Time Out’s 100 Best Action Movies

tn_36thchamberWell, I’ve never been asked to be on a film festival jury (and I’ve been twice-rejected from being on a real jury) but I’m honored that Time Out New York asked me to be one of the voters for their 100 Best Action Movies list in the “Film critics and experts” section. I believe I am an expert.

As with all lists like this there’s no way to read it without noticing what you think should be on there that’s not. Personally I can’t help but note that there’s not a single Steven Seagal*, Jean-Claude Van Damme or Dolph Lundgren film on there. Is there any Charles Bronson? There’s a couple Clints. I’m okay with no Chuck Norris. Stallone and Schwarzenegger get their due, and most of us can get behind the obvious choice for #1. It’s got some westerns, some samurai, lots of martial arts. But the b-action gets the shaft. (And blaxploitation, come to think of it.)

*except for MACHETE

But then again I know how the voting was done. We all voted for 10, based on our own definition or criteria of action. So some people are always gonna vote for various things outside of the bounds of straight-ahead action. And it’s hard to narrow down to the 10 best. If I was doing the 20 best or the 30 best you bet your ass I would’ve gotten into Brian Bosworth territory. But trying to honor the full breadth of action cinema history in ten movies, even I neglected Van Damme and Dolph. I blew it, you guys. I’m part of the problem.

On the other hand, I can get behind the vast majority of the movies on the list, and I’m pleased at all the love for Hong Kong. There’s my favorite Shaw Brothers movies, there’s a whole bunch of Jackie Chan, a couple Jet Li, a couple Donnie Yen, there’s five John Woo movies (BULLET IN THE HEAD, A BETTER TOMORROW, THE KILLER, FACE/OFF and HARD BOILED). And EASTERN CONDORS came in at #56! I didn’t vote for it but I’m glad somebody else did.

Here was my list:


On another day I would’ve voted differently, but here was my rationale. #1 and #2 go without saying. The rest I tried to choose based on equal love for the story and characters and for the actual action. I didn’t want something that is a great movie that if you think about it has action in it (the Lucas and Spielbergs for example). I wanted it to be a great movie that also I sometimes watch just for the action scenes. For example I love KILL BILL on so many different levels but also I can just watch the fight with Elle Driver in the trailer over and over again and it always moves me. I got movies with incredible physicality and choreography, also chases and stuntwork, and a couple that are just quintessential badass attitude. A decent variety of the type of stuff I love.

7 out of my 10 made the cut for the actual list. The ones that didn’t were WAY OF THE DRAGON (ENTER THE DRAGON did, of course), OUT FOR JUSTICE and THE PROTECTOR (ONG BAK did make it). Glancing at the lists I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who voted for THE PROTECTOR or for anything starring Steven Seagal. Oh well. That’s how these things go.

To me the funnest part is looking at what the people in the “Actors, directors and stunt performers” category voted for.

Danny Trejo put MACHETE at #1, that’s gotta be part of how it gone onto the list. Some of the other guys probly saw that and thought “Ah shit, I didn’t know I could vote for my own movie!” I believe he’s also in HEAT which is #3 on his list, but that seems fair. Zoe Bell voted for her own movie RAZE (and KILL BILL, where she was the lead stunt double) but at least she put them at the bottom of her list.

I like that Iko Uwais, star of THE RAID, has the Mark Dacascos-teaching-capoeira-to-troubled-teens movie ONLY THE STRONG on his list. I love that movie too but that’s a deep cut.

John McTiernan is a funny one too because here’s the director of the #1 movie on the list (by quite a margin I’m guessing based on how many lists it’s on) and most of the stuff on his list nobody would consider to even be action movies. For example he has FARGO on his list. And THE GRAPES OF WRATH.

One weird thing to make it onto the list is WAR, a poorly reviewed Jet Li-Jason Statham movie from 2007. Not a terrible movie, but when you look at all the things I mentioned above that didn’t make the cut its inclusion is a real head-scratcher.

Or that’s what I thought anyway. Then I saw that Yayan Ruhian had it at #3 on his list. Shit, if Mad Dog from THE RAID wants it on there it’s going on there. I’ll allow it.

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108 Responses to “Time Out’s 100 Best Action Movies”

  1. I’d be hard pressed *not* to include CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON on a top ten list, if only for the aesthetic value of its action scenes.

    As far as KILL BILL goes: I’d say yes to Part One, but Part Two’s action [fight] scenes strike me as too truncated, which is a shame.

    Great list BTW, Vern.

  2. For me personally the biggest headscratcher is how one of the jurors put FURIOUS 7 on his list. I guess he wanted to make his vote future proof?

  3. I’m offended Time Out New York allowed an avowed West Coaster and known resident of Seattle to vote in this important listmaking endeavor, but I shall channel my outrage into the formulation of my own bloated Best Action Movies Top 10+.

    1. DIE HARD

    2. SUCKER PUNCH (2011)

    3. FACE / OFF (1997)

    4. FIST OF LEGEND (1994)

    5. RAMBO FIRST BLOOD PART 2 (1985)


    7. SEVEN CHANCES (1925)

    8. THE INCREDIBLES (2004)

    9. RAMBO (2008)


    Honorable Mentions You Could Talk Me Into My Top 10 If We Were Politicking For Votes For Top 100 Placement In The Published Final Group Poll Results:

    -any James Cameron joint
    -MIAMI VICE “Brother’s Keeper” 2-part pilot (1984)
    -MIAMI VICE (2006)
    -STEP UP 3D (2010)
    -COMMANDO (1985)
    -HEROES OF THE EAST (1978)
    -THE MATRIX (1999)
    -BLADE II (2002)
    -THE LAST LIONS (2011, documentary)
    -SAFETY LAST (1923)
    -ACT OF VALOR (2012)
    -HOT SHOTS! PART DEUX (1993)
    -ON DEADLY GROUND (1994)
    -JASON X (2002)

    This is fun.

  4. And FA5T belongs somewhere in that top 20. Oops, bad omission. Didn’t mean to be racist against automobiles.

  5. And DAWN OF THE DEAD (yet another 1978 representative) has a phenomenal amount of well-filmed tacticality and bullets to heads. Romero’s action in this case is more impressive than the horror or metaphorizing in my opinion. Put that movie in the mix.

  6. I´d put DRIVE, the Mark dacscos masterpiece up there. Pre-dating THE MATRIX by incorporating Hong Kong style action and in an impressive way too. The choreography even beats THE MATRIX hands down with its own fists.

  7. Maybe it wouldn’t crack the top ten, but surely UNDISPUTED 3 deserves a place in (let’s mark it) the top 25. Plus there’s no lack of people clamoring for a fourth movie:


  8. My one problem with this is, if everybody just chose their favorite 10, it means that some of the voters, at least a couple, consider MACHETE to be one of the ten (!!!) greatest action movies of all time.

    : (

  9. Oh I han’t read the Danny Trejo voting part. Still : (

  10. their top 100 list is so stupid its offensive…

  11. Geez, you poll a bunch of Eastern martial arts-based people and you get a list that heavily favors Eastern martial arts-based action movies. Who would have thunk it? Taken one-by-one, each individual’s list are mostly respectable choices. But once you mash them together into a master list you suddenly have glaring omissions. Vern has already mentioned the bias against American low-to-medium budget genre movies. But nothing for Walter Hill, at all? One for John Frankenheimer, one for Robert Aldrich, one for Bruce Lee. Nothing for THE ITALIAN JOB(1969) or THE BLUES BROTHERS, not even for the sub-list of 10 most insane car chases. Great films featuring European martial arts are practically non-existent, so nothing along the lines of Richard Lester’s MUSKETEERS movies or THE PRINCESS BRIDE and ROB ROY.

