Well, we have news for you: action movies aren't dead. There have been plenty of big, dumb action movies in the last 15 years, and not parodies or sequels either, you just have to look a bit harder. Hit the jump and we'll tell you what rocks to look under.
We have expressed our love for Shooter many, many times, and we intend to do so at least once more. This modern reworking of the grizzled-lone-veteran-forced-back-into-action-to-get-revenge-on-the-suits-who-screwed-him-over genre succeeds by sticking to the formula and playing it absolutely straight, whilst still relishing its own corniness. It also has the most-classic line in the history of cinema; when asked why he doesn't just give up and let the bad guys win, our hero, Bob Lee Swagger (yes, that's his name) sets us straight: "I don't think you understand, these people killed my dog".
2) Ong Bak
Ah, Tony Jaa. At one point, he was expected to be the new Bruce Lee. Unfortunately, the majority of his movies just aren't that great. The first Ong Bak, however, very much is. This is a film where, rather than just kicking a guy to death, Jaa LIGHTS HIS LEGS ON FIRE, then kicks a guy to death. Still, it's not just that this film contains about eight of the ten best fight scenes in film history, the passable plot is actually an ode to Thai patriotism. For example, at one point an Australian thug goads our hero into fighting by saying that Thai men are so weak their women come to Australian to become prostitutes. Don't worry, we think even the stuntman regretted saying it, despite the helmet concealed under his wig.
We originally planned to make this a list of action movies since the millennium, but we pushed it back three years to include this film. We absolutely love Mark Dacascos; the Hawaiian-born martial arts expert deserves far better than the Z-list he's stuck in. He is at his best here as a cybernetically-turbocharged Chinese martial arts expert trying to defect to the States. Team him up with completely out-of-his-depth, down-on-his-luck musician Kadeem Harrison, add a quirky cameo from the late Brittany Murphy and some of the best Kung Fu you're likely to see in a movie and you know you're in for a good time.
4) The Transporter
Most people know Jason Statham for his roles in Guy Ritchie movies. The more discerning movie fan, however, knows him as the best action film star of his generation. It all started here with this cracking action fiesta from Luc Besson. A great lead character, a sexy love interest, funny sidekick, nasty villain, great car chases, fantastic shoot outs, beautifully-done, creative fight scenes and solid plotting and dialogue from Besson, this is one movie that really has got everything. It's just a shame about the sequels...
5) Shoot 'Em Up
One of the most bizarrely-demented films ever made, but one that is too stylishly done to be dismissed easily. Clive Owen plays a mysterious, carrot-munching bullet dispenser protecting an orphaned baby from a gang of gun nuts led by Paul Giamatti with the help of Monica Belucci playing a prostitute who uses her lactating breasts to feed her clients' fetish... literally. The film is most infamous for the scene that features Owen having sex with Belucci while simultaneously participating in a firefight with Giamatti's henchmen; still not the weirdest scene in the movie...