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19 Movies Like John Wick to Watch for More Stylish Action

Dec 9, 2022


John Wick as a film and trilogy learned from one of the other most influential action series of the last thirty years, The Matrix. They share the same lead actor in Keanu Reeves, and both adopt an underground rock/metal club vibe that they abandon in favor of the East Asian influence layered into their film. But where The Matrix reputably grew weaker with each iteration, John Wick continues to astound and delight with its wickedly paced and devilishly violent action set-pieces as well as its world-building. The secret society of assassins and gangsters is so rich and full of potential, Starz is developing a miniseries titled The Continental about the Continental hotel and Winston—who is played in the movie by Ian McShane.
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Few action films of the last decade are as influential as John Wick. It’s wild to consider that a directorial debut by a pair of stuntmen with some second unit directing credits to their name impacted the genre so thoroughly. Chad Stahelski’s and David Leitch’s contributions to movies since the early 2000s are near immeasurable. They’ve elevated the action of movies like 300, The Matrix Reloaded, V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin, The Expendables, and more before their breakout hit. Stahelski served as Reeve’s stunt double, and as the martial arts stunt coordinator on the later 2000s Matrix films. In Keanu’s directorial debut, Man of Tai Chi, Stahelski worked with him as his martial arts choreographer. All three men—Leitch, Reeves, and Stahelski—are bonafide action icons, and together they created one of the greatest action series in cinema history.

Like many action films, the popularity of John Wick was dependent on word of mouth. As word grew, so did the modern legend of Baba Yaga. Seven years later, and three films deep, fans wait with bated breath for the next two announced installments in the saga. But that wait doesn’t need to be a painful one. Plenty of action movies have touched the same greatness in terms of badass stunt work and fight choreography, they’ve just lacked the same marketing or star power to land mainstream audiences’ attention. To scratch that John Wick itch before John Wick 4 comes out in 2023, check out the 19 flicks below.

RELATED: ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’s Director Chad Stahelski Talks New Characters, Locations & the Future of the Franchise

Atomic Blonde (2017)

Image via Focus Features

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Kurt Johnstad

Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones

Atomic Blonde is the closest thing to John Wick without Keanu. With half of the directing duo that brought John Wick to life, it’s no wonder it can go toe to toe with the Baba Yaga. Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) kicks more ass than ever as Lorraine Broughton, a British Royal Intelligence agent deployed to Berlin towards the end of the Cold War. The stylization of the period and setting with neon colors and ‘80s remixes keeps the tone from falling too serious in this sexy action-spy feature. Agent Broughton is cunning and resourceful in her application of force and seduction. On force, the fights and shootouts are of the highest caliber—the apartment set piece is a specific spectacle of Broughton’s raw ability. The weight behind the fight scenes feels authentic and brutal. Even for Furiosa, Charlize outdid herself. She’s accompanied by her liaison to the city, David Percival (James McAvoy), and her lay for the weekend, Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella), as she works to survive the city of spies.

Birds of Prey (2020)

Image via Warner Bros.

Director: Cathy Yan

Writer: Christina Hodson

Cast: Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett, Ewan McGregor

Vibrant and violent, Birds of Prey is awesome. Birds of Prey, or Birds of Prey: And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, drops the viewer down on the streets of Gotham, following Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in her attempt at living a less-devilish life without the Crown Prince of Crime. Without Joker’s protection, anyone ever annoyed, or maimed, by Harley Quinn seeks payback. Slowly, other anti-heroes are folded into the formula as Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) makes a common enemy of them all. Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives viewers a look at the ferocity she’d bring to Kate on Netflix the following year as Huntress, while Jurnee Smollett lit up as Black Canary—so much so that Black Canary will be receiving her own production on HBOMax. Cartoonish violence and schemes make BoP one of the wackiest, loudest, most fun DC comics films ever. As he did on Captain America: Civil War, Chad Stahelski jumped in as a second unit director to capture action as only he and a few others have been able to.

