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The 20 best action movies on Netflix

Fancy a quiet night in? Well then stay the hell away from these gun-toting, adrenaline-pumping, shrapnel-flinging streamables

Netflix and thrill! The smashiest, crashiest, explodiest action movies available to stream online, from old-school beat-em-ups to modern superhero flicks, with a dash of sci-fi, martial arts, horror and comedy. Warning: contains ninjas, commies, dragons and Tom Hiddleston in a pointy hat.

20
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
1/20

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Director: Brad Bird

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner

Or, the One Where Tom Dangles Off the Very Tall Building. The stunts in the ‘Mission: Impossible’ movies may be more memorable than the characters (which isn’t saying much), but there’s lots of fun to be had as The Cruiser trots the globe trying to clear his name of terrorism charges.

Watch it if you liked:Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

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19
The Core (2003)
2/20

The Core (2003)

Director: Jon Amiel

Cast: Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart

Okay, so the concept is idiotic. Hilary Swank and Aaron Eckhart play the leaders of a team tasked with journeying to the centre of the earth in a giant drill to start the magnetic core spinning again before the apocalypse happens. Despite all that, this is a very silly, guiltily enjoyable disaster movie.

Watch it if you liked:Armageddon

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18
Kickboxer (1989)
3/20

Kickboxer (1989)

Director: Mark DiSalle, David Worth

Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Chan

Action flicks don’t come much more gloriously old-school, low-rent, Friday-night cheesy than this. The muscles from Brussels Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as the wonderfully named Kurt Sloane, who must undergo tortuous training in the ancient martial art of kickboxing in order to – surprise! – avenge his brother’s death.

Watch it if you liked:The Karate Kid

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17
From Dusk till Dawn (1996)
4/20

From Dusk till Dawn (1996)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino

Cast your mind back to a time when George Clooney wasn’t a megastar, Quentin Tarantino still had acting ambitions and vampires weren’t absolutely bloody everywhere. Rodriguez’s adaptation of Tarantino’s tale of undead Mexican ravers is tasteless, ultraviolent fun.

Watch it if you liked:Grindhouse

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16
Thor (2011)
5/20

Thor (2011)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston

‘Thor’ is basically ‘Masters of the Universe’ with better special effects and a load of self-mocking humour, but we’re suckers for the Marvel universe. Chris Hemsworth plays the L’Oreal-haired Norse God who is cast out of Asgard and heads to Earth. Tom Hiddleston effortlessly steals the show as horned nutcase Loki.

Watch it if you liked:Avengers Assemble

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15
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
6/20

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Director: Joe Johnston

Cast: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving

Another action-packed instalment of Marvel’s grand, ongoing cinematic soap opera. Credit is due to the screenwriters for managing to wrest the Captain from his ultra-patriotic, World War II-era roots and turn him into a genuinely complex and conflicted hero. The sequel was even better.

Watch it if you liked:Iron Man

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14
World War Z (2013)
7/20

World War Z (2013)

Director: Marc Forster

Cast: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos

Zombies are everywhere nowadays, but that’s literally the case in this epic undead adventure. From Indonesia to Israel to an industrial estate in rural Wales, the corpse-eaters are taking over the world, and only hunky scientist Bradley Pitt can stop them. A cut above your average shambling shocker.

Watch it if you liked:The Walking Dead

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13
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
8/20

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu

Quentin Tarantino’s sprawling, two-part tribute to the chopsocky revenge movies of his youth isn’t as clever as it thinks it is, but the action scenes do rock pretty hard. The climactic battle between Thurman’s vengeful Bride and 88 trained samurai is frenzied and fantastic.

Watch it if you liked:Pulp Fiction

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12
Under Siege (1992)
9/20

Under Siege (1992)

Director: Andrew Davis

Cast: Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones

Clones of ‘Die Hard’ were everywhere in the early ’90s: there was ‘Die Hard’ on a bus (‘Speed’), ‘Die Hard’ in a stadium (‘Sudden Death’) and ‘Die Hard’ on a plane (‘Passenger 57’, ‘Air Force One’, ‘Executive Decision’… the list goes on). ‘Under Siege’ is arguably the best of the bunch, with Steven Seagal on bruising form as the Navy cook fighting off a boat-load of terrorists.

Watch it if you liked:Die Hard’, obviously

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11
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
10/20

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

Director: John McTiernan

Cast: Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin

Sean Connery’s Russian accent is roughly as convincing as his Spanish, Irish and American efforts, but we’ll let that go because this is a riveting slice of underwater Cold War screw-tightening. The ex-Bond plays the commander of a Soviet sub who almost kicks off World War 3 when he decides to defect to the Americans.

