The Best Action Movies of 2019 So Far

For more in this series, check out our Mid-Year Report archives.


While it’s true that a funny comedy can be a great lift to your spirits, I find that some beautifully choreographed and highly cathartic action movies can do the same thing. The action landscape includes films big and small, but my preference will always be for movies that feature people going toe to toe in some kind of physical altercation — martial arts, fights, gunplay, car shenanigans, stunts — as opposed to big CG-heavy blockbusters. Happily, 2019 is already loaded with cinematic joys designed to suit my tastes.

The early part of the year so this list dependent on more than a few Netflix offerings, but six months in and only one of their original films remain. Keep reading for a look at the year’s best action movies so far!


Avengement

Scott Adkins continues to be one half of a two-man army when it comes to churning out terrifically entertaining, low budget action movies, and director Jesse V. Johnson is his most consistent partner in crime. Their latest pairing casts Adkins as a hard-ass prison escapee on a weekend mission of vengeance, and while we get some wit and laughs, some solid character work and a great main theme, the film’s big pull is a healthy amount of beautiful and mean fight action. Adkins’ antihero is a bastard, but lucky for us the people he’s taking down are far, far worse.

Read our review here — currently available on streaming and DVD.


Buffalo Boys

Two brothers fighting evil land barons feels like a familiar enough setup for an action movie — well, some variation of that anyway — but there’s something special about this scrappy little Indonesian western. It’s a period piece set in the 1860s and delivers an honest to gosh western through that Southeast Asian lens complete with gunplay, horse play, and… sword play? Sure, why not. The landscape is attractive and brought to life through sharp cinematography, and while the tone is wobbly at times the film’s action helps lift it above the fray.

Currently available on streaming and DVD.


Furie

A riff on Taken starring Veronica Ngo as a mother intent on finding the bastards who abducted her daughter? Yes please. Director Le-Van Kiet and Ngo make for a terrific action team alongside fight choreographer Kefi Abrikh (Mission: Impossible – Fallout, 2018) and action director Yannick Ben (Ghost in the Shell, 2017). The fights and stunts are crisply shot and exciting, the mother/daughter drama hits as hard as Ngo’s kicks and punches, and the damn thing is inexplicably lit like a giallo. It’s a blast.

Read our review here — currently available on streaming and Blu-ray/DVD.


The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil

Man, South Korean action cinema. Am I right? The latest gem to come out of the land of kimchi and knife fights sees a dogged detective and a brute of a gangster forced to join up to take down a serial killer, and if that premise doesn’t get you intrigued then I don’t know what to tell you. Fun character work, some brutally efficient brawls and fights, and the great Ma Dong-seok make for a great time as the only that clashes more brutally than the personalities is the flesh.

Read our review here — currently in theaters.


Iceman

Movies about someone seeking violent revenge for the loss of loved ones are fairly ubiquitous across the decades, but this unassuming and gorgeously filmed entry from Germany distinguishes itself almost immediately. It unfolds 5000 years ago as a Neolithic man hunts the three ravagers who killed his family, and in recognition both that their language is a dead one and that the emotional beats of the narrative are universal — there are no subtitles. It’s a thrilling experience with brutal clashes, stunts set against nature, and even a “sniper” sequence involving bows and arrows.

Read our review here — currently available on streaming and DVD.


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Rob Hunter: @FakeRobHunter "Rob is great. He likes movies. He writes about them. And he's a good person."