Blade (1998)

Image via New Line Cinema

Director: Stephen Norrington

Writer: David S. Goyer

Cast: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N’Bushe Wright, Donal Logue, Udo Kier

One of the oldest, and best, Marvel comic book movies, Blade shouldn’t be missed by action fans. This adaptation from 1998 is often lost in the conversations surrounding R-rated comic book pictures, and comic book movies et al. Wesley Snipes rocked the role of the stoic vampire hunter. The sword, the shades, the cut, the suit, the smooth one-liners, he truly was Blade. His martial arts background—Snipes holds a 5th-degree black belt in Shotokan Karate, a 3rd-degree black belt in taekwondo, and a 2nd-degree blackbelt in Hapkido among other martial practices—meant he was more than capable of the choreography and maneuvers necessary to dispatch the undead vampire menace. Kris Kristofferson’s cranky ol’ coach Whistler is a treasure. He and fellow human-awakened-to-the-vampire-underworld Karen (N’Bushe Wright) summon the softer side of Blade and bring heart to the feature. But if body count and blood are necessary prerequisites for enjoyment, Blade’s got plenty of both.

Blade II (2002)

Image via New Line Cinema

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Writer: David S. Goyer

Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman, Leonor Varela, Norman Reedus

Blade II improves upon the awesome and spooky world of its predecessor. Blade (Snipes) is back, and he’s hunting for a human—his old mentor, Whistler (Kristofferson)—while a new breed of blood-sucking monsters is on the rise in the city. The four years it took before the sequel was released means the CGI is slightly less dated, but the action is still top-notch. Guillermo del Toro’s dynamic lighting and wit energize the movie between fight scenes. The cast is expanded by a team of vampiric hunters, which includes Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy), Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Danny John-Jules (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), and more. Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) makes a nice addition to Blade’s team as the interim guy-in-the-chair whilst Whistler is still missing. Like the original before it, Blade II doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s plenty of camp and one-liners hidden between the stylish action of this killer sequel that surpasses the first.

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Image via 20th Century Fox

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Ryan Reynolds

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller

A year after Atomic Blond kicked ass at the box office, David Leitch delivered action, comedy, and comic book movie gold with Deadpool 2. Tim Miller (Terminator: Dark Fate) teed up the franchise in 2016, and audiences the world over fell in love with Deadpool. A couple of years, and a bunch of ads later, the merc with a mouth returned for a bigger, funnier sequel. It’s bursting at the seams with action and comedy, especially The Super Duper Cut. Writers Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds turned in another love letter to the character. The boyish, obnoxious, self-aware assassin fights Cable (Josh Brolin)—a time-traveling soldier from the future—with the help of the X-force. The jokes and cameos are fun, but the colorful, bloody, lethal action is where the movie shows off its technical expertise. Whether he’s murdering a room of bad guys or fighting in a cramped moving vehicle, the action is fluid and fascinating. While The Super Duper Cut features maybe the best, most absurd action sequence in the movie, that sequence didn’t make it into the theatrical release. The many that did are punctuated by stylish executions and punch-lines worth revisiting again and again.

Hardcore Henry (2016)

Image via STXfilms

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Writers: Ilya Naishuller, Will Stewart

Cast: Sharlto Copley, Tim Roth, Haley Bennett, Danila Kozlovsky, Andrei Dementiev

Take a motion sickness pill, sit back, and let Hardcore Henry blow your mind. This first-person POV action film is unlike any other. It’s so thrilling, it’s comical. Those who can stomach the camera bobbing along with every movement will be rewarded with jaw-dropping action and an unpredictable science fiction plot. The unique perspective puts the audience in the shoes of the action star/stunt man. The viewer is chasing thugs through the street and over bridges, falling from extreme heights, and killing their way through a mountain of men. Sharlto Copley (District-9) pops up again and again as a body-jacking buddy to help Henry on his way back to the woman who put him together. Like most of the movies on this list, the film is straight-up packed with action that begs exclamation. It’s hard not to “ooo,” and “ah,” as the film invents ways to play with its perspective during the assault of action segments. Watch with a group of iron-gut moviegoers to enhance the chorus of reactions to all the mayhem.

