By: John M Jerva
Alright, it’s time to put the women and children to bed and go looking for dinner. You’ve checked out 20 to 11 of my Best of Action 2021, now marvel at my top ten list of the best of the best for the year. From smaller, independent action films to big budget blockbusters once again, here they are so buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Yep, it’s Frank Grillo again! Copshop is Joe Carnahan in fine form and the fact that Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo are in the same movie is the icing on the cake. Viewers will get a lot more then just mayhem out of this one and it definitely isn’t your straight forward thriller. All I hear is that movies these days never deliver something unusual and different but now here’s a movie that not only does its own thing but wraps it all up in a winner take all bloodfest that builds on the momentum of the first two thirds of the film.
Copshop is a fitting homage to some of those classic 70’s crime thrillers and while it has that feel, it does its own thing at the same time and is still relevant in today’s world. Basically what I’m saying is come for what you expect but stay for everything else that it will surprise you with. A solid, bloody good time.
9) ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE
Zack Snyder’s Justice League isn’t hype. It’s the real thing. If it had come out and been a major disappointment, that would have been the nail in the coffin but fortunately, it isn’t and it’s anything but. It’s a comic book movie worthy of being called just that but it’s so much more. I always find it funny that there are some people who dismiss these types of films as not being art but they are just as emotional, exciting and sprawling when done right as any other film that doesn’t come from the pages of graphic novels.
Zack Snyder has proven that he can give justice (pardon the pun again) to these iconic characters and in his hands, the source material is in more than capable hands. Here’s hoping that we get to see more. Yes I am a fanboy but I’m a rational one that knows good and bad when he sees it and with this, it’s almost everything done right. The age of heroes is upon us and the child inside of me is reborn once again. This is a victory for fans, for Snyder and all the good that came out of this campaign. Job well done.
8) THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS
This movie just came out this week, but that’s enough time to make it in this list. The Matrix Resurrections is just that, a resurrection of the franchise. Maybe one day I’ll go into it more when I can really talk about things but for now I’ll just say that if you’re a true fan of this weird and exciting world then you’ll be a fan of this one. It does resemble the first film to a degree but it does manage to do its own thing and do it so well. Reeves and Moss are as advertised and the new cast is more than up to the challenge for a whole new era. The action is breathtaking and Matrix worthy with all the death and gravity defying thrills that one can handle.
Lana Wachowski manages to deliver some good old fashion fan service while at the same time not bashing you over the head with it. It’s important to note that this movie isn’t for everyone but it’s not supposed to be but I was along for the entire ride. It is a sincere love letter to everything that came before but if she decides to make another trilogy, I will definitely be taking the red pill for more this all has to offer. Upon writing this non-spoiler review, I read that Wachowski stated it is not the start of a new trilogy but never say never especially in this business. It’s a story that deserves to be expanded even more.
7) YAKUZA PRINCESS
In today’s day and age of modern action cinema, there are those few sleeper hits that remind us just how fun this genre can be when done right. Director Vincente Amorin has managed to craft a graphic novel-esque Japanese action-thriller with mood and substance which hits all the right nerves and deserves to be mentioned when conversations come up for best action movies of the year. The cast, led by a fierce and able MASUMI, are top notch and deliver performances that only accent the violence on hand even more.
The action sequences are thrilling and expertly choreographed with intricate maneuvers and swordplay that would make the Samurai of old proud. It’s violent but it has a purpose and when it hits, it hits with a deafening degree of blunt force trauma mixed with aesthetic artistry. This is one action pic any serious action aficionado should check out and it is without a doubt first rate and first class caliber entertainment and one of the most exciting action films of the year.
Plus Action-Flix was quoted on the Blu-Ray cover so that in itself is pretty kick ass!
In a year which saw theaters close down for a vast majority of time, Nobody is a welcome addition to the genre and it was great to see old school kick ass action on a large screen once again. It’s funny because it wasn’t from a likely source but it won me over from the get go. Odenkirk excells and his training paid off. If you like the John Wick movies, as I do, then you should take to Nobody in a heartbeat with its non-stop action, humorous and touching moments and a lead that isn’t who you think he is.
The story is simple which is great because it’s all about the practical stunts and action here and I kind of wish that this movie took place in the same universe of John Wick because I would love to see Wick interact with Hutch. It might just make for one of the greatest assassin-buddy team ups of all time.
THE TOP 5!
5) SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME
Spider-Man: No Way Home talks the talk and walks the walk. It’s a comic book film that lives up to all the hype and I just hope you are able to go into it without any premature spoilers because the surprises elevate the film. This movie has heart, gut wrenching emotion, laugh out loud humor and thrilling action sequences that are worthy of any action film. Tom Holland delivers his best performance to date and makes the case as to why he should be considered the best Spider-Man on film. Hopefully, I’ll get to relive this review further down the road and get a chance to really talk about all the great moments it has and all the great characters that show up.
