action movie freak    

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 Hit List.




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 his own brand of justice. Don't get in his way, and don't piss him off. The law might be holding him back, but there's no slowing him down. Nothing stands between him and you if you mess with his partner, or his family. He's coming for you, and he's coming hard (no jokes please).  It's all about how much stuff will be smashed or blown up along the way, and how much trash he'll talk getting there.

Running on intuition and adrenaline, he'll hunt you down and throw everything he's got at you. If he runs out of weapons or ammo, he'll improvise with anything he can make or find. In the end, he's usually stronger and faster, or he'll just plain outsmart you—all to the delight of the Action Movie Freak.  He brings the smackdown!

"You just killed a helicopter with a car!"  
"I was out of bullets."

NYPD Senior Lt. Detective John McClane


















Demolition Man










Cobra movie poster above the law movie poster
Hard to Kill movie poster Dark Angel aka I Come In Peace movie poster
Marked for Death movie poster
On Deadly Ground movie poster
live free or die hard movie poster sinners and saints movie poster

The French Connection  (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 United States'
National Film Registry by the 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 in 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. 


Clint Eastwood as Inspector Callahan points gun at serial killer in front of school bus in Dirty Harry Dirty Harry  (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 . . .

Robotic cannon from Code of Silence shoots man off the tower
Code of Silence
  (3 May 1985)

"If I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you."
Eddie Cusack

Who hasn't seen and loved this movie? I watched it again at
Actionfest 2010 honoring Chuck Norris. 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.

(Thanks to's YouTube Channel KillCount video for this screencapture.)

To Live and Die in L.A.
  (1 Nov 1985)

I'm 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 Petersen 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 clip 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!)

Sylvester Stallone as Lt. Marion Cobra Cobretti
(23 May 1986)
"You're a disease and I'm the cure." 
Lt. Marion "Cobra" Cobretti

Cobra is to
Sly as Commando is to Arnold. 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.

Peter Weller as Robocop with helmet off
  (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 watch it. 

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 the man".

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 like him:  Spike's "Top Seven Awesome Things You Didn't Know About Steven Seagal"


Die Hard  (15 July 1988)
"Yippe-ki-yay, motherfucker!"
NYPD Detective 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 feet).


Hard to Kill (9 Feb 1990)
"Come and get some."  
Mason Storm

Die Hard 2  (4 July 1990)
"You're not pissing in someone's pool are you?"
"Yeah, and I'm all out of chlorine." 

LAPD Lt. John McClane

(aka "Die Hard 2: Die Harder")  Another Christmas, another airport! John McClane can't catch a break from his cop instincts. This movie is still so satisfying every time you watch. The cast of supporting characters adds a lot to the chemistry. Now, McClaine's an L.A. cop (!) fighting a team of terrorist psychos trying to liberate a dictator headed for prison via Washington Dulles airport, where McClane places a call on a "Pacific Bell" telephone (LOL) to his wife who is due in for the holidays.  Ooops. Other funny: An old lady passenger on the 'plane brought onboard a taser.  One thing I love about McClane, the on-spot instincts. He's going to ask the right 'wrong' question, but he's ready with his weapon when he gets the 'wrong' right answer. The stakes are really high on this one, as McClane is fighting to save his wife. In the meantime, he has to put up with opposition from the local yokel Airport Police Captain played by Dennis Franz. And boy is it satisfying when he gets his comeuppance.

This movie is most remembered for the ejector seat scene. Don't think anything's topped that since for sheer Action Movie mayhem/fun.

(Loved the nod to Dragnet: "Just the [fax], Ma'am." And the liquid metal Terminator is in it! )


Death Warrant (14 Sept 1990)


Dark Angel (28 Sept 1990)
"I come in peace." "And you go in pieces." 
Jack Caine


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!

Out for Justice (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.

Patriot Games (5 June 1992)

Passenger 57 (6 Nov 1992)
"Always bet on black."
John Cutter

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.

Demolition Man (8 Oct 1993)

On Deadly Ground (18 Feb 1994)

Timecop (16 Sep 1994)

Clear and Present Danger (3 Aug 1994)

Speed (10 June 1994)

Judge Dredd  (30 June 1995)
Judge Dredd
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 Remar.

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.)

Dwayne Johnson as Sheriff Chris Vaughn with his green pick up truck from Walking TallWalking Tall  (2 April 2004)
"Get your 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 John McClane




Sinners and Saints  (2010)
"I'd be pretty fucking concerned with what I'm capable of."
NOLA Detective Sean Riley

What a great movie!  Part II is on the way.  Read my review from Action Fest 2012.  If you loved the gun battle in the street in Heat (1995), this is a must-watch.

The Gray Man  (2022)
"Gosling quote."
Character name aka "Sierra Six"

Review and link.

Action Movie SUBGENRES


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The London Action Festival  Year 2: June 21-25, 2023
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The Riddick Archive
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