Forget Iron Man; forget James Bond. Fictional wimps, the lot. The real movie heroes are the fearless men and women who perform death-defying practical stunts, so that when Vin Diesel jumps a car through a wall of fire at 200 mph, it looks real to you. Because it is. Everything except for Vin Diesel, of course.
From A-list actors who insist on doing their own stunts to veteran stunt performers who critically injure themselves so audiences don't have to suffer through too much CGI, here are 25 of the craziest practical stunts in action movies. Don't forget to vote your favorites up!
In the Holy Trinity of practical stunts, Jackie Chan is probably Jesus. Chan is famous for the death-defying stunts he performs in his movies, so much so that he sometimes has trouble outdoing himself. Which wasn't the case with Who Am I?, in which Chan performed a feat labeled the "world's most dangerous stunt" by his producers. In the scene, he makes a hasty escape from a rooftop by sliding down the structure's steeply sloped surface. No wires, no nets - just a man stumbling recklessly down 21 stories of glass window panes.
For more Chan, check out that time in Police Story 3: Super Cop he jumped from a roof to a ladder hanging off a helicopter, rode it through a city, and dropped from it onto a speeding train. Or when he slid down a multi-story metal pole with an electric current running through it and careened through the roof of a mall kiosk in Police Story.
Keanu Reeves is not only the One, but also a bit of an action junkie, and he often performs his own stunts. In Speed, he not only slid under a speeding bus, but also jumped from a moving car onto the moving bus. He rehearsed the stunt on his own, in secret, and pleaded with the director to let him try the stunt himself, even though the director was hesitant (can't imagine why?)
And yes, just as Dennis Hopper insisted, the bus was going over 50 mph.
In the Holy Trinity of practical action pioneers, Buster Keaton is the god at its center. In Steamboat Bill, Jr., he risked being crushed by a house for laughs.
There have been tons of movies that have copied this famous scene from the silent era, in which a man standing in front of a falling structure is left miraculously unscathed thanks to a well-placed hole. The difference is, the house in Steamboat Bill, Jr. actually did fall, and Keaton had the guts to stand underneath it and hope nothing went wrong. Any tiny change in the way the house fell would have flattened Keaton.
While Tom Cruise's ascent up the outside of the Burj Khalifa in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol would certainly qualify for a position here, Cruise managed to top himself in the sequel, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. How? By strapping himself to the side of an Airbus and riding it into the sky.
Say what you will about Tom Cruise's eccentricities; there's no denying the dude has brass cojones.