18 Old School Action Movies That Still Get Our Adrenaline Pumping

These old-school action movies have stood the test of time, continuing to captivate audiences with their adrenaline-pumping thrills and memorable characters. Whether you’re a fan of explosive shootouts, epic car chases, or larger-than-life heroes, there’s something for everyone in these timeless classics. Who needs a storyline when you have the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the mix?

Drunken Master

Photo Credit: Seasonal Film Corporation.

You might have been a Jackie Chan fan since his breakthrough into Hollywood, but some of his earlier movies are even better than his commercial hits. Drunken Master offers a Karate Kid-esque instructor and student dynamic in a film hugely influential in the Kung-Fu era.


Photo Credit: United Artists.

It wasn’t the most popular Bond movie, but the iconic, metal-mouthed Jaws makes it a must-see for fans of the spy genre. Expect bizarre gadgets, laser fights, and the ever-suave Roger Moore in what was deemed the silliest of the Bond franchise.

Big Trouble in Little China

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Kurt Russell’s over-the-top performance and the outrageous plot make this movie a cult classic. The 80s movie star plays a truck driver who gets tangled in a supernatural battle in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Filled with action and laughs, it’s a timeless movie that will always be a fan favorite.

Barb Wire

Photo Credit: PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.

If you’re simply seeking a bit of eye candy with a few token fights, be sure to check out Hollywood’s blonde bombshell, Pamela Anderson, in this B-rate action movie. Don’t expect a good storyline or solid performances; you’ll enjoy the ride. Sorry, Pam.

Kung Pow! Enter the Fist

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

This martial arts spoof parodies the great Hong Kong martial arts movies. A chosen one battles evil while seeking revenge for his family’s death, and the result is an action movie featuring ridiculous dubbing, absurd fight scenes, and sheer comedic genius. You need to try it.

Mars Attacks!

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Tim Burton’s wacky sci-fi comedy follows Earth’s attempts to fend off an invasion of bumbling, big-brained Martians. The star-studded cast, including Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, and Sarah Jessica Parker, suitably hams it up in the face of alien absurdity. It’s not on a par with Independence Day, but you’ll get a few laughs.

Evil Dead II

Photo Credit: Rosebud Releasing Corporation.

You can’t deny a slapstick horror movie, and none replicates the goriness of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell’s Ash battles demonic forces in a cabin in the woods, armed with a chainsaw for a hand. It’s a classic horror masterpiece with dubious special effects.

The Fifth Element

Photo Credit: Gaumont Buena Vista.

80s icon Bruce Willis teams up with a mysterious other-worldly woman, Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), to save the world from an ancient evil force. It’s a great movie for its time, featuring visually stunning effects in a futuristic world. The characters are brilliantly quirky, and the premise is first-class.

Hard Rain

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Starring Christian Slater and Morgan Freeman as two truck drivers evacuating money from town in an armored truck, you can fully expect all the usual hold-ups and action scenes during a flood.  It’s a wet and wild adventure from the start.

Lethal Weapon

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

If you saw the modern series remake, you need to watch the original movies to see it done properlyMel Gibson and Danny Glover team up as mismatched cops in this buddy cop film filled with explosive action and the best of witty banter. Lethal Weapon became a successful franchise and remains a favorite among action fans.

They Live

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

On the inside, this 80s classic about a drifter who discovers sunglasses that reveal aliens living among us held a deep message about greed, corruption, and propaganda. On the surface, it is outlandish and ridiculous but well worth a watch.


Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Comedy actor Mel Brooks parodies the Star Wars saga with this comedic space opera, following Lone Starr and Barf as they rescue a princess and thwart the evil Dark Helmet. It’s a laugh-out-loud spoof with endless references, puns, and gags that confidently belittle typical sci-fi tropes.

Rambo: First Blood

Photo Credit: Orion Pictures.

Who could forget Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, the troubled Vietnam War veteran who took on a small town’s corrupt sheriff and his deputies? First Blood introduced audiences to one of cinema’s most iconic action heroes of all time. For a star to give us two movie heroes in their career is nothing short of brilliance.


Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

There was a time when a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie peaked on the must-see list, and Timecop was one of his classics. It might not have been his best movie, but the time hopping coupled with his fighting skills make it a bit of lighthearted fun. Don’t expect Terminator, and you’ll love it.


Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger leads a team of elite commandos on a rescue mission in the jungle, only to encounter a deadly extraterrestrial creature. Schwarzenegger fans of the time spent a lot of time comparing the skills of Predator with Terminator, but with its suspenseful atmosphere and intense action, Predator remains a genre classic.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

There’s no action-adventure movie like the Indiana Jones franchise, and Harrison Ford shines as the adventurous archaeologist in this Steven Spielberg-directed classic. Filled with thrilling set pieces and memorable characters, Raiders of the Lost Ark remains a masterpiece every generation should see.

Shoot to Kill

Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Sidney Poitier showed us the action in this buddy cop movie, featuring many amazing fight scenes. Outside of North America, the movie was titled Deadly Pursuit, which might resonate. It’s a solid oldie that’s worthy of a watch.

Die Hard

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Bruce Willis stars as John McClane, an off-duty cop who battles terrorists in a Los Angeles skyscraper. With its iconic one-liners, intense action sequences, and famous villains, Die Hard set the standard for the modern action film with Bruce Willis, the action hero of his time.

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