  12. No 48 HRS.? No LAST BOY SCOUT? No DEATH WISH 3? No CO-fucking-MAN-fucking-DO?

    I hate lists.

  13. And am I just blind or was ROAD HOUSE not on there?

    It’s almost like I have completely different criteria than everyone else. Not cool.

    Your picks are pretty solid, though, Vern. I’ve never been in the cult of Bruce Lee but WAY is definitely the best pick. Your choice of TOM YUNG GOONG over the better known ONG BAK shows a connoisseur’s eye. ONG BAK broke the door down but TYG had more imaginative action and a more meaningful emotional hook. Somehow it’s easier to care about a baby elephant than a statue head, and that really raises the movie a couple notches.

    Also, no fucking COBRA? Unacceptable.

    I will allow that maybe the world is not quite ready to recognize the nihilistic anti-art of BAD BOYS II. Maybe when they redo the list in 2024.

  14. BAD BOYS 2 is glorious. Few sane cinephiles would feel right ranking it ahead of, say, the brilliant movie it rips off — POLICE STORY — but I for one have recently gone insane so I’ll ride together die together with Michael Bay at Guantanamo Bay.

    There’s a sneaky great rocket launcher moment in there that never gets enough love, probably because BBII is such an expensive movie that it can afford to have awesome shit happen in the background of all the carnage that you’ll miss if you happen to be focused on the other side of the screen.

  15. That reminds me: Any chance of a resurrection of THE OUTLAW AWARDS or even a BADASS 100 2015 EDITION?

  16. Hey, I’m happy that COMMANDO made the cut, at least.

  17. Vern, I didn’t know your clear number two would be HARDBOILED. That makes me happy. For me, the John Woo/Chow Yun Fat movies is the most rewatchable, enjoyable, and emotive school of action.
    I’ve been thinking about KILL BILL more and how awesome it is. I think it’s aged very well and I’m able to appreciate it more as it’s cohered in my movie memory as one work over time.
    FIRST BLOOD is a good pick for being awesome and also significant. It has the feel to me of both learning what an action movie is and also succeeding at making one in the same film.

  18. Did I miss COMMANDO? I feel a little better now.

    I cannot accept DIRTY HARRY in the high 70s, though. That is inappropriate.

  19. RE: McTiernan’s list: FARGO I don’t quite get, but I seem to remember CHINATOWN having some quasi-action sequences towards the end. That certainly merits being on the list. Honestly I’d love to see something like this for crime movies, since I’m more attracted to those.

  20. Seems obvious they (TONY) didn’t really get in touch with McTiernan. His agent or receptionist or whatever relayed the question of “Hey some website is asking “What are the 10 best action films?”” and McT wasn’t paying a lot of attention so he just spat out what he thinks are his 10 favorite movies in the moment he was asked.

  21. I don’t know. There are some interesting ones on the list, but there are also some that I just don’t think belong there. I mean, I love RAGING BULL but I wouldn’t really consider it an action movie. And the silent film of the train? Sure, it’s culturally significant and all but how is it an action movie? (Vern, your list is pretty good, though). I really wish they had people pick more than ten. With only ten, there’s a lot of “well, that HAS to be there” and not a lot of digging deep into some of the less well-known stuff (like STONE COLD)

  22. This was my top 10 list from the Nicolas Cage thread earlier in the year –

    1. FACE/OFF
    6. T2
    7. CON AIR
    10. BLADE

    One thing I’ve noticed about my choices compared to Vern and some of you guys is that I chose 2 Woo ones that aren’t of his early ‘100% proof John Woo’ stock, like HARD BOILED and THE KILLER. The reason, simply, is that FACE\OFF is fucking awesome, and also I like a bit of Hollywood mixed in with the Fuckin Crazy vision of a madman like Woo. (see also, to lesser effect, THE LAST STAND). Also, Nicolas Cage. Tongue Sucking. Peach eating. “Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you!” Mega motherfucker. I also chose a less popular sequel to DIE HARD than the beloved original, which I love too, but I’ve always liked the evermore-hungover-having-a-bad-day McClane of VENGEANCE than the more sprightly wise-cracking one of the original.

    But I feel I made a glaring, dogs-balls-sticking-out omission from that list, so I need to knock one out. To be fair, I’ll use the last-in-first-out clause, so BLADE needs to go –

    – 10. (- BLADE)

    And I must apologize to John Milius and add –


    I’ve recently come to appreciate the majesty, excitement and thrill of Basil Poledouris’ mighty score for CONAN, which has helped elevate my love for this one.

  23. ROMANCING THE STONE?! Don’t get me wrong, I actually like that movie and think it does contain action elements, so I’m not saying it doesn’t belong on the list because it’s not an action movie or a good movie. I’m saying it doesn’t belong on a list of action movies above ones that are completely left off like anything from the guys Vern mentioned. Seriously, ROMANCING THE STONE and not one single Seagal movie? It’s dumbfounding.

    Oh, and Vern, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is on there, so there’s at least one Charles Bronson movie, even if it’s not solely Charles Bronson. Was THE DIRTY DOZEN on there, I can’t remember now.

  24. Good stuff, Darren.
    I consider CONAN THE BARBARIAN to be more of a beautiful horrific tone poem than an action vessel. This is a good thing. Unless you’re a camel.

    THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS gives me all the feels (first time I’ve ever used that odious phrase; I thus relinquish my credibility as a respectable person worth heeding), most of which are not overshadowed by the scalping and sharpshooting and hatcheting awesomeness, so I don’t quite apply the label of ‘action’ movie here.

    APOCALYPTO would easily be my Mel Gibson selection.

    (And yes also MAD MAX 2 is rad as hell and properly ranked, for the record.)

    It’s hard to narrow it to 10 and to dance around the gradations of great action in conjunction with and/or in contrast to great cinema/narrative. I mean, the Gatti Vs. Ward trilogy or Clay/Ali dropping Sonny Liston is the greatest action & drama I’ve ever seen on a tv monitor, and those fights were/are extremely cinematic, but there’s no true movie there. In the same sense, BANGKOK KNOCKOUT is off the charts for action & stunt work greatness, but the parts with dialogue are a headachey slog. And, just as I dream of singlehandedly saving Nakatomi Plaza from terrorists even as I’d really rather be totally content having a nice boring cubicle job, I dream of porn stars & wild sex acts and yet when I take a step back from my hormones I realize I’d much prefer a steady relationship with an intelligent, conservatively attractive partner, someone with whom to make sexytimes and be seen in the grocery store as a cute couple & a good set of neighbors even if we never go on crazy adventures.

    And apologies to various Verhoevens for not including them in my lists.

  25. I thought ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST might’ve been on there too, but didn’t go back and check. But yeah, voting for more than 10 would’ve gotten some of his vehicles on there. I saw at least one vote for DEATH WISH on somebody’s list.

    Also I know somebody voted for BLUES BROTHERS and somebody for BLADE, but not enough people I guess.

  26. > thought ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST might’ve been on there too, but didn’t go back and check.

    It is.

    IMHO the most egregious miss is TOTAL RECALL. I mean, they got ROBOCOP on there but still. And honestly, I think I genuinely would put UNIVERSAL SOLIDER: DAY OF RECKONING on there.

  27. Oh yeah, APOCALYPTO, good catch Mouth. And can we just preemptively add FURY ROAD to the list?

  28. No live for the original MAD MAX? That’s always been my favorite. It’s so grimy and visceral that you can practically smell it.

