Ok, “Top lists” are always a work in progress. They can shift day by day depending solely on what kind of twisted brutality happens to be infecting your mind at the time.
Here I submit my “Top 5 Action Films” as of right now
5. Battle Royale / Batoru Rowaiaru (2000)
Fuck you Hunger Games, and fuck you, Suzanne Collins, for pretending you didn’t steal the shit that made you famous. Seriously, fuck you! That said, the better version of Hunger Games is called Battle Royale.
First, it has Takeshi Kitano (See every Cinema Bushido about Takeshi Kitano). Second, it wasn’t a sad daydream about poorly defined class structures, where bread boys fondled the hands of weepy dirt elves. It was a whole high school class murdering their actual friends. It was dark, it was long, and it was glorious.
Highlights from Battle Royale:
- Grenade in the mouth of a skull thrown in a building.
- The true-life version of Mean Girls with some poison in the soup.
We recorded an episode on BR last year: Battle Royale at CinemaBushido.com
4. Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003)
Oh shit man! OH SHIT! The bride kills over 70 people. Well trained people. It is a classic revenge tale, stolen scenes from 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s samurai and kung fu culture shoved into a Blendtec and made into a super sweet smoothie of katanas, spraying blood, chopped body parts, breakfast cereal, hot rods, and so many dead people. Don’t be fooled. This is the most original and sincere ripoff of badass cinema I have ever seen.
Highlights from Kill Bill:
- Crazy 88 henchman chopped in half down the middle.
- Lucy Liu talking shit only to have the top of her head removed.
- BLOOD! Glorious fire hydrant style blood effects.
- Cameos from both Sonny Chiba and Gordon Liu!
3. Oldboy / Oldeuboi (2003)
Can 10 years’ worth of imaginary training… be put to use? Apparently it can. Dae-su Oh is glorious as the imprisoned, tortured, self-trained, and released ghost of revenge – and object of vengeance. Part 2 of Chan-Wok Park’s Vengeance trilogy.
They all need to be seen, but this is the GODDAMNED SHIT! Revenge is served up in so many different styles. It is the Gordon Ramsey buffet of brutal revenge films. He just knows how to crack that egg.
Highlight from Oldboy:
Hallway scene. The FUCKING hallway scene. There may be no other entry on anyone’s list that has anything as badass as the hallway scene in OldBoy.
We recorded an episode on Oldboy in CinemaBushido.com.
2. IP Man (2008)
Before Ip Man, I had been “aware” of Donnie Yen. He has had a long career and had been in countless Hong Kong films including Once Upon a Time in China II (1992), Iron Monkey (1993), and of course Hero” (2002).
It wasn’t until 2008’s Ip Man that I fell in love. It is so well made. The martial arts are authentic and simple. It follows a trope I adore. You have an ultimate badass, and he is so awesome that even though he should be put to a real test, he isn’t. He uses his skill, and general badassery to win the world.
Highlights from Ip Man:
- Very impressive fight sequence between Donnie Yen and Siu-Wong Fan.
- Ip Man takes on 10 Japanese experts and dispatches them with style and fury.
1. Enter the Dragon (1973)
The definitive boner-inducing action movie.
After 3 movies made on other people’s terms (Way of the Dragon, Fist of Fury, and The Chinese Connection), Bruce was given some cash and some creative control; he was at the top of his game.
It has it all: sex, nudity, tons of ass-kicking, a bad guy with interchangeable hands that owns an island fortress full of wild women, exotic food, a naked lady drug operation, a kung fu army, and Bolo Yeung. Whoa, I am breathless.
The definitive who’s who of Kung Fu cinema show up in one form or another: with Sammo Hung, Jackie Chan, Roy Chiao. Phillip Ko, Mars, Tony Liu, Biao Yuen, and Wah Yuen!
Highlights from Enter the Dragon:
If you know me, you know the Bob Wall scene is my fav fight sequence EVER! So simple and elegant, yet powerful and deep. The big bad of the film up to that point doesn’t get a single hit in, and dies on the ground like a dog. “Don’t think, feeeeel”. Watch this movie.