ByRicky Derisz, writer at Creators.co
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!" Twitter: @RDerisz.
Ricky Derisz

The action movie genre often evokes images of explosive gun battles, seemingly impossible car chases, bulging biceps and simple storylines. In reality the genre is much more nuanced, as the movies on the list illustrate; while pyrotechnics are plentiful, action films also pack an emotional punch.

Fortunately for those who enjoy the best of both worlds, offers a treasure trove of the adrenaline inducing features. From Hollywood blockbusters to Japanese indie films, those who like their action in all shapes and sizes won't be left disappointed.

So, here we go — check out our list of the 15 must see action movies currently streaming in August 2017.

Note: This list will be updated monthly to reflect both the old and new action movies added to Netflix. Newest additions are at the top.

15. 'Lord Of War'

'Lord of War' [Credit: Lionsgate]
'Lord of War' [Credit: Lionsgate]
  • Release Date: 2005
  • Director: Andrew Niccol
  • Who's in it: Nicholas Cage, Jared Leto, Ethan Hawke
  • IMDB score: 7.6/10

Niccol's war-related crime thriller is an intelligent and historically accurate reflection of the arms trade, fronted by Cage's Yuri Orlov, a character inspired by a number of real-life illegal arms dealers. The film was so authentic, human rights group Amnesty International officially endorsed the film.

As well as containing an apt political message, the well-crafted plot and character insights carve a surprisingly astute black comedy. Now available for home viewing, Lord of War is a must-see thanks to an on-form and witty-as-ever Cage, supported by strong performances from Leto and Hawke.

14. 'Proof Of Life'

'Proof of Life' [Warner Bros.]
'Proof of Life' [Warner Bros.]
  • Release Date: 2000
  • Director: Taylor Hackford
  • Who's in it: Meg Ryan, Russell Crowe, David Morse
  • IMDB score: 6.2/10

When it was released at the turn of the millennium, more attention was paid to the two affair between leading stars, Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe, than the quality of the movie. But that's a shame; while Proof of Life isn't a standout hit, it contains enough thrills for an enjoyable Friday evening.

The film focuses on Alice (Ryan), who hires Terry (Crowe), a professional negotiator, to help with the release of her husband who has been kidnapped by guerrillas in South America — a story inspired by an article publish in Vanity Fair.

Funnily enough, while the action itself is praised, one of the biggest criticisms was the lack of chemistry between the leading stars.

13. 'Three'

'Three' [Credit: Media Asia Films]
'Three' [Credit: Media Asia Films]
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Director: Johnnie To
  • Who's in it: Louis Koo, Wei Zhao, Wallace Chung
  • IMDB score: 6/10

You're a criminal, in the middle of a tense shootout with the police. You realise you'll more than likely be defeated. What do you do? Shoot yourself! At least, that's what protagonist Shun does in Three (originally titled San ren xing), leaving himself with a bullet lodged in his brain.

Hong Kong film director Johnnie To deftly handles an interesting concept — most of the sequences take place with the hospital itself — with his trademark aesthetically pleasing cinematography and explosive action sequences.

12. 'Headshot'

'Headshot' [Credit: Vertical Entertainment]
'Headshot' [Credit: Vertical Entertainment]
  • Release Date: 2017
  • Director: Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto
  • Who's in it: Iko Uwais, Chelsea Islan, Sunny Pang
  • IMDB score: 6.5/10

The screenplay for the Indonesian martial arts film was written in just two weeks by co-director Timo Tjahjanto, but that doesn't detract for the understated quality of the production. Headshot tells the story of Ishmael (Uwais), a man who washes ashore with a serious head injury and a serious case of amnesia.

As a nurse helps him return to his former self and Ishmael's memories return, the violence escalates, channelled by some seriously stylish fight sequences. Although not quite as brutal as some of Uwas's previous films, Headshot is a nice addition to Netflix's action movie catalogue.

11. 'Cold War 2'

Aaron Kwok stars in 'Cold War 2' [Credit: Edko Films]
Aaron Kwok stars in 'Cold War 2' [Credit: Edko Films]
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Director: Longman Leung & Sunny Luk
  • Who's in it: Aaron Kwok, Tony Leung, Chow Yun-fat
  • IMDB score: 6.7/10

Cold War 2 follows on from the huge action hit named — you guessed it — Cold War, a movie which became the most lucrative Hong Kong film of 2012 after making $115 million at the box office.

Like its predecessor, the tense fractions within The Hong Kong Police Force motivates the plot, but this time, two former enemies — Sean Lau (Aaron Kwok) and M.B. Lee (Tony Leung Ka Fai) — are forced to work together.

As well as the extravagant gun battles and car chases, Cold War 2 manages to deliver a subtle, chess-like portrayal of politics within the police force, as well as a clever depiction of the balance of power.

10. 'Tropic Thunder'

'Tropic Thunder' [Credit: Paramount Pictures]
'Tropic Thunder' [Credit: Paramount Pictures]
  • Release Date: 2008
  • Director: Ben Stiller
  • Who's in it: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr.
  • IMDB score: 7/10

Comedy and action collide with explosive consequences in Tropic Thunder, a film within a film based on fictional events during the Vietnam War. As much as director Stiller and the A-list cast playfully toy with perception of over-bloated Hollywood egos — including Downey Jr. playing a white method actor portraying a black man and Tom Cruise in an iconic, hip-grooving cameo — Tropic Thunder also includes admirable action sequences. One of the new action movies recently added to Netflix is a classic.

9. 'Déjà Vu'

  • Release Date: 2006
  • Director: Tony Scott
  • Who's in it: Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Jim Caviezel, Val Kilmer
  • IMDB score: 7/10
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada

Tony Scott directs a clever tale of time-travel and terrorism, fronted by one of action's most illustrious performers, Denzel Washington, who oozes charisma as ATF agent Douglas Carlin. After dealing with a terrorist attack, Carlin is invited to join a mysterious detective unit that can bend time to look into the past.

Carlin is tasked with not only uncovering the cause of the explosion, but also protecting a woman he has fallen in love with, Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton), from being caught up in the attack in this engrossing mix of romance, sci-fi and action.

8. 'Kill Ratio'

'Kill Ratio' [Credit: XLrator Media]
'Kill Ratio' [Credit: XLrator Media]
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Director: Paul Tanter
  • Who's in it: Tom Hopper, Amy Huberman, Nick Dunning
  • IMDB score: 3.9/10

While Kill Ratio is more of a guilty pleasure than an all-out classic, this is an action film genre enthusiasts will enjoy. This is 86 minutes of B-movie indulgence in its purest form, telling the story of covert American operative James Henderson (Tom Hopper) who is trying to defend the president of a European country.

The dialogue is questionable, but there is enough to offer from Kill Ratio to keep viewers entertained with remnants of '80s action cheese.

7. 'Saving Mr. Wu'

'Saving Mr. Wu' [Credit: Golden Network Asia]
'Saving Mr. Wu' [Credit: Golden Network Asia]
  • Release Date: 2015
  • Director: Sheng Ding
  • Who's in it: Andy Lau, Liu Ye, Wu Ruofu and Wang Qianyuan
  • IMDB score: 6.7/10
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada

The Chinese thriller is unique in the sense that, not only does it depict a real life tale of a famous celebrity kidnapping, but that said celebrity, Wu Ruofu, actually stars in the film, in what assumedly must've been a cathartic reimagining of traumatic events.

Although the outcome is known (perhaps less for Western audiences) the pace and tenacity of the film make it a thrilling watch, rich in action and taut with tension.

6. 'Babel'

'Babel' [Credit: Paramount Vantage]
'Babel' [Credit: Paramount Vantage]
  • Release Date: 2006
  • Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
  • Who's in it: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal, Kōji Yakusho
  • IMDB score: 7.5/10
  • Also available on: Netflix UK

Iñárritu is undeniably one of the greatest directors of a generation, and only the third person to win back-to-back Oscars for Birdman (2014) and The Revenant (2015). The 53-year-old's "Death Trilogy" — consisting of Amores Perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003) and finally Babel — put the director on the map.