Headshot (2016)

Image via Vertical Entertainment

Directors: Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel

Writer: Timo Tjahjanto

Cast: Iko Uwais, Chelsea Islan, Sunny Pang, Very Tri Yulisman, Julie Estelle, Ario Bayu

After finishing The Raid 2, Iko Uwais moved on to a project by the Indonesian directing duo, The Mo Brothers, called Headshot. The Mo Bros are thanked in the credits of The Raid: Redemption, already demonstrating a connection to the star and choreographer of the second-to-none film series. Headshot gives Uwais more room for somber, quiet reflection before it thrusts him into chaos. With fight sequences by some of the stunt team that created the near-unparalleled action of The Raid films, Headshot benefits from their experience and experimentation. Timo Tjahjanto (May the Devil Take You) and Kimo Stamboel (The Queen of Black Magic, 2019) were known for their horror film work—with what is still possibly the best segment of the V/H/S series, “the compound”—before crafting this awesome action film. Both men have since separated as directing partners and returned to their spooky roots, but Tjahjanto had another godlike action flick up his sleeve—more on that later.

Kate (2021)

Image via Netflix

Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Writer: Umair Aleem

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Woody Harrelson, Miku Patricia Matineau, Tadanobu Asano

Kate is cool. It has a John Wick-style action delivered in a Tokyo aesthetic. The poisoned assassin works tirelessly for vengeance and answers as the life slowly leaves her body. The neon-covered night of blood and brutality finds Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) searching for redemption through rage. The performances are strong, and the film is littered with memorable moments and shots. It’s one of Netflix’s best original action movies. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a total killer, slaying her way through the yakuza. Woody Harrelson serves as her boss and mentor, assigning her missions and aiding in her preparedness. While the action is awesome, the plot falls into place predictably. Predictability aside, the locations and lighting dazzle repeatedly. “Style over substance,” may apply here, but not for lack of effort.

Kick-Ass (2010)

Image via Lionsgate

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Grace Moretz, Garrett M. Brown

Eleven years ago, Kick-Ass came out and reminded audiences that Marvel and DC don’t own the comic-book movie market. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals) stars as the numb, teenage crime-fighting costumed hero Kick-Ass. His moonlight antics busting violent criminals inspire a wave of masked vigilantes that apply a more lethal method than his batons. The color and comedy of this picture burst forth before any action makes its way on screen, but the pace steadily increases as it’s charged by long, cinematic action sequences. Nicolas Cage and Chloe Grace Moretz steal the show as Big Daddy and Hit Girl, a father and daughter crime-fighting duo. Their action set-pieces are the highlights of the film. Kick-Ass shares a visual overlap with James Gunn’s (Guardians of the Galaxy) first costumed hero picture, Super. And though Super lacks the extensive action set pieces Kick-Ass and John Wick delight in, it would do as an excellent double feature with Kick-Ass as they share more than a visual parable.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

Image via 20th Century Fox

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Mark Hamill

When discussing the best action movies of the modern era, the conversation will inevitably turn to the church sequence in Kingsman: The Secret Service as an indicator of the film’s fantastic execution and ambition. Kingsman is much more than that one admittedly fantastic scene—it feels like the culmination of lessons learned across Matthew Vaughn’s directing journey to that point. It was his third comic book movie adaptation in a row following Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class. All three movies boast vivid visuals combined with an energetic pace, but Kingsman: The Secret Service combines the wackiness of the former with the stakes of the latter. Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) turns into an action star in his performance as Galahad, a secret service agent. Galahad takes in a young man colloquially referred to as Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and offers him the opportunity to become a part of the Kingsman. The Kingsman make James Bond look like Mr. Bean. Galahad’s introductory, elegant fight sequence as well as the aforementioned church assault make for two unforgettable movie moments worthy of this list.