  29. Majestyk- I’m with you there. ROAD WARRIOR is great but MAD MAX is so grimy (I like that better than the overused gritty, by the way) that it almost feels like a futuristic TEXAS CHAINSAW or something. I remember the first time I saw it as a 12 or 13 year old, I felt like I was getting away with watching something I shouldn’t be allowed to see.

  30. 1. Die Hard
    2. Robocop
    3. The Terminator
    4. Aliens
    5. First Blood Part 2
    6. Demolition Man
    7. The Matrix
    8. Ip Man
    9. Marked For Death
    10. Speed

    I think my list belies my age. Oh, well, it is what it is. I have a lot of respect for practical effects. I almost think anything post 2000 should not count.

  31. Dtroyt – I remember sneaking downstairs in the middle of the night when I was 5 and finding my dad asleep on the Lazyboy, MAD MAX playing on HBO. I spent the next half hour crying behind the chair before my dad woke up and turned it off. Then I spent the rest of my life being obsessed with that kind of shit. MAD MAX is king. Or the Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla, at least.

  32. “I didn’t want something that is a great movie that if you think about it has action in it (the Lucas and Spielbergs for example). I wanted it to be a great movie that also I sometimes watch just for the action scenes.”

    Vern, I can kind of understand ruling out the STAR WARS movies on those grounds – they are as much about story, themes, and world-building as they are about action. But the Indiana Jones movies? No one watches those for the story, do they?

    As a kid I watched the airplane fight and truck chase in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK over and over, more often than I watched the full movie.

    I understand how having a love-hate relationship with nerd culture here might make one reluctant to put an over-quoted Lucasfilm production in the same sandbox as shaolin and spaghetti westerns. But I think RAIDERS, at least, deserves to be let into the cool club.

  33. Zeke- That’s awesome! You guys are making me want to go watch MAD MAX right now! I also wanted to add that it had a fucking badass poster which indirectly turned me into a Judge Dredd fan. The whole reason I ever picked up my first copy of 2000 A.D. was that the artwork reminded me of that poster.

    Curt- I was very happy to see RAIDERS on the list. But I definitely watch it for both the story and the action. I consider it the perfect adventure movie.

  34. 1. Aliens
    2. Die Hard
    3. T2
    4. Blade II
    5. It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
    6. Who Am I
    7. Retroactive
    8. Tango & Cash
    9. 8 Diagram Pole Fighter
    10. Lethal Weapon 2

    Demolition Man, Casino Royale, North by Northwest, The Seven Ups, Under Siege, Assault on Precinct 13, Batman Begins, Taken, Stone Cold, Drive (the Steve Wan film) and Speed Racer all get honorable mentions. My list like anyone’s could change daily but the top 5 are pretty much set in stone.

  35. Rewatched the The og MAD MAX recently and found I liked it much better now than before. But that was because I saw ROAD WARRIOR first and kind of expected the same epicness. Now I like it as a great origin story in a pre-post apocalyptic future where you can tell by how things look, that shits gonna get even worse. The Looney Tunes eyeball sequences are also amazing and gives the movie a real offbeat feel which makes it more of a great sleazy exploitation flick than part 2 which feels way more slick and Hollywood in its productionvalues and overall technical quality.

  36. Curt – I love those movies, I’m not gonna complain about them making the list. I guess I just think of them as separate from the action genre. To me all the adventuring and going around solving mysteries to find treasure and the supernatural aspect are kind of a different thing from Arnold and Bruce Lee. But you’re right, RAIDERS is full of great stunts and chases and nobody else who voted seems to have the same apprehension I did.

  37. Surprised HOT FUZZ didn’t make the list.

  38. Wait? More than one voted for War?

  39. I would really have to give such a list a shitload of thought (though like many of you DIE HARD is my defacto numero uno). This is pretty cool news anyway though. Good to see Vern keep getting the recognition from mainstream press that he truly deserves.

  40. “On another day I would’ve voted differently, but here was my rationale. #1 and #2 go without saying. The rest I tried to choose based on equal love for the story and characters and for the actual action. I didn’t want something that is a great movie that if you think about it has action in it (the Lucas and Spielbergs for example). I wanted it to be a great movie that also I sometimes watch just for the action scenes.”
    That’s the problem really. You’d think logically the quality of the action would be the primary factor, but movies with tremendous action can still be awful in all other areas(see BANGKOK KNOCKOUT), but to weigh those other areas seems like it undermines the very point of valuing an action movie. I think DIE HARD is an overall better movie, but that THE RAID is a much better ACTION movie.

  41. Okayy…here’s my attempt at a top 10 and they’re pretty much interchangeable.

    1) Die Hard
    2) Predator
    3) Die Hard with a Vengeance
    4) Aliens
    5) Robocop
    6) First Blood
    7) Under Siege
    8) Unisol: Regeneration
    9) They Live
    10) The Gauntlet

  42. RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PT. II is a much better action movie than FIRST BLOOD. But I think I’m the only one around these parts besides Mouth who truly genuinely loves the shit out of that movie.

  43. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 7th, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Well, before Paul’s cop-out list of “more than ten films I’d include on a top ten list like this” (because honestly, I can’t narrow it down to just ten), here’s my reaction to Vern’s list:

    1. DIE HARD – Yeah!
    2. HARD BOILED – Yeah!
    3. THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN – Yeah! Although see below!
    4. THE WAY OF THE DRAGON – Yeah! (Although I’d go with the majority and choose “Enter the dragon” for this one, I really can’t disagree with the inclusion of ANY Bruce Lee film, with the possible exception of “The Big Boss”.)
    6. MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR – Erm… based on you guys’ comments, on account of I still haven’t seen it yet – Yeah!
    7. KILL BILL – Volume 1 – Yeah! Volume 2 – eeeeeh…
    8. OUT FOR JUSTICE – Shamefully, this is one of the few remaining Seagals I haven’t seen yet.
    9. THE PROTECTOR/TOM YUM GOONG – Eeeeeeeh… I’ve seen it… I gotta be honest, I wasn’t convinced by the action OR the story. I don’t know, it’s good, but I just feel as though everything it’s done I’ve seen done better elsewhere. This is the only entry of Vern’s, apart from Kill Bill Volume 2, that I find myself seriously disagreeing with.
    10. FIRST BLOOD – Yeah!

    What would I put on mine?


    Some new contenders:
    – KILL ZONE / BLOOD AND BONE / UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION – I still consider these my best “finds” from this site. (There are others, like BEREAVEMENT, but that’s not an action movie.) And for good measure, throw in EDGE OF TOMORROW, because I fucking love that movie.

    The Verhoven triple-bill:
    – ROBOCOP / TOTAL RECALL / STARSHIP TROOPERS. I can’t rank them because of the Hanzo sword principle. If you’re going to compare a Verhoven film, you compare it to any other film NOT made by Verhoven.

    The Jackie Chan double-bill:
    – THE YOUNG MASTER / POLICE STORY 2. (Yeah, as great as the original is, I prefer the second one. It’s a subjective thing.)

    Some other Bruce Lee:
    – FIST OF FURY / WAY OF THE DRAGON. (In my opinion this is his best work other than ENTER THE DRAGON. Which makes both of these films better than 95% of other action movies out there.)

    And some personal favorites from my youth:
    – SPEED / THE MATRIX / BLADE / JURASSIC PARK. (Yeah, that last one just about qualifies as an “action movie” I think.)

