Action films are for every gender under the sun, since quality excitement doesn’t care what kind of tackle you’ve got. That’s actually the point we’re making here. The reason we decided to offer up the best action films for guys is to help educate gentlemen on the variety of quality action out there that goes above and beyond testosterone-soaked machismo. These are action movies for the modern man, not the neanderthals of yesteryear.
So settle in, chaps, pick up some industrial-grade, gluten-free, jalapeno popcorn and kick back with the 30 best action movies for men.
The 5th Element
The breakout role of Milla Jovovich, The 5th Element offers up unlikely heroes in the form of the chattering Chris Tucker and a pair of priests put between death and humankind. Humor, action, and Gary Oldman as the strange, murderous Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg complete the package.
Maybe one of the greatest fight matchups of all time, you don’t know action until you’ve seen Sigourney Weaver tell the queen to “Get away from her, you bitch!” and then slap around the head xenomorph with a power loader.
Enter the Dragon
The quintessential Bruce Lee movie, this offers up some of Lee’s patented philosophy in between knocking around the Afro-clad giant Jim Kelly. It’s hand-to-fist battle done right, with a little wisdom between the bloodsport.
Nick Cage is a scientists who can somehow survive fisticuffs with elite marine terrorists. A corrupt scandal by a government that is ignoring its soldiers, The Rock casts Ed Harris as one of the most sympathetic villains of all time. He’s a general doing wrong yet trying to do right by his fallen comrades.
Family, slavery, history, and a dark look at the rotting Roman empire, Gladiator shows the suffering behind the spectacle at the colosseum. It’s also a poignant analog to modern society’s fixation with entertainment while ignoring the real woes wounding the world.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
An endless stream of blaster-based action as the world’s favorite Mary Sue romps across the galaxy, TFA has a little bit of everything. Redemption, a passing of the torch, a spoiled fit-throwing villain, and aliens all come together in a galaxy far, far away. Plus: Lightsabers.
William Wallace is a pacifist seeking to live a small, simple life with his wife before she is murdered by a repressive, corrupt government run by thugs and money. Driven to revenge, Wallace becomes an agent of freedom for a rag-tag country living under the boot of 1-percenters and bigots.
In a tale of a country divided, one politician hires a set of killers to remove a cruel despot from power. The ensuing fight is satisfying, yet brimming with anti-heroes who turn out to be the best hope of a government gone mad.
Black Hawk Down
There’s almost no lull in the endless stream of combat as an embattled helicopter is set upon by ground forces. It’s a painful look at warfare, but an inspiring treatise to the honor of the enlisted soldiers working for too little pay.
The Last of the Mohicans
Even more than Dances with Wolves, The Last of the Mohicans takes a hard stare at the cruelty inherent in the wild west as white settlers pushed native peoples off their homeland. Emotionally and physically brutal, it pulls few punches.
Rambo: First Blood
The real war for many soldiers isn’t on the battlefield, it’s in trying to acclimate to the normal world after witnessing horrors untold for their country. A Vietnam Vet who has lived through too much tries to come home, to a country that would rather forget him.
The Raid: Redemption
Impossible levels of human combat shot on a tiny budget, The Raid is Enter the Dragon for the contemporary times. Possibly the most pure fun you can have at a flick.
UFC fighter Gina Carano is betrayed by her own organization and goes on a rampage to clear her name and discover the truth. Anyone who felt disappointed by the Bourne movies should see how a similar tale goes when done well.
Assault on Precinct 13 (Original)
A gang laying siege to a police precinct is just the tagline. The real story takes place in the relationships formed among the people trapped inside. They begin creating unlikely alliances, proving all people become equal when a common enemy arrives.
Kill Bill Volume 1
Uma Thurman is the blonde badass of note as she hacks a bloody swath through the criminal underworld, seeking only to avenge her dead husband and murdered child from the vicious Bill.
The Dark Knight
Though the third act might have some issues, this tale of a vigilante pitted against an anarchist in a city that often doesn’t know who the real villains are is shockingly human behind the comic book window dressing.
A father looking only to bring his daughter home, the Taken series might have jumped the shark long ago, but the first iteration of parental love driven to homicidal extremes is something no father should miss.
Yes, it is about a runaway train, and yes, that makes it an incredible action movie. Instead of overblown heroes, Unstoppable is action that takes place closer to reality. The heroes are completely ordinary men trying to do a job and protect their city as best they can.
The Good, The Bad, The Weird
An introduction to the wild world of Korean cinema, this oddball tale is one you shouldn’t miss. It’s a playful train robbery romp that turns the classic western into a madcap brawl among a strange trio of men.
Almost 20 years later, people still wonder whether or not we’re living in the mechanically-constructed reality known as “The Matrix.” A challenge to our perception as much as an enjoyable shoot-em-up, there’s more profundity under the hood than you might expect. And Keanu actually isn’t half bad. Whoa!
A grim reminder that warriors on both sides are just people, Das Boot takes a gander at life aboard a German U-boat. They might be Nazis, but it’s difficult not to feel a connection to their very real woes and very human dreams as they fight on the wrong side of history.
John Woo’s bullet-battling masterpiece, Hard Boiled is another revenge flick for the ages. It’s shootouts as far as the eye can see as a cop looks to bring down the people who killed his partner.
Bruce Willis does what Bruce Willis do; be a blue-collar badass. Stuck in a tower with the late, great Alan Rickman doing a German accent, Die Hard is as much about cops who protect and serve and the brotherhood of people trapped in crisis as about stopping terrorists in Nakatomi Plaza.
Mad Max: Fury Road
A warrior maiden and a former captive seek to outrun a madman in a post-apocalyptic hellscape as they attempt to free his “wives” from his cruel clutches. It’s a futurized version of the underground railroad…with loads of badass cars.
Essentially about the hope of the downtrodden, Ong Bak will make any man want to become a Muay Thai warrior to protect his village. As much about standing up for right as it is a spiritual quest, it’s riddled with some of the most incredible real martial arts ever put on film.
Outlandish fun, Crank is a laughable look at action movies that satirizes the genre. Where Last Action Hero failed to mock action, Crank turns it on its preposterous ear.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Masterful storytelling show love, hope, betrayal, and flying sword combat in one of the most artistically beautiful movies ever shot.
Captain America: Civil War
A complicated ensemble cast adds realism, intrigue, and character conflict behind the backdrop of a government overreaching its power. Though the action is striking, the moral debate that pits hero against hero is even more impressive and dividing.
The film that made the buddy cop movie into a genre all its own, Lethal Weapon also shows PTSD and the importance of love and support among people who suffer for serving their country.