The Man From Nowhere (2010)

Image via CJ Entertainment

Director: Jeong-beom Lee

Writer: Jeong-beom Lee

Cast: Won Bin, Kim Sae-ron, Kim Tae-hoon, Kim Hee-won, Kim Sung-oh, Lee Jong-pil

It’s only 11 years old, and yet The Man From Nowhere feels like it inspired most of the excellent martial arts and gun-fu action films since its release. The visual style, shootouts, and the final knife fight in particular feel like scenes subsequent films tried to capture the magic of and enhance in their own way. Between its quirkiness and its sharp lighting, it feels like a live-action adaptation of a ‘90s anime. Unlike most of the non-stop action films on this list, The Man From Nowhere aligns very much in tone with the first John Wick film. It’s unafraid of silence and grief; in fact, both are integral to its storytelling. The slower sections give the film more range and more room for engagement as opposed to it being a passive experience. Sleek and violent, The Man From Nowhere isn’t to be missed.

The Matrix (1999)

Image via Warner Bros.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

Writers: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano

Few action films are as ambitious or inspirational as The Matrix. The cast, the concept, the visuals are all iconic. Starring John Wick himself, Keanu Reeves, with his director Chad Stahelski as his stunt double, the film follows a hacker named Neo who is awoken to the artifice he’s considered reality. As a masterpiece of modern cinema, it’s compulsory viewing for all movie fans. Science-fiction and action often go hand in hand, but The Matrix elevated each element before fusing them together. Every action segment is fantastic, seamlessly interworking hand-to-hand fighting, special effects, and wirework into perfect choreography. It’s as action-packed as it is philosophical, and both elements are sold perfectly by the cast. It fathered two sequels that expand on the conflict between the humans and the machines at war outside of the computer simulation that is The Matrix, but neither sequel was received with the same acclaim that started the series. A new sequel titled The Matrix: Resurrections hits theaters, and arrives on HBOMax, in December 2021, and it looks like a reinvention of the aesthetic and world audiences fell in love with.

The Night Comes for Us (2018)

Image via Netflix

Director: Timo Tjahjanto

Writer: Timo Tjahjanto

Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Julie Estelle, Hannah Al Rashid, Sunny Pang, Dian Sastrowardoyo

The Night Comes for Us is one of the bloodiest, most baller action movies around. Starring more than one actor featured in The Raid series, and bolstering similarly scintillating action set-pieces, The Night Comes for Us truly feels like the successor to the franchise since The Raid 3 doesn’t seem to be in development anymore. The simple set-up of a gangster trying to escape his position as a high-ranking member of the east-Asian crime organization, The Triad, is the fire to the fuel of this crazy action film. For brutality and body count, The Night Comes for Us measures up against almost any action, or horror, movie. Joe Taslim (Mortal Kombat, 2021) and his family of fighters beat, bash, and bleed for each other against relentless waves of armed gangsters. The final fight, lasting over 10 minutes, belongs in the annals of film fight history. Two more sequels are supposedly in the works, but with the writer/director currently developing The Blind of the Ghost Cave: Angel’s Eyes, May They Devil Take you 3, a script alongside C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson, and the James Wan produced remake of the Korean action zombie film, Train to Busan, it’s unclear when action fans may see the presumably messy, mad follow-ups.

Punisher: Warzone (2008)

Image via Marvel Studios

Director: Lexi Alexander

Writers: Nick Santora, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway

Cast: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz, Doug Hutchison, Colin Salmon, Wayne Knight

When The Punisher returned to theaters in 2004 with Thomas Jane, it was a stone-cold serious action film, alt-rock soundtrack included. Thomas Jane killed it, and a bunch of people, as Frank Cassell, but didn’t return four years later for Punisher: War Zone. With Ray Stevenson stepping into the boots of Frank Castle, director Lexi Alexander found her straight-man at the center of her absurd, over the top, violent, R-rated comic book movie. While the Blade films definitely get overlooked in conversations about comic book movies, Punisher: War Zone gets forgotten on all fronts. It’s an R-rated, woman-directed, Marvel comics property film, but it gets forgotten because it dabbles in B-movie moments. It opens with The Punisher punching a hole through a man’s face, establishing the absurdity of the action with respect to the origin. It’s not the show, and it sure isn’t the 2004 movie, but action film fans might find more to enjoy here than a typical Marvel movie-goer.