    Look, I can’t narrow that lot down to ten, ok? I’ve tried. And every time I’ve found myself looking at a Jackie Chan film, or EDGE OF TOMORROW, or JURASSIC PARK, and thinking “No way can I leave that off the list.” There are too many great movies that fit the bill. Maybe I can put down the Verhoven trio as a single film?

    Ah, fuck it. If Vern can do it with KILL BILL, I can sure as hell do it with Verhoven.

    My list would read something like this, and my ranking criteria is as simple as it gets. My choices here are based solely on the fact that there isn’t a single movie in this list that I haven’t watched at least five times, and (in some cases) considerably more, and yet can still sit down and enjoy to this day:

    – DIE HARD.
    – KILL BILL VOL. 1.
    – KILL ZONE.
    – SPEED.

    And fuckdammit, I STILL didn’t manage to fit ALIENS, EDGE OF TOMORROW, BLADE, FIRST BLOOD, or anything by Jackie Chan in there. And I totally cheated with Verhoven. They expect you to come up with just ten?!

    What DOESN’T make my list:
    – ENTER THE DRAGON (UNCUT SPECIAL EDITION). Yeah, the one with the nunchuks. It’s basically Bruce giving us a display of his technical prowess for twenty seconds, dragging the film to a screeching halt in the process. (Missing from this scene: Bruce actually fighting with nunchuks – at least, for more than two or three seconds at the very end, and then it’s over too quickly to make any impact.) This edition also contains a carbon copy of the grave scene from “The Big Boss”, which is bad for two reasons: 1) It’s totally unnecessary and stops the story dead, and 2) Any time any part of “The Big Boss” is used in another Bruce Lee film, it’s probably a bad thing. Basically this “special” edition is proof that sometimes the guys in the editing room get it absolutely right.
    – THE TERMINATOR. It’s a great film, and I’d even say I prefer it to its sequel. But it’s not an action film in the same way that its sequel is. It’s two-thirds horror movie, one-third love story.
    – HOT FUZZ. As great as this is – it’s probably my all-time favorite comedy movie – the pleasure doesn’t come from the action, but from the satire, the comedy and the story. That holds true for me even in the last twenty minutes of it. I don’t classify it as an “action movie” in the same way as most of the others.
    – 36th CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN. See this is a movie I’d recommend to anybody, specifically for the training section, which is probably the best and most riveting I’ve ever seen. The problem I’ve got with including it on this list specifically… the start and end of the movie are basically pointless except to, respectively, 1) give the hero some motivation for going through years of Shaolin training, and 2) make use of said training. Yeah, these are the bits I skip on the DVD. It’s still a great action movie, but I’d have trouble putting it in my personal top ten because I’d basically be giving the award to two-thirds of the movie. Which is not to say that I disagree with Vern including it on his.
    – KILL BILL VOL. 2. Look, I love the fight between Thurman and Theron in Buck’s cabin as much as anybody. However, I’m not a fan of the training sequence in this one (I kinda think it was unnecessary, and the action in it is easily the worst of both Kill Bill movies), I’m not a fan of the scene with the pimp just before the climax, and I absolutely hate the “Superman Monologue” with a passion. There’s just too much that slows this film down for me.
    – MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE. I freakin’ love this movie, apart from the ending, which is basically the only time it becomes a “straight” action movie. I’m disqualifying any movie from my list if the only part I don’t like in it is its biggest action scene.
    – NORTH BY NORTHWEST / THE BIRDS: One’s a suspense chase flick rather than an action one, the other is a horror movie rather than an action one. They’re not movies I would watch specifically for their action scenes.
    – DEMOLITION MAN / PREDATOR / THE RUNNING MAN / COMMANDO / THEY LIVE. Oh boy, do I kinda love all of these movies… but I have to say, they’re not as great as the ones at the top of the list.
    – ANYTHING BY SEAGAL. Sorry Vern. I just don’t feel like he’s ever made a film as good as BLADE, TERMINATOR 2, or THE YOUNG MASTER.
    – LETHAL WEAPON 2. It’d be on the list if it wasn’t for Joe Pesci.
    – LEON. It’d be on the list if it wasn’t for Gary Oldman.

    And finally…
    – THE RAID 2. This would make my top five, easily, if it wasn’t for the damn shakycam. I would add that I’ve now watched this movie three times, one in the cinema and twice on DVD, and loved it more with every single viewing. This is everything I wanted a sequel to THE RAID to be, and more. Rama is awesome – pretty much a living embodiment of death towards the end. Uco is an absolute revelation, and one of the best villains I’ve ever seen in an action movie. And Ruhian is, well, he’s Ruhian. Mouth put it best when he described this guy as a “living weapon”. All of which makes it heartbreaking to say that I can’t tell what the fuck is going on for a lot of the action scenes, including that Ruhian fight that takes place inside and outside a nightclub. Sorry, but you do not take an action icon as spectacular as Ruhian, have him involved in a fight scene on that scale, and then mess it up by making the action too damn incoherent.

  44. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 7th, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    FUCK! I forgot KUNG FU HUSTLE!

    Too… many… action… films… brain… can’t… keep… up!

  45. Broddie- You are definitely not the only one who loves RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PT. II. If I notice it’s on, I will always watch it no matter what else is on. I have probably memorized every beat of that movie, but I still love to see it again. I wouldn’t say it’s a great movie in the classic sense, but it sure is entertaining. If someone were throwing a party and that movie didn’t show up, it would definitely matter.

  46. Stansfield – Bring everyone.

    Goon – Everyone?

    Stansfield – E_V_E_R_Y_O_N_E!!!

    C’mon Paul, Oldman is brilliant in LEON. Sweaty, pill-crunching, theatrical, reptilian, dangerous, mega-maniacal.

    Memorable, entertaining villains are rare. We can’t afford to be dismissive.

  47. I correct myself – ***Mega/Maniacal*** is a much more appropriate way to describe Oldman in LEON.

  48. My list would be:

    1. The Wild Bunch
    2. Death Wish 3
    3. RoboCop
    4. Heroes Shed No Tears
    5. Master of the Flying Guillotine
    6. Die Hard
    7. Eastern Condors
    8. The Road Warrior
    9. If You Meet Sartana…Pray for Your Death!
    10. The Seven Samurai

  49. Republican Cloth Coat

    November 7th, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    No patience: but if The Wild Geese isn’t in the top 100 then bullshit.

  50. Paul says that thing about the nunchakus in ENTER THE DRAGON every time. Testing me. Can I learn to just let it go? Only time will tell.

  51. Clearly, a kung fu movie is no place for an awesome display of kung fu skills.

  52. Which is the better final fight? The handicap fight at the end of The Raid or the one on one fight at the end of The Raid 2? I would argue the final fight in The Raid is better. I found it more emotional because of the build. The last fight in Raid 2 was like am awesome battle between two awesome dudes but without the emotional story behind it.

  53. In Paul’s defense, he’s out there on a limb defending the glorious cartoon dance-fighting of KUNG FU HUSTLE. That film strikes a near-perfect balance of tone between comedy and gravity and never gets recognized for it. I’ll excuse his anti-nunchakus stance and hope that his prejudice doesn’t extend to poles and sliding chairs across the floor.

    Also, MY FATHER IS HERO and CHOCOLATE are two of the most re-watchable action films ever invented. I put them on every list I’m asked to make, even grocery lists.

  54. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 8th, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Sternshein – Raid 2 kitchen fight is better than the Raid 1 threesome imho because it flows better. No minute long break in the middle, less repeating of moves and overall more polished and more intense/harder hitting (although that finishing move on Mad Dog is obviously brilliant).

