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  1. Star Wars (1977)

    For the film's 20th anniversary, George Lucas and his team of digital meddlers added a widening Saturn-like halo to the Death Star's destruction. Of all the changes robbing us of our nostalgia, this one's not so bad.

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  2. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

    “What have I done?” Alec Guinness asks blankly, falling on a detonator and unleashing the most colossal blast ever seen up to that point in a movie. A legendary rumor says the footage was accidently lost, then found after a week's panic.

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  3. The Hurt Locker (2008)

    For her Oscar-winning tale of bomb defusers working in the Iraqi battle zone, Kathryn Bigelow, an action specialist, captured an explosion in extreme slo-mo, distilling unlikely beauty from a moment of pure terror.

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  4. Jaws (1975)

    Smells like charred seafood: In Steven Spielberg's climactic scene, the shark gets a little too grabby, leaving a combustible tank hanging out of its mouth—a convenient target for a precise shot, leading to a bloody mess.

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  5. Zabriskie Point (1970)

    Even art-house giants like Michelangelo Antonioni enjoy blowing stuff up once in a while. The final moments of his ennui-laden drama feature several slo-mo detonations. A metaphor for anticonsumerist rage? Think about it for later. Pink Floyd contributed to the score.

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  6. Armageddon (1998)

    Michael Bay won over no French fans when, in the space of 30 seconds, he dropped an asteroid into the heart of Paris, laying waste to the City of Light with nary a tear. Why cry? We still have Ben Affleck to worry about.

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  7. Independence Day (1996)

    Sometimes, it's not how large your bang is, so much as where you put it. Roland Emmerich upped the ante for lovable tastelessness by having aliens raze the White House in a blazing blitz from above.

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  8. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

    The scene that spawned the almost-popular phrase "nuked the fridge," it positions Harrison Ford before a blooming mushroom cloud. Of course Indy could survive an A-bomb blast, but what of his franchise?

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  9. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

    Sarah's apocalyptic dream in James Cameron's blockbuster sequel is one of the most nightmarish sequences ever snuck into a mainstream movie. Los Angeles is swept away by nuclear fire to the sound of screams.

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  10. Stealth (2005)

    Don't believe us? The movie's a dud, but take a look at this glorious piece of pyrotechnics, flaming bodies and spinning trucks falling to the whim of Josh Lucas's trigger finger. The sludge-rock soundtrack somehow adds hilarity.

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The 10 wildest explosions in action movies

Boom goes the dynamite: Prepare to be blown away by these 10 clips that vastly expand action cinema's blast radius


Sure, there are finer points to the action film: the grizzled, Eastwoodian stare; a well-lobbed catch-phrase; the brotherly bonding of cops under fire. But if we're being honest, sometimes we just go for the kabooms. An essential piece of the action formula since 1957's The Bridge on the River Kwai, the not-so-humble explosion puts an exclamation point on stories that often require them. Have a look at our 10 favorites—and be warned, many of these are plot climaxes. Then again, if you haven't already seen Star Wars, we have no words for you.

RECOMMENDED: Our list of the 100 best action movies ever made

Take a closer look at the world of action...

The 100 best action movies

We polled over 50 experts in the field, from essential directors like Die Hard’s John McTiernan to the actual folks in the line of fire, such as Tarantino favorite Zoë Bell (the fearless stuntwoman behind Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill movies). The result: The 100 best action movies, a definitive look at the genre from the earliest silent classic short film of 1896's “Arrival of Train at La Ciotat” to Marvel's big-screen fighting force of 2012's The Avengers.

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