Die Hard 2 (1990)
The Moment: The bad guys think they've got away, but their plane has left a tell-tale trail of fuel... and John McClane (Bruce Willis) has a lighter.
Coolest Element: The explosion provides the landing lights that enable the plane carrying McClane's wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) to land safely.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? The signature line from the original, finally being used in a suitably action-packed context: "Yippee-kay-ey, mother fucker."
The Moment: Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) twigs that her partner, Paul (Michael Fassbender), has been hired to kill her and whups his ass in their hotel room.
Coolest Element: Mallory throws a vase straight into Paul's head - the result of Carano getting carried away, as she had planned to miss Fassbender.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? She doesn't say a word as she fires a gun point-blank into his pillow-muffled face, but she might've asked him, "How pillow can you go?"
The Rock (1996)
The Moment: John Mason (Sean Connery) escapes in a Humvee - the perfect getaway vehicle for a Michael Bay car chase.
Coolest Element: Mason deliberately hits everything he possibly can in order to throw obstacles in his pursuers' path - postmodern critique of Hollywood car chases, or just cliché central?
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Mason's half-assed apology to his latest victim: I hope you're insured!"
Under Siege (1992)
The Moment: Steven Seagal's biggest hit - aka 'Die Hard on a ship' - ends with a knife fight between cook and former Navy SEAL Casey Ryback (Seagal) and renegade Bill Strannix (Tommy Lee Jones).
Coolest Element: It's not enough for Steven Seagal to stab a man to death. He has to stab him in the top of the head.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? "Keep the faith, Strannix" - not exactly a zinger, especially as it only really works in context, as Ryback is responding to something Strannix said during their fight.
Rambo: First Blood Part 2 (1985)
The Moment: On the run from a Vietnamese PoW camp, Rambo is shot at by an enemy soldier and calmly unslings his bow and arrow.
Coolest Element: This isn't just any old arrow. It's an exploding arrow.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Nope - "bull's-eye!" was presumably considered too obvious.
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
The Moment: Who says action's a modern trend? Here's Errol Flynn in top form as Robin, in the climactic duel with Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone).
Coolest Element: Robin disarms Sir Guy, and then chivalrously - and cheekily - gives it back to him.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? It's the kind of old-school duel where the action stops for Robin to needle Sir Guy by asking, "Did I upset your plans?"
The Moment: Ting (Tony Jaa) falls foul of a street gang, who chase him through a Bangkok market. Cue a lot of table jumping.
Coolest Element: Jaa escapes by jumping over his assailants, using their shoulders as stepping stones.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? If this was an English film, Jaa might have said, "You little piggies have gone to market, but this little piggy's going wee-wee-wee all the way home," but it'd probably get lost in translation here.
The Moment: Nic Cage playing John Travolta, meets John Travolta playing Nic Cage, in the middle of a thunderous John Woo shootout.
Coolest Element: The actors are separated by mirrored columns, allowing John Woo to get away with a stylish, psychologically-loaded sleight-of-hand that they are looking at their real, pre-face swap nemesis.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? "It's like looking in a mirror. Only... not."
The Moment: The tournament final, pitting Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) against Chong Li (Bolo Yeung), who has already put Frank's mate in hospital.
Coolest Element: Li blinds Frank with quicklime, but he still whups his ass.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Dux leans in over his opponent, repeatedly yelling at him to call a surrender. "Say it! Saaaay it!"
True Lies (1994)
The Moment: The insane final battle as superspy/family guy Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) rescues his daughter from the terrorists in Harrier jump jet.
Coolest Element: An enemy helicopter in view. Big bad Salim (Art Malik) tied to a missile. Two birds; one stone.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Arnold Schwarzenegger invents The Apprentice . "You're fired!"
The Moment: Pop-quiz hotshot. You're L.A.P.D. SWAT Detective Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves). You've got to board a bomb-laden bus without allowing it to drop below 50mph. What are you gonna do?
Coolest Element: The co-opting of Glenn Plummer's hapless Jaguar owner to keep pace with the lethal public transport.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Passenger Ortiz (Carlos Carrasco) wryly notes, "Man sure has a hard-on for this bus."
The Moment: The Special Ops team led by Dutch Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) takes out a village controlled by guerrilla forces in explosive style.
Coolest Element: Blain (Jesse Ventura) doesn't bat an eyelid when he learns he's been shot.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Blain's immortal reply, "I ain't got time to bleed!"
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
The Moment: The first and best of the 007 ski chases, as James Bond (George Lazenby) makes a downhill escape from Blofeld's Alpine lair.
Coolest Element: Bond loses a ski after it is shot off, and he still wins.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? As a henchman skis into a snow blower, Bond quips, "He had a lot of guts!"