Nominated for seven Oscars, Babel tells the story of four interconnected and ultimately tragic stories, ranging from Mexico to Japan. It's powerful and elegantly constructed by Iñárritu, illustrating how seemingly innocuous events can intertwine.

5. 'V For Vendetta'

'V for Vendetta' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
'V for Vendetta' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Director: James McTeigue
  • Who's in it: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea, John Hurt
  • IMDB score: 8.2/10
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada

Like fine wine, McTeigue's anarchistic comic book adaptation has improved with age. It's hard to believe the film is now a decade old; the themes are arguably more relevant now than back in 2006.

The dark vision of a future run by neo-fascists is adapted from a series by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. The masked protagonist, V, attempts to instigate a revolution through the use of terrorist acts. Such is the impact of the film, V's "Guy Fawkes" mask has since become part of popular culture, adopted by real-life revolutionary group, anonymous.

V for Vendetta? More like V for very good Netflix action movie. See what I did there?

4. 'Beasts Of No Nation'

Attah and Elba in 'Beasts of No Nation' [Credit: Netflix]
Attah and Elba in 'Beasts of No Nation' [Credit: Netflix]
  • Release Date: 2015
  • Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
  • Who's in it: Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, Ama K. Abebrese, Kobina Amissa-Sam
  • Also available on: Netflix Canada, Netflix UK

Netflix has become a global powerhouse in the entertainment industry, but rather than rest on its laurels, the streaming service knows what encourages subscribers to login; quality content. For that reason alone, it's produced some incredible original content, and Beasts of No Nation is up there with the best.

Written and directed by Fukunaga, and based on a novel of the same name from Uzodinma Iweala, the dogged depiction of child soldier Agu is both harrowing and mezmerizing. Driven forward by powerful performances, especially from Elba and teenager Attah, Beasts of No Nation is a film that Netflix subscribers cannot miss.

3. '13 Assassins'

'13 Assassins' [Credit: Artificial Eye]
'13 Assassins' [Credit: Artificial Eye]
  • Release Date: 2011
  • Director: Takashi Miike
  • Who's in it: Kōji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yūsuke Iseya, Ikki Sawamura
  • IMDB score: 7.6/10

We often think of action movies are full of guns and explosions, but replace AK47's with samurai swords and you get an altogether different, yet equally enthralling result. Miike's flick — set in Japan in 1844 — is one of the finest samurai epics made.

In the film, a group of assassins (implied in the name) join forces to take on a suicide mission in the attempt to kill an evil lord. Visually stunning and as sharp as a samurai swords itself, 13 Assassins is a joy to watch.

2. 'Full Metal Jacket'

'Full Metal Jacket' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
'Full Metal Jacket' [Credit: Warner Bros.]
  • Release Date: 1987
  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Who's in it: Matthew Modine, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Arliss Howard
  • IMDB score: 8.3/10

Kubrick applied his creative genius to almost every genre. From captive horror with The Shining (1980), to the sci-fi exploration of existence itself in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) or erotic drama with Eyes Wide Shut (1999), the director always delved into the darkest recesses of the human psyche.

Full Metal Jacket is much the same, exploring the psychological complexities of war. Split essentially into two parts, the first focusing on the boot camp build up (complete with Ermey's potty-mouthed drill Sergeant Hartman) and the second the Vietnam War, the brilliance is subtle and significant.

1. 'Gomorrah'

'Gomorrah'
'Gomorrah'
  • Release Date: 2008
  • Director: Matteo Garrone
  • Who's in it: Gianfelice Imparato, Salvatore Abbruzzese, Toni Servillo
  • IMDB score: 7/10

Made in Italy on a modest budget, Gomorrah holds its own amongst the best, telling five separate stories that delicately weave together to form the brutal story of those affected by organized crime in Naples.

The gritty depiction of the Mafia feels authentic and not polished or repackaged — so much so, Roberto Saviano, the author of the novel the film is based on, received death threats after the film's release, and is still under protection.

For those who like their action restrained, realistic and devoid of hyperbole, Gomorrah could be just the film for you. Oh, and if you enjoy it, there's even a spin-off TV series of the same name.

Are there any good action movies on Netflix that you would add to the list?

Trending

Latest from our Creators