Are you looking for the best action movies on Netflix right now? There are plenty of different awesome new releases that are on Netflix, including many of the top recent action movies like Avengers: Infinity War, as well as all-time classics like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dirty Harry and GoldenEye. The newest additions to this list will be added at the top and marked with an asterisk.
All these gems await you in our picks for the hottest action movies to watch! So don’t bother to search any further. Just log-in because it’s time to stream…
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Best Movies on Netflix by Genre:
- Best sci-fi movies on Netflix
- Best comedy movies on Netflix
- Best horror movies on Netflix
- Best drama movies on Netflix
- Best horror TV shows on Netflix
- Best anime series on Netflix
Please note: This list pertains to U.S. Netflix subscribers. Some titles may not currently be available on international platforms. This article is frequently amended to remove films no longer on Netflix and to include more horror films that are now available on the service.
The Lethal Weapon Series*
All four Lethal Weapon movies are currently available to stream on Netflix. While there’s a definite case of diminishing returns with the franchise, there’s no denying these movies set the gold standard for buddy cop action flicks. Even in the lesser sequels, the chemistry between stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover is enough to justify a rewatch.
Mortal Kombat (1995)*
The ’90s were littered with cheap, badly executed adaptations of popular video game franchises. Mortal Kombat may well be the only one of the bunch still worth watching. No, it’s not exactly high art, but it strikes just the right balance of campy fun, devotion to the source material, bone-breaking action and catchy ’90s techno music. And for anyone who squandered most of their youth in the arcade, this is a surefire nostalgia trip.
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
If DC’s Suicide Squad movie left you wanting, why not go back to the classic war movie that inspired that particular superhero franchise? Inspired by a real-life WWII unit and featuring a cast of classic Hollywood tough guys like Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and Jim Brown, The Dirty Dozen shows what happens when a motley crew of US Army prisoners are tasked when going behind enemy lines on a suicide mission just before D-Day. The film’s violent content shocked many critics in 1967, and it still packs a punch decades later.
Dirty Harry (1971)
Is there any Clint Eastwood character more iconic than Inspector Harry Callahan? A great many Hollywood stars were approached for this project in its various forms, including Frank Sinatra, John Wayne and Steve McQueen, but it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Eastwood in the role of the gruff, lone wolf cop chasing down an elusive serial killer in San Francisco. Dirty Harry is a bleak, violent thriller that perfectly captures the uneasy spirit of early ’70s American life.
With a new James Bond movie due for release in 2020, we imagine plenty of fans are planning a Bond binge over the next few months. Netflix is only home to the four Pierce Brosnan-led Bond movies, but the good news is that limited lineup includes 1995’s GoldenEye. This slick spy movie singlehandedly revitalized the franchise, cementing Brosnan as a worthy heir to the mantle and director Martin Campbell as one of the franchise’s best directors. You don’t get to the current Daniel Craig movies without GoldenEye lighting the way.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) & Vol. 2 (2004)
With the Kill Bill duology, Quentin Tarantino proved himself to be every bit the master of the martial arts genre as he is witty crime dramas. Together, these two movies chronicle the journey of “The Bride” (Uma Thurman), a woman out for revenge against the secret society of assassins who betrayed her. With plenty of colorful characters, epic needle drops, a twisty, nonlinear plot and some of the finest (and bloodiest) fight scenes to be found in an American movie, Kill Bill has it all.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) & The Return of the King (2003)
We’re not sure why Netflix only has the latter two entries in the Lord of the Rings trilogy available, but better some of this grand fantasy epic than none at all. Even as they chronicle the desperate struggle of a motley band of hobbits, men, elves, dwarves and wizards to prevent the return of a great evil, these movies also deliver some of the biggest and most satisfying battle scenes ever committed to film. Literally thousands of combatants duke it out on screen, all thanks to the magic of WETA’s incredible CGI work.
Patriot Games (1992)
Patriot Games is the second movie to feature Tom Clancy’s CIA hero Jack Ryan, and the first starring Harrison Ford. It remains among the best Clancy adaptations to date. Ford is still the best Jack Ryan, and the film soars as it delivers one great set piece after another and pits the hero against a radical Irish terrorist (Sean Bean). Clancy himself was none too fond of this adaptation, but audiences sure were.
The Grandmaster (2013)
While a great many martial arts movies have dramatized the life and exploits of Wing Chun founder Ip Man, none can match the explosive action and gorgeous cinematography of 2013’s The Grandmaster. But who would expect anything less with a director as acclaimed as Wong Kar-wai behind the camera? Kar-wai expertly distills a significant portion of Master Ip’s life into a tightly paced and beautiful martial arts drama. Superstars Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi only further add to the film’s star power. Our only complaint? We wish Netflix would make the superior international cut available to stream.
