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The 24 best Netflix action movies to watch right now

An image from The Night Comes For Us - one of the best Netflix action movies
(Image credit: Netflix)

The best Netflix action movies are the ones that have your blood pumping, your jaw agape, and your mind unable to comprehend how someone could do that. They are filled with exquisite one-takes, karate-chopping sequences, and more explosions than even some of Michal Bay's biggest movies. 

But where to begin in your search for the best action movies on Netflix? Well, that's why we're here to help. The below list contains our favorite actioners currently available to stream, and they're all available to watch in the UK and US. So, whichever side of the pond you're on, you can watch the best Netflix action movies featured in our list. What are you waiting for? Get streaming!

The Old Guard

The Old Guard

(Image credit: Netflix)

Charlize Theron headlines this popular graphic novel adaptation, a glorious mash of fight sequences and fantasy lore that plays the part of a modern-day actioner. The Old Guard follows a band of do-gooding mercenaries, led by Theron’s Andy, who also happen to be immortal. Through the ages, they’ve managed to keep their heads down and dispense with vigilante justice undetected, but the advent of technology soon makes that impossible.

Not content to rely solely on its cool “unstoppable warriors” schtick – that’s unveiled in an early show-stopping sequence – the movie kicks serious ass on every front. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood showcases her flair for marrying together a tight story with likable characters. Oh, and it’s got a romance for the ages, too.

The Lovebirds

The Lovebirds

(Image credit: Netflix)

A brisk, laugh-packed buddy comedy set over the course of one night. Nope, we’re not talking your standard ‘80s male-fronted pics. The Lovebirds takes that concept and splices it with the remnants of a fairy tale love story, opening on a couple, Jibran and Leilani, on their way to a party that they never reach because they fight in the car and decide to break-up. It’s tense, not particularly fun, and all feels a little grim. Until Jibran accidentally hits a cyclist who refuses their help. 

Things spiral from that point, sending the duo into harm’s way repeatedly over the evening. They encounter a host of crooks who want to kill them, naturally making them work together as a team to survive their ordeal. It’s hardly reinventing the wheel, but that’s down to the comedic chops of Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae as the couple who deliver both gags and surprisingly solid beatdowns throughout.

Wheelman

Wheelman

(Image credit: Netflix)

You might know him as Crossbones from the MCU, or as that guy from The Purge movies. Here Frank Grillo plays a getaway driver - aka the wheelman of the title - thrown into an unfortunate set of circumstances when a heist goes wrong. With a car full of cash and no idea who framed him, it’s up to him to figure out what happened, even though he’s no idea who he can trust. 

Dubbed a thriller and a neo-noir, with flashes of melodrama, you can safely call it all of those things. By the time the end rolls around, there’s no doubting this is a balls-to-the-wall actioner. And really, who doesn’t like a good car chase movie? Even when they’re bad they’re still a blast. Luckily, Wheelman is an excellent experiment in blending thrills and action, with a brisk running time that will make it speed by. 

The Siege of Jadotville

The Siege of Jadotville

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Siege of Jadotville is inspired by the experiences of the 157-strong Irish Army during their 1961 UN peacekeeping mission in Congo. It's hard to believe that Jamie Dornan, he of Fifty Shades, can deliver on the dramatic action front but he's at the top of his game as Commandant Pat Quinlan in this Netflix Original. He leads his 150 men into battle with a world-weariness that seems baked-in, taking them on a life-changing mission to hold steady a fort from 3,000 Congolese troops.

Part of director Richie Smyth's plan to toughen up his actors before shooting was to ensure that their experiences felt real. He made all of them attend a soldier training camp... and boy, does it show. That’s how you bring a layer of emotional truth to a movie like this. 

