny, but Taggert and Roswood were funny together too (a Buddy movie within a Buddy movie). Eddie manages to be funny with anyone.

The show stealer in this move was Bronson Pinchot as "Serge". It's hard to steal a scene from Eddie Murphy but Pinchot even had Eddie laughing that unforgettable laugh. For me this movie is a little more Comedy than Action.

Top Gun (16 May 1986)
This movie has true staying power. Not only was it a huge success and an ejoyable ride, but it catapulted Tom's popularity into reaches unknown. If I had to pick one movie that made him who he is, this is it.  He was just that good in it.  Swagger, baby.

His relationship with his 'wing man' Goose was what the movie was all about, plus some major Camaraderie and Dominance going on with Val Kilmer's Iceman character.  Just a bunch of guys having a lot of fun, until someone gets hurt.  Directed by Tony Scott, this is an Action Movie Classic—as much as Die Hard, maybe more . . . 

Say it with me "I feel the need, the need for speed."

 

 

casino scene Burt Reynolds and Peter MacNicol in HEATHeat (13 Mar 1987)
Oh how I love this movie! But then I'm a huge Burt fan and it's classic Burt.  Just watch the opening to understand why. At first you're thinking "This guy's a jerk, what the hell Burt?" Then when you realize what 'the game' is, it's sooo like Burt the hero to take the fall to make the little guy look good (for money of course—he's nice, but he's not an idiot). Such a simple idea turned into such an endearing movie by great performances and great chemistry. How is this Action? Knockout fight scenes, plus explosions! It's a fantasy that we, the little guy, could have a cool friend like "Mex" who would make us feel like a Bad Ass. It's also a great movie about friendship and who's saving whom?

The supporting class is incredibly strong. It's almost a tie between who steals the show: Karen Young as Holly, or Peter MacNicol as Cyrus Kinnick (but it's such an endearing performance by MacNicol). That we relate to all 3 main characters is a great testament to the acting talents of all 3. Every time I watch it, I enjoy it as much as I did the first time. Plus, it's set in
Las Vegas in the pre-mega resort era, which looks very cool.

If you've never seen this movie, you have to watch and then you will know just how awful the 2015 remake Wild Card starring Jason Statham is because of the gutted script, also by William Goldman.  What the hell was he thinking? 3 fight scenes don't make a movie. 

Lethal Weapon (6 Mar 1987)
Riggs and Murtaugh. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Remember when we liked Mel Gibson? He was so entertaining to watch in this movie the story goes that Franco Zeffirelli got the idea to cast him as
Hamlet after watching the jumper scene (something that first appeared in Dirty Harry). This was an enjoyable team to watch, for more than just Mel's antics. Danny Glover's grounded sanity balanced out Mel's manic peacockery and death wish. The placement of opposites again: Young-er vs. seasoned, white vs. black, crazy vs. sane. As the series capitalized on the popularity of these two buddies, they introduced a sidekick, then a police detective (IA), girlfriend, and a wannabe son-in-law. Buddy-sploitation!

Midnight Run Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro scene in airport where DeNiro lets him make a phone call

Midnight Run (30 July 1988)
The oh-so-enjoyable-to-watch 'team' of the grimy Bounty Hunter and the "white collar" criminal. A little "Odd Couple" dynamic like water and oil. Charles Grodin is hilarious and excels at getting under Robert De Niro's skin. While they may seem far from 'buddies', it's probably the best antagonistic Buddy movie of all time. Grodin could not be more annoying, and De Niro is really short on patience and almost nothing goes his way or is easy.

Dennis Farina
steals the show with his "Moron No. 1" and "Moron No. 2" henchmen. Never had being a Bounty Hunter seemed so funny or like so much fun (then along came "Dog"). So much anger and cursing—it's awesome! It has a great extended cast as well.

Lethal Weapon 2 (17 July 1989)
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Tango & Cash (22 Dec 1989)
What a pairing! 

