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Good Action Movies

Updated on May 18, 2010

An action movie is a genre of film which tells a story largely through exciting physical action scenes as opposed to through open dialogue.  Good action movies normally include an action star who acts as a hero, a villain who opposes the hero, and some sort of love interest.  Modern day action films started gaining popularity in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, but the genre began forming in the 1930’s through adventure films and through the 1940’s cowboy movies. 

Today, action films are among the most expensive genres to produce, with individual action scenes costing millions of dollars alone.  While action films are normally not highly acclaimed by critics, they bring millions of people to the theatres and are often among the highest grossing films every year.  Actions films have turned many actors into action stars.  Popular action stars include Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, and Sylvester Stallone.  The most popular action movies and series, which must be seen by all fans of the action genre, are listed as follows:

  • James Bond Series
  • Star Wars Series
  • The Terminator Series
  • Indiana Jones Series

Good Action Movies
Good Action Movies

James Bond Series

The James Bond film series is a classic series which is was the first of all modern action film series. The main character, James Bond, is a fictional spy inspired by the character of the same name in the Ian Fleming novels, which were written in the 1950’s. In the moves, James Bond (codename 007) is a suave womanizing English secret agent, who is also feared by villains because of his license to kill and vast array of technological resources. Bond is often seen drinking a martini, wearing a Rolex, and driving a stylish sports car.

The James Bond film series began in 1962 with the introduction of the film “Dr. No” and continues today with “Bond 23,” the 23rd film in the James Bond series, set to open in 2011. Since James Bond is an ageless character in his late 30’s, six actors have portrayed him over the films series’ history. The six actors who have portrayed James Bond are Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. Moore, who appeared in 7 of the films, has the most appearances as James Bond.

It has been estimated that the James Bond film series have grossed over $5 billion worldwide, which makes the series the most successful action film series ever.

Star Wars Action Movies
Star Wars Action Movies

Star Wars Series

The next popular action film series which must be seen is the Star Wars series.  As the series takes place in a fictional galaxy, and many of the characters are fictional aliens, the Star Wars film series is a strong mixture of action and fantasy.  A constant theme is the Star Wars series is the battle between the Jedi’s, who represent the good in humanity, and the Sith, who represent the dark side.  The series is well known for using state of the art graphics which are used in some of the most exciting action scenes is film history.

The film series is based off a book series, and the first film “Star Wars” was released in 1977.  The “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” were released in 1980 and 1983, respectively.  While they were the first films released, the films were actually based off of the 4th, 5th, and 6th books in the 9 book series.  The final three films, which are based off of the first three books, are “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones,” and “Revenge of the Sith,” and were released in 1999, 2002, and 2005, respectively.  

The Star Wars film series have grossed over $4.3 billion worldwide, which makes it the third highest grossing film series ever, behind the James Bond series and the Harry Potter series. 

Terminator Action Movies
Terminator Action Movies

The Terminator Series

Another popular action series is the Terminator film series.  The Terminator series centers on the ongoing battles between artificially intelligent robots, which are developed by a fictional company named Skynet, and the human race which is led by John Connor’s Resistance.  All of the Terminator films depend largely on exciting action sequences.

The first Terminator film, “Terminator,” opened in 1984 and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as a high tech machine set back in time to kill Sarah Connor (portrayed by Linda Hamilton) before she gives birth to her son John, who eventually will lead the humans to victory over the machines. 

The second film in the series, “Judgment Day” was released in 1991 and also stars Schwarzenegger and Hamilton.  In this film Schwarzenegger is a machine sent back to protect the now 15 year old John Connor from being executed by a far superior machine, known as the T-1000. 

In the third film “Rise of the Machines,” a robot is sent to kill John Connor, his wife, and all of his fellow resistance soldiers.  In the film, John is killed, but his wife sends a robot back in time which eventually changes his fate.  The fourth and final film, “Salvation,” continues the battle between humans and the machines.  While a fifth film is not in the works, it has not been ruled out. 

The Terminator film series has generated over $1.4 billion worldwide which makes it the 16th highest grossing film series of all time.  Not included in that figure is revenue received from the Terminator video games or the Terminator TV Series, which is “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

Indiana Jones Action Movies
Indiana Jones Action Movies

Indiana Jones Series

The last action series which must be seen by any action film enthusiast is the Indiana Jones Series.  These movies combine action, adventure, and mystery as the lead character, Indiana Jones, goes to mysterious places to unlock the world’s secrets and hidden treasures.  Indiana Jones is portrayed by Harrison Ford in each film.

The film series has produced four different movies, which in order are “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Temple of Doom”, “The Last Crusade”, and “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.  The first three films were released throughout the 1980’s, but the fourth was released in 2008.  The first three films are based in the 1930’s where Indiana Jones is constantly fighting against the powerful German army.  The fourth film was based in 1957.

The film series has also led to the creation of a television series, “The Young Indian Jones Chronicles”.  In total the four Indiana Jones films have grossed just under $2 billion, which makes it the 9th highest grossing series of all time.

Good Action Films

In conclusion, action film is a genre which relies largely on action based scenes, but can also focus on adventure, mystery, and fantasy.

For more good action movies, see AskDeb's article on "What are Some Good Action Movies?".

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