They can be both cheesy as hell and well-respected. They bust down boundaries with their steel toe-capped boots and set stuff on fire in the most over-the-top ways imaginable. Simply put, there's nothing quite like an action movie. Grizzled antiheroes going up against the most dubious of villains, car chases, and so. many. explosions. Who doesn't like watching a badass walk away from a fiery blast... and then drop a one-liner we'd never have the cajones to say in a million years? The amount of action movies out there are in the gazillions (that's a rough ballpark figure) so it can be tricky finding the right one to fit your needs. That's why Netflix's streaming selection is the perfect place to start. We've whittled down its action titles to 25 of the best, but as this list goes to show there's more to a good actioner than just blowing stuff up and looking cool. Not much more, though.
25. A Lonely Place To Die (2011)
If you've skipped past this thinking 'Ugh, it's that bleak rock climbing documentary AGAIN' then fix that problem, pronto. I won't lie, there is mountaineering involved but watching Melissa George and co. navigate some absolutely horrendous terrain makes this movie worth a watch. The group in question find their outdoorsy weekend interrupted when they discover a kid buried in a box in the middle of nowhere. Yep. That sort of thing doesn't just happen and it's not long before they're being pursued by loads of very athletic bad guys. If you like balls-to-the-wall action flicks with a side order of thrills add this to your queue. Now.
24. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
"There's no love.... like youuuuur love!" Ahem. Sorry, but it's impossible to think of this movie without that Bryan Adams' song running through your head. Robin Hood's story is so well trod that we don't need to rehash specifics here. And besides, Hollywood thought the only tweak the do-gooder's story needed was American accents. Kevin Costner's his usual aloof self as the heroic outlaw, Alan Rickman proves he's the best bad guy ever as the Sheriff of Nottingham, and who doesn't love a bit of '90s Christian Slater?
23. Get The Gringo (2012)
Mel Gibson's got himself into a lot of hot water over the last decade and that's perhaps why this little gem slipped through the cracks. Get The Gringo - or How I Spent My Summer Vacation to the UK crowd - is a terrific blend of action and comedy that's a lot funnier than it looks. It's a throwback to Gibson's heyday, back when he could fire off one-liners and pistols at the same time. Let's not forget, when he's good - and not offending minorities - Gibson's hella likeable. He's superb in this colourful and snappy movie that casts him as a getaway driver wrongly incarcerated and stuck in a Mexican prison, where - like most convicts - he really needs to escape.
22. Hellboy (2004)
Imagine if Buffy had, oh, I don't know, inadvertently stolen a demon baby from the Hellmouth (I know, a lot of logistics to consider). She might end up raising a red-faced babe with giant rocks for fists and a penchant for cigars. That's Hellboy. There's no way the stuff he gets up to would ever make it uncut onto TV though. He's a good guy, sure - who works to protect Earth from a whole host of beasties - but he's got a sailor's mouth and a huge bloomin' gun. And he's often fighting Nazis. This is the creme de la creme of genre action entertainment folks, from the pages of a cult comic transferred to the screen by Guillermo Del Toro. He’s also got horns growing out of his head and loves kittens. What more do you need to know?
21. Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
Jackie Chan's done a lot of martial arts movies over the years (no kidding!), but it's Legend of the Drunken Master that shows off his expertise better than any other - yes, even Rush Hour. Chan's got the lot here, charm, timing and an ease with martial arts that makes it look like he's been doing it since birth. He plays a Chinese folk hero who attempts to take down the British consul from embarking on a nasty exporting scheme. His unique set of skills - Zui Quan, aka Drunken Boxing - are way cooler than anything Liam Neeson could whip out of his repertoire. Lightning-fast kung fu, anyone?
20. V For Vendetta (2005)
When you think of action movies, the mind usually leaps to Baybuster-inspired explosions and tough guys with mullets walking away from said explosions. Action's often seen as the 'check your brain at the door' genre. V For Vendetta asks: why can't we have brains AND explosions? A dystopian tale based on the Alan Moore comics and written for the screen by the Wachowskis, it takes place in a fallen London - and there's no Gerard Butler in sight. No, this is V's show, a masked vigilante who leads a rebellious movement to overthrow the fascist government regime. Think Brazil meets The Matrix and you're getting close.
19. Django Unchained (2012)
Region: UK, US
Sandwiched slap bang in the middle of Inglourious Basterds and The Hateful Eight is Tarantino's second period piece. The thinking man's actioner, where the talk flies as fast as the bullets from a well-oiled pistol. Jamie Foxx plays Django, a branded slave, who teams up with Christoph Waltz's bounty hunter Dr. Schultz. A deal is struck and the odd pair kick ass and take names on their way to rescue Django's beloved from the evil Calvin Candie. Everything leading up until the showstopping climax is good, it just doesn’t compare to that almighty final scuffle. Add this to the list of roles Leo should have won an Oscar for.
18. Headhunters (2011)
Region: UK, US
Headhunters. Aka, the one where you actually root for Jaime Lannister. Norway's highest-grossing movie of all time is a non-stop brawl. It features Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as a former special forces operative who is targeted by a high-profile arts thief played by Aksel Hennie. See, the Kingslayer owns a priceless painting that Hennie's chap would quite like hanging on his wall - he just doesn't realise his mark is a well-trained, uber-assassin who could kick his ass to Sunday. He carries out the robbery and gets himself thrown into a world of hurt. Action doesn't always need to play itself down, and Headhunters is proof that you can have brains and brawn.
17. Equilibrium (2002)
Region: UK, US
In a world where feelings are outlawed... you can totally hear that in trailer guy's voice, can't you? Back to the plot: feelings are bad. So bad in fact, that a totalitarian government has outlawed them. Citizens are forced to take drugs everyday to suppress their true desires, but should you miss a dose and start to get all gooey you'll get tracked down by lethal enforcers. Which is where the fun starts: Christian Bale's operative does just that and begins to ponder if the government really has any right to steal humanity of its, you know, humanity. You can probably see where this is going. Bale happens to be trained in several martial arts, leading to some absolutely bone-crunching sequences where a coup is all but certain.