10 Best Adventure Movies That Blend Genres

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10 Best Adventure Movies That Blend Genres

Since the arrival of radio serials in the first half of the 20th century, characters such as Zorro and Flash Gordon instilled in audiences an insatiable appetite for adventure. With the evolution of technology, adventure storytelling was taken to all new heights. As the film industry dominated entertainment worldwide, moviegoers anxiously awaited the latest exploits of genre icons such as Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones.



While mainstream action-adventure blockbusters forged a tried and true formula for box office success, it was only a matter of time until filmmakers got creative and began throwing other elements into the mix. Audiences were eventually treated to creative hybrids of adventure blended with horror, comedy, science fiction, and martial arts. The following are lasting examples of experiments within the genre that took us on adventures we won’t soon forget.

10 ‘Romancing the Stone’ (1984)

Romance novelist and self-proclaimed “hopeful romantic” Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) is whisked away on an exotic adventure when her sister is kidnapped and brought to coastal Colombia. The kidnappers demand she brings a map sent to her by her sister’s late husband, and she is soon joined by a rugged mercenary (Michael Douglas) in the search for a priceless gem.

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Capitalizing on the worldwide demand for more globe-trotting adventure created by the groundbreaking Raiders of the Lost Ark, director Robert Zemeckis freshens the formula with a self-aware satirical edge. Turner and Douglas’ bickering chemistry carries the action between set pieces, making it as much a romantic comedy as it is a tribute to old-school adventure novels.

9 ‘The Mummy’ (1999)

Rachel Weisz and Brenden Fraser in The Mummy
Image Via Universal

In 1926 Egypt, a librarian (Rachel Weisz) and her thief brother (John Hannah) are aided by a WWI vet (Brendan Fraser) in the search for the long-lost city of the dead, Hamunaptra. Their journey takes a nightmarish turn, however, when the vengeful corpse of an ancient high priest rises from the grave. The trio of adventurers must race against time before the undead monster brings about the end of humanity.

In a year jam-packed with high-budget genre fare, The Mummy shattered box-office expectations and developed a following. Despite sharing its name with the claustrophobic 1932 horror classic, director Stephen Sommers opted for a wider scope and rousing action-adventure framework. The film’s infectious energy, likable performances, and breakneck pace make for a thrill ride that many would consider the definitive iteration of the Egyptian horror tale.

8 ‘The Lost City of Z’ (2016)


Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), a dedicated British explorer, embarks on a dangerous trek into the Brazilian jungles to prove the existence of an ancient society. Despite doubts from his peers, Percy insists on returning to the jungle and facing its dangers to unveil the secrets of this mysterious civilization.

One glimpse at the film’s trailer, and one could be forgiven for mistaking The Lost City of Z as an epic blockbuster. In some ways, that’s true, but director James Gray gives the film a certain heft and subtle majesty that makes it more David Lean than Steven Spielberg. Gray’s fascination with the existential obsession at the story’s core is all the more engrossing thanks to robust visuals and beautifully understated performances.

7 ‘Creature From the Black Lagoon’ (1954)


When the remains of an unknown species are unearthed near the depths of the Amazon, a small group of scientists venture into the waters to uncover its origin. What starts as a scenic tour into the wild soon turns into a fight for survival when a member of the species the fossil belongs to is revealed to be still alive.

Unlike the ruined castles of its Universal monster contemporaries, Creature of the Black Lagoon sets the action in exotic locales, mostly on or around the Amazon River. Along with the setting, the character tropes and imagery lend to a tone combining adventure and a looming sense of horror. One look at the climactic sequence in a fog-blanketed cave is enough to explain why this eerie adventure flick is one for the ages.

6 ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’ (2008)


Hellboy (Ron Perlman), your friendly neighborhood demon vigilante, returns to stop an evil elf prince (Luke Goss) from uncovering an ancient artifact that will unleash an army of mechanical soldiers. Along the way, he and his gang of supernatural misfits encounter a market for mystical beings, a gargantuan forest god, and, in one memorable scene, a copious amount of alcohol.


