Another year has come and gone but rather than it being a disappointment I thought it was pretty decent; as usual the best movies barely made much money at the box office but I’m pretty sure you already know what my number one of the year is.
I haven’t seen Exodus or Interstellar yet but I’ll get around to it at some point; pretty sure Interstellar isn’t an action movie anyway so I’m not in any great rush.
It was a quiet year for Jean-Claude Van Damme who only had a small role in Swelter, which was actually a pretty decent flick but it didn’t really stand out as one of the best.
Next year sees Van Damme return to his badass best in Pound of Flesh which looks like it’s going to be pretty awesome and of course the Kickboxer reboot which is sounding better every day.
The one movie which had action fans talking was The Expendables 3 and its PG-13 rating; the movie ended up being fun but just not as good as it should have been, focussing too much on the young blood that no one cares about and an overuse of crap CG. The final half hour though did have some spectacular action so it deserves a mention.
Anyway, rather than a top 10, I have 15 movies which I’ve picked as my personal favourites and if you disagree then fear not as you’ll get to vote in The Action Elite Awards very soon for the best action movie of the year.
We Still Kill the Old Way
I originally had 300: Rise of an Empire on here because contrary to everyone else’s opinion I really enjoyed it, however since then I saw We Still Kill the Old Way, which I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since. With great performances from the cast and plenty of violence, the movie is hugely entertaining and is only let down by the slightly over the top finale. The film is also owned by Ian Ogilvy and Danny-Boy Hatchard who are magnetic on the screen.
An old-school movie in the vein of The Karate Kid, this needs to be on the list because I’m quoted on the Blu-Ray! It’s got a great cast that includes Cody Hackman, Martin Kove, Michael Biehn and Krzysztof Soszynski. The fights are nicely choreographed and it has an almost 80’s-style feel to it.
Everyone seems to hate this movie but it’s a damn sight better than The Iceman which is one of the worst Donnie Yen movies of recent times. Special I.D. still had fantastic fight scenes and the final battle on the highway was awesome. Great stunt work during the car chase too.
A low budget martial arts movie, Die Fighting had some outstanding fights and it literally made my back hurt watching it at times. The cast and crew involved are ones to watch as I see them having great careers ahead of them.
Michael Jai White stars in this super low budget actioner where he goes on the hunt for the people who attacked his sister. The fight scenes are first rate and MJW is in the best shape of his life. Directed by Ernie Barbarash (6 Bullets), it may be the first movie in a potential trilogy which I would gladly welcome.
Kung Fu Jungle
A real return to form for Donnie Yen, Kung Fu Jungle has some outstanding martial arts and the movie is nearly stolen by Baoqiang Wang who plays psychotic villain Fung Yu-Sau. Story-wise it’s nothing we haven’t seen before but the action makes it a must-see!
I managed to squeeze in a watch of Snowpiercer before the end of the year as I’d heard so many great things about it. It is indeed worthy of all the praise with disturbingly violent action sequences and a revelatory performance from Chris Evans. It’s startlingly original and refreshingly different from any other movie I’ve seen this year or any other for a long time. It is relentlessly grim though and maybe doesn’t warrant multiple viewings but it deserves a spot on the list for doing something daring.
Edge of Tomorrow
This rather awesome Tom Cruise movie wasn’t as successful as it should have been as it was one of the most entertaining action movies of the year; sure, it’s basically Groundhog Day with action but the pain staking attention to detail it must have taken to put together in terms of continuity must have taken ages.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I have to admit that I loved this film when I saw it in the theatre; it did lose something though when I watched it at home. It’s still an excellent movie with some great mixed martial arts, an intriguing storyline and a cool villain role from Robert Redford.
This Hong Kong film starring Andy Lau has some of the best action sequences of the year with the highlight being a spectacular rooftop battle during an explosion which was jaw-droppingly done. Although there is some obvious CGI in places, Firestorm was still excellent stuff and it’s a film I’ll return to many times on Blu-ray.
Guardians of the Galaxy
It’s funny how when this film was first announced I thought it was the dumbest idea ever and that it would fail miserably; I mean how could a film with a talking racoon and a talking tree work for anyone over the age of 6? By hiring director James Gunn and a cast who were all utterly spot on. I ended up going to see this 3 time in theatres and having an absolute blast. It might even be my favourite Marvel movie as it proved that even in today’s marketplace you can take a risk and make it pay off.
Denzel Washington was at his badass best in this vigilante thriller from director Antoine Fuqua; it’s a little slow burn at the start but there are so many awesome moments that it deserves a spot on the list. The scene where Robert McCall (Denzel) confronts a gang of Russian mobsters in the back room of a club is an exercise in tension resulting in total ass-kickery. The finale in the DIY store was classic action movie stuff with Robert using nail guns and more as weapons. Satisfyingly violent stuff.
I only saw this a few weeks ago and it’s a movie that came out of nowhere; Dan Stevens gives a star making performance as Dave, a supposed friend of the Peterson family’s recently deceased son. The bar fight is going to become legend very soon and the last 20 minutes are utterly batshit, making it something fresh and unpredictable.
The Raid 2: Berendal
Technically this is the best action movie of 2014, with the best fight scenes of the year and a different type of story from the first movie. The Raid 2 was more of a crime epic rather than a straightforward martial arts film. The kitchen fight at the end is the best fight scene of the year, hands down. It’s not number one because despite the great fights, I preferred the characters in John Wick.
This will come as no surprise to anyone, as you all know how much I loved this film. The fact that I actually got to meet and interview Keanu Reeves and the directors is also why it’s at the top of my list. This movie is number one for several reasons; mostly because it created this rich new world with memorable characters that you want to see more of and the idea of The Continental was a stroke of genius. Keanu was in badass form and the action was incredibly slick and stylish. It was great to see Daniel Bernhardt in such a big role too.
Honourable Mentions: No Tears for the Dead, Sabotage, In the Blood, American Muscle, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Expendables 3, X-Men: Days of Future Past & Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Most Disappointing: The Iceman (Donnie Yen), The Protector 2, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla