I've just spent a few hours watching my "Judge Dredd" DVD for the 100th? time or so. Got me wondering what stuff the best action movies are made of. Not an easy question to answer. Being most problematic is to define what defines an action movie. Many of them fits into several additional genres - be it sci-fi, cop vs. criminal, mob, horror or something else. Well, I've tried to build a top 20 without thinking too much about it, and just popping them right out of my skull. Some of them probably bends the definition of an action-movie a little bit. The list below is ordered chronologically. Here we go:
1. "A Clockwork Orange" 
Very much a sci-fi movie, but all the ultra-violence accompanied by the ultimate musical score is simply out of this world. On top of that the movie is actually even better than the book. Something that rarely happens. The language spoken is an experience in itself. "Viddi well my brothers, viddi well".
2. "Dirty Harry (1)" 
The one liners are endless: "Do you feel lucky punk?" Clint Eastwood is the toughest actor alive. Harry Callahan is the definition of tough. Andrew Robinson is also very convincing as the psycho killer Scorpio.
3. "Mad Max (1)" 
Mel Gibson's classic action trilogy. Especially the first one and the second one "The Road Warrior (1982)" are really cool. Just make sure the first one is with the original Australian dialogue instead of the dubbed American version. Stupid Americans.
4. "Star Wars V - The Empire Strikes Back (2)" 
Darth Vader is very mean. The atmosphere is dark and so is the humor. Especially between Han Solo and Princess Leia. Best of all: The rebels are on their knees and about to crash and fall. A shame it didn't happen. I've always thought that the Empire should have been victorious and Vader and Luke should have ruled it from there on. But well, if you forget about the teddy-bear movie "part VI", then you can just make up your own ending, right? :)
5. "Blade Runner" 
This one is just as well a cop vs. criminal story in the future, but everything in it is so outstandingly cool and the actors are way über cool. The story is perfect (especially in the "Director's Cut" version) and there is so many cool lines in it. "This is a test, designed to provoke an emotional response."
6. "First Blood (1)" 
The first "Rambo" movie is really great. Sylvester Stallone is convincing as the Vietnam veteran that fights against the "brain-dead" people when returning from the war. I guess the story is pretty universal and it is really a great movie. Let's just forget about the sequels, ok?
7. "Terminator (1)" 
This was a movie from back when Arnold didn't speak (except for "Fuck you, arsehole"). Just like he didn't speak too much in "Conan - The Barbarian" either. I wish it had stayed that way. Anyway the story and the action is way better than any of the sequels. I know that the effects in "Judgement Day (2)" are way better, but I never ever accepted that CSM-101 became a "good" android. Terminator 1 will always rule.
8. "Aliens (2)" 
We're on the edge of sci-fi here, but "Aliens (2)" is mostly an action movie. James Cameron guarantees high-paced action and Sigourney Weaver is always outstanding as Ripley. The only "Alien" movie that comes close to this one when you think in action terms will be "Resurrection(4)", which fails a lot in it's last 15 minutes. One line that will always stand out from "Aliens (2)" is this one: "We're Game Over, Man. We're Game Over."
9. "Predator (1)" 
A fantastic movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger. He doesn't talk too much. The story is cool. The monster is legendary. "You're an ugly motherfucker!" And well, almost everything in this movie is bloody cool. "Predator (2)" however, is one of the worst movies ever made.
10. "Lethal Weapon (1)" 
The classic cop action movie with the perfect team of 2 cops played by Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. The best thing is that all the sequels are great as well.
11. "Die Hard (1)" 
Bruce Willis as John McClane is the definition of an action figure. Against all odds he fights the impossible and survives far-out situations and ends up killing the bad guys and saving the good guys while throwing one-lines in all directions. Impressively enough the sequels are cool as well.
12. "Batman Returns (2)" 
This has always been my favourite Batman movie. Tim Burton did a fantastic job creating Gotham city and I think this 2nd Batman movie is even better than the first "Batman (1989)". I pretty much hate all other Batman movies. I am fairly certain that these two Burton masterpieces will always remain my favorites.
13. "Menace II Society" 
Really cool street action movie were we follow the 2 friends Caine and O-Dog and their violent everyday life in LA. It has to be one of the best Ghetto-Gangster movies ever made.
14. "Natural Born Killers" 
Quite a thrill when you saw it for the first time. Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis are great as Mickey and Mallory and the movie's parody on American pop culture is really cool.
15. "Judge Dredd" 
I've always loved the comic book and I think they did a fantastic job in turning it into an action movie, recreating MegaCity One and all and everything in it and around it. Sly does a great job as "Judge Dredd", and although I hate it when he takes of his helmet (just like I hated it when Darth Vader did the same thing in "Star Wars VI") I still love this movie. I simply fail to understand why they never made "part 2". There is hundreds of excellent stories to choose from in the comic books.
16. "Starship Troopers (1)" 
Paul Verhoeven is a cool director. This movie is one of his best. Freakingly great combat scenes against the arachnids and a hilarious portrait of the future with a "Beverley Hills 90210" filter on the cameras. Paul Verhoeven ensures lots of naked girls (Dina Meyer) and/or ultra-violence. It never fails. I've never seen "Starship Troopers (2)" and I don't think I ever will. Low-budget crap the rumor has it...
17. "The Matrix (1)" 
I had to go and see this movie again right after I saw it the first time. I had never seen anything like it. When I see it today I don't really like it as much. Think I've seen it too many times. But still it had such a huge impact and the story was really cool and the effects were never-seen-before. Just don't mention "parts 2" and "3". Butt-head says: "Parts 2 and 3 suck more than anything has ever sucked before".
18. "Blinkende Lygter" 
A danish action movie that you probably have to be danish to really truly enjoy and understand. One of the best danish (action) movies ever made. It is jam-packed with cool one-liners and hilarious bullshit and some nice violence and action as well. "Det ska' jeg da ha', det ska' jeg da ha'."
19. "Kill Bill (1)" 
I have some problems with Tarantino movies and I don't think he has ever made a perfect movie. Well, maybe "Reservoir Dogs" actually is pretty perfect. But anyway, "Kill Bill (1)" has tons and tons of perfectly designed violence and action, and you can't complain about being bored for many seconds. The Japanese slaughter scenes are outstanding and tops most of what has been done before. "Kill Bill (2)" is a different story so let's just forget about that one.
20. "Sin City (1)" 
Über-cool new black and white way of turning a comic book into an über-violent movie. Very cool story and excellent acting by world-class actors. "300" adopted the style but didn't quite manage to follow the quality of "Sin City", mostly because the acting and the story of "300" was weaker. I almost can't wait till "Sin City (2)" is being released!