All you need to make a movie, a wise French man once said, is a girl and a gun. It helps, of course, if you throw in a few explosions, several car chases, some knockdown mano a mano fistfights, a smattering of kung fu and any number of swordfights as well. Action has been a part of the movies since the days of Keystone Kops and mustache-twirling villains tying up heroines on railroads tracks; you could even argue that the Lumiere brothers’ short of a train pulling into the station, which allegedly caused audiences to scream and flee the room, was the world’s first example of an action movie. The holy trinity of cinema, i.e. thrills, chills and spills, has been a main attraction of the medium for decades. And once the Age of the Blockbuster really kicks into gear in the early 1980s, you couldn’t throw a rock at a multiplex without hitting something that hyped up the “motion” into motion pictures.
Not all it-blowed-up-real-good films are created equal, however, so we’re shouting out the 50 best action movies of all time — the crème de la crème of martial arts flicks, bullet ballets, men-on-a-mission adventures, swashbucklers, superhero franchises, sci-fi spectacles, wuxia epics, and a whole lot more. These are the films we go to when we want an uncut dose of that kinetic-cinema rush. Strap yourself in.