They Live (1988)
The Moment: Drifter Nada (Roddy Piper) has twigged that society is secretly controlled by skull-faced aliens and heads to a bank, armed with a shotgun, to start a revolution.
Coolest Element: The black-and-white 'reality' as seen through Nada's special sunglasses, as it captures the startled look of the aliens prior to being blown away.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
Con Air (1997)
The Moment: Billy Bedlam (Nick Chinlund) discovers that Cameron Poe (Nic Cage) isn't a felon when he finds the stuffed bunny Cameron has bought for his daughter.
Coolest Element: For once, it's not the resulting fight-to-the-death, but Cameron's aggrieved reaction to being found out.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? "Put the bunny back in the box."
Lethal Weapon (1987)
The Moment: Three drug dealers get more than they bargained for when their latest client turns out to be a cop - and a crazy one at that.
Coolest Element: Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) befuddles the trio with a perfectly timed and very violent homage to The Three Stooges.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? "Noses in the dirt, assholes!" - if only all arrests were like this.
The Transporter (2002)
The Moment: Frank Martin (Jason Statham) evens the odds in a fight in a bus garage by knocking over several tanks of oil.
Coolest Element: Frank improvises a pair of oil-proof shoes by breaking off two bike pedals, so he can stand straight while his opponents are slip-sliding away.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? The writers should've let Statham yell, "Slick!"
True Romance (1993)
The Moment: Virgil (James Gandolfini) comes a-calling for the cocaine stolen by Alabama (Patricia Arquette), cueing a brutally realistic scrap in her motel room.
Coolest Element: Alabama gets the upper hand by smashing the lid of a toilet cistern over Virgil's head.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Virgil discusses the art of killing - "the third one is easy, you level right off. It's no problem. Now... shit... now I do it just to watch their fuckin' expression change."
13 Assassins (2010)
The Moment: Moment? We're stretching the definition, as the entire last hour of Takashi Miike's samurai movie is one long battle.
Coolest Element: The unlikely, surreal vision of cows on fire as the battle begins to rage.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Hirayama, heavily outnumbered, tells his protégé, "Ogura, kill the men that get past me."
The Last Boy Scout (1991)
The Moment: Held prisoner by henchman Chet (Kim Coates), private eye Joe Hallenback (Bruce Willis) asks for a cigarette. But Chet is more interested in punching him in the face.
Coolest Element: Joe warns Chet that he'll kill him if he punches him again. Chet doesn't listen. Joe kills him cold by pushing his nose into his brains with the palm of his hand.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Joe shrugs it off, pointing out that "I needed a light."
The Moment: A Persian messenger thinks he's safe picking a fight with Sparta's King Leonidas (Gerard Butler). He isn't.
Coolest Element: Leonidas ignores etiquette by kicking the messenger down a massive well.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Oh yes, as Leonidas explains to the hapless messenger that, where he comes from, they do things differently. "This. Is. Sparta!"
The Moment: Sam (Robert De Niro) pursues Deidre (Natascha McElhone) through the streets and tunnels of Paris, in a car chase notable for often filming the actors in the actual cars (albeit controlled by out-of-frame stunt drivers).
Coolest Element: Deidre drives into traffic.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Everybody's too intense to speak. Maybe Deidre should've said, "There's only one way of driving - my way!" as she takes yet another wrong turn.
North By Northwest (1959)
The Moment: Cary Grant plays Roger O. Thornhill, the first modern action hero - suave, suited and chased by a malevolent crop duster.
Coolest Element: Thornhill hurls himself in front of a passing tanker in the hope of getting help. The tanker stops - just. The plane isn't so lucky.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Had Arnie Schwarzenegger made this, the demise of the pilot would've been marked by Thornhill paying his respects - "dust to dust."
Mad Max 2 (1981)
The Moment: The mother of all post-apocalyptic car chases, as the tanker driven by Mad Max (Mel Gibson) is pursued by a crazed biker gang.
Coolest Element: Max and big bad Humungus collide head-on, with henchman Wez caught in the middle. Crunch.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? There's barely a line of dialogue in the climactic duel. C'mon Max, it wouldn't have killed you to shout "Keep on truckin'."
Enter The Dragon (1973)
The Moment: At a martial arts tournament which is secretly the cover for a drug ring, undercover Lee (Bruce Lee) is paired against evil henchman O'Hara (Bob Wall).
Coolest Element: O'Hara's defeat is so crushing he resorts to attacking Lee with a smashed bottle. Big mistake.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? O'Hara demonstrates his fighting prowess by karate chopping a wooden board. Lee coolly observes, "Boards don't fight back!"
The Wages Of Fear (1953)
The Moment: The world's worst turning circle (a narrow, rotten wooden gantry jutting out over a cliff) isn't the best place to be stuck with a truck full of nitro-glycerine.
