Watchworthy

The Best '70s Action Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated May 7, 2020 4.4k votes 544 voters 16.7k views 52 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite action films that were released in the 1970s.

When it comes the action movies, the grittier, the better. The top '70s action movies have non-stop excitement, thrills, suspense, and danger, and will leave you sitting at the edge of your seat. Films like The French Connection, Dirty Harry, and Mad Max really set the precedence for action films in the '70s. In addition, the top '70s action movies include an impressive mix of disaster movies, blacksploitation films, and tons of Bruce Lee flicks.

1970s action movies saw the rise of Clint Eastwood as tough-as-nails cop Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry franchise, but you may prefer Eastwood's more subtle performance in Escape from Alcatraz. During the '70s, there was also a change-up between Sean Connery playing James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, and Roger Moore taking over the legendary role in Live and Let Die. But a list of '70s action movies wouldn't be complete without including three of the most renowned Bruce Lee films: Enter the Dragon, Fists of Fury, and Return of the Dragon

Vote up the best 1970s action films below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section! 
Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood, Don Siegel, Andrew Robinson

Released: 1971

Directed by: Don Siegel

Dirty Harry is a 1971 American action film produced and directed by Don Siegel, the first in the Dirty Harry series. Clint Eastwood plays the title role, in his first outing as San Francisco ...more

More Dirty Harry 

#11 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #328 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #77 of 130 Movies That Should Never Be Remade

2
Ranker Video
Sylvester Stallone, Joe Frazier, Burgess Meredith

Released: 1976

Directed by: John G. Avildsen

Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen. A small-time boxer (Sylvester Stallone) gets a supremely rare chance to fight a heavy-weight champion (Carl Weathers) in ...more

More Rocky 

#10 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #30 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Ranker Video
Mel Gibson, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley

Released: 1979

Directed by: George Miller

Mad Max is a 1979 Australian dystopian action film directed by George Miller, produced by Byron Kennedy and starring Mel Gibson. James McCausland and Miller wrote the screenplay from a story by ...more

More Mad Max 

Things You Didn't Know About The 'Mad Max' Movies #30 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #366 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

4
Ranker Video
Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung

Released: 1973

Directed by: Robert Clouse

Enter the Dragon is a 1973 Hong Kong martial arts action film directed by Robert Clouse; starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly. The film was released on 26 July 1973 in Hong Kong. He was ...more

More Enter the Dragon 

#43 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #1,195 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #71 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

5
Ranker Video
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1977

Directed by: George Lucas

Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The first release in the Star Wars franchise, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter ...more

More Star Wars 

The Best Blasters in the 'Star Wars' Saga, Ranked #2 of 591 The Best '70s Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

6
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood, Suzanne Somers, Hal Holbrook

Released: 1973

Directed by: Ted Post

Magnum Force is a 1973 American action film and the second to feature Clint Eastwood as maverick cop Harry Callahan after the 1971 film Dirty Harry. Ted Post, who also directed Eastwood in the ...more

More Magnum Force 

#64 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #72 of 178 The Best Movie Sequels Ever Made #11 of 45 The Best Movies Starring Clint Eastwood

7
Ranker Video
Mercedes Ruehl, Robert Townsend, James Remar

Released: 1979

Directed by: Walter Hill

The Warriors is a 1979 American cult thriller film directed by Walter Hill and based on Sol Yurick's 1965 novel of the same name. Like the novel, the film borrows elements from the Anabasis by ...more

More The Warriors 

#38 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #747 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Movies Set in Brooklyn

8
Ranker Video
Jeff Goldblum, Charles Bronson, Christopher Guest

Released: 1974

Directed by: Michael Winner

This film is a 1974 American vigilante action film loosely based on the novel of the same name by Brian Garfield. The film was directed by Michael Winner and stars Charles Bronson as a man who ...more

More Death Wish 

#59 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #1,413 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #413 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

9
Ranker Video
Sylvester Stallone, Burgess Meredith, Roberto Durán

Released: 1979

Directed by: Sylvester Stallone

Rocky II is a 1979 American sports drama film directed by Sylvester Stallone, and the second film in the series. Rocky (Stallone) struggles in family life after his bout with Apollo Creed (Carl ...more

More Rocky II 

#66 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #547 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #586 of 1,211 The Absolute Funniest Movies Of All Time

10
Ranker Video
Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey

Released: 1971

Directed by: William Friedkin

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial The French Connection is a 1971 American dramatic thriller film directed by William Friedkin and produced by Philip D'Antoni. It stars Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, and Roy Scheider. The film was ...more

More The French Connection 

#23 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #95 of 368 The Best Movies Based On Bookslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

11
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood, Danny Glover, Patrick McGoohan

Released: 1979

Directed by: Don Siegel

Escape from Alcatraz is a 1979 American prison film, directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood. It is based on true events. It dramatizes possibly the only successful escape attempt ...more

More Escape from Alcatraz 

#34 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #1,000 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #128 of 235 The Best Movies Based On True Stories

12
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood, Tyne Daly, Bradford Dillman