Women sure were happy (butt movie). "There are buddy cops, and then there are Ray Tango and Gabe Cash (Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell) They're rival L.A. policemen who have one thing in common: each thinks he is the best. And each has the commendations, battle scars, and ready supply of hilarious one-liners to prove it. Team them and they're like oil and water. But frame them for a crime, and they're like a match and kerosene."  SOURCE: Warner Bros. trailer

The Last Boy Scout (13 Dec 1991)
Another great Tony Scott movie, also underappreciated! Great Action and a lot of give and take between Bruce Willis (as Joe Cornelius Hallenbeck) and Damon Wayans. It's uniquely 'California' to me, and although it's from 1991, seems very '80s. Shane Black wrote the story (with Greg Hicks) and the script.  It's also signature Shane Black. A guy's guy type of movie ("An ex-secret service agent and a former pro football star uncover a web of intrigue and corruption in professional sports when they team up to investigate the murder of the football player's stripper girlfriend.") about the 'dirty world' of sports corruption. There are a lot of similarities with The Nice Guys.

Lethal Weapon 3 (15 May 1992)
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True Lies (15 July 1994)
The combination of Arnold and Tom Arnold was box office gold. This movie was crazy fun! Over the top in the way that only Action Movies can be.  I loved that it was partly filmed in Miami. The cast also included Jamie Lee Curtis and Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Eliza Dushku, Charlton Heston, and as the 'bad guy', Art Malik.  It was directed by James Cameron.

Die Hard With A Vengeance (19 May 1995)
Bruce Willis teams up with Samuel L. Jackson. It's fun! Jeremy Irons joins the cast as the brother of Hans Gruber from the first Die Hard. The Action is a wow all the way through. It's the chemistry between Jackson and Willis though that drives the fun. Directed by John McTiernan.

 

Money Train (22 Nov 1995)
The team of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson with Jennifer Lopez thrown in. My first tendency was to put this under the Heist subgenre but as heists go there's not much to it and they don't keep the money (well, not much). It's mainly the two of them bickering and competing for the girl.

Wesley and Woody have a great dynamic but what makes the story work is the conflict they have with Robert Blake's character, who is so easy to hate, you're really rooting for them to take the money. ALL the money. It's so compelling it's almost unrealistic that Wesley Snipes' character has the values to know it's wrong.

The two of them both want Jennifer Lopez but it's Wesley who gets her.  They're supposed to be foster brothers but that's a little too closeness. Woody should have just butted out and not made it weird, but his character is fun.

Broken Arrow (9 Feb 1996)
A Western set in modern times with nuclear weapons!  A shoot out in the desert between 'cowboys' (it even has a train scene!). A good guy and a good guy gone bad. This John Woo gem is as much fun for the Christian Slater-John Travolata dynamic as it is for the soundtrack/Spaghetti-Western feel.  Stealth bombers, nuclear weapons, helicopter crashes, etc., plus Woo's dramatic style, give this movie a creative cool despite Christian Slater's nerdiness and John Travolta's over-the-top performance. Travolta is very entertaining to watch as his character unravels [watch at right (at 1:19)].  It's boys and their toys plus Howie Long and Delroy Lindo. You can't go wrong here. It's a rush every time! 

 

Jet Li Lethal Weapon 4Lethal Weapon 4 (10 Jul 1998)
I think this movie is the best of the series thanks to Jet Li. If looks could kill, Jet Li's glaring at Mel and Danny would have disintegrated them instantly.  What a mismatch on the final fight scene. You wondered how they were going to pull this one off. Even with two against one, it was impossible to believe they could beat him.  According to Wikipedia's Trivia on the movie:  "Richard Donner asked Jet Li to slow down during action sequences because he was moving faster then the camera shutter speed, and it wasn't registering on film."

It was the first mainstream American audiences had heard of Jet Li, and what a memorable performance it was.  This article from OverthinkingIt.com makes all the observations about what's wrong with the mismatch.  It's really something when you consider Jet Li is 5 6 1/4", Mel is 5' 9 3/4", and Danny Glover is 6' 3 1/2".  It's worth watching for Jet Li alone but it's a really fun movie, period.

Rush Hour starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in car radio scene

Rush Hour (18 Sep 1998)
Brett Ratner hit  the jugular when looking for the pulse of popular culture with this pairing. The east-meets-west-and-maybe-the-best Buddy movie ever! They're both good guys, but who's in charge? That's "G-14 classified". "I don't want no partner, I don't need no partner, I ain't never gonna have no partner." Will they get along well enough in time to solve the case? ?

The cultural differences and the charisma of both actors makes this combination in casting impossible to go wrong with. We'd watch these guys mow grass. This tagline said it all: "The Fastest Hands In The East Meet The Biggest Mouth In The West."

