50 Years of Action on Film

Category: Movies
Last article published: 10 May 2021
This is the 456th post under this label (but imagine if I included the capsule reviews from the Sunday post)

After completing 50 Years of Science-Fiction on Film, I've decided to do another 50 of a kind. This time: Action movies I've, at the very least, never reviewed, though for the most part, never seen. To avoid dipping into the same pool, I'm specifically avoiding SF action, so no superheroes and the like. Action historicals like westerns, war and kung fu films are fine, but probably not something that creates an entire fantasy world. Let's see what we can come up, one movie a year since I was born...

1970s
Famously the decade where violence in movies was ramped up as standards fell, I had to put at least one seminal vigilante movie on this part of the list. But it was also the decade of blaxploitation and kung fu films.
1971: Le Mans
1972: The Italian Connection
1973: The Fate of Lee Khan
1974: Death Wish
1975: Sholay
1976: Rocky (of course, I've seen it, but it's been a long time)
1977: Rolling Thunder
1978: Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow
1979: Raining in the Mountain

1980s
In the '80s, what we've come to know as the American Action Film really comes into its own, with 'roided out heroes taking on the world with big guns.
1980: The Stunt Man
1981: Knightriders
1982: First Blood (seems I haven't revisited seminal Stallone movies in years)
1983: Project A
1984: The Hit
1985: Rambo: First Blood Part II (see?)
1986: A Better Tomorrow
1987: Miami Connection
1988: Young Guns (rewatch)
1989: The Punisher (a way to sneak a superhero movie into the list after all)

1990s
The '90s see the rise of Rodriguez, Tarantino, and of the Die Hard rip-off. In Hong Kong, John Woo comes to prominence.
1990: Bullet in the Head
1991: Toy Soldiers
1992: Deep Cover
1993: The Fugitive (rewatch)
1994: Maverick (rewatch)
1995: Dead Presidents
1996: Broken Arrow (rewatch)
1997: Breakdown
1998: U.S. Marshals
1999: The 13th Warrior

2000s
The decade that gave us the Fast and Furious franchise also sees the genre falter, I think. Though partly because I've seen all the good ones, the action films selected for this decade tend to be comedies for that reason.
2000: Gone in Sixty Seconds
2001: No Man’s Land
2002: Chinese Odyssey 2002
2003: Johnny English
2004: D.E.B.S.
2005: A Bittersweet Life
2006: Snakes on a Plane
2007: Shoot 'Em Up
2008: Pineapple Express
2009: Accident

2010s+
Today, the action genre is dominated by superhero, sci-fi, and fantasy films. Even the popular F&F franchise has become superheroes with cars, essentially. So not too surprisingly, this was the hardest decade to program; the choices may be a bit weird and scattershot.
2010: King of Devil's Island
2011: Warrior
2012: The Expendables 2
2013: Why Don’t You Play in Hell?
2014: The Expendables 3
2015: The Assassin
2016: Allied
2017: A Taxi Driver
2018: Peppermint
2019: The Art of Self-Defense
and 2020: Greyhound

Wish me luck! Follow my progress every Sunday on This Week in Geek, or check out the list as posters at Letterboxd.

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