Released: 1976

Directed by: James Fargo

The Enforcer is a 1976 American action film and the third in the Dirty Harry film series. Directed by James Fargo, it stars Clint Eastwood as Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan, Tyne ...more

More The Enforcer 

#80 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #355 of 460 The Most Quotable Movies of All Time #18 of 45 The Best Movies Starring Clint Eastwood

13
Ranker Video
Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Nora Miao

Released: 1972

Directed by: Lo Wei

Fist of Fury, also known as The Chinese Connection and The Iron Hand in the United States, is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Lo Wei, starring Bruce Lee in his second major role ...more

More Fist of Fury 

#246 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #211 of 742 The Greatest Action Movies of All Time #3 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies

14
Ranker Video
Sally Field, Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason

Released: 1977

Directed by: Hal Needham

Smokey and the Bandit is a 1977 Technicolor American action comedy film starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, Patrick McCormick, Paul Williams and Mike Henry. It ...more

More Smokey and the Bandit 

#50 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #136 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetime #150 of 1,027 The All-Time Greatest Comedy Films

15
Superman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '70s Action Movies
Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve

Released: 1978

Directed by: Richard Donner

Superman is a 1978 superhero film directed by Richard Donner. It is based on the DC Comics character of the same name and stars Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, ...more

More Superman 

Bizarre Facts Most People Don't Know About Christopher Reeve's 'Superman' #37 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #31 of 188 The Best Superhero Movies Ever Made

16
Ranker Video
Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall

Released: 1979

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. ...more

More Apocalypse Now 

The Behind The Scenes Madness Of 'Apocalypse Now' Was Even More Hellish Than You Thought #20 of 377 The 50+ Best War Movies Ever Made, Rankedlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

17
Ranker Video
Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Nora Miao

Released: 1972

Directed by: Bruce Lee

Way of the Dragon is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts action comedy film written, produced and directed by Bruce Lee, who also stars in the lead role. This was Bruce Lee's only completed ...more
18
Ranker Video
Jane Seymour, Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto

Released: 1973

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

This film is the eighth spy film in the James Bond series to be produced by Eon Productions, and the first to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Produced by Albert R. ...more

More Live and Let Die 

#56 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #781 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #158 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

19
Ranker Video
Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Caroline Munro

Released: 1977

Directed by: Lewis Gilbert

The Spy Who Loved Me is the tenth spy film in the James Bond series, and the third to star Roger Moore as the fictional secret agent James Bond. It was directed by Lewis Gilbert and the ...more

More The Spy Who Loved Me 

#72 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #1,094 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #234 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

20
Ranker Video
Austin Stoker, Charles Cyphers, Tony Burton

Released: 1976

Directed by: John Carpenter

Assault on Precinct 13 is a 1976 American action thriller film written, directed, scored and edited by John Carpenter. It stars Austin Stoker as a police officer who defends a defunct precinct ...more

More Assault on Precinct 13 

#146 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #51 of 94 Best Kidnapping Movies & Hostage Movies of All Time, Ranked #246 of 396 The Greatest Movie Themes

21
Ranker Video
Christopher Lee, Roger Moore, Britt Ekland

Released: 1974

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

The Man with the Golden Gun is the ninth spy film in the James Bond series and the second to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. A loose adaptation of Ian Fleming's novel of ...more

More The Man with the Golden Gun 

#81 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #229 of 233 The Worst Sequels Of All Time #1,102 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies

22
Ranker Video
Sean Connery, Sammy Davis, Jr.

Released: 1971

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

Diamonds Are Forever is the seventh spy film in the James Bond series by Eon Productions, and the sixth and final Eon film to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film is ...more

More Diamonds Are Forever 

#198 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies #1,208 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #148 of 591 The Best '70s Movies

23
Ranker Video
Yul Brynner, James Brolin, Dick Van Patten

Released: 1973

Directed by: Michael Crichton

Westworld is a 1973 science fiction western-thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton and produced by Paul Lazarus III about amusement park robots that become evil after a ...more

More Westworld 

#129 of 395 The Best Western Movies Ever Made #74 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #416 of 624 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Movies

24
Ranker Video
NathanReynolds added Sonny Chiba, Yutaka Nakajima, Tony Cetera

Released: 1974

Directed by: Shigehiro Ozawa

The Street Fighter, literally Clash, Killer Fist!, is a Japanese martial arts film released in 1974 and produced by Toei Company Ltd. It was released in the US by New Line Cinema and became one ...more

More The Street Fighter 

#141 of 413 The All-Time Greatest Martial Art Movies #16 of 41 The Best Kung Fu Movies of the 1970s #53 of 200 The Best R-Rated Martial Arts Movies

25
Ranker Video
Gene Hackman, Stella Stevens, Ernest Borgnine

Released: 1972

Directed by: Irwin Allen, Ronald Neame

The Poseidon Adventure is a 1972 American action-adventure disaster film, directed by Ronald Neame, produced by Irwin Allen, and based on Paul Gallico's novel of the same name. The film features ...more

More The Poseidon Adventure 

#54 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #604 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever