Action Movie SUBGENRES
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:
For a list of movies, see my
RUN FOR COVER!
The SUPER COP doesn't need anybody. He's a one-man army, a
wrecking ball, the solution, "your worst nightmare", "the cure",
dishing out their own brand of justice. Don’t get in their way, and
don’t piss them off. The law might be holding them back, but there’s
no slowing them down. Nothing stands between them and you if you
mess with their partner, or their family. They’re coming for you,
and they’re coming hard. It’s all about how much stuff will be
smashed or blown up along the way, and how much trash they’ll
talk getting there.
Running on intuition and
adrenaline, they’ll hunt you down and throw everything they’ve got
at you. If they run out of weapons or ammo, they’ll improvise with
anything they can make or find. In the end, they’re usually stronger
and faster, or they just plain outsmart you, all to the delight of
the Action Movie Freak. Freak. They bring the smackdown!
"You just killed a helicopter with a car!"
"I was out of bullets."
NYPD Senior Lt. Detective John McClane
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
CODE OF SILENCE
TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.
ABOVE THE LAW
HARD TO KILL
DIE HARD 2
MARKED FOR DEATH
OUT FOR JUSTICE
ON DEADLY GROUND
CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER
LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD
SINNERS AND SAINTS
(9 Oct 1971)
"Never trust anyone."
Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle
Watching the movie in retrospect, it seems callous. According to
Wikipedia, in "2005, the film was selected for preservation in the
National Film Registry
Library of Congress
as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Often credited with the best car chase in Action Movie history,
it certainly was ahead of its time. It's hard to believe a cop could
be so reckless in that decade, the chase is that crazy. Of
course, the guy just tried to kill him! Still he's a cop, and public
safety and all that . . . Most surprisingly Doyle uses the "N"
word! There's a big difference between the racism in this movie and
Dirty Harry. In Dirty Harry they just
joke about it, in this movie, it seems entrenched. As an "Action"
Movie, I would give it the most points for influence. Gene
Hackman is good in it, and it supposedly 'made' his career and
that of the Director, William Friedkin
(best known for The Exorcist). It won a lot of Academy
Awards. It was the first R-rated movie to win Best Picture. It also
won Best Director, Best Actor, Best Writing (Adaptation). I would
say Doyle's methods are questionable, and he's definitely reckless
and out of control. Considering that, the damage seems minimal.
(23 Dec 1971)
"Nothing wrong with
shooting, as long as the right people get shot."
Inspector "Dirty Harry" Callahan
The big gun! How crazy it seemed at the time that he was using this
one-shot-takes-em-down cannon, the .44 Magnum. When they
switched to the Magnum rifle on the rooftop you almost felt sorry
for the serial killer. It was as if they were just having fun
picking off the bad guy like he was a duck target in an arcade
shooting range. That's the whole point of the movie though, that
scum should be taken out like targets. The big question is whose
method works best, Harry's or the Department's? Well, you can
tell by the title to the movie what that answer is. The whole time
you're on Harry's side and when he tosses his badge at the end, you
sympathize with a man trying to do what's right being hamstringed by
the system. It's all Clint all the time, talking the talk and
walking the walk.
Read More . .
Silence (3 May 1985)
"If I want your opinion, I’ll beat it out of
Who hasn't seen and loved this movie? I watched it again at
What stays with me is that AWESOME moment when Chuck Norris blows
that guy off the tower! So unexpected. So cool and funny in that
sick way that only Action Movie violence satisfies. The best!
(That Robocop-type machine he used was also ahead of its
time.) At Actionfest 2010, Mr. Norris said the stunt he is most
proud of is from this movie where he jumps off the top of a moving
train into the Chicago River.
YouTube Channel KillCount video
for this screencapture.)
To Live and Die in L.A. Trailer
Live and Die in L.A. (1
gonna bag Masters, and I don't give a shit how I do it."
Treasury Agent Richard Chance
This movie was about 5 times hotter than you expected: The action,
the sex, the crime, the violence, the criminals, and the cops!
Call the fire department,
William Petersen is ablaze!