The Night Comes For Us 

The Night Comes For Us

(Image credit: Netflix)

Fancy watching something that will make your soul shake? Give this a go. It’s a blistering actioner that seldom takes its foot off the gas. Keeping the story simple works as an anchor, a way to let the action run riot, which you want with a star like The Raid’s Iko Uwais in charge. Here he plays a triad thug called Ito, who at the last minute turns on his fellow enforcers, when he spies a young girl in the village they’re currently slaying. Choosing to save her life, and waste his comrades, Ito must do whatever it takes to protect the child. 

Cinema’s gone pretty far in terms of what’s deemed, well, acceptable, pushing the limits of good taste to the extreme. The Night Comes For Us charges down that route, somehow extending previous ideas on over the top violence and relentless barrage of gore. You will not see another action movie like it this year.

Ip Man

Ip Man

(Image credit: Mandarin Film)

Non-Netflix original available in US/UK

Everyone knows who Bruce Lee is. A legend on the screen and in a fight. What about the man who taught him? That's sort of the inspiration for Ip Man. Donnie Yen made his mark playing a fictionalised version of the Wing Chun grandmaster Yip Kai-man who mentored several major martial arts experts, and this takes you back to where it all began. In 1930s China the Japanese invade Yip's town, and it's up to him - and his amazing skills - to take down their leader. 

The appeal here is finding out about the man who trained Lee. That in itself is intriguing, because it’s a blast learning about his past. Who doesn’t like an action biopic? That being said, it’s well worth checking out to see Yen deliver some historic beat downs, and to see where so many moves we recognise today originated. 

Da 5 Bloods

Da 5 Bloods

(Image credit: Netflix)

Not a classic action movie, but features enough war-torn action to certainly find itself on this list. Da 5 Bloods is directed by Spike Lee and tells the story of four US veterans (played by Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Norm Lewis) returning to Vietnam to locate and repatriate the remains of their squad leader (played by Chadwick Boseman). 

There’s also the little matter of finding a trunk of gold bullion they buried during the war – it was intended to pay locals for their help against the Viet Cong, but when it went down with a CIA plane, our heroes took it for themselves. This is a frequently fierce, fascinating picture.

The Wandering Earth

The Wandering Earth

(Image credit: Netflix)

Watching Chinese box-office smash The Wandering Earth, it seems as if its screenwriter mainlined every ‘90s Hollywood disaster movie then promptly declared “Hold all the beers in the world.” The sweaty-browed machismo of American popcorn entertainment is nothing compared to what’s being dubbed China’s first proper sci-fi blockbuster. The story somehow surpasses them all. 

Earth is in dire straits as the sun is on the cusp of dying out, making life on the planet uninhabitable. Scientists pepper the Earth’s surface with 10,000 rocket thrusters, enabling Earth to be directed to a new star system…  as long as they also avoid pesky Jupiter’s gravity. It’s ambitious-as-hell yet director Frank Gwo and his team somehow juggle the superb ensemble cast along with a series of showy visuals for an at-times arresting disaster actioner. 

Code 8

Code 8

(Image credit: Netflix)

We’re in a post-MCU world now where the superhero schtick is no longer counterculture. As a result, we’re now getting more fun, straight-to-streaming pics like Code 8, set in a world where roughly 4% of the population is born with abilities. Alas, this circumstance is sadly not met with excitement by the majority of citizens who cower away from “Powers”, including Connor (Robbie Amell), a twentysomething labourer struggling to pay for his mother’s medical bills. He harnesses his electrokinetic powers and joins forces with a criminal gang, in order to raise the cash. 

Arrowverse heroes and real-life cousins Robbie and Stephen Amell co-star, after having raised the financing for the film through Kickstarter. It's their on-screen dynamic that truly sells it, with the older Amell playing the thuggish crook who enlists Connor. Writer-director Jeff Chan hardly has the type of budget typically tossed at superhero fare, yet this grittier take on an X-Men-esque world delivers plenty of compelling action sequences.

