Redditors recently got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss which movies have the best non-stop action sequences. They’re talking about the big set pieces that go on for several minutes (and sometimes multiple locations), continually upping the ante and often filmed in a single long shot.
Few cinematic pleasures can top a well-constructed action sequence. Featuring shootouts to, explosions, car chases, to swordfights, these films are the best at delivering high-octane entertainment.
10 ‘Kill Bill: Volume 1’ (2003)
Drawing on both Eastern and Western influences, Tarantino‘s two-part masterpiece weaves a tale of revenge, bloodshed, and relentless determination. So much of Kill Bill is iconic, from Bruce Lee‘s yellow jumpsuit to the Bride’s razor-sharp katana. The dialogue is memorable, and the nonlinear narrative is intriguing, but the real highlights are the big action fight scenes. Breathtakingly choreographed, they showcase Tarantino’s dedication to the craft – not to mention his love for visceral violence.
The Redditor who kicked off the thread praised the Crazy 88 fight in particular. “[The scene] goes for several minutes without letting up, and [it] left me speechless in the theater. I routinely watch [it] multiple times,” said Redditor chalklitt.
9 ‘Hard Boiled’ (1992)
Hard Boiled is a gritty masterpiece directed by John Woo. It’s the defining Hong Kong action film, with intense gunfights, bravura storytelling, and unforgettable characters. Chow Yun-fat delivers a powerhouse performance as Tequila, a tough-as-nails cop caught in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a crime syndicate. Woo’s signature style is on full display, including his trademark slow-motion sequences, dual-wielding gunplay, and balletic choreography.
It’s a testament to the film that three Redditors named three different action scenes as the best one. “The ending sequence [was] bonkers,” said user Entrancemperium, while Redditor ELIE41 praised “the whole hospital scene,” and user fightyMcfookyou’s favorite was the “opening shootout.”
8 ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ (2014)
This tongue-in-cheek spy film follows Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a young man recruited into the world of espionage and trained to become a gentleman spy. With its humor and over-the-top action sequences, Kingsman strikes the perfect balance between homage and reinvention.
“The church massacre to “Free Bird” from Kingsman. Easily one of the best-choreographed fight sequences I’ve ever seen,” said user LeviTheArtist22. “Free Bird was perfect there,” agreed Redditor Jl4233. “Apparently that scene was originally 7 minutes long, and I’d love to think it exists out there somewhere,” added user Traditional_Book_883.
7 ‘The Protector’ (2005)
This Thai martial arts extravaganza stars Tony Jaa as Kham, a young man who takes on a notorious criminal organization that has stolen his beloved elephants. Jaa’s acrobatics, lightning-fast strikes, and bone-crunching kicks are truly spectacular.
“Tony Jaa on the stairs in The Protector” was user NicCageCompletionist’s pick for the best action sequence ever. “I can’t even imagine how long that Jaa sequence took to shoot,” said user hanshotfirst_1138. “If I remember right, it was [eight] full takes for Jaa on the stairs,” said the user NeonPredatorEnt.
6 ‘Aliens’ (1986)
James Cameron‘s follow-up to Ridley Scott‘s Alien kept the tension of the original but doubled down on the action, this time with guns. Aliens immerse the audience in a claustrophobic fight for survival, from the suspense of the initial encounter to the heart-pumping intensity of the final battle.
“The last hour of Aliens,” said user wwe24fan. “The movie really does take its time getting to know the characters, setting up the tension to be had, and then the last hour is just non-stop,” said Redditor Maverick916.
5 ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991)
Another James Cameron classic, Terminator 2: Judgment Day sees Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his role, but this time as a protector. He’s joined by Linda Hamilton, who shines as Sarah Connor, a fierce and determined warrior fighting for the future of humanity. Cameron orchestrates some truly impressive set pieces, like the chase scene on the freeway.
“The shootout bike chase scene is insane and still holds up,” said user loco11b. “The music/sound is also memorable in that scene,” added Redditor Funkytadualexhaust.
4 ‘Mission Impossible: Fallout’ (2018)
While not the most original in terms of story, Fallout took the Mission Impossible franchise to new heights of action with a seemingly endless lineup of wild stunts. The most impressive was Tom Cruise parachuting from a plane at over 30 000 feet.
“The entirety of Mission Impossible: Fallout is basically one non-stop action sequence, and it’s all incredible,” said Redditor Bellikron. “Christopher McQuarrie is amazing at directing action! The climax of both Rogue Nation and Fallout are excellent, as is the climax of Way of the Gun,” said user UgatzStugots.
3 ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ (1984)
The second Indiana Jones follows the whip-wielding archaeologist (Harrison Ford) on a journey in search of a sacred stone and the kidnapped children of a remote village. It’s pure entertainment in the best way, with relentless pacing, impressive action, and daring escapades aplenty.
“The first 20 or so minutes of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has always been one of my faves,” said user guariemma. “It’s not all action, but it’s so wonderfully paced — from the opening musical number, through the search for the diamond/antidote, through the Shanghai car chase, and then the plane crash/river rapids. The rise and fall of the action/no-action sequences is just perfect.”
2 ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (1998)
Among the finest war films ever made, Saving Private Ryan centers on a group of soldiers led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) as they embark on a mission to find and bring home Private James Ryan (Matt Damon), the last surviving brother of four servicemen during World War II. It’s become legendary thanks to the authentic performances, inventive cinematography, and brutal, realistic combat.
Several Redditors praised the beach landing scenes in particular. “After this scene ended I was exhausted and my mind was blown to thousands of pieces. Completely unexpected. And yet so satisfying — for scenes/films like this the cinemas are made,” said one Redditor.
1 ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ (1989)
In this one, Indy is searching for his father (Sean Connery), a Holy Grail scholar who has fallen into the clutches of the Nazis. Once again, Stephen Spielberg serves up pure cinematic delight: adventure, humor, and ancient mysteries. If anything, the shootouts and escapes are more finely-tuned here than in the two films that preceded it.
The user YoungBeeof03 said the tank battle scene was the best: “Indiana has to rescue Henry and Marcus from the inside of a tank, which itself is part of a military convoy. All he has is a horse and a revolver, and the following 8-minute action spectacle is one of the best ever put to film.”
KEEP READING:15 Great Underrated Movies Recommended by Roger Ebert