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Fantasy maestro Guillermo del Toro dials back the darkness a bit and amps up the adventure in this sequel to the 2004 hit. The movie’s imaginative locales and a plethora of practically realized creatures make it a wonderfully strange journey all its own. Many would even argue the broader scope makes it the superior of the two films in this short-lived but beloved franchise.

5 ‘Armour of God’ (1986)


Asian Hawk (Jackie Chan), a musician turned thrill-seeking explorer, is called into action when his friend’s girlfriend, Lorelei (Rosamund Kwan), is kidnapped by a mysterious cult. They request that Hawk bring them the remaining pieces of a mystical set of armor known as “the armor of god.” Aided by his friends, he instead hatches a heroic plot to rescue Lorelei and keep the armor from the sinister cult.

After Raiders of the Lost Ark set the standard for the adventure genre, it was only natural that international superstar Jackie Chan would throw his hat in the ring next. As any fan of Chan’s has come to expect, not a single punch is held in this action-packed romp. Between the precise choreography and jaw-dropping stunts, an argument could be made for Armour of God being the ideal showcase for Jackie’s incredible talent.

4 ‘The Road to El Dorado’ (2000)


In 16th century Spain, con-men Miguel (Kenneth Branagh) and Tulio (Kevin Kline) flee town and begin an epic quest to search for El Dorado, the lost city of gold. Upon their arrival, they are treated like gods. However, the fun is cut short when a skeptical high priest (Armand Assante) and conquistadors back home aim to tear them from their newfound thrones.

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The Road to El Dorado continued DreamWorks Animation’s streak of slightly more adult fare for children. Aside from the obligatory animal companion and zany musical numbers, the film plays mostly like a live-action adventure flick, complete with narrow escapes, sinister villains, and a giant living jaguar statue. The expansive world the creators crammed into a 90-minute runtime, all brought to life with striking animation, rivals many live-action attempts within the genre.

3 ‘Sorcerer’ (1977)


Four outlaws from around the world are brought together to execute a dangerous mission in exchange for a chance to start over. Unfortunately for them, the mission involves escorting a truckload of nitroglycerin through 200 miles of treacherous South American jungle.

William Friedkin‘s taut thriller feels like an action blockbuster stripped of standard genre tropes and whimsy. The grounded approach ratchets the suspense to an unbearable degree as the travelers grow weary and desperate. While the film’s pitch-black sensibilities didn’t initially sit well with an audience fresh off of Stars Wars, it’s slowly become beloved over the years as a dark and meditative descent into madness.

2 ‘The Fifth Element’ (1997)


In 23rd-century New York City, disgruntled cabbie Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) finds himself at the center of the battle for the future of humanity when a mysterious woman named Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) falls through the roof of his cab. As a Great Evil looms overhead, Korben must unite Leeloo, who is discovered to be the “fifth element,” with the other four elements before time runs out and humanity is doomed.

Set in an undeniably bizarre and bold vision of the future, The Fifth Element takes the familiar tropes of the adventure genre and filters them through a hyperkinetic and colorful sci-fi lens. The result is a cross between Flash Gordon and a Baz Lurhmann movie, and it’s as wild and energetic as that description would suggest. Willis fits the audience surrogate role perfectly, grumbling through the wild plot as he buckles up for an outlandish adventure.

1 ‘King Kong’ (2005)


Ambitious film director Carl Denham (Jack Black) takes his crew to a remote island to find the perfect setting for his latest movie. Instead, they find a myriad of monsters, most notably a massive ape known as Kong. When actress Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) forms an unlikely bond with the beast, she finds herself at odds with Denham, who sees Kong as his ticket to fame and fortune.

Director Peter Jackson’s sense of scope and wonder transitions beautifully from his Lord of the Rings trilogy to this epic remake of the 1933 classic. The entire second act serves as a masterclass in blockbuster action on a large scale, from a desperate fight against giant insects to a showstopping brawl between Kong and two tyrannosaurus-like dinosaurs. Spectacle aside, Jackson never forgets to infuse it all with heart, which lends to the film’s lasting legacy.

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