And if The Grandmaster leaves you hungry for more Wing Chun action, be sure to check out the Donnie Yen-starring Ip Man trilogy, also available on Netflix.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
The wuxia sub-genre of martial arts movies is characterized by a historical setting, stories involving conflicts between love and duty, and graceful, even balletic displays of fighting prowess. You’ll find all three of these in abundance in this classic film from 2000. One of the most popular martial arts movies in the West, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon revolves around the hunt for a legendary blade called the Sword of Destiny, a weapon that bestows great power but also brings with it only pain. The fight scenes in this one are epic, but the twin love stories are equally enthralling.
Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Long ago, Jackie Chan proved what a winning combination kung fu and slapstick humor can be. Few modern martial arts movies honor that legacy as well as Stephen Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle. This comedic gangster movie is basically a live-action cartoon. It manages to parody countless classic movies even as it delivers some hard-hitting fight scenes. The fact that Kung Fu Hustle features so many beloved actors from ’70s kung fu cinema is just icing on the cake.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
The sequel to Ant-Man is an inventive and lighthearted heist movie, in which The Wasp drags Ant-Man into an elaborate adventure involving a journey to the Quantum Realm, a building that gets stolen in the middle of a car chase, and lots of little, giant, clever action sequences. The Ant-Man movies are probably the most charming MCU movies, and the great ensemble cast and unique set pieces make Ant-Man and the Wasp stand out.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
The most epic live-action superhero crossover ever plays like a big budget, action-packed version of Robert Altman’s Nashville, complete with dozens and dozens of important characters, each of whom slip into each other’s stories on their own path to victory or tragedy. Avengers: Infinity War the kind of sprawling superhero movie that would never have been possible, or even comprehensible, for mainstream audiences to appreciate 10 years ago, and it represents a vast uncharted landscape of superhero cinema in the future. And it’s also thrilling, funny, captivating action filmmaking to boot!
The Indiana Jones Series
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg collaborated on the classic Indiana Jones movies, taking the cheesy action movie tropes of their childhoods and translating them to the big screen using every new, exciting, expensive technique at their disposal. The first film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, is about as good as action movies ever get, with lovable characters and dastardly villains all searching for the same magical treasure, getting into one giant and unforgettable set piece after another. The sequels are mixed, but mostly great: Temple of Doom resorts to insulting stereotypes but also features probably the most breathtaking action sequences in the franchise’s history; Last Crusade has iconic set pieces and the fantastic Sean Connery as Indie’s stuffy father, but the jokey tone robs the series of its gravitas; and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is pretty dumb from start to finish, but at least it’s never dull.
Before he won an Oscar for directing the horror fairy tale The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro brought his oddball sensibilities to Hellboy, an adaptation of Mike Mignola’s award-winning comic book series. Ron Perlman is perfect as the title character, a demon from hell who was raised by humans to protect us from supernatural forces. The plot is perfunctory but the monster effects are spectacular, the action is cool and the lead performances by Perlman and Selma Blair, as a firestarter who can’t trust herself, are easy to fall in love with.
Imagine the plot of The Bourne Identity, but with the fight scenes from The Raid. That’s the underrated action thriller Headshot, which stars Iko Uwais as an amnesiac who has to protect himself, and his psychologist, from an army of martial arts assassins who want him dead. Headshot arguably works even better on streaming, because the action is so stunning, and so merciless, you might need to pause the film just to catch your breath.
Black Panther (2018)
The biggest Marvel movie ever, and with good cause. Chadwick Boseman stars in Black Panther, a film that combines Afrofuturism with the superhero genre, giving audiences something they’d never seen before, on a scale that’s hard to imagine. Michael B. Jordan co-stars as one of the great MCU villains, and Letitia Wright steals all her scenes as a technological genius who puts Tony Stark to shame. This is the combination of classic heroism, bold cinematic style and meaningful themes that superhero fans yearned for. And they got it all.
Before he became the universally acclaimed director of films like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki directed The Castle of Cagliostro, a ripping adventure story about a charismatic thief named Lupin III who stumbles across a wild conspiracy involving counterfeit money and kidnapping. Miyazaki’s trademark vibrancy is already in full swing, and the movie still feels wondrous and timeless.
How We Choose the Best Action Movies on Netflix
Netflix has a pretty wide range of action movies, some of which could just as easily fall under the umbrella of science fiction or comedy. We’ve tried to narrow the list down to focus on influential classics like Dirty Harry and the Indiana Jones series, along with big blockbusters that fare well on aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. We also try to reflect the wide range of subgenres, including popular superhero movies, bloody martial arts flicks and more adventure-oriented fare like The Castle of Cagliostro. Hopefully the list has something for action junkies of all tastes.
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