Knuckle Sandwich with a Side of Bullets Part II: This Time It’s for Real!

by Mike MacLean

Hammering out the screenplay, I got to thinking about some of my favorite action movies.  Lucky for me, somebody from Entertainment Weekly was on my wavelength.

A couple weeks ago, the magazine listed their picks for the 25 greatest, ass-kick-iest flicks of all time.  And God knows how I do love the lists.

For the most part, EW did a good job.  See if you agree. 

1 1. Die Hard 
Hard to argue with this pick.  Even harder to imagine any one else playing John McClane other than Bruce Willis who, rumor has it, was the studio’s 5th choice.  Lots of movies have cool gunfights and theater rocking explosions, but only Die Hard had Willis matching wits with ultra cool baddie Alan Rickman.  Those two guys made the movie.
2. Aliens
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
4. The Road Warrior

"Greetings from The Humungus! The Lord Humungus! The Warrior of the Wasteland! The Ayatollah of Rock and Rolla!"
5. The Matrix
6. Seven Samurai
7. Gladiator

I really enjoyed the Gladiator’s scope and spectacle.  But was it better than Mel Gibson’s Brave Heart, which Entertainment Weekly totally snubbed?  (They didn’t even put it in the top 50)
8. Saving Private Ryan
9. Hard-Boiled

I would’ve thrown John Woo’s the Killer in the top 25 as well.  Mr. Woo knows how to pour on the bullets. 10. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
11. Speed
12. The Empire Strikes Back

Only one thing could’ve made this movie better: More Boba!
13. The Wild Bunch
Only one thing could’ve made this movie better: More cowbell!
14. RoboCop Robocop10002
Who is that playing Robocop’s badass nemesis?  Why it’s Red Forman from that 70s show, "Dumb ass!"
15. Enter the Dragon
"Boards don’t hit back."
16. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
17. The Bourne Supremacy

I enjoyed The Bourne Supremacy, but I really dug The Bourne Identity, directed by Doug Liman.  This guy knows how to put action on the screen.  Don’t believe me?  Just check out the brutal fight scene between Damon and the scooter-driving, Italian hit man.  Yes, I said "scooter-driving hit man."
18. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
19. Goldfinger

Come on, everyone knows Moonraker is the best Bond film of all time.  (Dear God, I hope they realize I’m kidding,)
20. Kill Bill-Vol. 1
Killbillvol1_1 If you’re keeping score—The Bride: 88.  The Crazy Eighty-eights: Zip
21. Spider-Man 2 
By far the best of the three and a great movie, yet something always bothered me about it.  There is a scene where Spidey and Doctor Octopus fall from a building, trading punches on the way down.  There’s one problem with this scenario.  Spidey has superhuman strength; he can lift 10 tons in fact.  So, one good haymaker to Doc’s chin would’ve turned his head to a pulpy mush.  (Jesus, I didn’t realize how nerdy this sounded until it poured out on the screen.)           
22. Predator
"I ain’t got time to bleed."
23. Drunken Master II
24. Lethal Weapon
25. The Incredibles

On their website, Entertainment Weekly listed their picks for numbers 26-50 as well.  I do have some quibbles. 

Movies EW snubbed…

The Professional (It made number 26 on the list.  Me?  I could think of at Leon2 least four or five from the top 25 that I would replace with ole Leon.) 
Heat (For the bank robbery scene alone it should be on the list)
All of the Lord of the Rings films
And the first Conan film (written by none other than Oliver Stone, betcha didn’t know that)

So how about it Murder fans?  Did Entertainment Weekly do the genre justice?  Where did they drop the ball?

12 thoughts on “Knuckle Sandwich with a Side of Bullets Part II: This Time It’s for Real!

  1. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I agree with almost all of the top 13 and then the list drops off precipitously, even laughably in several cases. I am not a fan of PRIVATE RYAN or GLADIATOR, and I far, far, FAR prefer the original ALIEN and TERMINATOR to the sequels, but that makes sense, as the originals were much more horror/suspense and the sequels much more action.

    I keep thinking something huge is missing from the top ten but it hasn’t come to me yet.

  2. Mike MacLean


    Aliens was such a vastly different picture than Alien. I love both. Aliens was the first huge hit to mix action and horror, paving the way for many others, so I think it earned its spot.

    The extended list included Rambo: First Blood Part II, and the Terminator. I preferred the original First Blood, but both are such iconic American films and one of them should probably have made the list for that reason alone. Maybe that’s what’s missing.

    The extended list can be found here,,20042788_16,00.html

  3. pari

    Since I’m a wuss, I didn’t expect to see any of my favs on the list at all . . . so imagine my delight with:RAIDERSSEVEN SAMURAI (one of my all-time loves)KILL BILLENTER THE DRAGONand others. No Jet Li? No spaghetti westerns?

    I just went to EW to see the extended list and couldn’t find it. Do you have the link . . . or the date?

  4. Louise Ure

    I’m pretty much in agreement with their top seven, but then I might have dropped in SPARTACUS, BRAVEHEART and JAWS.

    Looking back over my own “long” list, it’s clear that I have a soft spot for gladiator movies.

  5. guyot

    Hmm… in my opinion, if you take out the opening 20 minutes of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, what you have is nothing any more special than FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE. Seriously. And certainly NOT an action movie of any merit.

    KILL BILL is grossly inferior to the original that QT ripped off.

    #9, 13, and 15 would all be in my top five or six.


  6. Rae

    I would’ve added at least one Dirty Harry movie, and put Butch Cassidy higher up the list. And Apocalypto? Don’t get that one at all.

    And, I might have thought about these, although they may be more thriller/suspense than action (there we go with those definitions again 😉

    North by NorthwestThe Great EscapeJurassic ParkThelma and LouiseBridge on the River KwaiNight of the Living Dead (1968 version)Deliverance

    (And P.S….Congrats to Alex on your Anthony nomination…yay!)

  7. Mike MacLean

    I hate to admit that I’ve never heard of Killer Elite, but if Mr. G and Pari’s husband give it the thumbs up, I’ll have to check it out.

    I always thought of Jaws as suspense rather than action movie.

    Eastwood should be on the list, but I’d go with one of his spaghetti westerns rather than a Dirty Harry flick.

    For some reason I didn’t think of Sin City, maybe because it was so different. I put it more with crime fiction than pure action. The same goes for the Untouchables (although the grand central station fight scene is one of my favorite action sequences in movie history)

  8. Graham

    “You’re telling me she cut through eighty-eight bodyguards before she got to O-Ren?”

    “Nah, there weren’t really eighty-eight of them. They just called themselves ‘The Crazy 88.'”

    “How come?”

    “I don’t know. I guess they thought it sounded cool.”


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