This week’s Top Cat’s Top 10 showcases the top 10 greatest action movies of all time. These movies were chosen due to their influence in popular culture and their sheer amazingness.
Honorable Mentions: 300, Braveheart, Lethal Weapon, Bourne Ultimatum, Predator, The Avengers, Bloodsport.
Now Top Cat presents to you the Top 10 Greatest Action Movies of all Time:
10. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – Harrison Ford joining forces with George Lucas to star in a movie directed by Steven Spielberg sounds like a picture perfect movie correct? If you have lived underneath a rock since 1981, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark centers around Indiana Jones, an adventurer and world renown archeologist is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Hitler and the Nazis. This first installment in a 4-part movie series (spanning from 1981 to 2008) was included in the US Library of Congress’ National Film Registry because it had been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
9. Alien – Three years before I was born, Ridley Scott would direct a space movie that would quite literally change the movie landscape forever. The movie centers around a merchant vessel traveling through space and the crew of the vessel receive a distress call from a colonized planet. While on the planet, the crew is attacked by a mysterious creature. While traveling back to Earth, they quickly realize that they had bitten off more than they could chew. Alien showed us the negative aspects of traveling ‘into brave new worlds’. But I think that the acidic blood that flows through the Alien creature’s bodies is more than enough to stand the flow of time and will forever be on the top movies of all time.
8. Batman: The Dark Knight – The sequel to the Batman Dark Knight trilogy, which shows The Dark Knight coming out of exile to save his beloved Gotham City from the anarchy ridden Joker, is immensely important to the movie world because viewers outside of the ‘comic book fandom’ got to witness class act acting. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker was purely outstanding thusly causing this movie to rise onto my list of the most influential action movies of all time.
7. Die Hard – The first of five action movies that center around the adventures of Police Detective John McClane (played by the brilliant actor Bruce Willis) who always seems, no matter where he goes, to find himself right in the middle of the worst violence caused by the most villainous of human beings. I was not a huge fan of the series but one cannot argue with the cultural significance of the Die Hard franchise. So, ‘yippee-ki-yay’!
6. Terminator 2: Judgement Day – The 1991 follow up to the 1984 movie The Terminator which flung Arnold Schwarzenegger even further into the lime light, was an Academy Award winning picture that was and still is Schwarzenegger’s highest grossing film. The film has been listed by the American Film Institute as one of the greatest action films, science fiction films and greatest sequels of all time. The movie broke new ground in the world of CGI which could lead to IMDB still ranking Terminator 2: Judgement Day as a 8.5 out of 10 stars. The film is ranked 39th on the Top 250 movies of all time.
5. Rambo: First Blood – First Blood centers around John Rambo. Rambo is a Vietnam Vet suffering from PTSD; even though PTSD wasn’t openly discussed at that time. He breaks out of the jail after being humiliated and assaulted by the Podunk officers that had drawn up bogus charges on him in the first place. The former Green Beret must use his combat and survival skills to survive the wilderness and the onslaught of people that are braving the woods to capture him. First Blood was aptly named because it truly was the first of its kind. The Stallone classic, one of the highest grossing films of its time, was a revolutionary way of making an action film. It influenced countless other movies including but not limited to Predator (another one of my favorites), The Transporter, and The Bourne series. Rambo: First Blood was and still is one of my favorite movies and its cultural influence is still seen everywhere in pop culture.
4. Enter the Dragon – So…Bruce Lee. I shouldn’t have to explain myself any further but I will anyway. Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong/American martial artist/instructor (founder of his own type of Kung Fu – Jeet Kune Do), action movie star/filmmaker, philosopher and now cultural icon. He is slated by most to be the most influential martial artists of all time and in the 20th century would be considered to be one of the biggest pop culture icons. My purpose for choosing Enter the Dragon was not just because it was and is one of my favorite movies, but the movie cemented the popularity of Martial Arts movies in America. The movie was partially produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Despite the fact that Bruce Lee mysteriously died 6 days before its theatrical release in 1973, the movie went on to become one of the years highest grossing films.
3. The Matrix – Combine cyberpunk-esque computer hacking, guns, lots more guns, kung fu, amazing graphics with slow-motion bullet shots, amazing CGI with an intriguing story line, light influences from Lewis Carroll’s Adventure’s in Wonderland and you’ll have The Matrix. The movie centers around Neo, who lives in a dystopian future in which humans live within a simulated virtual reality system called the Matrix created by aliens that use our bodies as fuel. Neo is believed to be the messiah for the rebels who yearn to free the world. The movie was added to the National Film Registry for preservation and is listed as one of the greatest science fiction movies of all time. The action sequences created by the Wachowski Brothers have been an inspirational to other movie makers since The Matrix’s 1999 debut. The movie was so amazing and influential to me that I alternated between the Matrix, Tombstone, Cowboy Way, and Tommy Boy for about a year (Watching a little bit of them every day).
2. Iron Man – Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and the rest of the Avengers have swept us up in a mjolnir generated whirlwind. Robert Downey Jr. and his rebirth as Tony Stark/Iron Man threw the world for a loop. In 2008 the Iron Man movie shows Tony Stark, a cocky master engineer whose defense contract business fuels the world’s wars, captured in a cave to build a super weapon for the terrorist group. Stark is wounded by one of his own missiles during the kidnapping and by the creation of a powerful electro-magnet that keeps the shards from reaching his heart and killing him, Stark is able to use the electro-magnet to power a suit of armor that he creates–instead of the missile. He inevitably escapes and builds an even better suit and ‘arc reactor’ thusly becoming the super hero Iron Man. Now despite the fact that I absolutely love this movie (and all of the Avengers related movies), the reason that this movie is important culturally is because it was the true beginning of the Avengers franchise which is a cultural phenomena in itself. This even further popularized comic book movies and Robert Downey Jr.’s rendition of this character is a driving force behind the popularity of the brand.
1. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope – In 1977, the world had its first glimpse at what would become a complete and udder cultural phenomena. The action adventure drama, set a long time ago in a galaxy far away, starts with part IV of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars adventures. The movie introduces us to the tyrannical Darth Vader and a simple farm boy, Luke Skywalker. Along with new friends (a space pirate, a Jedi, Robots and a big hairy man called a Wookie) try to rescue a beautiful young princess from the evil clutches of the corrupt Empire. The end of this movie may conclude with the destruction of the Death Star but this is just the beginning of a world wide cultural onslaught. The pop culture world has never been the same and over the past 40 years, Star Wars remains on the cusp of everyone’s proverbial glass of pop culture influences. It is without argument that Star Wars has and will remain a main stay in the cultural horizon.
Is there a movie that you think deserved to be on this list? Is there one that we missed?
Let’s talk about that.