15 Best Foreign Action Movies of All Time

Most of us are suckers for action movies. Perhaps no other movie genre could entertain us the way action movies do on a consistent basis. And by consistent I do not mean the quality of the films it produces but the endless entertainment value inherent in them. Foreign action movies, unlike Hollywood, are a lot more raw and involve hand-to-hand combat. The classic Bruce Lee movies of the 70s and the endearing action comedies of Jackie Chan are probably among the most popular foreign action movies. This article attempts to cover top foreign action films from around the world except American cinema, of course. Without further ado, here’s the list of 15 best foreign action movies of all time.


15. Police Story (1985)

Many people may not be aware of this Jackie Chan flick since this was long before he became a superstar in Hollywood. ‘The Police Story’ was Chan’s breakout leading role following the highly disappointing ‘The Protector’ which was intended to introduce him to the western audiences. However, ‘The Police Story’ was a huge success and received high critical praise for its raw energy comic touch. The film follows a Hong Kong cop who nabs a drug lord but falls into trouble as he’s framed for murder and needs to clear his name off. The action sequences are intensely shot and highly entertaining with the refreshing blend of humor making it a thoroughly unique experience.


14. The Killer (1989)

The John Woo directed thriller tells the story of a hitman who takes one final assignment and teams up with a cop as he sets out to nab the gangsters who’re after him. Whilst the storyline may not seem so original or fascinating, John Woo, as he always does, makes it far more interesting than what it seems on paper. There are some amazingly well shot action sequences and while Woo has gone on to direct better flicks in Hong Kong and later in Hollywood, this one has a special place in his oeuvre due to its raw touch and unhinged energy.


13. District 13 (2004)

European cinema, French films in particular, are generally known among movie buff circles for producing high quality art films and that would make this entry a huge surprise. ‘District 13’ follows two men who try to defuse a neutron bomb that is now under control of a drug lord. The film features immensely powerful action sequences and is noted for its depiction of parkour in a number of scenes which were quite challenging to shoot and they were completed without any use of CGI or wires. For those of you bored with trite Hollywood action flicks featuring guns and explosions, this one is sure to come off as a breath of fresh air.


12. Police Story 3: Supercop (1992)

Rated by Quentin Tarantino as one his favorite movies of the past two decades, this Jackie Chan flick is considered to be one of the most popular action movies of all time. Part of the Police Story series, the film follows Inspector Chan Kwok Wing who arrives in China for an undercover operation but things go haywire when his girlfriend arrives and is kidnapped. ‘Supercop’ put Chan on the international map and turned him into a global superstar. It’s an absolute fun ride with a bizarrely sweet mix of action, comedy and drama and has endless entertainment value.


11. IP Man (2008)

Considering the number of martial arts movies Hong Kong cinema has churned out over the years, it shouldn’t come off as a surprise that the list features a fair share of them. Set during the war between China and Japan, the film tells the story of Ip Man, a Wing Chun expert who reluctantly agrees to train the Japanes officers. The film almost takes the form of a biopic as it is heavily inspired by the life of Yip Man, a grandmaster of the martial art and the teacher of the great Bruce Lee. Strong writing, shrewd direction and impeccable performances make this one of the best action movies made in recent times.

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