This top ten list is not listed in any particular order other than the first mentioned, mostly due to the fact that it wasn’t just the best action film of 2023, but possibly the best Hollywood action movie of the last two decades.

John Wick Chapter 4

I don’t think there is much that has to be said about John Wick Chapter 4. In my review at the time I called it a masterpiece. My opinion hasn’t changed since that time, with it continuing to be one of the best action film to come out of Hollywood in years. It magnificently builds upon everything that has come before, with it satisfyingly tying up many of the loose ends of the series, but still leaving a few open if the filmmakers choose to move forward on the clearly inevitable Chapter 5.

Keanu Reeves once again shows he is one of the most dedicated actors working in action cinema today, capably matched by a quality supporting cast that are as iconic as the film’s leading man. Donnie Yen almost steals the show, with this clearly being his finest Hollywood role to date. Fellow martial arts superstar Hiroyuki Sanada adds class to proceedings even if his screen time is limited, and then there’s fan favorite Scott Adkins playing an almost unrecognizable mob boss.

An almost 3 hours run time may seem self indulgent, but director Chad Stahelski never once lets the pace lag, filling the film with one perfect action scene following the next. In fact, the amount of action can be almost exhaustive, but ultimately this isn’t something worth complaining about.

Read Full Review HERE

Godzilla Minus One

While John Wick Chapter 4 may be the best action film of the year, I would argue that Godzilla Minus One is overall the best film of the year. Sure, many have been exclaiming the virtues of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer (2023), but personally I felt it was incredibly overrated. Sure it was certainly a well made movie, featuring one of the finest casts assembled in any Hollywood movie, but it was nowhere close to being Nolan’s masterpiece that many exclaimed.

Godzilla Minus One on the other hand, which also dealt with the implications of the Atomic Bomb, never disappointed once. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. Now, I know there will be people reading this thinking I’m joking and how could I honestly say that a Godzilla film was better than Oppenheimer, but honestly I think most fans of Nolan’s film seem to forgive it’s faults simply because it comes from such an esteemed director.

Takashi Yamazaki has created a modern classic that can easily stand alongside the best of the genre, with this arguably being one of the finest Godzilla films in its 70 year history. It may not have the fun factor of the likes of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) or Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) but this is one Godzilla film that is all the better for taking a more serious, adult approach with Yamazaki creating that rare Godzilla film, one where you care as much about the human drama as you do about the large-scale destruction.

Read Full Review HERE


2023 was quite a year for Donnie Yen. Not only did he have his best Hollywood role to date in John Wick Chapter 4, he also starred and directed in this classic. Sakra marked Yen’s first time in the director’s chair in almost 20 years. Sure he had worked as action director on many of his own movies such as S.P.L (2005) and Bodyguards and Assassins (2009), Sakra found him fully in charge.

Taking on so much responsibility could have considerably affected the finished production, but Sakra actually turned out to be one of Yen’s better realized features and is certainly his best film as director, easily surpassing the likes of Legend of the Wolf (1997) and Ballistic Kiss (1998), two of his earliest works as star/director. While you could see his talent with those movies, Sakra shows how much he has improved throughout the years.

Plot wise the film may come across as feeling overstuffed, something it shares with many Wuxia adaptations. The problem is that there are so many characters and plot to fit into a two hour movie that you may feel like you have missed something. Still, Yen manages to overcome this by getting good performances from his talented cast as well as filling the film with some beautifully choreographed action scenes.

Utilizing the talents of regular collaborator Kenji Tanigaki makes Sakra stand out from other Wuxia movies, with the action being a fine mixture of the more fantastical feats usually portrayed in typical wuxia to the more MMA style action favored by Yen in his modern day set actioners.

Read Full Review HERE

Boudica: Queen of War

Something of a passion project for director Jesse V. Johnson, Boudica: Queen of War was everything I hoped it would be and more. Seriously stretching his limited budget, Johnson creates an A movie with B movie resources, filling it with terrific performances and violently exciting battle scenes.

Olga Kurylenko gives possibly her best performance, throwing away any sign of vanity. With a scarred face and missing teeth, her take on Boudica is more than believable. While there is clearly some stunt doubling involved, Kurylenko still gets involved in a fair amount of the action.