The movie's counterfeiting operation and criminal subculture of L.A.
was another revealing look at the underbelly of tinseltown, but it
was unique because of how the hero was killed: blown away, so
abruptly, so completely by a shotgun to the face. We'd never seen
that before. After the initial ride to the top, the plot was like a
runaway rollercoaster picking up speed. The car chase was, and still
is when you watch it today, REALLY INTENSE. A credit to William
in particular (and of course the behind-the-scenes people who made
the face he gave the effort so convincing). Petersen's
performance is framed by an excellent supporting cast, all serving
to focus your attention more intently on him. His character
smolders and struts and lives life on the edge. You couldn't help
but wonder from the title what the movie would say about life and
death, but you never expected the 'good' guy to die. It really
slammed home the stakes. I couldn't help but think he acted like a
guy who was high on cocaine or if he were beefier, 'roided up, but
Petersen's character got his kicks in other ways. The best moment to
explain him is when his 'girlfriend' (I'm being nice)/informant
tells him to jump off a bridge but you already saw that's what he
does for fun. Where else is there to go for this guy?
The next best indicator for me was the effort he put into whacking
the briefcase open. How Petersen wasn't injured, I don't know. I bet
his shoulder joint was sore as hell the next day. Each time I
watch the movie I think there is some code to the timeline fonts
that appear on screen, but I've yet to crack it. Intense and
fascinating with a creative, unique, and enduring score by Wang
Chung, To Live and Die in L.A. never gets old. (This
validates everything I said: Try watching that without saying "wow"
at the end. Love that feeling when you know you 'get it'. Sooo
glad they didn't use the stupid happy alternate ending!)
"You’re a disease
and I’m the cure."
Lt. Marion "Cobra" Cobretti
Cobra is to
as Commando is to
Stallone hits crime hard in this macho opus and shoots the shit
out of everything. (The script was written by Stallone
based on the novel "Fair Game" by Paula Gossling.) If you love
Stallone, you gotta love Cobra. Part of it has to be the voice.
As distinct as Arnold's way of speaking but more discernable.
Stallone knows what action audiences want and he delivers in
writing, acting, directing, and looking good in jeans . . .
(sure hope the safety's on).
This is one of the 1980s cop movies where the good guy has a
hard time doing his job, is on the right track when no one else
is, and works for a Department Head/Police Chief who is a dick.
It got the the point where it became comical when they would
introduce the screaming Dept. Chief in these movies. Cobra has
incredible car chases, and if you've ever wanted to stand up in
the back of a moving pick-up truck and mow down a motorcycle
gang with a machine gun, this movie's for you! Did I mention
Stallone actually gets thrown out of a moving truck? Well, it's
more like a jump and roll, but you go Bad Ass! Brian
Thompson as the "Night Slasher" does a really good job of
making you hate him.
Robocop (17 July 1987)
"Dead or alive,
you’re coming with me."
Officer Alex J. Murphy | "Robocop"
This movie always makes me feel
like a kid again. It's part of why we love The Terminator:
that robot-as-a-pet feeling. We would love to have a robot to make
it do what we wanted, and Robocop is a super-sized cyborg version of
that. The back story is really touching and can be credited to
Peter Weller's performance. So much of it is in his voice and his
face (without the helmet). The bad guys are so bad, you're
just itching for them to be blown away.
This movie is fun every time you
Above The Law
(22 Apr 1988)
"This maniac should be wearing a number, not a badge!"
Detective Nico Toscani
Steven Seagal is large and
in charge in this movie. With
Pam Grier as his partner,
he is all over the drug dealers like stink on shit. I kind of
love the intro. of this movie—lends a bit of mythology to his
character, something too often missing from today's Bad Ass
characters. Sharon Stone plays his wife and
Henry Silva is intense and
sinister as the villian (he was also in Code of Silence
and Sharky's Machine). The voices of Ron Dean and
Joseph Kasola will be familiar to fans of Andrew Davis
and The Fugitive. In this movie, The CIA is 'above the
law', nothing's changed. P.S. Don't tell Toscani he'll "never be
There's lots of Action here: Many
gunfights, falls from a height, riding on the top of a
car, almost driving out a high floor on a parking garage,
violence in a church, torture scenes. Seagal does a lot of
running in this movie, but he doesn't break as many bones, nor
do as much trash talking as expected.
"Whenever you have a group of
individuals who are beyond any investigation, who can manipulate
the press, judges, members of our Congress, you're always going
to have, within our government, those who are above the law."
Drinking Game: Whenever they
say "Mother Fucker" or "Nico". Look for
Michael Rooker (you know,
the blue guy from GOTG) as a wiseass at the bar.
