Entertainment
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The Best Action Directors in Film History

Updated February 23, 2020 787 votes 76 voters 1.8k views62 items

Who are the best action directors in film history? This is your chance to decide. Making good action movies is a difficult task. For starters, it requires a strong script, so that the action has a solid story surrounding it. Next, as all the top action directors know, you have to possess a vision for how the action sequences will work. Without that, you end up with a jumbled mess. Finally, after getting all the necessary footage, a director needs to work closely with an editor to make sure the sequences have the tight pacing they need. Accomplishing all of this is a difficult task, at best.

Some famous action directors work solely within this genre. Michael Bay is a good example. Others, like William Friedkin and Ridley Scott, work in all kinds of genres, with action just being one. Directors such as John Woo have very distinct styles that are easily identifiable across their filmographies. At the opposite end of the spectrum are people like Kathryn Bigelow, who adjust their style to the material. Regardless of the approach, all of them have displayed a firm grasp on how to excite audiences.

Vote for the action directors you think are the best in film history from the list below. Don't see your favorite? Add them to the list, then check back later to see how other users rank it. 

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  • 1

    The Terminator (1984)

    Aliens (1986)

    Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992) 

    True Lies (1994)

    Avatar (2009)

  • 2

    Predator (1987)

    Die Hard (1988) 

    Last Action Hero (1993) 

    Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)

  • 3

    Mad Max (1979)

    The Road Warrior (1981) 

    Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) 

    Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

  • 4

    A Better Tomorrow (1986)

    The Killer (1989)

    Hard Target (1993)

    Broken Arrow (1996)

    Face/Off (1997)

    Mission: Impossble II (2000

     

  • 5

    Robocop (1987)

    Total Recall (1990)

    Starship Troopers (1997)

  • 6

    Escape from New York (1991) 

    Big Trouble in Little China (1986) 

    They Live (1988) 

    Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)

  • 7

    Black Rain (1989)

    Gladiator (2000)

    Black Hawk Down (2001)

    Robin Hood (2010)

     

  • 8

    Die Hard 2 (1990) 

    Cliffhanger (1993) 

    The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996) 

    Deep Blue Sea (1999)

    12 Rounds (2009)

  • 9
    JP Jordan added
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  • 10

    Blue Steel (1990)

    Point Break (1991)

    The Hurt Locker (2008)

    Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

  • 11

    El Mariachi (1992)

    Desperado (1995)

    Spy Kids (2001)

    Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

    Sin City (2005)

    Machete (2010)

    Alita: Battle Angel (2019) 

  • 12

    Lock, Stock, and Twi Smoking Barrels (1998)

    Revolver (2005) 

    Sherlock Holmes (2009)

    Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) 

    The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

    King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

  • 13

    Superman (1978)

    Lethal Weapon (1987)

    Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

    Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)

    Assassins (1995)

    Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

    16 Blocks (2006)

  • 14

    Shaun of the Dead (2004) 

    Hot Fuzz (2007) 

    The World's End (2013) 

    Baby Driver (2017)

  • 15

    GoldenEye (1995)

    The Mask of Zorro (1998) 

    Casino Royale (2006)

    Green Lantern (2011) 

    The Foreigner (2017

  • 16

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) 

    Avengers: Infinity War (2017) 

    Avengers: Endgame (2018)

  • 17

    John Wick (2014)

    Atomic Blonde (2017)

    Deadpool 2 (2018)

  • 18

    The Wild Bunch (1969) 

    Straw Dogs (1971) 

    The Getaway (1972)

  • 19

    Top Gun (1986) 

    The Last Boy Scout (1991)

    True Romance (1993) 

    Man on Fire (2004) 

    Domino (2005)

    The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)

    Unstoppable (2010)

  • 20

    The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

    King Kong (2005)

    The Hobbit (2012-2014)

  • 21

    The Warriors (1979) 

    48 Hrs (1982) 

    Red Heat (1988) 

    Trespass (1992)

    Bullet to the Head (2012)

  • 22

    The Incredibles (2004)

    Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

    Incredibles 2 (2018)

  • 23

    The Eiger Sanction (1975) 

    The Gauntlet (1977) 

    Sudden Impact (1983) 

    Flags of Our Fathers (2006) 

    American Sniper (2014)

  • 24
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  • 25

    Dressed to Kill (1980) 

    Body Double (1981) 

    The Untouchables (1987)

    Mission: Impossible (1996)

    Domino (2019)

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