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More ‘John Wick’ (Keanu Reeves returns) and other action flicks

Bruce Willis is gunning for the bad guys

Bruce Willis is gunning for the bad guys in " Die Hard." Credit: 20th Century Fox

When “John Wick” was released in 2014, it seemed like a classic action flick — a film that relied on stunt work, choreography and editing, not CGI, for its effects. So with the release of “John Wick: Chapter 2” on Friday, Feb. 10, fans of well-directed mayhem are hoping for more of the same. And if the latest in the adventures of Keanu Reeves’ hit man character does not live up to expectations, there are still plenty of other thrill rides to keep aficionados of the action genre entertained. Here are a few of the best.

THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981) In a futuristic wasteland, a wanderer named Max (Mel Gibson) fights off a band of thieves and killers. High-octane and propulsive, with some of the greatest car chases ever filmed.

LETHAL WEAPON (1987) Mismatched cops — a suicidal Army vet (Mel Gibson) and an older, world-weary LAPD officer (Danny Glover) — become partners and go out after a heroin smuggling operation run by Vietnam War veterans.

DIE HARD (1988) Christmas Eve at L.A.’s Nakatomi Plaza, and New York cop John McClain (Bruce Willis) finds that his wife’s office party has been invaded by a gang headed by slick criminal Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Generally regarded as the best action movie ever made.

THE KILLER (1989) “One Cop. One Killer. 10,000 Bullets.” That was the original tagline for this masterpiece by Chinese director John Woo, in which a hit man (Chow Yun-Fat) and a cop (Danny Lee) team up to take on the mob.

LA FEMME NIKITA (1990) A teen killer (Anne Parillaud) is trained by a shadowy government agency to be an assassin. Includes an amazing shootout in a crowded restaurant.

LÉON: THE PROFESSIONAL (1994) Hit man Léon (Jean Reno) hides a young girl (Natalie Portman) after her family has been murdered by a corrupt DEA agent (Gary Oldman).

SPEED (1994) Don’t go less than 50 mph on that L.A. bus, because wacko Dennis Hopper has rigged it to blow up! But never fear — L.A. cop Keanu Reeves is on the job.

BATTLE ROYALE (2000) Junior high school students are forced to fight to the death in this bloody, and controversial, thriller, an influence on “The Hunger Games.”

KILL BILL: VOL. 1 (2003) Left for dead after assassins try to kill her, the Bride (Uma Thurman) seeks revenge. The sword fight against a yakuza army is Tarantino action at its finest.


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