‘71 (2014)

Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

The Troubles are the setting of this very original action / drama. The balance of those genres is well handled, and everything is beautifully filmed. The film’s tension is enhanced by a powerful, bass-heavy, John Carpenter-meets-Godspeed soundtrack. This is pretty dark stuff, but well worth your time.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

Streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

I am not a snob about remakes. I just approach them with a ton of caution (I refused to see Suspiria based on reviews). Sometimes remakes are amazing, like The Thing or The Hills Have Eyes. This one is a damn good “reimagining” of the original 1974 film. I love that movie, but this Pelham is enough of it’s own story to complement the original. When director Tony Scott (RIP) was good, he was better than most big-budget directors, and this is among his better films. Give this a shot when you’re in the mood for a fast-paced action thriller.

Blu-ray available from Sony Pictures.

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Pit Stop (1969)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Why the hell would anyone want to watch a ’60s car racing movie? I asked myself that same question and then realized it was directed by Jack Hill. He’s the man behind several excellent fast-paced action / exploitation movies including Coffy and Switchblade Sisters. This one isn’t nearly as violent, but damn it grips your attention just as well. You also get to see a young Ellen Burstyn from The Exorcist, and of course, Sid Haig (who didn’t know how to drive when they started production). I thoroughly enjoyed Pit Stop, so give it a chance.

FYI – there are two versions up on Amazon Prime. The better quality one begins with the Film Rise logo.

Blu-ray available from Scorpion Releasing.

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Hotel Mumbai (2018)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is a surprisingly well-constructed dramatization of the 2008 terror attacks. It does not pull any punches, so be prepared for a lot of graphic violence. The bloodshed is balanced with mostly-believable human stories. Hotel Mumbai manages to shine some light on a story that I didn’t know nearly enough about before watching.

Available on Blu-ray from Universal.

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13 Assassins (2010)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

This is easily the best recent samurai film, and it’s also one of my top choices among Takashi Miike’s output. 13 Assassins is fast-paced, well made, and features awesome performances. No, it doesn’t have many of the transgressive aspects that this director is known for, but I barely noticed. This film kicks major ass from start to finish.

Available on Blu-ray from Magnolia.

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Lord of War (2005)

Streaming on Hulu | imdb | trailer

Nicholas Cage has had a bit of a resurgence lately thanks to his role in Mandy. Here’s a good one from before his slump that holds up nicely. Yes, it’s violent, but it also works as a thoughtful drama. If you enjoyed Cage in his heyday and haven’t seen this, you should correct that.

Available on Blu-ray from Lion’s Gate.

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Avengement (2019)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

There are a ton of awful action movies on Netflix. This movie should have been one of them, but I loved it. It features English gangsters, almost non-stop fighting, a good story, and solid production values. You might need to turn on the subtitles as the accents and jargon are very thick for the duration. Really that’s a minor quibble, as this movie is a blast.

Not available on domestic Blu-ray.

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No Tears for the Dead (2014)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

Here’s another very good South Korean crime film. It’s got all the elements that you’d expect: tons of action, a very complicated story, extremely bad bad guys, and slick production values. This one leans a lot on drama, but that’s fine. It kept reminding me of Léon: The Professional, which is a good thing. Like Luc Besson’s film, the drama serves a purpose, and the action is impressive.

Blu-ray available from CJ Entertainment.

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Believer (2018)

Streaming on Amazon Prime | imdb | trailer

This is a good, super-convoluted, South Korean crime thriller. It’s a bit slow at times, but it’s also sporadically crazy-violent. I found it entertaining, so there’s a good chance you will too.

Blu-ray available from Well Go.

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Defiance (2008)

Streaming on Netflix | imdb | trailer

Here’s a solid big budget history-based war film about three Jewish brothers that were resistance fighters in WW2. This has a good blend of drama and action. I was a bit torn on recommending Defiance as it’s a borderline blockbuster. What the hell, I liked it.

Available on Blu-ray from Paramount.

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