Although it may not reach the lofty heights of Triple Threat (2019) or Avengement (2019) which are my personal favorites of his work, Boudica: Queen of War is still a quality piece of work that Johnson can be proud of.

Read Full Review HERE

The Covenant

The second Guy Ritchie film of 2023 turned out to be one of his best films in years. Following on the heels of Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, The Covenant finds Ritchie putting aside his usual visual tricks to create a grounded, gritty war film that is far removed from the films Ritchie made his name on.

Like his earlier Wrath of Man, Ritchie shoots The Covenant in a no nonsense style, allowing for a stronger focus on the performances from the film’s two leads, Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim. Both are excellent, but it is the lesser known Salim that truly impresses, with him being the film’s true star.

Filled with emotion and nail biting action scenes, this is easily one of Guy Ritchie’s finest films. It is certainly his most adult. In the same year Gerard Butler came out with Kandahar (2023) which is very similar plot wise to The Covenant. However, it fails to match Ritchie’s film in quality, even if it still manages to be an enjoyable actioner. Both films would come recommended but for those who only have time for one, I would go for The Covenant every time.

I wish I could say I was surprised when it turned out The Covenant wasn’t a great success. It seems to be the norm these days when quality films like this are overlooked in favor of some of the mindless dreck that floods cinemas. Going to Amazon Prime also didn’t help it but at the same time it gives more people an opportunity to now discover it.


Marking the 4th entry in the Yash Raj Films Spy Universe, Pathaan was also Shah Rukh Khan’s first leading role since 2018’s Zero. Ridiculously over the top, Pathaan has Khan back at his best, with him throwing himself right into the action. On occasion the action becomes as illogical as the Fast and Furious series, but even when this happens, director Siddharth Anand keeps everything moving at such a fast pace that you won’t care how implausible some of the acts Khan and his co-stars are pulling off.

Anand had already directed the third entry in the series, War (2019) which this film slightly alludes to. The stronger connection to the series is with the first two films, Ek Tha Tiger (2012) and its sequel Tiger Zinda Hai (2017). Unlike War, which only has a brief connection to the series through some dialogue, Pathaan features an extended cameo from Tiger himself, Salman Khan, who shows up at the mid way point to kick all kinds of ass in what is possibly the film’s best action scene.

Starring two action icons like Shah Ruk Khan and Salman Khan would be enough for most films, but Pathaan goes one further by having the terrific John Abraham on villain duties. Abraham’s previous few movies hadn’t exactly set the world alight, although this was no fault of his. He makes a perfect foil for Khan’s hero, putting him through the ringer on several occasions, with their final face off being a perfectly choreographed fight scene that stretches the 12 A certificate it carried in the UK. 

It isn’t all down to the men to impress. Like many Bollywood films, there is always a beautiful woman at the core of the drama, and they don’t come much better than leading lady Deepika Padukone. Thankfully, she is shown as an equal to her male counterparts, with her getting her equal share of the action, rather than portraying her as a typical damsel in distress that many similar films have done in the past.

There are already further entries in the series due or currently in production, such as the recently released Tiger 3 (2023) which features both Shah Rukh Khan and fellow superstar Hrithik Roshan in cameo roles. Roshan will then reprise his role once again for his own starring vehicle War 2. Personally I can’t wait, as this is one series that has been getting increasingly better (albeit more ridiculous) as it progresses.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

This is one film I had no concerns about. With Tom Cruise’s willingness to go above and beyond in his attempts to entertain audiences, I knew I was in for a terrific time at the movies. Sure, Dead Reckoning may not be the best the series has to offer, but it still stands above the majority of other action films this year, with Christopher McQuarrie filling his film with one jaw dropping set piece after the next.

Amazingly, while Dead Reckoning made well over $560 million, it was still seen as being a financial disappointment. This has more to do with the competition from Oppenheimer (don’t get me started) and Barbie as well as the overall budget of the film which steadily increased due to the several production shutdowns brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Still, critics at least recognized the quality on screen, noting that the film shows McQuarrie and Cruise at the peak of their powers. It is disappointing that the sequel has now been delayed but this will just make audiences anticipate it even more.