The ending is severely bittersweet, and I hope there is a happier ending for our beloved Peter Parker, I will say that. The fan service is unrivaled, and you should walk out of the theater feeling energized as your inner child breaks out. This is the MCU film that is in league with Avengers: Endgame and I am excited to see what the future has in store for Peter Parker and the rest of Phase IV.
4) GODZILLA VS KONG
Godzilla Vs Kong is a city smashing, Kaiju fighting love letter to the fans who grew up with this mythology and even for the next generation to enjoy. Too many times, team ups like this are hyped up so much and they come crashing down when they don’t deliver what was promised. That’s not the case here and even though there’s people who will find fault with it, you can’t please everyone. This is one reviewer who was not only satisfied but it exceeded all my lofty expectations.
This is the epic that is befitting these two legends and even though Godzilla is played as more of a heel throughout, there is still a redemption factor that is befitting the King of Monsters. It’s clear that these two will bow for no one and we as an audience are the winners for it. Wingard has given us a spectacle to behold and it’s everything you could want and more. One will fall but two will rise and the summer blockbuster officially returned this past March of all months. Godzilla Vs Kong is a city wrecking near masterpiece. Humans aside. When you watch it, sit back, relax and let you inner child out for two hours. It’s worth it.
3) WRATH OF MAN
This is Jason Statham’s finest hour and I, for one, cannot wait to see their next outing that they are working on as Guy Ritchie is essentially the one director that can give us a different side to Statham. The movie is a bone jarring ride from start to finish and the action is the exclamation point to the deep drama that is at hand. In a year where theatrical action films were hard to come by, Wrath of Man gave us action fans what we have been waiting for…an unapologetic suckerpunch to the head that will make you sweat, bleed and beg for more. This is essential Statham at his bloody and brutal, stoic best! Enough said…
2) RAGING FIRE
Watching Donnie Yen do what he does best has always been a treat and even though he might not be making old school Kung Fu flicks anymore, this will certainly suffice and no one kicks better than Donnie. His choreography is like a balletic piece of bone jarring chaos and it clearly points out that Asian action fight sequences are always the ones to beat.
It’s truly sad that Benny Chan is gone and that we won’t be seeing anymore heart pumping output from him but this is the icing on the cake of a storied career and what better piece of celluloid to leave us with than this action opera. Stick around for the credits as there is a nice tribute to Benny with some behind the scenes footage as well.
Donnie Yen can almost do no wrong and with Raging Fire, he and Chan have crafted something grand. It’s a layered action-thriller that is equal parts adrenaline and emotion. The script allows the cast to be more than just stunt professionals and the action…well, the action is sensational. In the last few years, we have been craving an action film with substance and here it is. An in your face operatic action spectacle and master class that does it right and is worthy of being called one of Donnie Yen’s best, if not the best. Class is in session and Professor Yen will be your teacher.
And the Top 2021 Award Goes to, Drum Roll Please….
1) ONE SHOT
Yes, after all the big budget spectacles on the list, this movie that probably has a third of the budget delivered the goods in 2021, but you don’t need a big budget when you have Scott Adkins doing what he does best. Director James Nunn, Adkins and company have truly done something special here. One Shot is a ninety plus minute relentless one take barrage of action and real time heroics that gives the audience a sweat inducing experience. It’s a movie that is relevant and impactful and it’s one of the year’s most original action films in terms of its execution.
Adkins is in fine form and he delivers his best dramatic and physical performance to date. There are no edits, cuts or room for error as Adkins is in full effect with his signature action style. It’s a relentless, full-throttle experience that immerses the viewers into the action. One Shot will leave you breathless and it is definitely one of the best action films of the year.
This is quite literally essential viewing for any serious action film fan and it might just be Scott’s finest hour as an actor and physical action star. My apologies go out to Director James Nunn and company for giving it a 4 out of 5 before. What was I thinking? This is truly a remarkable film in terms of its execution and ambition.
Adkins is, with this movie, proving to the world that he is the elite of action cinema and a true superstar that constantly delivers in spades. He deserves all the accolades that he receives. He pours his heart, soul and, above all, body into his movies and it’s time that the world takes notice at what a top tier talent he is.
Adkins, Nunn, the crew and everyone involved have given us one serious best action movie of the year and it should be destined to become an instant classic. Job well done and support indie action cinema.
The men and women who sacrifice themselves to bring us such great entertainment deserve it!
That’s it. Yes a little indie action movie made my number one spot this year and it is without a doubt, a taut and relentless powder keg of an action movie. Scott Adkins is the real deal and he elevates everything that he’s in. The plot is simple and the drama, tension and action are top tier.
I hope you all enjoyed my trip down memory lane for the year that was 2021 and I look forward to entertaining you in 2022 and the years to come. Thank you all for your support and have a awesome holiday season. Happy New Year and here’s to looking for more high/octane excitement to come. Lock and load because we are your destination for everything action!!!