  55. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 8th, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Majestyk – the makers of “Enter the Dragon” agreed with you, it seems, since there is no awesome display of kung fu skills to be had in that scene. Seriously, if you’re going to put Bruce Lee in a movie with nunchuks, at least have him, y’know, FIGHT SOMEBODY with them. That does not seem like an unreasonable request. To me. But hey, I’m crazy Paul, maybe it’s unreasonable for me to expect a scene from the greatest martial arts star who ever starred in a film to actually feature him fighting people with martial arts, instead of giving an impressive but ultimately pointless display of solo nunchuk-twirling to a crowd of enraptured guards.

    Of course, the ironic thing is, if that scene had come a lot earlier in the film, where Bruce was demonstrating his martial arts prowess and wasn’t in imminent peril of being captured and killed by a corrupt killer Shaolin monk, I would be praising it for the exact same reason. But placed where it is… it makes no sense, it doesn’t advance anything, it just stops the movie dead. I don’t care about WHY it was cut out of the film, the fact remains that I think the film is better without it.

    You know what else I forgot? SEVEN SAMURAI and THIRTEEN ASSASSINS. You can metaphorically cut my legs off for missing those two out, if you want.

    Sternshein – “The Raid 2” is a masterpiece of story and character. Not, unfortunately, of action. If it had nailed the action scenes it would undoubtedly replace “Enter the Dragon” as my utter favorite martial-arts film.

  56. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 8th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    And Vern – sorry, missed your post when I was replying to Majestyk – you don’t have to agree with me. Different opinions make the world go round, right? You guys have a lot of opinions that I agree with on films in general and action movies in particular, but you gotta admit that sometimes need somebody to shake you out of your complacency. I can do that with my “dangerous” views on LEON or the nunchuks scene in ENTER THE DRAGON (please note by the way: I’m pro-nunchuks in general, I’m absolutely pro-nunchuks when it comes to Bruce Lee, and if we’d actually seen something impressive done with them then I’d be pro-nunchuks in that scene.)

    Or, y’know, someone else can shake us out of our stupefying state of complacency by defending RAMBO 2. (Yeah, you guys knew I’d have to have a dig at that one.) Whatever works, right?

  57. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 8th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    You can’t nail action any harder than they did with that kitchen fight! It’s interesting, I consider myself a hater of shaky cam but I guess somehow my brain must be getting better at following it, because not once did I feel The Raid 2 lost itself in camera chaos. Even Winter Soldier I thought did a great job with the action.

  58. Paul. you make no sense to me. The whole point of ENTER THE DRAGON is to watch the display of Lee´s awesome martial arts skills. That goes for almost every single martial arts movie ever made. Narrative is a second concern. In fact I rewatched THE MATRIX RELOADED the other day. And……

    ….seldom has a big budget action film showed such a disregard for narrative cohesiveness as that film. It strings a bunch of action scenes together with Little to no regard for a plot line. i like it a lot because of its avantgarde nature, and also because the aestethic action sequences rules the film. You don´t usuually see that in movies where such a cinematic device as performative action rules an enire two hour feature that is determined by its commericial success. What a wonderful failure!

  59. What I want a list of are great lesser known action movies that aren’t from the usual suspects. What’s the stuff that’s flown under the radar for decades? Like how Panna Rittikrai was making badass (if inconsistent) action movies for 20 years before Ong Bak and Born to Fight hit. What are the crazy Spanish, Italian (non-Leone), French (non-Besson), Turkish, Mexican, Indian, German, or even the really fringe American action movies that the world needs to know about?!

    Every couple months I’ll stumble across a masterpiece like this on youtube and wonder how I’m just now discovering it.


  60. Paul, it’s not about disagreeing. It’s funny to me that you still to this day don’t believe us about the history of that scene. You always describe it as a deleted scene added back into the movie for the special edition, no matter how many times we tell you it was censored in your country and in the rest of the world is one of the most famous and iconic scenes of Bruce Lee’s career (and depicted on the poster). We’ve been through this argument before so I have learned more than once that I should just leave it alone, but it’s so hard to do!

    I genuinely think it’s funny that you keep doing it, I’m not trying to give you shit about it. I feel like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the Roadrunner every time I try to convince you.

  61. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 9th, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Vern – I believe the history of the scene, it just doesn’t matter what the reasoning of it being deleted is. I’ve seen it, and I have to disagree with the idea that it’s “iconic”. It’s Bruce Lee standing in place swinging a pair of nunchuks around his shoulders. While guards, who should be trying to capture him, stand around awestruck watching him. It would’ve worked great as a martial arts demonstration in the earlier part of the movie. It absolutely doesn’t work when he’s fighting for his life using whatever tools come to hand. I certainly agree that it SHOULD have been iconic. The trouble is, it isn’t. He doesn’t fight anybody, except for the last two or three seconds of the scene, and then it’s a couple of guards who are basically cannon-fodder. It’s not like we’re talking some epic duel here, like Lee vs Han or Han vs Williams or Lee vs Ohara or anything.

    Liam – I actually love that idea.

  62. I’ll right all add my two cents. In no particular order:

    The General
    Die Hard
    Drunken Master II
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Where Eagles Dare
    Total Recall
    The Last of the Mohicans
    Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
    Casino Royale
    Escape from New York

    I know that putting The General on there makes it look like I’m trying to act sophisticated or whatnot. But watch that movie and try to tell me that it is not an exquisitely choreographed chase sequence that puts so much modern action to shame. I also threw Where Eagles Dare on there because I think it might be the origin of modern spectacle action filmmaking that you later get with Stallone and Schwarzenegger. Unlike earlier action films that attempted to approximate a sense of realism, Where Eagles Dare was more interested in thrills than letting the audience suspend disbelief. Where Eagles Dare always chose to go for a higher body count, bigger explosions, and more adrenaline.

  63. That should start off, “All right, I’ll…”

  64. Paul, you don’t get to decide what’s iconic and what’s not. That image of Lee swinging around the nunchucks has spawned countless imitations and parodies. It still sells posters and other merchandise to this day. It is iconic as fuck. You not liking it doesn’t change that.

  65. Henry Swanson's my name

    November 9th, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Drunken top 10

    1. Drunken Master 2
    2. Kickboxer
    3. Tango & Cash
    4. Wheels on Meals
    5. Blade 2
    6. In the Line of Duty 4
    7. Belly of the Beast
    8. Sudden Death
    9. Joshua Tree (aka Army of One)
    10. True Lies

  66. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 9th, 2014 at 7:28 pm


    “That image of Lee swinging around the nunchucks has spawned countless imitations and parodies.’

    What? Where? Seriously?

  67. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 9th, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Ok, so I decided to do some research on this one using the YouTube. Top twenty results for two search terms: “Nunchuks parody”, and “Bruce Lee nunchuks parody”.

    Of that first term… ONE result mentions Bruce Lee (it’s some guy playing ping pong with nunchuks “like Bruce Lee”. I’m very happy to have experienced that video, by the way.) Of the rest, there are several pop videos (including two by Justin Bieber – that’s right, google Nunchuks Parody and you get twice as many results from Bieber than you do from Bruce. I’m not sure what that says about the state of humanity.) You also get ninja turtles and the Karate Kid.

    Add a “Bruce Lee” onto the start of the search term, and most of the results you get are actual Bruce Lee fight scenes (apparently there aren’t that many parodies about). “Enter the Dragon”‘s nunchuks scene is seen twice: once in a compilation of Bruce Lee nunchuk scenes, and once at result number TWENTY. At the very bottom of the page. As beaten by: “Way of the Dragon”, “Game of Death”, a Bruce Lee martial arts instructional video, and Bruce playing ping-pong with nunchuks. (Yes, apparently he did that.)

