‘I will die on this hill’: Guardian readers share their favorite action movies | Action and adventure movies

The Bourne Identity

The first movie in the series is a masterpiece of story, action and – seldom acknowledged – a perfect soundtrack. The editing is immaculate, while the screenplay stays on the right side of rational. The pacing is driven by sequences of calm exposition, allowing the subsequent action to be heightened. love it.

Fight sequences were so well executed they redefined Bond, while the Paris car chase remains iconic – check out how it ends. The film stands repeated watching, the casting is excellent, and flash across Europe in a manner that sets up a fantastic denouement. Difficult to maintain the same value in its sequels, but this first outing is a stone cold classic. tommyscot


Taking the outline of Kurosawa’s Stray Dog, the recovery of a handgun, PTU takes place in a tourist district in Hong Kong, spanning one night when all the shops are closed and all the familiar streets are eerily silent and empty. There are the usual violent scenes, as well as a marvelous comical scene involving mobile phones near the beginning of the film. PTU is a lyrical noir of the highest order. abkquan

Mad Max: Fury Road

Totally bonkers action from start to finish that lets you come up for air, briefly, before turning around and ploughing straight back into it again. rednaught

Max Mad: totally bonkers?
Max Mad: totally bonkers? Photograph: Village Roadshow/Kobal/Shutterstock

In terms of purest adrenaline-inducing action, Mad Max Fury Road was the movie that most left me gasping “WTF was that?!” like I had just been through a Nasa G-force simulator. BenCaute

Mad Max: Fury Road is surely the best action movie of the last decade, if not the century so far. I notice a dearth of entries from the last 20 years or so. Deuce03

Hard Target

John Woo doing all his best slow motion pigeon action. Jean-Claude Van Damme kicking lots of dudes. Wilford Brimley as an action hero. Lance Henriksen in ham-tastic villain fashion. Plus, it’s a really good take on the “rich people pay to hunt poor people” trope.

I don’t think it’s the best action movie of all time, but I do think it’s one of the best action movies of all time. UnstoppableSteve


I feel like Predator deserves a mention, for the way in which it rather slyly subverts action movies. It starts with a bunch of comically over-the-top, testosterone-oozing action heroes doing their thing and effortlessly wiping out a whole village; then the writer effectively says to the characters “OK, now let’s see how you like being on the receiving end of that”; from then on, the heroes take on the roles of the bad guys being taken out, one by one, by the alien, who is playing the role of the honorable but unstoppable action-movie guerrilla-hero. (Note, for example, the way it never shoots anyone who isn’t armed, and removes all of its armor and weaponry to duel Arnie hand to hand.) Shasarak

I know this is subjective, but I have to point out objectively the best action movie ever made is Predator. I am not an Arnie fan, it took me nearly 20 years to actually understand “the devil who makes trophies of men” line, you can see Dutch’s arm. None of this matters, Predator is the best action movie ever made. I will die on this hill. cairnofmediocrity

Predator, which I consider science-fiction first, is also an action film, and a mighty one at that. Every scene flows like a musical ensemble. You can mute the film and still be glued to what is transpiring. Rishi8413

Arnie gives one of his best performances, accompanied by a stellar cast, up against a worthy opponent. It also boasts a terrific score by Alan Silvestri, and some memorable dialogue thanks to Shane Black. sagarmatha1953

First Blood

Saw it in the cinema for the first time the other month and it’s nigh on perfect. Under 90 minutes long with perfect pacing, excellent set pieces and a lot more soul than most in the genre. dondi

'First Blood may even be one of the best Vietnam movies.'
‘First Blood may even be one of the best Vietnam movies.’ Photograph: ScreenProd/Photononstop/Alamy

Completely surprised me when I watched it thinking it would be a dumb action movie. May even be one of the best Vietnam movies. Works as a one-man-against-the-state film, young boys sent to war film, horror film, action film, tragedy. masterpiece. AntZudan


Ryan Gosling is the unnamed Hollywood stunt/getaway car driver who falls in love with his pretty neighbour. But she has a husband, he was in jail, the bad guys want money from him, so he needs a getaway driver for this robbery he is forced to do.

Fantastic action, a cool, nameless hero that almost never speaks and is extremely competent in one thing, great car chases, great villains. Iwan_Karamasow

District 13

It’s almost constant action with no CGI and it introduced “parkour” to the world. It also has a great soundtrack – and it even has a social message (which while important can be safely ignored as it’s not even vaguely intrusive). Troy_McClure

Cop Secret

Made on a shoestring by an ex-international footballer and his buddies, it’s a throwback to 1980s buddy-cop action movies: fast cars, explosions, fist fights, martial arts fights, gun fights, horribly scarred supermodels – you name it, all on the mean streets of – ummmm – Reykjavik. MikeRichards

Seven Samurai

Great excitement, great set pieces, great moral storytelling, and you can still see its influences decades later in LOTR and Mad Max, so it’s pretty hard to deny its quality and significance. Was it the first “modern” action movie? People will argue that, but if I had to choose just one, this would be it. Caligula McNutt

Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai.
Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai. Photograph: AF archive/Alamy

Leave aside the inspiration from and for westerns, or the art-house nature of Kurosawa; the second half is just brilliantly made, flat out action. samphid


I would argue this is the last great Hollywood action movie. Mark Wahlberg in his true pomp, a fantastic support actor in Michael Peña and a great villain in Danny Glover. The sniper scene near the end is amazing where Mark appears dressed as a yeti or extra from an ‘NSync music video. Robldn

The Long Kiss Goodnight

Beautifully filmed non-CGI action scenes. An actual plot. Geena Davis in (sort of) two different roles. Samuel L Jackson. Brian Cox and Patrick Malahide. A kid who is genuinely ending rather than cute and some killer and very funny lines. The complete antidote to the sexism of Die Hard but just a great film. aakoqon

True Lies

Great action. Is using a Harrier jump jet too excessive? Nah. Arnie under the truth drug telling the bad guy what he’s going to do to him, then doing it. Nice romcom elements as well. Malinowski

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