Update: Check out these other great action film sites for the rest of the Top 50 Action Gems of the Decade!

The Action Elite 50-41:

Bulletproof Action 30-21:

Film Combat Syndicate 20-11:

Ultimate Action Movie Club 10-1:

So the decade has come to an end, and it was more or less a solid one for action films. With it came many lists of the best action movies of the decade, which featured the usual suspects of titles, such as the John Wicks, The Raids, the Mission: Impossibles, and so on. But what about the under the radar action films? Action films that go greatly unseen by the masses, but are vigorously lauded by dedicated action fans like myself? The gems, if you will. Well, ladies and gentlemen, do I have a list for you! And to help me bring it to you, I have brought together an esteemed assortment of some of the most intelligent and influential action movie analysts from all over. So, without further ado, here are The Top 50 Action Gems of the Decade! – The Cinema Drunkie

40. FALCON RISING (2014)

In FALCON RISING, we have an action star that in my humble opinion should be faaaaaaar more popular than what he is at this time. I’m speaking about Michael Jai White who got on the scene right off the bat playing SPAWN at a time where comic book movies were certainly not what they have become today. Jai White is versatile as an actor, can play “good guys” of course but can easily slip into playing villains as well like in films like TRIPLE THREAT. Not much of a supporting cast in this one as this is certainly Jai White’s moment to shine here but we get a recognizable face in Neil McDonough as one of White’s contacts through the film. The fights are good, the pacing is good, this doesn’t “feel like” one of those “shot in the Philippines quickies for 350K on a 10-day shooting schedule”. Check out FALCON RISING. I think you’ll be surprised at the quality that went into this one on a lot of different levels. – Len Kabasinski, Writer/Producer/Director

39. DEATH GRIP (2012) 

For anyone who hasn’t watched a movie with Eric Jacobus, Death Grip is the best place to start. Jacobus wrote, directed, edited, and starred in this back-to-basics action film. Carefully nuanced and calculated, Death Grip has a surprisingly fresh and honest sense of humor, and some of the bravura fight scenes are elaborate and intensive. Where the film’s weaknesses lie are in the lighting, some of the camerawork, and in a stretch of time where not much is going on. Still, this is a solid vehicle film for one of action film’s most underrated and unknown action guys. Jacobus is a talent to watch out for. – David J. Moore, Author of WORLD GONE WILD: A SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIES and THE GOOD, THE TOUGH, AND THE DEADLY: ACTION MOVIES AND STARS.

38. SECURITY (2017)

This is one of the better Die Hard clones and might even be the best of the best Die Hard in a Mall scenarios to date due to it making perfect use of all of it’s simplicities. Banderas is a former military veteran who on his first day at a crappy mall security job ends up having to lead the team of unskilled, lazy guards to protect a female witness to a larger shady syndicate. Ben Kingsley adds appropriate menace without hamming it up and even gets an amusing scene where he’s listening to music on his phone while his best of the best henchmen are getting slaughtered outside by Banderas and co. Never overdone nor even cheesy, it is much like the Substitute series where it provides the right amount of over-the-top feel without being too much or feeling schlocky. – Cameron Sully, Writer/Producer

37. FINAL SCORE (2018)

From cult filmmaker Scott Mann of The Tournament fame comes another Die Hard in a stadium type film and, this time, Sudden Death has some true competition! I’m seriously not kidding as this film is organized and has some other uncanny type of gruesome fighting including a jaw-dropping scene where the main hero (Dave Bautista) has to spar with a big bad all while getting the side of his face burnt on a stovetop! Speaking of Bautista, he does get to shine here and Ray Stevenson turns in one of his better villain roles by having another twisted political terrorist role while once again thwarting various other law enforcement bureaucrats outside- all while this main soccer (or should we say football) game continues to unfold. This film also wins best amusing sidekick award as Amit Shah gets to play another everyday stadium employee who’s not sure how he can do much of anything in this seemingly escalating conflict- all without seeming wimpy while seeming human. – Cameron Sully, Writer/Producer


On par with the third Marine picture, which also starred The Miz as the same character (this is the first sequel to have character continuity), The Marine 4 has lots of action from start to finish, and The Miz gets to throw in some of his signature wrestling moves for good measure. The major deficit of the film is the character played by Roxburgh, who consistently screws herself and her protector over with terrible choices, bad behavior, and a serious lack of good sense. Also appearing in the cast (as a mostly silent mercenary) is Summer Rae (a.k.a. Danielle Moinet), who is also a wrestling star. From WWE Studios. Directed by William Kaufman, who you should keep an eye out for. His next picture was a direct-to-video sequel to Jarhead, starring Scott Adkins. – David J. Moore, Author of WORLD GONE WILD: A SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO POST-APOCALYPTIC MOVIES and THE GOOD, THE TOUGH, AND THE DEADLY: ACTION MOVIES AND STARS.


