Hot Fuzz (2007)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a spoof of action films, that is also better than most action films. I liked Shaun of the Dead, but enjoyed this (and The World’s End) much more. Those three films make up the Edgar Wright / Simon Pegg “Cornetto Trilogy”, and I think Hot Fuzz is my personal favorite. What is not to love about a relentless pace with legitimately funny lines sprinkled throughout. As usual with these guys, there are lots of subtle references throughout the film. The best is the desk sergeant reading a copy of Iain Banks’ excellent novel Complicity. Edgar Wright’s recent Last Night in Soho wasn’t bad, but I like his action work best. I’m very much looking forward to his upcoming version of The Running Man. Oh and if you somehow missed the Wright / Pegg / Frost series Spaced, get on it. That remains one of the very best English comedy series ever made.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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Black Dynamite (2009) 

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Here we have the second-best Black Action Hero parody next to I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (and it’s an extremely close second). This was my favorite comedy to come out in 2009, and just as funny on a recent second viewing. Star Michael Jai White is best known for action films, but really shows his comedy and acting talent here (he even co-wrote the screenplay). I just wish he’d get offered better roles. Black Dynamite was spun off into an animated series that I personally couldn’t get into, but give it a try if you like the film.

Available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures.

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Clan of the the White Lotus (1980)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Aka Fists of the the White Lotus. “Deadly Needle Kung Fu Against the Invincible Armor of The White Lotus!” Right out of the gate this Shaw Brothers flick will grab you (with it’s crotch). White Lotus features crazy-complex fight choreography, and a good sense of humor too (not in that goofy Jackie Chan / Sammo Hung way either). If you’re not sold before the opening credits are done, then hit stop and go watch a superhero movie. I gave this film a 9 out of 10 rating on imdb.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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Mesrine: Killer Instinct (2008)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The first installment of a two part series on the career of criminal Jaques Mesrine (the second is Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One). This is the French answer to Scarface (1983), but based on true events, and much larger in scope. Other than the usual fake looking gun action, this movie is a total blast. Vincent Cassel is perfect, as usual. If you’d like to see him do something more fun / dumb I recommend you also check out his film Dobermann (looks like it’s available on YouTube if you sign in).

Available on Blu-ray from Music Box.

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The Kid with the Golden Arm (1979)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The Shaw Brothers and director Chang Cheh bring the main Five Deadly Venoms cast back together for a completely different martial arts adventure. Golden Arm (who is hardly a kid) is part of an evil gang, and happens to be almost impervious to harm. He and his fellow villains Silver Spear, Iron Robe, and Brass Head aim to hijack a shipment of gold. Will they succeed?! Who could possibly stop them?!?! HOW?!?!?! You’ll have to find out for yourself. This movie is almost non-stop action, and looks beautiful too. Yeah, Kid with the Golden Arm is not a five star film, some extra cheese hinders it a tiny bit. Just be prepared to roll your eyes a few times while you enjoy one hell of a fun Kung Fu flick.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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The Siege of Jadotville (2016)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Here’s a solid, history-based war movie. I had never heard of this battle, so this was all news to me. The film features good performances, a fast-pace, and it gets pretty graphic here and there too. This is the first time I realized that Jamie Dornan was a skilled actor. I despised anything to do with Fifty Shades of Grey, but he is truly talented in spite of being involved in a garbage franchise. I recommend checking out Anthopoid and My Dinner With Herve as well. The Siege of Jadotville is not going to move you like say, The Thin Red Line, but if you want some entertaining battle action, it’s a good pick.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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The Warriors (1979)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer 

You’ve seen this one right? I mean, if you like action films at all you MUST have. I suppose it’s possible this falls into that weird generation gap, so just in case… The Warriors are a New York City street gang. They get framed for murder. Every other gang is out to kill them. They have to cross a lot of enemy territory to get home. It’s a lot of fun to watch. Yep, this movie has aged a bit. However, it’s always been made of cheese, so that’s really ok. As you’d expect, some bits are pretty damned offensive by the standards of today. However, The Warriors remains a KICK ASS movie. This was directed by Walter Hill who made several solid action flicks. My favorites are: Southern Comfort, Extreme Prejudice, and Last Man Standing. If you like The Warriors, you might enjoy the book too. It’s WAY different than the film adaptation, but well worth reading.

P.S. The trailer linked above is a personal favorite. You may recognize the music. That is because it’s a bit of Tangerine Dream’s awesome score for Sorcerer (another must-see movie).

Blu-ray available from Paramount.

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Riders of Justice (2020)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer 

This is a surprisingly good, big-budget, action comedy from Denmark. I actually laughed out loud a few times, AND things got pretty gory on occasion. The violence is more extreme than I would have expected from a Scandinavian blockbuster. I love Mads Mikkelsen, but he’s not always in good films. Luckily this turned out to be a perfect choice for him, and a very entertaining movie too.

Blu-ray available on Magnolia.

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Chappie (2015)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

I missed this movie when it first came out. I figure a few of you did too. It’s not as good as Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, but I found this very entertaining. Thankfully Chappie has that same level of high quality CG. Yes, it is a bit cheesy at times. Let that slide and you get lots of R rated action to make up for it. I have to admit that Ninja and Yo-Landi are good in this too. Shockingly good.

BONUS: Check out Blomkamp’s Oats Studio videos on YouTube. There are a lot of great short films available for free.

Available on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures.

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Mosul (Drama – 2019)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

This is an excellent action drama, based on the true story of the Iraqi SWAT team (check out the documentary of the same name / subject). It’s gritty and violent for sure, but the characters and performances make Mosul rise above a cheesy action flick. Netflix has delivered a fast paced movie of very high quality. I wish they’d try harder to repeat that.

Not available on Blu-ray.

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