Bad Boys (7 Apr 1995)
blurb

Rush Hour 2 (3 Aug 2001)
blurb

2 Fast 2 Furious (6 Jun 2003)
Bromance:D

A lot of guys I know don't like this movie but it's so much fun to watch, I don't know what they're complaining about. The two lead characters Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) are doing their version of Crockett and Tubbs and it's really working for me since it's filmed in Miami. As fun goes, this movie's on overload!  Just sit back and enjoy the ride, Bro.

Hollywood Homicide (13 Jun 2003)
An unexpectedly funny Action Movie. Are they Cops or are they a Realtor and a Yoga Instructor/Actor? Until they make up their minds, they're in hot water. It's got a really funny chase scene. I was surprised how funny Harrison Ford was. Josh Harnett is really good too and they have fun with stereotypes and the difference in their ages.

Dwight Yoakam (the country singer) is good as the villain. It has a huge cast of big name stars, including several as themselves, who keep turning up and keeping the pace and the entertainment level high.  The elevator scene is worth the whole movie! Loved it. If you've ever been a Realtor, worked with or for them, this could be your new favorite movie.

Bad Boys II (18 July 2003)
A Michael Bay film and all the excitement that entails. Definitely better than the first movie..

 

The Rundown (26 Sept 2003)
This movie is always fun to watch. The comedy plus the action plus the way Seann William Scott's dogged persistence bothers
Dwayne The Rock Johnson's 'by the book' "No Deals" tough guy character. It should have been a simple "rundown", but things go wrong. (We never seem to tire of the Bounty Hunter movies—maybe it's the bring 'em to justice mentality that appeals.) They tried to have fun with it in an Indiana Jones treasure sort-of way, and used Christopher Walken in a role that is classic Walken—the way only he can entertain leaving you wondering "What is he talking about?" The ending is fun as they make do and adapt to their surroundings to conquer this out-of-their element fiasco. The movie kills with some great quotes, some you can understand, some you can't, either way, you're laughing.  Arnold made a cameo and it was seen as him "passing the torch" to The Rock. We're just waiting for more action and less Disney from this Scorpion King.

Hot Fuzz (14 Feb 2007)
A hilarious action homage movie, or as Tracy Morgan put it in Cop Out: "hommidge".  Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this pair became wildly popular for Shaun of the Dead, and while we expected this movie to be entertaining, the action was surprisingly first rate.  They really captured the reasons we all love Action Movies and had fun with it as well. In the tradition of  Laurel and Hardy, and
Abbott and Costello, and the appeal of the everyman and the relationship between the two friends goes a long way to relatability and keeping the audience in stitches. These two took situational humor to explosive heights.  The contrast with the sleepy rural English village was genius.

Rush Hour 3 (10 Aug 2007)
This movie is really funny and much better than people gave it credit for. I think the first two were so good we had huge expectations.  Jackie Chan couldn't be better.  Parts of it are a little bit crazy but isn't that what we were hoping for?!
Brett Ratner delivered everything we love about these movies, so just shut up and eat your awesome. What pair could compare to these two? What a perfect mix!

Cop Out (26 Feb 2010)
Tracy Morgan in a cop movie.  You had your doubts, but he not only pulled it off, he stole the show as only he can.  Didn't see it? You missed out! (So evil but have to comment on Seann William Scott's physical condition in this movie. From Bulletproof Monk and The Rundown to this?!  His attempts at parkour-ish stuntwork were as believable as when they cut the scene just a hair late on Charlie Sheen in Major League, when you knew he SO did not make it over the wall.)

Tracy Morgan is hilarious. This movie had a lot of fun with Bruce Willis being an Action Movie hero. As a straight man, Bruce was a perfect choice. This is a movie you'll watch over and over. (I saved the "No, no, hell no"  bit as a ringtone!) Classic!

Undisputed III: Redemption (17 June 2010)
Sure this is an amazing Fight choreography movie.  As fight scenes go (and there are plenty of them), it's at the top thanks to stunt coordinator Larnell Stovall and Director Isaac Florentine, who both know and love Action, supported by a cast that is as skilled as it is buff and brawny, including the amazing Marko Zaror as a bad guy.  But while the plot centers around a group of international fighters brought together for a fighting tournament just so corrupt men can wager on them, the real story is the developing friendship between Boyka and Turbo Scott Adkins and Mykel Shannon Jenkins are great together. By the time they have to say goodbye at the end, it's almost Casablanca-ish.  "Yuri" has to let "Jacob" go back home to his children, but you just want them to stay together and tag along on their happy adventure with all that money. Much of the credit for the fun in this movie must go to Mykel who is as likable as "Jericho" aka "Turbo" as Scott as "Yuri Boyka" is cold and hard.  Can't wait for Undisputed 4.