Alive

Alive

(Image credit: Netflix)

A South Korean genre movie chock-full of zombies? Obvious comparisons to Train to Busan were bound to happen. However, where that critically-acclaimed pic infuses its undead action with more of a horror edge, Alive, a South-Korean zombie flick from last year, goes straight for the kinetic energy. In that regard, it occupies a similar part of the zombie pantheon to Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, whose frantic brain-eaters charged around at breakneck speed too.

Alive tells of a rapidly-spreading infection that’s left an entire city under siege from those infected, except for one survivor holed up in his apartment. The film landed on Netflix right as the COVID-19 pandemic started, rather an apropos time, considering its story largely handles the dread of isolation. In that regard, it’s a surprisingly heart-wrenching watch that will hit home for many viewers, while also proving to be a rollicking good time.

Outside the Wire

Anthony Mackie in Outside the Wire

(Image credit: Netflix)

Set in the near future, Outside the Wire centers around a civil war between pro-Russian insurgents and local resistances in Ukraine leads the US to deploy peacekeeping forces. It stars Anthony Mackie (who also produced the movie) as an android officer who works with a drone pilot, played by Damson Idris, to stop a global catastrophe. Emily Beecham, Michael Kelly, and Pilou Asbæk also star. The movie was directed by Swedish filmmaker Mikael Håfström, who's also helmed thrillers like 2013's Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Project Power

Dominique Fishback in Project Power

(Image credit: Netflix)

Another Netflix Original, Project Power stars Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Dominique Fishback. It follows a drug dealer (Fishback), a police officer (Gordon-Levitt), and a former soldier (Foxx) in a near-future New Orleans who team up to stop the distribution of a pill that gives the user superpowers for five minutes. The movie was directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the duo behind Paranormal Activity 3 and Paranormal Activity 4. Colson Baker, Rodrigo Santoro, Amy Landecker, and Allen Maldonado also star.

Extraction

Extraction

(Image credit: Netflix)

Sinking $65 million dollars into its action spectacle Extraction, it’s no wonder Netflix chose to, as they say, go balls-to-the-wall on every front. Nabbing Chris Hemsworth for the lead was a masterstroke, but the big get aside from Thor is its director Sam Hargrave, who also happens to be an MCU stunt performer. Much like John Wick saw noted stunt genius Chad Stahelski take the reins as director for the first time, Hargrave gets that same chance to lens action the way a stuntman experiences it.

And that’s largely why the plot might not matter much. Who’s fussed about specifics when your director’s strapping himself into a car for a 12-minute take of a high-speed car chase? Granted, the story’s a decent enough tale of a sultry mercenary who accepts a job to locate the kidnapped son of an international crime lord, but it’s not going to change the face of cinema. Come for Hemsworth playing a slightly more serious role, and stay for the terrific action set pieces. 

The Five Deadly Venoms

Five Deadly Venoms

(Image credit: Shaw Brothers)

Non-Netflix original available in US/UK

A lucky get for Netflix, The Five Deadly Venoms is a cherished martial arts classic that landed at the height of the Kung-Fu craze. The Shaw Brothers cleaned up by securing the legendary Chang Cheh to direct what’s since become a cult classic. Its quintet of leads went on to be called “the Venom Mob” by fans. The movie follows the dying wish of a kung fu teacher who asks that his final student track down five of his most notorious pupils, each of whom he taught a deadly skill that he fears they will continue to use only for evil. 

The quartet of kung fu fighters in question each spar using unique animal styles The Centipede, The Snake, The Scorpion, The Lizard, and The Toad. While that might not sound particularly riveting, that plot’s an excuse for some killer fight scenes. Watching The Toad fights his way out of prison, beating down anyone who stands in his way is top-notch. The Scorpion’s gravity-defying training sequence, however, takes the biscuit, a moment much like the rest of the movie, that's proved to be rather influential on the martial arts genre.

