10 Best Action Movies Of All Time According To Ratings

These are the absolute best action movies you can watch according to imdb voters.

Instant classic action movies like Bullet Train and Top Gun: Maverick premiered last year, adding to an already-impressive collection of beloved films from the established genre. Fans looking for similar exhilarating viewing experiences will be glad to know that these trusted votes have made it possible to find the best action movies ever made.

From 1994’s Léon: The Professional to 2008’s The Dark Knight, the highest-rated action movies on the platform are often award-winning and genre-defining masterpieces. It’s worth noting that there are (rightly) multiple entries from the Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings franchises on IMDb’s list, and for the sake of variety, only the top-scoring ones will be included alongside other must-see action films.

‘Léon: The Professional’ (1994) – 8.5

Director Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional is centered on the unique relationship that forms between a professional “cleaner” (hitman) and a 12-year-old girl, Mathilda. After her parents are murdered by a corrupt DEA agent, Mathilda relies on Léon for survival and, eventually, training to become a talented enough assassin who can seek revenge.

The fascinating and often controversial dynamic between the protagonists is the focus of the movie, but its action sequences are remarkable, too. Thanks to the emotional buildup and connection Léon and Mathilda form with audiences, the stakes feel higher with each new dangerous encounter they have.

‘Gladiator’ (2000) – 8.5

Inspired by Daniel P. Mannix‘s 1958 book, Those About to Die, Gladiator is a box office hit that dramatizes Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius’ experiences. When the ambitious traitor Commodus murders Maximus’ father (and family) and claims the throne for himself, the protagonist is forced into slavery and becomes a gladiator who fights through the ranks to exact revenge.

Director Ridley Scott’s film is known for its engrossing portrayal of history, and it does an excellent job of depicting the life-or-death fights between gladiators. The risks only escalate as Maximus faces off against increasingly skilled foes and audiences may find themselves watching the more stressful battles with bated breath.

‘Seven Samurai’ (1954) – 8.6

An essential samurai film for beginners, director Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is centered on a group of rōnin who are hired by the inhabitants of a poor village to protect them from bandits. Starting with an older samurai, the seven fighters must find a way to work together to prevent the thieves from stealing the civilians’ crops.

The influential film is a genre-defining masterpiece that used innovative techniques in both its narrative and technical aspects. Its complicated camerawork served as an important step in using multiple angles to capture the same action shot. The movie also began the trope of a group of heroes coming together to accomplish a goal or beat an antagonist, which is still used today.

‘Harakiri’ (1962) – 8.6

Set during the Edo period in Japan, Harakiri is a legendary jidaigeki movie that follows the rōnin Hanshirō Tsugumo. He goes to the local feudal lord to request an honorable death by seppuku, but is ridiculed and questioned because of a recent incident involving a younger samurai who wanted the same thing.

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, the film is remembered for its powerful story full of twists and turns, which sends a hard-hitting message about corruption and honor. Plus, its flawlessly choreographed action sequences are a marvel to watch even today, as fans can expect to see the protagonist skillfully fight against several samurais at once.

‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991) – 8.6

The second film in this poll from the 90’s is Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The movie blends sci-fi and action perfectly with its exhilarating story that revolves around a model T-800 machine sent back to the past to protect John Connor, the future of the human resistance. Skynet sends its own Terminator, the shape-shifting T-1000, whose only objective is to kill the young boy.

A great example of an impactful sequel done right, Director James Cameron improves on the visuals, narrative, and action scenes from the 1984 blockbuster. T-1000’s fights against T-800 are especially impressive, as these moments showcased cutting-edge effects during its time.

‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980) – 8.7

Director Irvin Kershner’s continuation of the epic Skywalker Saga is set three years after the events in the 1977 film. The Empire Strikes Back depicts the ongoing battle between the Galactic Empire led by Emperor Palpatine, and the Rebel Alliance led by Princess Leia Organa. Somewhere else in the galaxy, Luke seeks out Jedi Master Yoda to prepare for his inevitable confrontation with the Sith lord, Darth Vader.

Most fans would agree that the 1980 movie is still the best from the original trilogy. It had plenty of opportunities for heart-stopping action, with its iconic scenes made better by the well-written arcs of characters fans were already growing to love.

‘The Matrix’ (1999) – 8.7

The Matrix is a film that needs no introduction. Directed by the Wachowskis, the sci-fi action movie would go on to start a massively successful franchise that follows Neo’s experiences. In the first movie, Neo is an unassuming computer programmer and hacker (named Thomas Anderson) who soon learns that reality is not what it seems.

The action-packed blockbuster portrayed imaginative fight scenes that incorporated Neo’s new knowledge about his surroundings. No fan will ever forget seeing “bullet time” moments on the big screen, not to mention the numerous close calls Neo and his allies have whenever they’re pursued by agents from the simulated reality.

‘Inception’ (2010) – 8.8

Often cited alongside the best sci-fi movies of all time, director Christopher Nolan’s Inception follows a group of professional thieves led by Dom Cobb. Cobb and his group are “extractors” who have been tasked with the unprecedented goal of implanting an idea instead of stealing information. Along the way, it becomes obvious that the unexpected high security in their victim’s subconscious and Cobb’s own past could compromise the mission.

The film has won numerous accolades for its stunning visuals, novel narrative, and gripping action scenes. Thanks to the unique setting, Nolan spends a lot of time creating jaw-dropping fight scenes in someone’s subconscious. These action sequences often involve large set pieces moving in complicated ways.

‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King’ – 8.8

Based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s eponymous 1955 novel, director Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King masterfully weaves together the major storylines depicted in the first two movies of the trilogy. The endearing Frodo Baggins is closer to the heart of Mount Doom than ever before, while Gandalf and the rest of the group gather their forces to distract Sauron and give the Hobbit a fighting chance.

Fans of the trilogy often agree that the final movie is the best one, as it provides a satisfying conclusion to arcs viewers have watched unfold over the years. Plus, its epic depiction of the Battle of the Pelennor Fields and the Battle of the Black Gate showed the courageous characters at their best and boldest.

‘The Dark Knight’ (2008) – 9.0

Nolan’s second installment in the titular trilogy, The Dark Knight, is still among the best live-action portrayals of Batman. The dark and gritty movie is centered on Batman’s attempts at working with district attorney Harvey Dent and police lieutenant James Gordon to beat organized crime in Gotham. An enigmatic villain known as the Joker complicates his efforts in disastrous ways.

With its genuinely terrifying villains and jaded main characters, it’s easy to see why the film has managed to set itself apart in the saturated genre. Its action scenes are remarkable in the way they mix the gray morality Batman is known for with the brutality and violence of the movie’s antagonist.

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Stevie Flavio
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