10 Most Dramatic Action Movies, Ranked

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10 Most Dramatic Action Movies, Ranked

There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of the hybrid genre of drama-action cinema. Films jam packed with intense fight scenes, epic showdowns, explosions, shoot-outs and heartwarming redemption stories. This genre sees some of Hollywood’s greatest stars thrown into the ‘action arena’ and tests their metal as actors, and while in the process, creates blockbuster hits.

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From classics in the ’90s like Mel Gibson’sBraveheart, to recent hits in the 2000s like David Leitch’sAtomic Blonde, action dramas tend to be slower with deeper impact in intense moments centered around the main characters. These are some of the most dramatic action movies to keep audiences enthralled.


‘Troy’ (2004)

Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy, which is based of Homer’s Iliad, revolves around the war between the kingdoms of Troy and Sparta. Prince of Troy, Paris (Orlando Bloom) angers Spartan King Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) when he falls for Helen, Menelaus’ wife. This leads to combined forces of Greece launching an assault on Troy.

The relationships between kings and their subjects is something that causes lots of drama within the movie. From Achilles’ (Brad Pitt) reluctance to call Agamemnon (Brian Cox) king and bend the knee, to Hector (Eric Bana) defending his brother regardless of the consequences. These dynamics allow fans to feel the intense emotions of war through the screen.

‘Dracula Untold’ (2014)

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When his kingdom is under attack from the Turks, Luke Evans’ prince Vlad Tepes goes through a monstrous transformation in order to gain the power to single-handedly defeat the biggest army of which he used to command.

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Within the historical tones and impressive CGI, director Gary Shore manages to create an impressive blend of both action and dramatic horror with his film Dracula Untold. With the main character having to go through intense lengths to save everyone he loves without giving into what the monster he is turning into really wants give audience the thrill of the will-he-won’t-he trope.

‘Cherry’ (2021)

Tom Holland in Cherry
Image via Apple TV+

Directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo’s Cherry follows Tom Holland’s character Cherry through being a college dropout to an army medic deployed in Iraq, with his love, Emily (Ciara Bravo), keeping him grounded. But when returning from the battlefields with PTSD, Cherry’s life become dependent on crime and drugs as he struggles to rejoin the world.

With the obvious action on the war battlefield, the real surprise is the amazing acting from both Holland and Bravo. Both actors create a sense of real-world drama within the film. This powerful movie makes makes the cut purely for the superb acting it gives to the audience.

‘Atomic Blonde’ (2017)

Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton in Atomic Blonde

MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is sent alone on a mission to Berlin before the collapse of the Berlin Wall to retrieve a priceless dossier that contains the names of all the equally priceless undercover agents. Broughton partners with David Percival (James McAvoy), a drunken station chief within Berlin, and has to navigate her way through an unstable city.

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David Leitch directs this underground, sexy, action drama combining both the historical events of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the undercover wars between the MI6, CIA and KGB. With the aid of Theron’s acting, the intense fight scenes, betrayals, and plot twists are all equal parts drama and action.

‘The Fugitive’ (1993)

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The Fugitive follows Harrison Ford’s Richard Kimble as he goes on the run after being accused of the murder of his wife, endeavoring to clear his name and bring her true killer to justice. He is pursued by a team of U.S. marshals led by Tommy Lee Jones’ Samuel Gerard, who will not rest until they find Richard.

Seeing two impressively intelligent characters use their wits against each other never fails to thrill viewers. Having two powerhouses as Ford and Jones is the icing on the cake. This story of a husband trying to find justice for his wife while the authorities are after him is a dramatic action packed story that is a must-watch.

‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998)

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Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan follows a group of U.S. soldiers who, following the Normandy Landings, venture behind enemy lines to save a paratrooper whose brother have been killed in the war.

Tom Hanks’ portrayal of John Miller manages to grip viewer’s hearts and create a sense of the viewers being in the war alongside him. Spielberg delivers unbelievable heights of realism within the film with the camera-work and direction. With the acting and direction, this war movie is a great example of a dramatic action flick.

‘Blood Diamond’ (2006)

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Djimon Hounsou’s Solomon finds and hides a priceless diamond when he is abducted and forced to work in mines. When Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) learns of Solomon’s find, the two strike up a deal to find Solomon’s family and have Danny get the diamond in exchange.

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Blood Diamond is a powerful testament in the film industry, boasting intense and well-executed action scenes and heart-wrenching drama. With both Dicaprio and Hounsou’s Oscar nominated roles and Edward Zwick masterful direction, Blood Diamond is one of the best war films out there.

‘Braveheart’ (1995)

Mel Gibson in BraveHeart

Gibson both stars in and directs the action cult classic Braveheart. Gibson plays a Scottish rebel, William Wallace. Wallace, along with his clan, ventures out with the intent to overthrow King Edward I of England. Wallace is fueled by his need for revenge on Edward after Edward killed his bride a day after their marriage.

Gibson manages to direct a masterpiece in the drama-action genre. The acting is amazing, and the ending was brilliant. The unpredictability makes for an exciting and emotional plot line. The message this movie conveys of courage and bravery makes this movie one of the best of the 20th century.

‘The Last Samurai’ (2003)

Tom Cruise in the middle of a battle in The Last Samurai

In the midst of the preparation of the Westernization of Japan, Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), an American Military officer, is hired by the Emperor of Japan to train the country’s army in the way of modern warfare. However, Algren is taken captive by the people of the Samurai and taught to embrace the culture.

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Director Edward Zwick places Algren at the center of a struggle between two eras and two worlds. Cruise’s commitment to the role and Zwick’s direction leads this film into success as a dramatic action movie. With the celebration of the Samurai culture and the threat of modern ways disrupting the way of life, this movie creates a beautiful sense of drama within an action filled war movie.

‘Gladiator’ (2000)

Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) takes over power and condemns beloved general Maximus (Russell Crowe) and his family to death after learning his late father wishes for Maximus to take his place. With Maximus losing his will to live, he gets captured and forced to fight for his life in the Colosseum as a gladiator. The only thing keeping him going is the hope that he will look into the eyes of the man who killed his family and exact his revenge.

With its poetic script, Ridley Scott creates a classic favorite for action fans that is both simple but moving. With breathtaking scenery and powerful acting from actors like Crowe, Phoenix and many more, Gladiator is a film that audience will instantly go to when they think of action dramas.

NEXT: 10 Action Movies That Only Have One True Action Scene

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