Watch it if you liked:Crimson Tide

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10
Disciples of the 36th Chamber (1985)
11/20

Disciples of the 36th Chamber (1985)

Director: Lau Kar-leung

Cast: Gordon Liu, Hsiao Ho

It may not quite match up to its legendary predecessor, ‘The 36th Chamber of Shaolin’, but this is a prime slice of kung-fu insanity from chopsocky icons the Shaw Brothers. A young student on the run from government officials claims asylum in the Shaolin Temple of San-Te and receives training in the ancient ways of warfare.

Watch it if you liked:Enter the Dragon

9
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
12/20

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Director: Peter Jackson

Cast: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen

The undoubted peak of the overextended ‘Hobbit’ trilogy, this is essentially one big chase, as our heroes rattle from orc-infested mountains to spider-riddled forests to dragon-haunted caves on the trail of ancient gold. The barrel-riding battle is one of the maddest, fastest action scenes ever devised.

Watch it if you liked:Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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8
The Raid 2 (2014)
13/20

The Raid 2 (2014)

Director: Gareth Evans

Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian

It may lack the propulsive simplicity of the first film, but Gareth Evans’s bigger, beefier, ‘Godfather’-ier sequel has its fair share of mental dust-ups. We’d have preferred a little less conversation, a little more action – but when the fists start flying, it’s hard to complain.

Watch it if you liked:The Raid

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7
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
14/20

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson

The second – and arguably the best – film in the ‘Hunger Games’ series sees poor J-Law sent back into the arena for another bout of bow-stretching, trap-avoiding, chump-killing antics. Original it ain’t, but this post-apocalyptic sci-fi series has been lots of fun.

Watch it if you liked:The Maze Runner

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6
Iron Man 3 (2013)
15/20

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Director: Shane Black

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Ben Kingsley

The third and final Marvel movie on our list sees Downey Jr’s steel-clad superhero going up against Kingsley’s mysterious global terrorist, and finding… well, we’ll let you discover that for yourself, but suffice to say the big revelation might be the greatest coup Marvel have pulled off so far.

Watch it if you liked:Guardians of the Galaxy

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5
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
16/20

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Director: Jonathan Frakes

Cast: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner

The best of the ‘Next Generation’ movies sees the crew of the Enterprise travelling back in time to save the Earth from those fascist mechanical terrors the Borg. Stewart brings Shakespearian gravitas, Spiner brings goofy charm and director-star Frakes brings… a glossy beard?

Watch it if you liked:Star Trek

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4
Serenity (2005)
17/20

Serenity (2005)

Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres

Before he made ‘Avengers Assemble’ and his career went stratospheric, ‘Buffy’ creator Joss Whedon’s only big-screen credit was this witty and fast-moving space adventure, a sequel to his own ill-fated TV project ‘Firefly’. Some of us are still waiting for a sequel…

Watch it if you liked:Star Wars

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3
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
18/20

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

Director: Martin Brest

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold

The theme tune is killer, the direction is ’80s slick and the script is packed with top-flight gags – but this is Eddie Murphy’s show all the way. Watching the film today, his furious energy and mad invention are still throat-grabbing. What a pity it all went downhill so fast.

Watch it if you liked: ’48 Hours’

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2
The Warriors (1979)
19/20

The Warriors (1979)

Director: Walter Hill

Cast: Michael Beck, James Remar

‘Come out to play-ay…’ Walter Hill’s furiously original New York story, set in a semi-apocalyptic world controlled by costumed teen gangs, is a relentlessly brilliant chase movie. The opening few minutes, as the gangs assemble to the beat of Barry de Vorzon’s monumental score, is simply perfect cinema.

Watch it if you liked:Escape From New York

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1
13 Assassins (2010)
20/20

13 Assassins (2010)

Director: Takashi Miike

Cast: Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada

With the arguable exception of this year’s ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, this is the best action movie of the new millennium. The plot is classically simple: in Shogun-era Japan, 12 samurai warriors and a forest outlaw join forces to ambush and murder a corrupt lord. The final hour, as the assassins spring their trap in a remote, abandoned village, is a solid contender for the greatest battle scene in cinema history.

Watch it if you liked:The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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Find more great movies on Netflix

The 100 best movies on Netflix

We’ve all been there. You cosy down on the sofa for an evening watching Netflix, log in and… nothing. A total lack of inspiration. Which is why we’ve put together this list of the very best films on Netflix UK, from comedy classics and recent multiplex smashes to animated gems and arthouse wonders.

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By: Cath Clarke

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