Coolest Element: The truck catches the wire holding the whole thing together and it all comes tumbling down... just as the truck clears the danger.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? No: everyone's fists are jammed tight into their mouths in terror. Anything they said would be unintelligible.
The Moment: John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) single-handedly takes out the private militia guarding his daughter, and then turns on their leader Bennett (Vernon Wells).
Coolest Element: Arnie dispatches his foe by impaling Bennett on a broken pipe, cueing up the action hero's greatest quip.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? "Let off some steam, Bennett!"
Hard Boiled (1992)
The Moment: A burning second-storey maternity ward. A baby left behind. What's Officer Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat) to do?
Coolest Element: Tequila bungees out of the building using the hospital's overhead wiring, baby under his arm.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? After Tequila's trousers catch fire, the baby helpfully wees to put it out. Tequila says: "You saved the day there, you little pisspot."
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
The Moment: Newly arrived in Moscow, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) finds himself pursued by assassin Kirill (Karl Urban) and the Russian police in a stolen taxi.
Coolest Element: Glutton for punishment, Bourne allows his vehicle to be battered senseless just so he can get into position to ram Kirill into a concrete post.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? If ever there was a film asking for the hero to say, "The traffic was murder," this is it.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
The Moment: The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) crashes a liquid nitrogen tanker into a steel foundry. Long story.
Coolest Element: The released nitrogen freezes the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) and its limbs snap off as it tries to pursue its enemies.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Arnie deliver the coup de grace - a single, shattering, bullet - with a line he's learnt from John Connor (Edward Furlong): "Hasta la vista, baby!"
Police Story (1985)
The Moment: A stakeout goes wrong when the bad guys get wise and do a runner on a double-decker bus... with Inspector Chan (Jackie Chan) in hot pursuit.
Coolest Element: Chan grabs hold of the bus with an umbrella, and hangs on for dear life as he's buffeted about.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? At no point does Jackie Chan cry "Ticket, please!" - but he should have.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
The Moment: Tom Cruise raises the stakes for movie stars doing their own stunts by clinging to the side of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Yes, he was wearing wires… but we bet you wouldn't do it.
Coolest Element: Technical failures forces the gloves to come off, and Ethan Hunt has to run back down the side of the building.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) walks in having missed an intense, skyscraper-hanging rescue mission, to announce of his own efforts, "That was not easy, but I did it."
The Moment: Bullitt (Steve McQueen) pursues two hitmen across San Francisco in his green Ford Mustang GT.
Coolest Element: The street-sick rhythms of the cars bouncing up and down the near-vertical city thoroughfares.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? After his boss gives him a dressing down for the high-speed pursuit, Bullitt calmly replies, "Here's a report," and leaves it at that.
The Moment: Just when you thought it was safe to go into space... the Alien Queen rips Bishop (Lance Henriksen) in half and zones in on Newt (Carrie Henn). Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) isn't having any of that.
Coolest Element: The exo-suit cargo loader, giving Ripley equality with her super-sized opponent.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? One mother to another, "Get away from her, you bitch!"
The Dark Knight (2008)
The Moment: Batman vs Joker. Bike vs tanker. No contest? Guess again.
Coolest Element: The Batpod's strategic harpooning of the Joker's cab causes the tanker to flip and bring an end to the villain's pursuit of Harvey Dent.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? The Joker stays in character as he's arrested - "Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. Hit me!"
Point Break (1991)
The Moment: Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) catches the Dead Presidents mid-robbery, and engages leader 'Ronald Reagan' (who he now knows is Patrick Swayze's surf-dude Bodhi) in a kinetic, Steadicam-propelled foot chase.
Coolest Element: Utah has his man in his sights, but can't gun down a man he's come to respect, so he simply fires helplessly into the air.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? "Ahhh!" (as explained in Hot Fuzz : "Patrick Swayze has just robbed this bank, and Keanu Reeves is chasin' him through peoples' gardens, and then he goes to shoot Swayze but he can't because he loves him so much and he's firin' his gun up in the air and he's like 'ahhh!'")
Casino Royale (2006)
The Moment: Daniel Craig cements his status as the hardest of James Bond with this vertiginous pursuit of free-running assassin Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan).
Coolest Element: Perched on the narrowest of crane gantries, Mollaka throws an empty gun at Bond… who catches it and chucks it straight back.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Bond is too in-the-zone for a Roger Moore-style quip, although he remembers afterwards as he's dressed down by M for being caught on CCTV. "Sorry, I'll shoot the camera next time."
Die Hard (1988)
The Moment: An LAPD SWAT team makes an ill-advised attempt to storm the Nakatomi Plaza with an armoured vehicle, but Hans Gruber's men have got it covered with an anti-tank gun.