The Other Guys (6 Aug 2010)
The unlikely duo of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg mine comedy gold out of an ordinary situation. This hilariously anti-cop movie makes fun of all the stereotypes of why people hate cops. A pair of ordinary cops is contrasted with a stereotypical cocky super duo played by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson.  It's a study in how-not-to-be-a-cop movie, and yet the central characters really are good guys, human, and likeable. 

Mark Wahlberg lets it all hang out in his 102% commitment to be funny. Guess anything less would not hold up against Will Ferrell. Wahlberg holds his own and that's saying  a lot. I think we all expected Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson to be in it more, but it was still great without them. Imagine that!

21 Jump Street (16 Mar 2012)
It captured the dynamic of their "cool kid/nerd" relationship transformation so perfectly, even the Action was funny. They made up for the strange no explosions with one spectacular one. (Creative low budget workaround!? LOL—I felt a little bit cheated but I liked them so much, I went with it.)  I would have like to see a little more interaction with the rest of the characters who were undercover in other schools (it was limited to gloating), but that's a good thing because it means I liked it so much I wanted more. They were both really good in it. Channing Tatum more so for the bewildered awakening he experienced being uncool for the first time. I expected Jonah Hill to be good (he's everyone's favorite after Super Bad) but I didn't expect Channing would be that good (like Award good!).  The brother relationship was very well written, and well acted. They came off as so in tune, you forget it isn't real.  The best scene in the film for me was when Jonah was trying to talk to a girl on the phone, and Channing came into the room and just started torturing him—love the giraffe (it was wordless and just perfect)! As a comedy team they worked as well together as any famous comedy team.  I think a lot of the credit has to go to the material as well,  but as a Buddy Action comedy, the acting was superb and they hit all the sweet spots :D!

The Heat (28 June 2013)
Sandra Bullock is funny, period. Meghan McCarthy is a comic genius; her delivery and timing are impeccable. The two of them, in this movie, play off each other in the hilarious tradition of classic Buddy (Cop) Action Movies. They introduce us to each of them and then we get to watch them clash.

McCarthy breaks the door down from the get go, but she really gathers steam halfway through the movie and becomes a one-liner semi-automatic weapon. They make the most of situational comedy, make a play on opposites, flip flop our expectations, and just let these two work on a funny script.

There are takeaways in the one liners—I love that!

2 Guns (2 Aug 2013)
Mark Wahlberg tears up the screen in 2 Guns. He was incredibly good in Pain & Gainand he does it again in this movie. No small feat next to great performances by Denzel Washington and Bill Paxton. Wise cracking his way through every situation—you've gotta love his confidence—Wahlberg steals nearly every scene.  Even though they are Super Cops, this is a Buddy movie because what makes it most enjoyable is their interaction, their camaraderie and fight for dominance.

"Come on man, ebony and ivory."
 

Each thinking the other is a criminal and both turning out to be good guys. One is a DEA Agent Robert 
"Bobby Beans" Trench (Denzel), and the other a Naval Intelligence Petty Officer Michael "Stig" Stigman (Mark). 
Read More . . .

22 Jump Street (13June 2014)
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The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (14 Aug 2015)
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The Nice Guys (20 May 2016)
Russell Crowe is a steamroller in this movie. He makes it look so easy to be that good! Ryan Gosling tries to keep up but Crowe acts circles around him and that's saying a lot. It's hard to separate the character from the acting with Gosling. Maybe that's to his credit. Is he struggling or is the character struggling, either way hilarity ensues.  It has a similar feel to The Last Boy Scout because it's a Shane Black movie, but this time he also directed (RIP Tony Scott). 

 


Action Movie SUBGENRES
ADVENTURE |  ALL FOR LOVE  |  ARNOLD MOVIES |  BOND  |  BUDDY  |  CHASE  |  FIGHT  |  GRRRL POWER  |  HEIST
MARTIAL ARTS  |  REVENGE  |  SUPER COP
|  SUPERHERO  |  SUPER SOLDIER