The Grandmaster

The Grandmaster

(Image credit: Bona Film Group)

Non-Netflix original available in US/UK

A raft of martial arts biopics introduced audiences to the life of Wing Chun founder Ip Man. Many are familiar with that story through the movies of the same name, which also feature on this list, yet none quite capture the jaw-dropping cinematography and slick action stylings of The Grandmaster. This 2013 action drama tells the maestro’s origin tale with nuance and grace that’s entirely its own. Starring Tony Leung and Zhang Zizi, the movie zips along a decent pace telling the tale of Master Ip’s rise with a delicate eye.

With esteemed director Wong Kar-Wai at the helm, it’s clear why the movie’s found such a dedicated fan base. The action choreography is stunning and feels downright fresh, despite its well-trod story. It appears that the Netflix version loses some of the appeal of the longer Chinese Cut, which we recommend seeking out if possible.

Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation

(Image credit: Netflix)

One of Netflix’s very first productions was a bold proposition indeed; a war movie in a fictional African country, performed for long stretches in Twi (a dialect of the Akan language spoken in Ghana), about a child soldier groomed for violence by a simultaneously terrifying and magnetic commandant. Beasts of No Nation plays out in just as bleak a manner as the premise suggests, leaving the viewer morally conflicted and emotionally exhausted.

In a movie that’s equal parts thrilling and harrowing, Idris Elba delivers an absolute masterclass in his role as the commandant. You watch him groom a child for war and perform several war crimes, and yet, somehow, you still find yourself wanting to root for him. And no less of a revelation is the young Abraham Attah as Agu. 

Triple Frontier

Triple Frontier

(Image credit: Netflix)

Think of Triple Frontier as Ocean’s Eleven with a military slant. J.C Chandor directs from a script he co-wrote with Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Boal for the testosterone movie of the year, that tells of a group of former Special Forces Operatives who band together to rob a noted cartel drug lord. It’s hardly new, plot-wise, but the movie brings out plenty of surprises beneath its pecs. Notably, its cast manages to venture into interesting territory with their characters, who find themselves in dire straits when a simple plan goes wrong.

Oscar Isaac leads as Santiago “Pope” Garcia, a DEA Agent who reunites his former team (Ben Affleck on top form, Charlie Hunnam, Pedro Pascal, and Garrett Hedlund) to carry out the heist, that undoubtedly doesn’t pan out the way they expect. Netflix struck gold with this winning combo of top-shelf A-listers, taut, precision scripting, and great action sequences that have your heart in your throat. One of the best action movies on Netflix, Triple Frontier packs equal amounts of brawn and brain and is eminently watchable. 

The Debt Collector

The Debt COllector

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Non-Netflix original available in US/UK

Several collaborations deep, and action champ Scott Adkins and director Jesse Johnson’s established rapport continues to, well, put Adkins into increasingly-hairy situations where the only way out is through... someone’s face. The pair typically ramp up the Guy Ritchie-esque British crime thriller template, yet this time they relocate to sunny Los Angeles where Adkins’ dedicated martial arts teacher French is struggling to keep his dojo open. 

He quickly accepts a job as a debt collector that connects him with Sue, a former B-movie ninja expert, whose shabby aesthetic masks his thunderous desire to break people’s legs. Johnson and Adkins are in their element here. The stunt coordinator-turned director dispenses with scene-after-scene of action-comedy genius, clearly comfortable with both at this point in his career.

6 Underground

Ryan Reynolds in 6 Underground

(Image credit: Netflix)

Starring Ryan Reynolds and directed by Michael Bay, this movie follows a group of, you guessed it, six people. All of them are highly skilled and capable of taking down even the most untouchable of targets. Their aim this time round is a dictator in Turkistan, named Rovach Alimov. 

Though this film didn't do that well with critics, it's still packed with action, and Reynolds' performance as the lead character has been praised. 6 Underground is a great choice for a slice of explosive escapism, especially if you're already a Bay fan. 