This would be a very different movie if it
wasn't Seagal. But it is, who else could it be? There's no one
Spike's "Top Seven Awesome Things You
Didn't Know About Steven Seagal"
(15 July 1988)
Officer John McClane
What a great series! The first is
the best and features probably
everyone's favorite action movie quote. John McClane's cowboy
cop antics during his cat and mouse with the 'Euro trash' personify
the American Hero spirit: "We're Americans and we don't take no
shit". The off-duty cop who's never off duty. It's partly a
Buddy movie in that we get emotionally invested in whether John
McClane will meet
Reginald VelJohnson's character Sgt. Al Powell (Powell helps
McClane out and talks him through the rough patches) and we root for
them to meet when it's over. Plus, it leaves you all warm and fuzzy
imagining they will be buddies and invite each other's families over
for backyard barbeques with Twinkies, but it's McClane all by
himself in that tower. He's determined, resourceful, and recklessly
fearless. At times you wonder whether he just believes in himself
that completely, or whether he's just going for it, living in the
moment and making it up as he goes along. The main reason we like
this character so much is that he's the average man, and that makes
us all feel like we could be heroes if we were in his shoes (or bare
Hard to Kill
(9 Feb 1990)
"Come and get
Die Hard 2
(4 July 1990)
LAPD Lt. John McClane
(14 Sept 1990)
(28 Sept 1990)
"I come in peace."
"And you go in pieces."
Marked For Death
(5 Oct 1990)
"Put your hands
where I can see 'em or I'm gonna blow your head off."
John Hatcher, DEA
Violence! You remember: the Jamaicans and
the jewelry store scene . . . all old-school Action and plenty
of it. Every kind of weapon, awesome chase. Never gets old!
(12 Apr 1991)
"Let me do it my
way. Just give me an unmarked and a shotgun."
NYPD Det. Gino Felino
How Action Movie Freaks love this movie. We can't get enough of
Steven Seagal fucking
everybody up. From the credits when he throws a pimp through a
windshield, to the end when he shoots the bad guy that he's
already just killed, he's the definition of large and in charge.
Everywhere he goes he leaves a trail of missing teeth, broken
bones, injuries, and deaths. It doesn't matter how many
men are in the room or what kind of weapons they have. He's
strutting in and he's strutting out. Before you can manage a
snappy comeback, not only has he insulted you, but it's likely
you're headed for the emergency room. A one-man wrecking
machine, it never gets old because even though he takes the
occasional hit, he's one up, in y our facing, and making it look
easy. All that Aikido training has him using the bad guys'
own momentum against them. It's so much fun to watch.
(5 June 1992)
(6 Nov 1992)
"Always bet on
This movie keeps it simple and gets it right.
Wesley Snipes is great in
this. They set it up well, and then he plays a total Bad Ass (it
launched his Action Movie career). This was Elizabeth
Hurley's first big movie, and although her role was small,
it was impactful. Everyone in it is good, especially the bad
guy, Bruce Payne, which makes it all the more satisfying
when he finally gets taken down.
The set up is interesting, and there's
lots of tension—I
think the script is underrated because the movie is typical
cheesy Action fun and the pace is good. Looking back at
it, it's a little short (1 hr. 24 min.) and I wish it were
longer. I think it would have been more appreciated because we'd
have been more invested. If it wasn't for Wesley, though,
the movie would not be as popular. Every Action Movie Freak
knows this movie. What makes it so enjoyable is watching
Wesley literally kick the crap out of everyone.
(8 Oct 1993)
On Deadly Ground
(18 Feb 1994)
(16 Sep 1994)
Clear and Present Danger
(3 Aug 1994)
(10 June 1994)
(30 June 1995)
"I AM THE
WIth a star studded cast, this over-the-top Action Movie classic
is always fun to watch. Sylvester Stallone snears, shouts, and
struts in spandex: confident, charismatic, and codpiece-y.
Along for the ride are Armand Assante, Rob Schneider, Jurgen
Prochnow, Max von Sydow, Diane Lane, Joan Chen, and James
Oh how we miss movies like these (like Blade Runner, Escape
from New York, Robocop, Total Recall) that portray a
dystopian future in incredible detail and with a creative flair
from wardrobe to weaponry, often exaggerating current issues
with hilarious results (like requiring full-body xrays at
security checkpoints—considered so ridiculous when Total Recall
aired in 1990, and now commonplace in airports.)
(2 April 2004)
tail-lights fixed, sir."
"What's wrong with my tail-lights?"
[smashes the taillights with a
2x4] "They're broken."
Sheriff Chris Vaughn
Live Free or Die Hard
(27 June 2007)
"You’re gonna tell me what I wanna
know, or I’m gonna beat you to death in your own house."
NYPD Detective Officer
Sinners and Saints
"I'd be pretty fucking concerned
with what I'm capable of."
Detective Sean Riley
What a great movie! Part II
is on the way. Read
my review from ActionFest 2012.
If you loved the gun battle in the street in Heat (1995),
this is a must-watch.