The Raid: Redemption (2012)

Image via PT Merantau Films

Director: Gareth Evans

Writer: Gareth Evans

Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Ray Sahetapy, Yayan Ruhian, Anada George, Donny Alamsya

The Raid: Redemption is one of, if not the, greatest action movies of all time. Hand to hand martial arts fights combine the physicality of Ong-Bak with impeccable editing that makes these bouts seem real. Having two of the fight choreographers as the stars probably helps, but every segment is astounding. The set-up of a police raid on a tenement building owned and operated by a gang is familiar—speaking of which, watch Dredd—but it supplies the scenario for the endless stream of bodies for Rama (Iko Uwais) and co. to cut down on their trek to the top. The climactic two vs one showdown at the end marks another, near unparalleled, action sequence Uwais aided in setting up and starring in. Mike Shinoda’s electronic soundtrack enhances the live-action anime tone, and is a welcomed addition to the international release of the film.

The Raid 2 (2014)

Image via Sony Pictures Classics

Director: Gareth Evans

Writers: Gareth Evans

Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad

The bigger budget and larger ambitions of this sequel are immediately apparent. Director Gareth Evans (Apostle) seems aware of the reverence for the original and expectations of the sequel. He uses the expanded setting and cast to manipulate the viewer’s assumptions, unafraid to kill off characters, just like in The Raid: Redemption. Almost an hour longer, there’s just more of The Raid 2 to love. The undercover story gets a little muddled, but it serves nicely to introduce Rama (Uwais) and the viewer to the criminal underworld outside of the one building seen in the previous film. With a larger cast, comes more action. Anyone who wondered what this stunt team might do with a car chase, a club fight, or a knife fight gets their curiosities obliterated by mind-blowing sequences guaranteed to delight fans of the original or the John Wick franchise. It’s seriously unbelievable filmmaking.

Safe (2012)

Image via Lionsgate

Director: Boaz Yakin

Writer: Boaz Yakin

Cast: Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Chris Sarandon, Robert John Burke, James Hong

By the Director of Remember the Titans, Safe is one of Jason Statham’s best. Well after he’d established himself as the most badass Brit in Hollywood, he reteamed with his stunt coordinator from The Expendables and The Mechanic, Chad Stahelski, in Safe. Released only two years before John Wick, it incorporates similar chunky, swift maneuvers that make the John Wick series fun to watch, but stamped with Statham’s sweet action style. When watching Safe, it’s hard not to think, “that looked like it hurt.” Statham kicks, tackles, and slams thugs around as he attempts to free a young girl from captivity. The story can be so-so, but strong framing and smart use of the set throughout the action elevates the visual enjoyment of this grainy-but-colorful invincible action hero film.

Taken (2009)

Image via 20th Century Studios

Director: Pierre Morel

Writers: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

Cast: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries

Memes aside, parodies aside, Taken rules. Liam Neeson’s commitment to the physicality and intensity of his character brought this aging ex-agent to screen in iconic fashion. The threatening phone call from early in the film is just the beginning of Liam Neeson’s tough-guy act. His hunt for his kidnapped and trafficked daughter in France is a thrilling chase interrupted by gritty shootouts and struggles. Neeson delivers more nut-shots and throat chops than the Bourne series as he beats up bad guys across various settings. Taken revitalized Neeson’s career as a lead actor in action cinema. He starred in the following sequels and seemed content accepting roles eerily similar to his character in Pierre Morel’s (District B13) first American film.

Transporter 2 (2005)

Image via 20th Century Fox

Director: Louis Leterrier

Writers: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen

Cast: Jason Statham, Amber Valetta, Kate Nauta, Alessandro Gassman, Matthew Modine

While Statham ain’t two-tapping hired guns on and off-screen, he kicks arguably the most ass he’s ever kicked, in The Transporter 2. The vivid, Michael Bay-esque color gradient and the unrelenting action make this an action movie not to be missed. Director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) brought The Transporter out of Europe. The secret criminal world hidden behind the facade of Miami, Florida, is teeming with characters for Statham to confront. The fight scenes stand out even 17 years later, but the story of Transporter 2 serves to set-up Statham in spots where he can beat down criminals. Transporter 2 is the largest deviation from John Wick’s tone, and gun-fu glory, but fans will still find the iron-will of The Transporter equal to that of the Baba Yaga.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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