December 21, 2013

Top 20 Action Movies of 2013

I think this has been a really tough year to choose a favourite movie; I’ve enjoyed plenty of movies but to be honest, I’ve struggled to find one that I would consider a genuine classic.

It took me a while to think up my number one movie and probably a lot of you will disagree, but hey, that’s what The Action Elite Awards will be for soon enough.

I’m going more for martial arts movies and generally movies that have plenty of violence… I’m sick like that. The odd superhero flick may have sneaked its way into the list too though.

Anyway, I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten so here are my top 20 action movies of 2013.



20.   Death Race 3: Inferno: Luke Goss returns in the third entry of the Death Race series and it’s incredibly satisfying with amazing stunts and plenty of action. Definitely the straight to DVD flick of the year.

19.   Pacific Rim: Yes, too much of the action took place at night but it still had monsters fighting big ass robots and the score was filled with pounding electric guitar awesomeness.

18.   Bullet to the Head: It’s not one of Stallone’s best movies, but it still has him on bad ass form with an awesome axe fight between Sly and Jason Momoa.

17.   Man of Steel: Although there is far too much CGI during the climax in Metropolis, the first half has moments of sheer genius and the battle of Smallville remains a highlight. Russell Crowe is fantastic as Jor-El.

16.   Green Street 3: I never thought I would be a fan of a film about football hooligans but this one stars Scott Adkins who once again beats people up in spectacular fashion. 2013 has been a great year for British action movies and this is definitely up there.

15.   Thor: The Dark World: My personal favourite of this year’s superhero movies mostly due to Brian Tyler’s fabulously heroic score. It remembers that superhero movies should be fun and this movie has it in spades.

14.   Vendetta: Danny Dyer tries his hand at a Death Wish-style revenge movie which is pretty hardcore with some satisfying retribution against the really nasty bad guys. It’s not an easy watch, but I really had a good time with it.

13.   The Last Stand: Arnie’s return to badassdom may not have blown up the box office but it managed to be one of my favourite movies of his with a great final shoot-out and a Western-style score.

12.   Man of Tai Chi: Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut ended up having some spectacular action scenes giving us a new martial arts star: Tiger Chen. Reeves hams it up as the villain and we also get a fight scene between Chen and Iko Uwais.

11.   Fast & Furious 6: Now sadly mired in tragedy due to the death of Paul Walker, Fast & Furious 6 was ridiculous fun with some great stunts and the best cameo of the year: Mr. Jason Statham. It’s a shame we will never get to see Fast & Furious 7 as it was meant to be seen.

10.   Oblivion: This is one of my favourite Tom Cruise movies with perfect visuals and a stunning score. It also asks questions like what does it mean to be human? Requires several viewings to be fully appreciated.

9.    Escape Plan: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone finally team up and despite not being the actionfest fans may have wanted, there was still massive amounts of entertainment to be had. Arnie is much better in this than he is in The Expendables movies with no tiresome self-reverential dialogue.

8.    2 Guns: The return of the Buddy Movie has Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg punching and swearing at each other while walking away from explosions and generally having a lot of fun. Wahlberg is proving adept at comedy and I can’t wait for the sequel.

7.   Extraction: As a huge fan of The Raid, I’d been really looking forward to Extraction and it didn’t disappoint; it had some spectacular fight scenes and moves along at a great pace too. It was open for a sequel which I very much want to see.

6.   Elysium: I have to admit that I was never a huge fan of Matt Damon… until now. His shaven head and gruff appearance really helped make him look like a believable badass. The imaginative visuals are only let down by some annoying shaky cam during the action scenes.

5.   Homefront: Jason Statham beats up a LOT of people in this incredibly satisfying actioner written by none other than Sylvester Stallone. It has a scene stealing performance from James Franco as the villainous Gator Bodine. Props must also be given to Kate Bosworth who gives the best performances of her career.

4.    Welcome to the Punch: Mark Strong and James McAvoy star in this Ridley Scott produced stylish action thriller about an obsessed cop who has to team up with his nemesis for the greater good.

3.    Olympus Has Fallen: The Die Hard sequel that never was; I absolutely loved this with Gerard Butler proving he can be the next action hero without any trouble. It has arguably my favourite action scene of the year which is the take-over of The White House. It was Hard R violent with an excellent villain in Rick Yune too. It felt like a 90’s style actioner but with a modern twist.

2.    Unbeatable: A lesser known MMA movie from Hong Kong/China, directed by Dante Lam. The first half is more slow-burn character building but you really get to care about the protagonist Fai (Nick Cheung) as he begins to find redemption. The fight scenes are expertly choreographed and it’s beautifully shot too. It was the surprisingly feel-good film of the year.

1.    Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear: There were probably better movies but I haven’t had such a good time this year and Scott Adkins is at his badass best with the most jaw-dropping fight scenes of the year. I’ve already watched the movie a couple of times and it’s pure old-school martial arts entertainment.

Honourable mentions: Other movies I enjoyed were Enemies Closer (JCVD Rules) Dead in Tombstone, Gangster Squad, Star Trek into Darkness, Machete Kills and Blood of Redemption. Gravity is probably the best movie I’ve seen this year along with Prisoners but they aren’t really action so they ain’t on the list.

I never do a list of the worst movies as I think it’s pointless to focus on being negative.

So that’s my top twenty of the year; soon we shall have The Action Elite Awards where you will all be able to vote for your favourites.

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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