    Take the word “parody” off and search for just “Bruce Lee Nunchuks”, and finally “Enter the Dragon” gets a top-ten result. At number seven. Again, below “Way of the Dragon”, “Game of Death”, an instructional video, and that ping-pong video.

    So what I’m saying, Majestyk, is that if the rankings of the world’s most popular video site are to be believed, and if my search terms are scientifically relevant (“Nunchuks Parody”, “Bruce Lee Nunchuks Parody” and “Bruce Lee Nunchuks” seem pretty damn relevant to me), then you are objectively and provably wrong. In every single search I ran, “Enter the Dragon”‘s nunchuk scene was less popular than those in “Way of the Dragon”, “Game of Death”, as well as an instructional video starring Bruce and a video of him playing ping-pong with them.

    And seriously… watch the nunchuks scene in “Enter The Dragon”. Just watch it. It’s almost two minutes long. The first one-minute and forty-five seconds are of an awesome fight scene where Bruce uses: his fists, a long pole, two sticks, and NO NUNCHUKS. He finally gets the nunchuks from the guard by catching them with one of the two sticks, stands there for about ten seconds twirling them, and finally hits three guards. One at a time. Total time spent actually fighting with nunchuks: FOUR SECONDS.

    I mean, holy fuck, guys, I should not have to argue this point. Have you even SEEN “Enter the Dragon”? Or at least that part of it?

    I would posit that the reason “Game of Death” and “Way of the Dragon”‘s nunchuk scenes rank more highly in YouTube search results than “Enter the Dragon”‘s is because of the very simple reason that they’re longer, action-packed, and generally just better. I mean… “Game of Death”‘s scene, with Lee wearing the yellow jumpsuit… THAT’S fucking iconic, if you like. (Remember a little film called “Kill Bill vol. 1” featuring a similar yellow outfit?)

    And in “Way of the Dragon”, you get to see Bruce Lee take out a whole bunch of guys using TWO nunchuks at once. Two. I mean, I’ve mentioned before that this is one of my all-time favorite fight scenes, right? For the pacing? And the escalation? And the superb staging that lets you see and feel the impact of every single shot? And the way that Lee effortlessly humiliates all of these guys in such a way that I, watching the film, never once questioned that he could actually do? No suspension of disbelief required? This is why Bruce Lee is the fucking boss.

    And yet you guys, who claim to have some knowledge about these things, would have me believe that “Enter the Dragon”‘s nunchuk-demonstration, and the four seconds of fighting after it, is the “iconic” Bruce Lee. Not the awesome scene in “Game of Death” with Lee facing off against a nunchuk-wielding ninja while wearing that yellow jumpsuit. Not the scene in the alley behind the restaurant in “Way of the Dragon” where Lee beats down a small army by using two nunchuks at once, then scolds them for their lack of technique. Not THOSE scenes. The one in “Enter the Dragon” that features almost no fighting and lasts for under twenty seconds. That’s the one that everyone remembers.

    Look, don’t try and bullshit me, ok? I’d be pretty damn willing to bed that my eight-year-old self was shadow-boxing to Bruce Lee films in my pyjamas before most of you had learnt not to piss in your pants. I’ve seen each one of his seventies movies at least four times (yes, even including “The Big Boss” – for all the myriad of problems I have with that movie, when Bruce Lee finally starts fighting it’s still pretty damn spectacular.) I know the films that he starred in from back to front. Hell, I can probably quote you a good half of “Fist of Fury”‘s dialogue, which is in FUCKING CHINESE. Which I don’t even speak.

    Seriously, “Enter the Dragon”‘s nunchuk scene more iconic than “Way of the Dragon”‘s or “Game of Death”‘s? What a complete and utter load of bollocks.

  68. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 9th, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    And just to put this beyond any doubt, let me list a few points regarding THAT scene in “Game of Death”.

    – The jumpsuit that Bruce Lee wore in it wasn’t only paid homage to in a Quentin Tarantino movie, but also explicitly in a Blaxploitation kung-fu flick called “The Last Dragon”. Most of you guys know that one, right?
    – A similar jumpsuit was worn by the UFC fighter Alex Caceras, calling himself “Bruce Leeroy” (the same name as the hero of “The Last Dragon”).
    – The actual jumpsuit that Bruce Lee wore in “Game of Death” was auctioned off, and sold for over $100,000.

    So unless someone can point me to proof that the pants Lee wore during his four-second nunchuk fight scene in “Enter the Dragon” sold for at least $150,000, I think I’ve got this one in the bag. Don’t you?

  69. I think it´s about time to stop shouting bloody murder (a.k.a shakycam) as soon as someone removes the camera from a tripod. How about looking at what the camera brings to the performance, beacause in THE RAID 2 it is sure as shit not to hide performance (or the alck of performance)

  70. Paul – what color is the sky on Pauls Island?

  71. It´s colored by nunchuks

  72. Well, the google search doesn’t tell much since nobody agrees how to spell nunchaku. I’m sorry for getting this going again. Here in America we will always treasure the uncensored version of the movie but I understand if you were raised from birth with anti-nunchaku propaganda that you will never be able to join the rest of the world on this.

    As a peace offering here is a Vine of my congressman wearing the GAME OF DEATH jumpsuit.


  73. Two cents. Some of these could be DQed for not being full-blooded-action enough. But each has at least a couple dynamic sequences, and each still works like gangbusters on every rewatch.

    – The Killer
    – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
    – Die Hard
    – Drive
    – Drunken Master II
    – Kill Bill Vol. 1
    – Point Break
    – The Raid
    – Sorcerer
    – Starship Troopers

    Close but no cigars: Bullet in the Head, Inception, To Live and Die in LA, Heat, Speed.

    Beloved but just too fucking heady: Point Blank, Branded to Kill.

    Special “The General”/”Safety Last” award for excellence in a non-genre silent: The race at the end of Girl Shy is kinetic and acrobatic in a way that most of its descendants flub. Undercranked real stunts > CGI + AVID-fart assists.

  74. I was amazed how much I didn’t hate this list, couldn’t even really argue with the top ten. And Flashpoint! (always Flashpoint)!

  75. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 10th, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Wow, you guys do a great job of calling me an idiot without actually answering any of the points I’ve raised. That is all.

    Windows – the sky is blue (or rather, grey). It’s everybody else who’s insane on this one.

  76. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 10th, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    No, screw it, that’s not all.

    Vern, I’m not arguing about WHY the scene was erased – I’ve seen actual evidence of that one. (And I’d be interested to know what you guys think of the other two scenes that were in the “Extended Edition” that weren’t in the original theatrical release – the Lee / Roper scene and Lee’s graveyard visit at the start. I’m presuming they weren’t excised from the American version as well?) I’m arguing the not-very-controversial point that a scene that’s less than twenty seconds long and that apparently very few look for on YouTube (find me a spelling of nunchuks where that’s not the case?) in comparison to Lee’s other nunchuk scenes, is in fact generally less well-regarded and “iconic” than two scenes that actually HAVE been constantly quoted, parodied, etc – the one from “Way of the Dragon” and the one from “Game of Death”.