Another instant classic from the genre auteur S. Craig Zahler, the filmmaker is every bit game to be this millinium’s John Carpenter with the dirty and classic cinema throwback actioner Dragged Across Concrete. It’s hard to pick just one genre for this crime action thriller, but it is fascinating fodder for Vince Vaugn and Mel Gibson to join up as tag team cops (and opposite the equally impressive and important Tory Kittles and Michael Jai White). The film perfectly balances politically charged characters against 1960s era gritty crime dramas for a slow burn tone poem that is wholly unique and undeniably cool. – Jourdan Aldredge, Ultimate Action Movie Club editor and co-founder

34. SKIN TRADE (2014)

Skin Trade is an under appreciated one that went under the radar, and I don’t understand why, especially with the cast that they assembled for this, the action is very well done, particularly the fight scenes, with the standout being Michael Jai White vs Tony Jaa, which doesn’t disappoint at all. The story, while very similar to other films that we’ve seen before, served its purpose, but is never boring. The direction is solid, the film looks great visually (it actually looks like something that should’ve went to theaters, at least to me.) We have a solid villain in Ron Perlman, and this moves at a great pace. Just a fun movie overall! – Jonathan Mark, Writer


Not gonna lie, but when I heard that Antonio Banderas was playing in a fight film, I was skeptical, to say the least.  After days of seeing on the local walmart shelf, I finally decided to check it out. I am happy to admit I was pleasantly surprised. Acts of Vengeance stars Banderas as a defense lawyer who, after his wife and daughter are brutally murdered, takes a vow of silence as he strengthens his mind and body on his quest for the truth to find out what happened. This was a really solid movie. The action is surprisingly good for Banderas not being a martial artist, and the story is very emotional (made me tear up a couple times). Director Isaac Florentine and Fight Choreographer Tim Man truly delivered a really awesome flick. – Braden D. White, Screenwriter/Actor/Martial Arts Expert


Dante Lam’s epic action/crime/war film from 2016 is one of the wildest white-knuckle rides in recent memory. In short, the movie tells (kinda basing on a true story) of a Chinese special forces unit exacting vengeance on some truly (no, really) ruthless Golden Triangle drug traffickers. The highly entertaining Operation Mekong delivers on every level from engaging plot (with genuinely emotional moments) and strong performances to stunning special effects, and dishes out insane ”Did-they-really-do-that?” -set pieces one after another. Example you say? How about a car chase – inside a mall, with a highly trained K9 thrown in to mix things up a bit. The inventiveness of the action scenes is a pure joy to watch. The tactics of the special operators are depicted with just the right balance of realism and stylization, and the numerous gun fights never repeat each other. As for martial arts -fight scenes in Operation Mekong, there’s really only one BUT it is a true hall-of-famer. It’s safe to say that Dante Lam is one of the most important and interesting film directors emerging from China/Hong Kong – ever. His 2018’s sequel to Operation Mekong (Operation Red Sea) comes highly recommended also. – Tuomas Lius, Finnish Novelist and Pop Culture Aficionado 

31. BLOOD FATHER (2016)

This overlooked gem (it only made $6.9 million on a $15 million budget) is a must watch for any Mel Gibson fan as he gives one of his best, and most intense, performances of his career. Gibson plays an ex-con and alcoholic, John Link, who goes on the run with his estranged daughter to protect her from the cartel. The action is realistic and grounded but the real treat is Gibson. He has always embodied seething anger better than anybody, and he outdoes himself here in a truly award worthy performance. – Shane Cronican, Writer

Catch 30-21 tomorrow on!

5 thoughts on “THE TOP 50 ACTION GEMS OF THE DECADE: 40 TO 31

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