Coolest Element: John McClane (Bruce Willis) puts a stop to the slaughter by tying a load of explosives to a chair and dropping it down a lift shaft.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? A toss-up between Theo's immortal, "The quarterback is toast!" and McClane's pay-off: "Geronimo, motherfucker!"
The Raid (2011)
The Moment: Rama (Iko Uwais) finds himself totally outnumbered as he takes on a posse of murderous tenants in a hallway.
Coolest Element: Rama manages to dispatch one assailant by snagging his neck on the jagged wood of a broken door frame.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Rama gives him a look that's crying out for a quip to go with it along the lines of, "Looks like you're on Death's door."
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
The Moment: Trailing assassin Desh in Tunisia, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) jumps from balcony to balcony before engaging in a violent fight.
Coolest Element: Bourne improvises with the nearest thing that comes to hand: a book. Handy for jamming into an assailant's throat.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Bourne isn't one for talking, meaning he missed the chance to ask his bleeding opponent, "What's read all over? You are!"
The Killer (1989)
The Moment: Assassin Jeff (Chow Yun Fat) and Detective Li (Danny Lee) end up fighting on the same side as Triad hitmen attack their church hide-out.
Coolest Element: The doves. Peace, man.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? "How good a shot are you?" asks Jeff. "I'm a cop, I've got to be good," Li replies, before blowing a round of ammo next to big bad Wong Hoi.
Way Of The Dragon (1972)
The Moment: Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris. 'Nuff said.
Coolest Element: Bruce tries a move that is surely absent from most martial arts playbooks, by pulling out a clump of Chuck's chest hair.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? These two are silent; a shame that Bruce doesn't get the chance to tell his opponent, "I'm gonna chuck you down!"
The French Connection (1971)
The Moment: Hitman Nicoli (Marcel Bozzuffi) escapes on an elevated train, causing cop Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) to take to the road in pursuit.
Coolest Element: The ultimate women-with-pram-steps-out-in-front-of-a-speeding-car moment.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Popeye missed a trick by not saying, "Good job I've had me spinach."
The Moment: Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is cornered at the end of a long corridor by a gang of knife-wielding thugs. Fortunately, he's brought his hammer.
Coolest Element: An extraordinary three-minute tracking shot filmed in a single take, with only a single piece of CGI (the knife in Oh Dae-su's back) added afterwards.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? No, but the forthcoming U.S. remake has the opportunity to rectify this by having Josh Brolin yell, "It's hammer time!"
The Untouchables (1987)
The Moment: Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) is caught carrying a pram up the steps of Chicago's Union Station. Out comes the guns... but who's holding the baby?
Coolest Element: The geometric precision of the move whereby George Stone (Andy Garcia) dives to stop the pram while tossing a spare gun to Ness.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? "You got him?" asks Ness. "Yeah, I got him," replies an unflappable Stone.
The Matrix (1999)
The Moment: Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) is a prisoner inside the Matrix. Neo (Keanu Reeves) reckons he's ready to go into battle. Cue half an hour of physics-defying action.
Coolest Element: Its novelty might have been lessened by inferior copycats, but the initial thrill of seeing Keanu dodge machine gun fire in 'bullet time' hasn't worn off.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Neo goes online shopping. His wishlist is simple. "Guns. Lots of guns."
Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
The Moment: The opening sequence, probably the finest introduction ever devised for an action hero as Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones comes a cropper trying to nick a Peruvian idol.
Coolest Element: Just when you think he's out of the woods, the temple's most fiendish trap is activated - a giant stone ball, headed Indy's way.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Spielberg missed a trick by not having Indy yell, "Balls!"
Seven Samurai (1954)
The Moment: The final battle in the rain, as the titular defenders let the surviving bandits into the village in order to finish them off.
Coolest Element: Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune) refuses to let the small matter of being shot stop him from cutting down the bandits' leader.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Amidst the carnage, samurai leader Kambei (Takashi Shimura) ruefully observes to those left that, "Once more we survive."
The Moment: Cops and robbers, supersized, as Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) forces Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro) to blast his way out of of central L.A.
Coolest Element: The real-time reloading of Val Kilmer's Chris, so good it's used to teach Special Forces how to do it.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? It's hard to hear any dialogue over the incessant din of gunfire, but somebody should've yelled, "If you can't stand the Heat, then get out of the motherfucking way!"
Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003)
The Moment: The entire House of Blue Leaves sequence, self-consciously intended as one of the greatest action movie sequences of all time - and who are we to argue?
Coolest Element: The fight against schoolgirl Gogo (Chiaki Kuriyama), a sadist with ball-on-a-chain weapon the meteor.
Does It Feature A One-Liner? Typically for Tarantino, the villains get the best lines, especially Gogo: "you call that begging? You can beg better than that!"