Read Full Review HERE

Extraction 2

It’s ironic that one of the most cinematic action films of the year ended up being made for a streaming service. Like the first film, Extraction 2 features no shortage of action and really deserved to be seen on a big screen. That said, even watching at home doesn’t diminish the quality of the film, with this sequel even surpassing the original in terms of balls to the wall action.

With just a couple of films, Sam Hargrave has proven to be one of the best directors working in Hollywood action films. With his background in stunts, he more than proves his knowledge of how to construct a well choreographed set piece. The 21 minute one take action scene may have been carried out by utilizing some visual trickery, but it is still a sight to behold and easily one of the best action sequences of the year.

With it being left wide open for a sequel, let’s hope we’re not left waiting too long for an Extraction 3.

Read Full Review HERE


The second Shah Rukh Khan film to appear on my list, and like the aforementioned Pathaan, it’s another crowd pleaser. Similarly to Pathaan, it’s action packed, although Jawan has much more of a Bollywood feel than the more mainstream Pathaan.

Whilst it may feature more in the way of musical numbers, those who don’t have a tolerance for this kind of thing should still give this film a go, as it has a tremendous energy that is filtered throughout the entire film. Frequent cinema goers will no doubt notice the numerous references (steals) from more famous Hollywood movies, however director Atlee makes these seem fresh, no matter how ridiculous they are.

With its over the top action, hyper emotional performances and perfectly choreographed dance numbers, it is safe to say that you would never consider Jawan to be realistic. Still, it has an important message at its core and is surprisingly critical of the Indian Government, especially in regards to how it treats what they consider the lower classes.


I first became a fan of French actor Alban Lenoir through his actioner Lost Bullet (2020) and its sequel. Lenoir had appeared in other films I saw previously, but it was these two that held my interest.

AKA looked as if it would be more of a thriller for Lenoir, with its tale of gangsters and undercover cops. I was initially expecting something akin to Infernal Affairs (2002), which seemed to be confirmed during the film’s slower paced opening moments. Director Morgan S. Dalibert gradually increases the pace, with AKA developing into a full blown action movie filled with shootouts, car chases and violent fight scenes.

One particular fight finds Lenoir fighting his way through an assortment of criminals floor by floor as he tries to reach a meth lab situated at the top of a block of flats. Playing like a mini version of The Raid (2011), this fight further cements Lenoir status as a bona-fide action star.

A better than expected turn from footballer turned actor Eric Cantona is just the icing on the cake for what is a totally gripping action thriller. If you are unaware of Lenoir I would certainly recommend checking out the aforementioned Lost Bullet movies as well as his most recent movie The Squad: Home Run (2023).

Notable Mentions

The Channel

The Channel was highly anticipated, as I am a big fan of the director William Kaufman. One of the best directors currently working in the DTV/VOD market, his films always manage to entertain and rise above their low budget origins. Previous actioners like Sinners and Saints (2010) and Daylight’s End (2016) show both his skills with actors as well as being able to construct quality action scenes.

The Channel is no different, opening with a Michael Mann-esque shootout that is the perfect taster for what’s to come. Throughout the film Kaufman treats us to several finely tuned set pieces that seriously betray the film’s budget. With a clear penchant for gunplay, Kaufman’s action scenes put many large scale blockbusters to shame.

Still, it wouldn’t matter how good the action was if The Channel didn’t have compelling characters. Both Clayne Crawford and Max Martini are terrific in the lead roles, playing conflicted brothers trying to survive on the mean streets of New Orleans after a heist goes wrong. Facing assorted criminals as well as the police, the two of them have to put their differences aside if they want to survive.

Co-writing the script with Paul Reichelt, Kaufman keeps things moving along at a swift pace, holding the audience’s attention throughout, even when the film focuses on those it would be hard to consider heroes. Crawford is certainly the more honorable of the two brothers, with him not being an outwardly evil person whereas Martini is willing to do whatever it takes to survive, even if that means killing innocent people. The only thing he does care about is his brother, with him putting his life on the line to protect him.

Personally, The Channel feels the closest Kaufman has come to emulating the feel of his earlier actioner Sinners and Saints. Partly this is to do with the New Orleans setting but more so it’s to do with the characters and how Kaufman handles the action.

