5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Director: Ang Lee
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is perhaps director Ang Lee’s greatest achievement. Can you believe it’s been almost 20 years since it released? The highest-grossing foreign-language film in America earned rave reviews. It is a mixture of violence, dance and grace. The movie can only be described by the word ‘beautiful’.
The movie picked up 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. In a way, it also united the East and the West culturally, exposing the American public to a variety of Asian films, and a host of great action films they were missing out on.
Where to Watch: Netflix
4. Oldboy (2003)
Director: Park Chan-wook
Oldboy is all about the extremes. Torture, violence which take both the protagonist, Dae-su (played by Choi Min-sik) and the audience to psychological extremes. This movie is a Greek tragedy of sorts. An operatic action thriller. In this movie, we see how far one man goes in order to extract revenge.
Perhaps the most iconic scene is this movie is the one-take corridor brawl in which psychologically ravaged Dae-su takes on a score of goons. With a claw-hammer. In a movie filled with perfect performances, director Park Chan-wook showcases his genius with this action thriller which will suck you in, and leave you hooked till the very end. If you’ve got the stomach for it, that is.
Where to Watch: YouTube, Google Play
Recommended: 31 Best Korean Movies Of The 21st Century
3. John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Director: Chad Stahelski
A lot of you may have been expecting the first movie. Everyone’s favourite dog-loving assassin is back and there are headshots aplenty.
The first John Wick is one of the best action movies of recent times, but if you ask me John Wick: Chapter 2 takes the action genre to a whole new level.
Just days after killing the people who killed his (first) dog, John is forced to go back in action to honour a blood oath he made years ago. More action, more bodies, more headshots. More everything. Oh, and Lawrence Fishburne’s in it too. With the third installment also getting rave reviews, the entire trilogy will soon become one of the greatest action franchises of all time. But, the second one was just surreal.
2. Kill Bill (2003-2004)
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Kill Bill provides for some of the most iconic imagery and moments in Quentin Tarantino’s filmography. Starring Uma Thurman in her career-defining role, it told the story of a bride rejected at the altar slowly enacting revenge on everyone who did her dirty, leading up to the eponymous Bill himself.
The storyline seems weird, but the movie is Quentin Tarantino at his audacious best. The fight scenes with The Bride wielding her katana are some of the best choreographed sequences in Tarantino’s career.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Director: George Miller
One of the biggest criteria for an action movie is the pacing. Either it’s too fast, not even addressing the main plot points, or too slow with little to no fighting. Mad Max: Fury Road is absolutely perfect on this front, bringing us constant action right from the get-go, shifting gears (pun intended) in emphatic fashion.
The movie is called Mad Max: Fury Road, but it’s more Furiosa (Charlize Theron) than Max (Tom Hardy). There’s minimal dialogue in the movie, and that’s perfectly alright with me. The only additional dialogue this movie required was the praise it generated when it came out.
But beneath all the action and monster truck electric guitars, the movie sends a message as powerful as any political statement. Furiosa tries to save the dystopian world created by men, with the help of ol’ Max himself. It’s going to take quite some doing to knock this one of its perch.
What do you think are the best action movies of the century? Tell us your #top3 in the comments below.
By Aditya Sarna