    You put “Way of the Dragon” on your list above “Enter the Dragon”, right? And as previously said, I honestly wouldn’t disagree with ANY of Bruce Lee’s movies except “The Big Boss”, which is an overall not-very-good movie that just happens to have Bruce Lee as its major redeeming quality (and even he can’t save that one, although I’ll grant you that he gives it his all). I certainly wouldn’t disagree with “Way of the Dragon”, which contains some of my all-time favorite fight scenes.

    Now what you guys are arguing for here is that a fight scene in “Enter the Dragon”, which has exactly three strikes over four seconds and is something of an anticlimax after the two or three minutes of sheer awesome that’s come before, is somehow superior, or more “iconic”, to the alleyway fight in “Way of the Dragon”. Which is a masterpiece of pacing, terse characterisation, perfectly-shot action, and emotional payoff. Just comparing the two, I see:

    – Enter the Dragon: one nunchuk. Way of the Dragon: TWO nunchuks.
    – Enter the Dragon: three inept guards. Way of the Dragon: several thugs who’ve been highlighted as threats throughout the movie up until that point.
    – Enter the Dragon: we learn that Lee can wield a single nunchuk. Way of the Dragon: We not only learn that he can wield two, but we get a stunning power-shift between him and the gangsters who are threatening the restaurant.
    – Enter the Dragon: brilliant scene overall, but the actual nunchuks are twelve or so seconds of Bruce just whipping them about (which he did to far, far better effect in “Game of Death” anyway), followed by a few seconds of him hitting three people with them. Way of the Dragon: you get the same mixmatch of weapons as in “Enter”, but you also get a double-nunchuk fight scene that stands on its own merits as a masterpiece of action cinema.

    …Yeah, I don’t get how anybody can claim “Enter the Dragon”‘s scene is superior. The fight leading up to the nunchuk bit – in other words, the bit not involving nunchuks – I get. I’m not arguing that one. But the rest of it… no. Just no. Look, I’m pro-nunchuk. If I want a great scene involving Bruce and nunchuks, I know where to go for it. And that’s not to “Enter the Dragon”. To try and persuade me of anything else… you might as well try to persuade me that the grass is red and the sky is purple or something.

    Ok, now I’m done.

  77. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 10th, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    And on a completely different subject: CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON! Goddamnit, I forgot another one. Great movie.

  78. Paul, you seem to be confusing the meaning of “iconic” with “better”. Iconic doesn’t necessarily denote quality, more a matter of how you associate something. Mandy Patinkin may technically be doing a better performance in HOMELAND, but his role as Inigo Montoya is the more iconic. As the movie that shot Bruce Lee to international superstardom and was likely most people’s first exposure to him, ENTER THE DRAGON is probably his most iconic movie and therefore has the more iconic scene involving those weapons.

  79. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 10th, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Shoot – I swear I’m going to have nightmares about nunchuks tonight.

    I will offer a great many Internets to anybody who can read that first nunchuk rant, out loud and in full, in the voice of R Lee Ermey. Especially the bit about pissing your pants.

  80. And I don’t rate CROUCHING TIGER all that highly myself. It just seems like someone trying to “legitimise” martial arts movies in the west by putting a more artsy filter around them, and spawned a bunch of far too serious movies like HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS, HERO etc in its wake, that yeah, are fine works, but I don’t find anywhere near as entertaining as the likes of ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA, LEGEND OF FONG SAI YUK etc.

  81. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 10th, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Stu – I’d buy that if it wasn’t that the most enduring and reference image of Bruce Lee, by far, has been the yellow jumpsuit he wore in GAME OF DEATH. It’s been in everything from pop videos to blaxploitation movies to professional wrestling. It’s everywhere.

    Why is this iconic? Well I would argue for two reasons…

    1) It’s Bruce’s last appearance on film. (Yeah, unfortunately the “death = profit” rule works here as well.)
    2) He was wearing it in iconic fight scene featuring, you guessed it, nunchuks. (And one where the “nunchuk twirl” thing is used to great effect – it’s a contest of skill between Bruce and the guy he’ll eventually defeat (spoiler?) when they fight. It’s an honour thing.)

    Now I don’t think anybody would argue that GAME OF DEATH is as good a movie as either DRAGON movie, or FIST OF FURY come to that. It’s pretty hard to get over the fact that a lot of Bruce’s scenes are played by a guy in a very obvious Bruce mask who isn’t actually Bruce. (Or is he? Now that would be a twist. Anyway…) And some of what they do seems unbelievably cynical now – like using footage from Lee’s actual funeral for when Lee’s character fakes his death. But, as you rightly point out, “iconic” doesn’t always coincide with “quality”. This was, unfortunately literally, what Bruce Lee wore to what people will remember as his last battle.

    I would point out, though, that when an awful lot of people think of Bruce, they think of a skinny, stone-faced Asian guy wearing a yellow jumpsuit and holding nunchaku over one shoulder. And when people think of ENTER THE DRAGON, they think of the hall-of-mirrors fight with Bruce Lee covered in straight cuts from Han’s claws, or his humiliation and eventual killing of Oharra, or of Roper letting himself get hit so that Williams can get more action betting on him, or of Williams’ death (“When defeat comes, I won’t even notice. I’ll be too busy looking good.”) Can you honestly say that of all the great moments in ENTER THE DRAGON, the one people remember is Bruce taking out three anonymous guards with nunchuks?

  82. No one’s saying it’s the most iconic scene from ENTER THE DRAGON, just that it’s the most iconic nunchuk display overall.

  83. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 10th, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Not sure that’s true though. When I think of Bruce and nunchucks, the picture I see is of him in the white shirt, which I just looked up on Google and it turns out it’s from the alleyway fight in Way Of The Dragon (I didn’t remember that, just the shirt). I’ve seen that image on countless posters, together with the yellow tracksuit I would say it’s probably THE most familiar image of Bruce Lee out there.

  84. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 10th, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    Then again, I’m a guy who’d seen Way Of The Dragon about 20 times and The Kentucky Fried Movie 15 times before he ever got around to seeing Enter The Dragon for the first time. That may have something to do with it.

  85. Paul:

    I think the phenomenon you’re experiencing is the same thing as trying to explain to a 15-year old kid the greatness of The Beatles. Understand that for most moviegoers, their first exposure to Bruce Lee was Enter the Dragon. Not The Big Boss or Fists of Fury or Way of the Dragon. So for them, when they think Bruce Lee they think of that movie. Now, is his scene with the nunchucks his best nunchucks scene? Heavens, no. But it was the first time most people ever saw them. All of your arguments are valid, but they don’t change the fact that when most people think about Bruce Lee and nunchucks, they think of that moment in Enter the Dragon. As a kid, I can tell you that I could count on one hand the number of boys my age that I knew who didn’t have that poster on their wall of Bruce from that specific scene. It’s an iconic image. Doesn’t make it the best, just the best known.

  86. I don´t remember that the argument strated with “the most iconic”. Looking back on the comments, something must have went awry. Paul argued that it meant nothing for the narrative and then Vern claimed it as one of the most iconic moments. Which I agree of. Nobody claimed that it was the MOST iconic scene.

    Also, spending thirty minutes youtubing a cultural icon that died 40 years ago in a medium ( YouTube) that is eight years old is not the most scientific method of determining cultural impact. At this time Bruce Lee and nunchuks are so assimilated into the culture that it is no longer about which films he wielded them in, just that he did.

  87. I don´t think viewing results are reliable. You´ll have to sort out which demographics are youtubing what. For instance Justin Bieber probably has more viewings than any single Bruce lee video. Does that mean Bieber is more of a cultural icon than Bruce Lee?

  88. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 11th, 2014 at 2:11 am

    Shoot – I think the correct answer to that last question is “I really, really hope not”.

