No matter how unrealistic they may seem, action films have been a staple of the silver screen for decades. Car chases, explosions and countless rounds of seemingly limitless ammo. Some of the biggest actors and actresses have come from the action genre. We take a look at some of the best, and some of the most violent!

First Blood (Rambo)


One of a handful of films that solidified Stallone’s place in the history books, First Blood, more commonly known as Rambo 1 is the first entry into the four part Rambo franchise that culminated in 2008 with the self-titled finale. The story follows the titular character of John Rambo as he returns home to the USA after the Vietnam War. Struggling to adjust to regular life for almost a decade, he stumbles across a cruel, tyrannical sheriff who sets his targets on Rambo. Pursued into the mountains, he must use his combat skills to survive. The film has grossed an incredible $125.2 million off the back of its $15 million dollar budget.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

No doubt one of the biggest films of Arnie’s career, and certainly one of the biggest of the nineties, James Cameron’s colossal blockbuster earned an eye watering $519.8 million at the box office, and featured the acting talents of Linda Hamilton and Robert Patrick. The film is considered one of the greatest films of all time, and received accolades for Best Sound Editing, Best Makeup, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. The film is also a rare occurrence of a sequel completely surpassing it’s original in both reception, and gross.

John Wick


A surprise success, John Wick’s success lies in its simplicity. A straight forward tale of violent revenge, the story follows the retired assassin John Wick as he hunts down the criminals who broke into his home, stole his car and left him for dead. The film was highly praised for its stylized visuals, gritty action scenes and well-choreographed action sequences. A sequel was released in 2017, reuniting leading man Keanu Reeves with his Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne.

Kill Bill

One of Quentin Tarantino’s biggest and most impressive feats, the two part martial arts extravaganza starred Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu and David Carradine. Thurman stars as “The Bride”, who vows to get revenge on a group of trained assassins and their boss after they tried to murder her and her unborn child. The film combined heavy nods to eastern cinema and martial arts films, along with gritty western elements and grindhouse films. The score to the film was equally as successful, with many instrumental tracks from infamous Japanese guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei feature heavily. After the success of the film, the main theme used “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” was featured countless times in adverts and events.

The Matrix

Taking the template for action films and completely turning it on its head, the Matrix was only the third project by the now infamous Wachowski siblings. The film, released in 1999 influenced many films and action sequences that followed, combining high end special effects with carefully choreographed martial arts and a strong, philosophically driven story line. The film featured Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving in its leads. The franchise as a whole is most famously known for popularizing the special effect referred to as “bullet time”, described as “giving the impression of detaching the time and space of a camera (or viewer) from that of its visible subject.” The film grossed an incredible $463.5 million, over 7 times its original budget and spawned 3 well received video games, including The Matrix Online, an MMORPG that was very nearly cancelled due to the market for online games being over crowded.


Part family re-union, part ode to the old days, The Expendables took every household action hero from the 70’s onwards, and put them in a high budget, high octane, testosterone fuelled rocket ride. The film starred an ensemble cast, including Sylvester Stallone, who also directed, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke and wrester Steve Austin. It also featured two uncredited cameos from superstars Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film follows a group of dangerous mercenaries who are tasked with taking down a corrupt dictator in South America, only to find that all is not as it seems.

The Raid

Indonesian sleeper hit The Raid became a cult favourite amongst action fans, making almost 10 times its minimal budget, and getting a US release featuring a new score courtesy of composers Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese. The film stars Iko Uwais as Rama, a young Special Forces operative tasked with raiding a dangerous tower block owned and controlled by a violent mob boss. The films heavy use of skilful martial arts and violence helped push it out of the underground and into the mainstream, earning it a sequel in 2014.
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