Any regular action fan can recommend Mad Max: Fury Road or The Dark Knight for a surefire movie night full of explosions, but truly dedicated genre aficionados will often gravitate towards lesser-known films. Some of the best adrenaline-pumping movies of all time didn't even get a wide theatrical release. The bowels of the internet and the few surviving stand-alone video rental stores are littered with hidden action gems that no true fan should ignore.
Whether it's a film's tightly choreographed fight scenes, spectacularly rendered displays of destruction, or even just a high-octane, mind-melting plot that spawns more ridiculous fan theories than actual answers, the appeal of action movies remains as broad and varied as the movies themselves. Movies for action fans can sometimes serve as a window into a viewer's personality, whether they realize it or not. It takes a particular type of person to recommend a film called Shoot 'Em Up, even if it's not for the reasons you might expect.
Why Is This A True Action Epic: Heat isn't just a great heist film, it's a great film. Starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro at the top of their respective games, Heat sports an affecting plot, powerful acting, and one of the most thrilling cops and robbers shootouts ever filmed.
What Does This Movie Say About Its Fans: They mostly just want to see great movies. Heat appeals to legitimate film fans who care about cinematic quality more than the amount of action in a movie. They're going to shush anybody getting loud while watching, and afterward ask everybody in the living room about their thoughts on the film and what it was trying to say thematically.
Actors: Natalie Portman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, + more
Directed by: Michael Mann
Why Is This A True Action Epic: Tom Cruise has been in a lot of movies. In fact, he's been in a lot of action movies, and his films tend to be among the better ones out there. But Collateral stands out because of its focused scope and Cruise's surprising dedication to the role of a slayer on the loose. Cruise trained extensively for this role, and it shows. He's balanced by Jamie Foxx as an everyman cab driver in way over his head.
What Does This Movie Say About Its Fans: In many ways, Collateral is about the sort of emptiness of the Los Angeles experience. People move there to pursue their dreams, but too many of them end up with nothing to show for it. Those people - and others who have fallen short of fulfilling their dreams - will relate strongly to the themes in Collateral.
Actors: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jason Statham, Javier Bardem, Jada Pinkett Smith, + more
Directed by: Michael Mann
Why Is This A True Action Epic: Edge of Tomorrow is sort of like if Groundhog Day became an epic sci-fi action movie. Thanks to the lead character's invincibility - if he passes, he just wakes up again at the start of the day - he's able to perform some incredible action stunts, risking and sometimes losing everything to thwart an alien invasion.
What Does This Movie Say About Its Fans: Edge of Tomorrow isn't a movie many people have seen. In fact, it was functionally retitled after release to clarify the concept. Though it has found a passionate audience, the movie remains underappreciated, so this is one for the people who identify with the runt in a litter, who take the time and effort to seek out a movie or experience no matter who unpopular or under the radar it may be.
Actors: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Riley, + more
Directed by: Doug Liman
Why Is This A True Action Epic: This is Bruce Campbell at his B-movie best. The second sequel in the Evil Dead series, Army of Darkness sends Ash back in time with a chainsaw for a hand and his trusty shotgun. The plot is utter nonsense, but blowing away undead foes makes for a reliably hilarious viewing experience, especially with a crowd.
What Does This Movie Say About Its Fans: These people watch action films for the sheer fun of it. They're not into thinking about which of these films are the greatest or the slickest, they just want to watch stuff explode, hear some good one-liners, and hang out with friends.
Actors: Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Scott Spiegel, Ellen Sandweiss, + more
Directed by: Sam Raimi