The 10 best action scenes of 2023
After a 2022 that gave us RRR, Avatar: The Way of WaterAnd Top Gun: Maverickit was hard to imagine that this year could match that level of excellent action. But 2023 came through.
Major action franchises like John Wick and Mission: Impossible released sparkling new entries, long-running genre stalwarts like Michael Mann and Guy Ritchie revived their evolving styles, and countries around the world contributed their own depictions of great cinematic violence. Even television has stepped up its game this year, with a slew of exciting action series.
I love action movies and have spent much of this year catching up on them. This list doesn't include the best action movies of the year (although many were included), but rather the best action scenes of the year – including both movies and TV. If you want the best action movies of the year, you can find them among the best movies of the year.
This list only includes films released theatrically or at home in the US in 2023 (so festival releases like Bend! are not eligible, but will be next year). It was incredibly difficult to narrow it down to 10, so I've included some honorable mentions at the bottom. I haven't seen it either Napoleon yet, which probably has strong contenders, and the brilliant one Bend! is technically a 2024 release, so unfortunately it doesn't qualify here.
Here's our list of the year's standout action and fight scenes for you to enjoy at home. We've listed the 10 best at the top (in no particular order), followed by some honorable mentions and others for you to take note of. Where possible we have included a link to view the scene. Let's get into it.
John Wick: Chapter 4 – The Arc de Triomphe Chase
Where to watch the film: Starz, or for digital rental/purchase
Okay, I didn't say a specific order, but we to have to start here, because no film in 2023 was more committed to non-stop action than John Wick: Chapter 4. As a result, this was the hardest movie to pick one scene from, because in theory it was all of them John Wick: Chapter 4 could rank as the best action scene of the year.
For me, though, it all comes back to the Arc de Triomphe car sequence. It's a mesmerizing display of choreography, camerawork, danger and the enormous amount of work Keanu Reeves has put in to become the action star he is today. But I'll also add a special shoutout to the series of Sacré-Coeur steps: Lionsgate made a 10-hour version of Keanu falling down the stairs
Bad City — Tak Sakaguchi is unstoppable
Where to watch the film: Prime Video, free with a library card on Hoopla, or for digital rental/purchase
Bad city is a down-and-dirty throwback to Japan's direct-to-video V-cinema era, starring former V-cinema star Hitoshi Ozawa (Yakuza 0), but that's not the main selling point. Its main selling point is matching director Kensuke Sonomura's hyperkinetic choreography with the martial arts of former underground street fighter Tak Sakaguchi, creating a hypnotic effect every time the latter appears on screen.
Shin Kamen Rider – Super Speed
Where to watch the film: Prime Video
I'm not that down The flash as it seems like everyone else is (I think it's better than most other DC offerings of the year), but there's no argument that the movie is a mess. Shin Kamen rideron the other hand, is not a mess – along with Maaveeraanit's one of the very best superhero films of the year, and it undoubtedly has the best depiction of super speed of any film this year.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One – Train Trap
Where to watch the film: Digital rental/purchase
As if the Sacré-Coeur intervenes John Wick 4, Dead reckoning reminds us that action scenes can be both funny and exciting. It's the perfect injection of slapstick hijinks into a stressful film (and a stressful sequence), leaning on Tom Cruise's often underutilized skills as a comedic actor.
Ferrari Mille Miglia
Where to watch the film: Theaters
You might not think of a car race as an action scene, but A) the Mille Miglia was no ordinary car race, B) this is Michael Mann we're talking about, and C) this is my list. One of the most intense sequences of the year, Ferrari's Mille Miglia follows the endurance race of a thousand miles. Mann effectively combines the excitement of motorsport with the danger around every fast corner.
Blue Eye Samurai – Mizu vs. Thousand Claw Army
Where to watch the show: Netflix
One of the best shows of the year, Blue-eyed samurai It really kicks into high gear in the fifth episode. There's nothing really wrong with the previous four, that's how good the fifth is. And it culminates in a killer showdown, with Mizu taking on an entire army on her own. Shout out to her single-cutting technique from under the door.
The Continental roof battle
Where to watch the show: Peacock
I came in The Continental cynical – I love the Wick films, but didn't really see the need for a Winston/hotel backstory. But when I heard that action director Larnell Stovall would be joining the project, I completely changed my tune. Stovall peppers the show with strong action beats, but none are stronger than the third episode's rooftop scene, which pitted MMA-trained actor Nhung Kate against contortionist Marina Mazepa.Evil). The best fights, real or fictional, often come from stylistic disagreements, and this one is a prime example.
The Roundup: No Way Out – Ma Dong-seok vs. Hong Joon-young
Where to watch the film: Nowhere yet! Justice for Ma Dong-seok!
The Roundup trilogy was a box office sensation in South Korea, resting on the mighty shoulders and heavy punches of star Ma Dong-seok. No way out is the strongest entry in the franchise yet, and Ma's confrontation with Korean champion MMA fighter Hong Joon-young is one of the film's many highlights. The fight isn't available entirely online, so instead enjoy the above supercut of every vicious punch Ma throws No way out.
Sakra — Donnie Yen vs. the World
Where to watch the film: Prime Video, Peacock, free with library card on Hoopla, or for digital rental/purchase
I had trouble following Sakra's labyrinthine plot, but I had no trouble enjoying this fight. In it, star and co-director Donnie Yen destroys an entire room's worth of opponents as his punches hit like gunshots.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – No Diggity
Where to watch the film: Paramount Plus
Spider-Man: About the Spider-Verse was groundbreaking in combining different animation styles, but it was the reliable 'Turts' who came through with the best animated action sequence in films this year. It's rhythmic, fun, makes the most of the medium, and like the rest of the film, it's full of goofy teenage joy.
Fist of the Condor — Beach Fight Opening (Hi-Yah!, Hoopla, Tubi, Plex)
Jawan — Father and son work together (Netflix)
Extraction 2 — The 21 Minute Film (Netflix)
The canal – The shooting at the banks (Digital rental/purchase)
Maaveeran — Sathya gets his powers (Prime video)
Guy Ritchie's Covenant — My ambush (Prime video)
Kandahar- The Helicopter Chase (Hulu)
Spider-Man: About the Spider-Verse — The Paper Vulture (Netflix)
The murderer – The assassin fights Sauron (Netflix)
The best of the rest
RDX Boat fight (Netflix)
Leo — A fight in a coffee shop (Netflix)
Bloodhounds — The Bloodhounds vs. the Giant (Netflix)
Warrior – Li Yong vs. (REDACTED for spoilers) (Maximum)
Sick – Parker vs. the Intruder (Peacock)
Jung_E — Train fight (Netflix)
Thunivu — Dark Devil introduces himself (Netflix)
Furies — Bi's final battle against (REDACTED for spoilers) (Netflix)
Pathan — Train Fight (Prime Video)
Murder Mystery 2 — From fight (Netflix)
Death Boksoon – Red marking (Netflix)
The Wandering Earth 2 — Attack on Space Lift (Prime, Peacock, Hoopla)
Aeroplane – The captain's interrupted phone call (Starz)
Hidden knife – Apartment Fight (Prime Video, Hoopla)
Expendb4les — Jason Statham cycles around a ship with machine guns (digital rental/purchase)
The team: home run — Sports Shop Fight (Hulu)
Drive on — Food court fight (Hoopla, digital rental/purchase)
Boudica — Last Siege (Hoopla, digital rental/purchase)
Silent Night – Garage fight (Theatres)
Turned metal — Sweet Tooth's machete massacre (Peacock)
Titans — Nightwing zaps them (Maximum)