Greatest Hollywood Action Icons:
The action genre has been one of the highest-grossing categories in Box Office sales worldwide. Hollywood has been at the forefront of creating and selling action bonanzas to the audience since time immemorial. The genre truly began with John Wayne, the American Action icon, who owing to his tough-guy looks combined with his calm and quiet demeanor, rocked the movie-making industry and ushered in a golden era of action movies. The typical action movie in Hollywood involves the protagonist facing unbeatable odds and saving the day, all the while dodging bullets, cars, and bad guys. Hollywood has given us a hell of a lot of Action Stars over the years, some of whom have managed to etch their names into the annals of history in golden letters as the greatest action stars the world has ever seen. For obvious reasons, we do not include John Wayne in this list since he is the first-ever true Action star and including him in a list will be an injustice to his legacy. For everyone else, presenting – 12 Greatest Hollywood Action Icons of all Time – Ranked
12. Angelina Jolie
Jolie was seen as just a pretty face up. Her roles were always of a damsel in distress that needed a knight in shining armor to save her. Original Sin even led her to be type-casted into such roles. All of that changed when Jolie took on the role of Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider movie series. She never looked back after that. She went on to star in Mr &Mrs Smith, where she played the role of an international assassin besides Brad Pitt. She also played an assassin’s role in Wanted, against James McAvoy. Her role in Salt, where she played the part of a Russian sleeper agent working to assassinate the American President, made her an overnight sensation yet again. Jolie is still going strong and has several action roles lined up in front of her for the future.
11. Jet Li
Jet Li was already a very sought after actor in the Chinese movie-making industry. With movies like Once Upon a Time in China, Kung Fu Cult Master, the Legend, and High Risk, Jet Li was known for his extremely adept martial arts skills. He entered Hollywood with Lethal Weapon 4. His creative use of martial arts in movies like Cradle 2 the Grave, Romeo Must Die and Kiss of the Dragon were much appreciated. Li had appeared in 7 major action blockbusters from 2000 to 2007, and he established himself as a major player of the genre. He went on to star in other memorable action movies like Rogue Assassin and The Expendables series.
10. Milla Jovovich
She is the face of the extremely successful Resident Evil series of movies. There is literally no man that could boats of what she has done – carry an entire movie franchise on her sole shoulders for not one but a total of six movies. Throughout her career, Milla has predominantly played physically taxing roles. She played the female lead role in the Cult Classic The Fifth Element. She is also known for Ultraviolet. Milla Jovovich is one unstoppable lady. In total, the number of people she has killed in the movies stands at around 1300, which makes her one of the deadliest actions stars of all time.
9. Jean Claude Van Damme
If you are making a list of action movie stars or action movies in general, Jean Claude Van Damme’s name is bound to pop out at least once. The guy was the face of the genre in the 1990’s. Jean Claude Van Damme shot to fame with very popular action movie hits like Universal Soldier, Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Death Warrant, and Hard Target. His movies – Time Cop and Double Impact, are also very memorable ventures. Van Damme became infamous for his truly chiselled body and his roundhouse kicks that could knock out the sun out of the solar system (That’s a joke). His career took a downturn in the early 2000s. His semi-biographical movie JCVD shot him to fame once again. Van Damme would later gain back his glory with movies like Universal Soldier: Regeneration and starring in The Expendables movies.
8. Dwayne Johnson
If this list would have been made five years ago, the Rock would never have made it. But with so many action hits under his belt in such a short amount of time, there is no denying the fact that Dwayne Johnson has essayed his contribution to the action genre in big, bold, golden letters. There are so many of them now that we have already lost count. Rampage, the Fast and Furious series, Jumanji: Enter the Jungle, Skyscrapper and a hell of a lot more. Dwayne Johnson’s bulkier look and his comic timing make him an instant hit, allowing him to branch out to mixed genre movies like Central Intelligence and The Tooth Fairy.
7. Tom Cruise
You may dislike him for his controversies surrounding Scientology but this guy has proved again and again that if you have the skill and talent, the audience will love you no matter what. While most of the action movie stars started out in a different genre becoming an action icon, Tom Cruise’s career was the opposite. His first action movie role was in Top Gun, which became a cult classic, and the guy went on to be featured in several other movies in the same genre like Mission Impossible, Edge of Tomorrow, Minority Report, and Jack Reacher.
6. Keanu Reeves
This guy would have never thought he would be revered as such a sacred action star when he played Ted in Bill & Ted’s excellent Adventure. Reeves would then begin his action career with Point Break. The movie that did turn out to be his breakout role was The Matrix series. He has also starred in Speed – another high octane action thriller, opposite Sandra Bullock. We are not even going to mention John Wick here since we already know that is the first thing that popped in your mind after seeing his picture.
5. Jackie Chan
His mix of martial arts with comedy was so bang on that Jackie soon found his fame reaching the west. After starring in movies like Drunken Master and Fearless Hyena, Jackie took up the role of a Chinese immigrant protagonist in Rumble in the Bronx, which was a mega hit. Jackie’s comic timing was also much appreciated. Police Story, Crime Story, The Protector, and Armour of God are some of his best known action movies. He is most popular for his role in the Rush Hour series besides Chris tucker and Shanghai Noon, besides Owen Wilson.
4. Clint Eastwood
He is not an action star. He is THE action star. Clint Eastwood gave the action movies a shot in the arm when literally no one else was interested to be a part of a dying genre. A Few More Dollars, the Good the Bad and the Ugly, Gran Torino, A Fistful of Dollars – Clint has taken up action roles with each character being of a varied age range. Eastwood’s action gallery includes action gems like Sudden Impact and Unforgiven.
3. Bruce Willis
He is probably the only actor in Hollywood who is more well-known by one of his characters he played rather than his own name himself. John McClane turned the New York Nakatomi Plaza into his personal sand box where he rained death and destruction of the highest order on the terrorists that hijacked it. The Whole world saw how one tough cookie turned the entire gang of terrorists into a group of sissies running for cover. Bruce Willis has since then starred in some major action based eye-turners like Unbreakable, The Last Boy Scout, Glass, The Fifth Element, RED, and Armageddon.
2. Sylvester Stallone
From Boxing Rings to Battlefields, this man has been everywhere. And wherever he went, bodies piled up. Sylvester Stallone started out with Rambo: First Blood. The guy became so successful that he became a staple of American muscle. Stallone’s career has never seen a downturn. At his prime, with movies like Rambo, The Specialist, Tango & Cash, Demolition Man, Cliffhanger, and The Expendables, Stallone is the action movie version of Midas. He was the reason every child in the 1980s and 1990s asked for a machine gun as a Christmas gift.
The Terminator, Commando, Total Recall, Predator, True Lies, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Conan the Barbarian – the list goes on and on and on. Arnold Schwarzenegger was once told that he can never act. His face, as told by one movie director back then, was too ugly and expressionless to star in a movie. Arnold proved them all wrong. He not only starred in one of the most celebrated action movies of all time (The Terminator), but went a step further. Decades later, Arnold is the face of the action genre now. Bet that Director who advised him to quit pursuing acting would be dying to take back his words eh??