Okja

Okja

(Image credit: Netflix)

A near-future sci-fi flick by Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho, this is exactly the type of Netflix Original the world needs: funny, weird, and utterly charming. Part environmental parable, part bleeding heart manifesto, the movie follows, Mija, a 10-year old whose best friend is a super-pig called Okja. When the lab that created her friend steal the swine away from her, Mija embarks on an adventure to retrieve Okja that takes her across the globe.

Unlike the brutal, bleak landscape of Snowpiecer, Okja showcases Joon-Ho’s softer side. It’s still oddball and wacky but packed with a ton of heart.  One of Netflix’s first movies that manages to juggle different ideas without losing sight of the goal; a real genre-blending effort. Oh, and Tilda Swinton. Anything that involves Tilda Swinton is worth watching.

Triple Threat

Triple Threat

(Image credit: Aurora Alliance)

Non-Netflix original available in US/UK

Let's just get this out of the way now. No-one comes to a movie like Triple Threat for the plot or nuanced characterisations. No. They come to watch an assembly of martial arts legends either beat seven shades out of each other, or team up to beat the hell out of some other bunch of unsuspecting suckers. Luckily, Triple Threat’s got both. 

The holy trifecta of Thai superstar Tony Jaa, Indonesian ass-kicker Iko Uwais, and Man of Tai Chi/The Matrix stunt man Tiger Chen is its core trio who join forces to stop a bunch of mercenaries (led by British action king Scott Adkins) from killing a billionaire heiress. It’s to the point yet the action beats here are downright exhilarating, running the gamut from ringside brawls to urban shootouts, and a few particularly unfortunate vehicular incidents. But really, this is all about hand-to-hand combat.

Manhunt

Manhunt

(Image credit: Media Asia)

Non-Netflix original available in US/UK

John Woo’s glory days might be in the rearview. But he’s not out of the game just yet. Not interested in sculpting classics like Hard Boiled, his more recent output is well worth checking out for its almost commemorative qualities. Manhunt is a cut above, proving he’s still got a lot to offer even the most casual action fan who’ll get enjoyment from this 2017 offering. 

All of the Woo staples are present: a seemingly never-ending supply of bullets, endless slo-mo sequences of badassery, and, well, basically, there’s A LOT of gunfights. The film’s somewhat contrived plottings toss together a detective and a lawyer into a story stuffed with so many themes and angles, that at times you won’t quite believe how ambitious its scope. And yet, despite the silliness, it’s also got… a whole lotta doves.

Headshot

Headshot

(Image credit: Vertical Entertainment)

Non-Netflix original available in US/UK

Here’s an Indonesian fight flick not directed by The Raid and The Raid 2 filmmaker Gareth Evans. While that pair of blistering actioners hails from a Welsh filmmaker, Headshot is tackled by Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel who nevertheless still accomplish that same level of intense, soul-shaking action along with a solid, emotionally-rich story.

Certain types of martial arts movies make their statement quite simply. Headshot is no different in its tale of revenge. Iko Uwais stars as Ishmael, a man suffering from amnesia on the run as his violent criminal past comes for him. Tjahanto and Stamboel together are an assured team, whose confidence in crafting skilfully-choreographed fight sequences aren’t bogged down in technicalities. These scenes drip with dread and anxiety, your heart rate ramping up with every fist to a face. Uwais, who also starred in The Raid and its sequel, continues to shine here. 

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

(Image credit: Universal)

Non-Netflix original available in US/UK

Years before he gave us the delicious vehicular stylings of Baby Driver, Edgar Wright adapted a popular graphic novel series about a musician named Scott Pilgrim. While he might be an ordinary slacker, we soon discover that his circumstance is anything but when he finds himself in a battle with one of his girlfriend’s exes. Soon after, he learns he has to fight all seven of her evil exes, in order to win her love and also, you know, not die

Only a director like Wright could wrangle a graphic novel inspired by a video game framework and crank out a gem like this. Who knew it was possible for Michael Cera, the schlubbish underachiever from Juno and Superbad, to transform into a seriously cool action man?