The Channel was just one of three Kaufman films had in 2023. He also reteamed with his Sinners and Saints leading man Johnny Strong to co-direct Warhorse One (2023) as well as helming the Jason Patric vehicle Shrapnel (2023). Whilst they aren’t on the same level as The Channel, both are still quality films and well worth checking out.


Now, I expected to at least enjoy Renfield. How could I not with the promise of Nicolas Cage starring as Dracula. The opening already held my attention when director Chris McKay shot it in the tradition of the old Universal Horrors. What I didn’t expect was how action heavy the film would turn out to be. McKay includes several extremely well choreographed action scenes that fully lean into the film’s R rating.

The film is told from the viewpoint of Nicholas Hoult’s Renfield, but make no mistake, Cage is the real star of the film, chewing the scenery with aplomb. Still, Hoult makes for a charming lead, sharing great chemistry with co-star Awkwafina.

I know that Renfield wasn’t exactly a success, either financially or critically, but I would definitely recommend it to lovers of gore filled action, with Renfield being one of the better action/horror hybrids this year. Tonally, the closest film I could compare it with recently would be 2022’s Jamie Foxx vehicle Day Shift, which similarly had a fine mix of horror, comedy and action.

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

The fact that Operation Fortune’s release was dealt with so poorly shouldn’t put you off giving it a go. If you do, you will be rewarded with a ridiculously entertaining actioner proving once again that director Guy Ritchie and leading man Jason Statham are a terrific combination.

Whilst it’s not their finest collaboration, it’s filled with well crafted action scenes and peppered with some finely timed comedy, with not one member of the cast setting a foot wrong. Like his previous The Gentlemen (2019), Hugh Grant once again steals the show. Who would have thought all those years ago when he was appearing in dreck like Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) that he would become one of our finest (and funniest) character actors.

I thought after Ritchie had directed Disney’s Aladdin (2019) that he had lost his magic. He had previously shown hints that could be the case with previous Hollywood blockbusters like Sherlock Holmes or The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), but upon watching these films it became clear that he had put enough of himself into them to make them distinctively his own. Aladdin on the other hand was his most anonymous film yet, with none of his stamp apparent throughout. 

It made me happy then that his follow up to Aladdin turned out to be the most Guy Ritchie film in years with The Gentlemen. Since then he hasn’t put a foot wrong with Wrath of Man (2021), Operation Fortune and The Covenant all being top tier. His upcoming The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (2024) which reteams him with his Man from U.N.C.L.E. leading man Henry Cavill looks to be another winner and is one of my most anticipated films for 2024.

Read Full Review HERE


Loosely based on David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence (2004), Leo is the third part in director Lokesh Kanagaraj’s cinematic universe after Kaithi (2019) and Vikram (2022). Anyone who has seen the previous entries in the series should know what to expect, but for those who haven’t just know that you will be in for a wild ride, filled to the brim with insane action scenes and crazy characters.

Only taking the basis of the plot from Cronenberg’s classic, director Kanagaraj ramps up the action and piles on the emotion to create a film far removed from that which inspired it. Baby faced leading man Vijay makes for a compelling hero, with his character clearly playing to his strengths. Vijay may or may not be a recognizable name to those in the U.S., but in India this guy is a bonafide superstar. Leo is a perfect example of why.

Unlike History of Violence which took a grounded approach to its action, Leo’s set pieces get larger and more ridiculous as the film progresses, culminating in an awesomely over the top set piece that finds Vijay take on an entire factory’s worth of thugs single-handedly.

Obviously a suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy a film like Leo, but those with the temperament for such an entertainer will have a great time. Don’t be put off by the musical interludes which are the norm in Indian cinema, as they merely work as a breather from the action.

The White Storm 3: Heaven or Hell

The White Storm 3 was just one of four films director Herman Yau had released in 2023. In addition to this he had Death Notice (2023), Raid on the Lethal Zone (2023) and Moscow Mission (2023). Each of the films come recommended, with Yau continuing to show off his fine skills around pacing and action.

Of the four, The White Storm 3 is the standout for me. This is more based on the cast than anything else. Bringing together Lau Ching Wan, Louis Koo and Aaron Kwok, the film has some serious star power that raises it above the rest. Admittedly, the three don’t get equal opportunity to shine, but each of them still does solid work.