    Personally I would consider “You have offended my family, and you have offended the Shaolin temple” to be a more iconic quote than “Baby, baby, baby oh”. (Yeah, I know, another controversial opinion from Crazy Paul.)

  89. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 11th, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Michaelangelo – that may very well be true, but you can ask someone who’s never even seen a Bruce Lee film, show them a picture of that yellow jumpsuit, and ask them who wore it, and they’ll answer “Bruce Lee”. That’s my point.

  90. I think they will answer The Bride from Kill Bill instead.

  91. The suit is iconic because it’s a great design. In my experience most people don’t know GAME OF DEATH, which is a good thing. Luckily the Bruce Lee estate recognizes it as important because it’s from his great unfinished work. To me it represents the movie he was working on and not the bastardization that came out of it.

    I’m sorry Paul, I just think it’s funny that you hate that one part so much. I didn’t mean to insult you. Let’s not argue about this anymore.

  92. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 11th, 2014 at 2:36 am

    And Shoot, regarding the YouTube metric – it was Majestyk who brought up the “iconic” thing, which I absolutely disagree with and am amazed anybody thinks is true. I mean, find me another reliable metric of determining which of Bruce’s nunchuk scenes are the most popular, and we’ll come back to the point. In terms of that particular metric though, all of Bruce’s nunchuk scenes are right there, on display, with numbers saying how many people have actually looked at them. And the ENTER THE DRAGON scene is soundly beaten, not only by the scenes in GAME OF DEATH and WAY OF THE DRAGON, but also by an instructional video featuring Bruce Lee, and one where he plays table tennis with nunchuks.

    Vern’s point also works against him here. He keeps saying that the scene wasn’t shown in the UK because of some anti-nunchuk law or something. Well, fine… but doesn’t that just mean that a huge portion of Bruce’s audience haven’t even seen it? How on earth is that supposed to make it more iconic? Scarcity value?

  93. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 11th, 2014 at 2:39 am

    Vern – I don’t hate it. I don’t hate anything about ENTER THE DRAGON. I just think the action flows better without the scene than with it, and that it has little purpose being in that specific part of the movie. If it were earlier in the movie it’d be great. I think the other two scenes in the “Extended Edition” that were cut out of the theatrical release also have no business being there either, and they’re not action scenes.

    But yeah, I will stop now.

  94. All I am saying is that cultural impact and collective memory are more complicated issues than throwing around a bunch of stats just to prove a point

  95. Also. For your information, Paul. Images and posters from ENTER THE DRAGON showing Lee wielding the nunchuks were widely spread throughout African countries leading to their first exposure to Bruce Lee as a cultural icon and as a symbol to fight back oppression. But I guess the Youtube statistics told you all about that…

  96. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 11th, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Shoot – nope, first I’ve heard of it. Link please?

  97. Maybe the other scenes are watched more on youtube just because the movies aren’t as widely seen? In other words, maybe people are watching Enter the Dragon on disc or whatever instead of just looking up one scene on youtube. Whereas, a lot of people are like, “Game of Death is a total piece of shit so I’m not going to sit through that whole movie, but I do like that one seen with the nunchuks”. I’m actually not trying to get into the whole “most iconic” scene thing, but I think youtube metrics and google search results are an extremely unreliable source. Google often tailors the results page in various ways, from analytics that push things that are similar to your other searches higher to straight up favoritism and sponsorship.

  98. Alright, I guess I’ll get my thoughts down for posterity.

    1. Die Hard
    2. Apocalypto
    3. Terminator 2
    4. The Raid 1 and 2 (I can’t force myself to pick just one; maybe that’s cheating, but this isn’t the Wide World of Sports)
    5. The Matrix
    6. Kill Bill
    7. Collateral
    8. Predator
    9. District 9
    10. Raiders of the Lost Ark

    I’m not gonna win any points for obscurity here, but fuck that. My main criteria for these are 1) great action scenes, and 2) general rewatchability.

  99. Paul – I read it in an academic article by Leslie Stern called How Movies move and she quotes from a writer who grew up in Tanzania and how they were exposed to that image of Bruce Lee with nunchuks back in the seventies that inspired them and in return became an important iconic image. I don´t have a link but the anthology is called World Cinemas,transnational perspectives.

    You can also read up on other writing what kind of an impact Bruce Lee had in third world countries at the time. (You´ll have to google around awhile, since academic texts aren´t the most widely read and I am pretty sure the wiki page mention nothing on this.) My guess it didn´t necessarily have to do with people being able to see the film in those days, but the idea of an asian beating up white folks must have spread around because it resonated with them.Personally I think this is more interesting to read about than simply doing a quick web search. There are sociological concerns involved in cultural studies that are more complex than that.

    I know the female director of the saudia-arabian film WADJDA( first of its kind!) is a huge Bruce lee fan. Also the iranian writer of the graphic novel PERSEPOLIS (also a film) were one as well. So not only has Bruce lee had an impact in third world but on oppressed women, which I think is cool.

    Of course, to what degree ENTER THE DRAGON´s nunchuks had an impact I do not know. But the global machinations of Warner Brothers must have made it the most widely spread Bruce lee-film, I think and therefore a much greater influence as a cultural icon in third world countries.

  100. I’m very okay with HAAAAAAAAAANS’s list there, and it reminds me, this past weekend’s Brooklyn 99 included a couple of very funny references to DIE HARD and Hans Gruber. I recommend. You don’t need to have seen the show before or anything, it’s fine as a standalone one-off; I would never recommend a tv thing to the world with the caveat “Oh, after you see the first 47 episodes, it starts to get good…” or whatever.

  101. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 12th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Shoot – thank you for being the first person to respond to my comments with an actual, reasoned argument. And yes, if that’s true then it makes a good case for that particular image to be “iconic” to many people (doesn’t change my thoughts about the effectiveness of the scene in the movie, mind you, but it makes a good point as regards Majestyk’s statement).

  102. You´re welcome, Paul. And as we all love ENTER THE DRAGON, it would be silly to let nunchuks get in the way of our enjoyment of a great film. Nunchuks should bring people together not tear them apart.

  103. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 13th, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Shoot – Well I guess if you kinda looped them over someone’s head, or around the back of the neck, and then pulled really hard… yeah, that’d work.

    Anyway, what you guys need to realise is I’m harder on the films I love than the films I think are ok but flawed. Look, I’ve written essays on these forums on what’s wrong with THE THING, especially the last twenty or so minutes of it. Doesn’t change the fact that that’s one of my all-time favorite films. Same with ENTER THE DRAGON. Hell, I put it at number one, didn’t I? I can afford to be hard on those films, I’ve watched both of them at least fifteen times each. I can quote them line-by-line. That’s true of pretty much every film I’ve put in my top ten by the way – heck, that’s WHY I put them in my top ten. Same reason as HAAAAAAAAAAANS (did I get enough As there?) All of the films I listed are ones that I can just watch and rewatch and never get bored of.

  104. Man I keep forgetting that the Bourne movies even exist. It always surprises me how passionate people are about those movies.

  105. my new action feature didnt make the list! { course its not released yet! }

    But you can still WATCH THE TRAILER HERE!


  106. The Original Paul

    April 6th, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Quick update: I would now put EDGE OF TOMORROW squarely in my top ten. I’ve watched it compulsively several times over. It just has the “endless rewatchability” factor that I found in all of the movies I’d listed above. I honestly think that EDGE will go down in movie history as one of the all-time-great genre films that nobody saw at the time, like THE THING or NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. It’s that damn good.

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