On the action front, Yau starts as he means to go on, opening the film with a tense dockside shootout. The action just rises in scale as the film continues, so by the time we reach the explosion heavy finale we are treated to fighter jets and missile strikes that are coupled with the shootouts and hand to hand fighting happening on the ground.

Don’t be put off if you haven’t seen the first two The White Storm movies, for like many Hong Kong series, this is only a thematic sequel. The plot and characters are stand alone, so you can enjoy this entry with no prior knowledge of the earlier entries in the series. Still, I would still recommend the first two films, as like this they feature a fine mixture of action and drama. 

Read Full Review HERE

Bottom Five

MR-9: Do or Die

When it comes to low budget films, there are some allowances I am willing to make. I never enter into a low budget movie expecting that it will be able to compete with a Hollywood blockbuster. Even with this in mind, I still expect a level of competence. Many directors who work in the DTV/VOD market are more than capable of making quality productions even with limited resources.

Then there’s films like MR-9: Do or Die, which struggle to overcome its low budget trappings. This is partly to do with the same issues that many DTV movies have, trying to include elements that the filmmakers clearly don’t have the resources to pull off. If you don’t have the money to include the likes of a car chase, just leave it rather than trying to work around it and include an extremely cheap looking action scene.

This is a shame as MR-9: Do or Die had a number of elements that should have raised it above typical DTV fare. It had a well loved source material to work with as well as featuring genre favorites Frank Grillo and Michael Jai White in supporting roles. If director Asif Akbar had focused more on the film’s attributes rather than trying to exceed his grasp he may have been on to a winner. Sadly this was not the case.

Read Full Review HERE

Dark Asset

Other than featuring a great leading turn from Byron Mann, there wasn’t much to recommend with Dark Asset. This is a shame as it had the potential to be better than it ultimately turned out to be. I give some allowances on the lack of resources, but as I have said before, other directors are able to overcome budget limitations and create memorable work, so there is only so much I am willing to forgive.

Other than the memorable opening, the remainder of the film is lacking in pace or style. Even the action, which could have been the film’s saving grace is disappointing with it being clear the production lacked the resources to make something worthwhile.

Read Full Review HERE

The Best Man

It makes me sad when you see an actor you grew up watching and admiring starring in productions that are clearly beneath them. It can happen to the best of them, but luckily they’re able to rise above theses mediocre movies and star in something more worthwhile.

This is particularly true when it comes to fan favorite Dolph Lundgren. For every quality movie like Creed II (2018), there’s something like The Best Man. Totally lacking in terms of plot or action, Dolph just about manages to redeem things. He’s certainly the only reason I would suggest even giving the film a go. I wish I could say this is the poorest film Lundgren appeared in during 2023, but that award goes to Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom (2023). At least The Best Man had reasons for being mediocre.

Read Full Review HERE

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

The poor quality of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom didn’t really surprise me, what with the well documented behind the scenes issues. Constant changes during production already gave an indication of how the final film would turn out, but I never expected something so poor. It is telling that out of the bottom five, this is the only large scale production.

Now The Flash (2023) had similar production woes, but at least it had enough enjoyable aspects to at least make it enjoyable. Other than a worthy turn from Patrick Wilson, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom has nothing that would make me recommend it. The constant regime changes at Warner Bros has resulted in an extremely slapdash production where it seems that everyone involved just gave up on trying to create a competent movie.

Poor action scenes, tonally inconsistent performances, woeful CGI and a lackadaisical approach to continuity all contribute to making this the poorest film to come from the DCEU. I hope for James Wan’s sake his next one is a cracker because that’s two poor offerings in a row with this and Malignant (2021).

Kill Shot

At least a film like MR-9: Do or Die has some reasons for watching. I wish I could say the same for Kill Shot. There is almost nothing in Kill Shot that would bring me to recommend it to others. Since writing reviews for M.A.A.C., I think it may be the lowest rating I have ever given a film.

My poor rating actually came as something of a surprise even for myself. With Kill Shot being distributed by Well Go USA, I had hoped I would be viewing an undiscovered gem. Typically films released by Well GO USA have a level of quality about them. Unfortunately I couldn’t say this was the case with Kill Shot. With poor performances and unforgivably even poorer action scenes, Kill Shot has the esteemed title of poorest action film of 2023.

Read Full Review HERE



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