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The 10 All Time Greatest Action Movie Stars According To Ranker

Few things get the blood of an avid action cinema aficionado pumping like a solid popcorn flick offering starring their favorite actor or actress. Whether they’re an old school western antihero like Clint Eastwood or a new generation crime thriller staple like Jason Statham, the best action stars are often identified by box office draw, familiar serialized characters, pop culture impact, and good old fashioned raw charisma.

It’s hard to narrow down the action field with so many stellar contenders from both classic and modern eras, but pollsters over at Ranker have given it a go.

Chuck Norris
A picture of Chuck Norris in his early career is shown.

Chuck Norris is a vaunted American icon, having served in the U.S. Air Force and mastered no less than three martial arts, eventually forming his school of fighting, Chun Kuk Do. He first appeared on the martial arts movie scene starring alongside Bruce Lee in Way of the Dragon. Norris then followed it up in several famous martial arts B movies including The Octagon, Lone Wolf McQuade, Delta Force, and the Missing in Action trilogy. However, he’s perhaps most famously known for his television role of Walker, Texas Ranger.

Related: 10 Best Intelligent Action Movies According To Ranker

Norris became wildly popular due to his understated and straightforward acting techniques coupled with his superior fighting skills, and his works have achieved cult status in the United States, having their unique niche among blue-collar action entertainment offerings.

Harrison Ford
A picture of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones is shown.

For fans who grew up in the seventies and eighties, very few actors get the action star accolades that Harrison Ford does. In just over a decade, Ford gave the world two of its most iconic movie heroes in the roles of Han Solo in the Star Wars trilogy and Indiana Jones in the Indiana Jones trilogy. Ford’s portrayals of hapless antiheroes became the stuff of legend.

Related: 5 Ways Attack Of The Clones Isn’t As Bad As People Say (And 5 Ways It Is)

His grizzled charisma and charming, swashbuckling demeanor entrenched his position in the cinematic empires of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Few cinema fans remember the 1980s without fondly recalling Harrison Ford’s against-all-odds escapades.

Jason Statham
jason statham redemption hummingbird

Jason Statham launched his action movie career via Guy Ritchie’s crime capers Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and went on to help resurrect the dormant action genre in the early 2000s and 2010s with an array of hard-hitting modern action movies like The Transporter series, The Mechanic series, The Italian Job, the Death Race reboot, and Crank.

He hit franchise gold with Stallone’s Expendables series and is perhaps best known for his recurring role as Deckard Shaw in The Fast and the Furious series. Statham is now a staple of 21st-century action films and his rugged good looks and considerable martial art abilities propel him to action star heights, his tough-guy roles are often Machiavellian ne’er do wells with hearts of gold.

Clint Eastwood
Harry Callhan pointing a gun in Dirty Harry.

Clint Eastwood is more or less the godfather of action films. Still going strong at 90 years of age with his most recent offering Cry Macho, Eastwood established himself as the watermark of the entire genre with his spaghetti western Man With No Name roles in the Sergio Leone trilogy and as his less than sympathetic cop Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry series, and went on to star in tent pole action films like The Outlaw Josey Wales, Escape from Alcatraz, Heartbreak Ridge, High Plains Drifter, and In the Line of Fire. He took home three Oscars for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actor for Unforgiven.

Related: 10 Coolest Movie Roles Of Clint Eastwood’s Career

Eastwood grounded himself as an iconic actor showcasing American machismo at its heart-pounding apex. While some of his works haven’t quite held up in perpetuity because of their era-dependent trappings of toxic masculinity, there’s no question Eastwood showcases hero-savior trope bravado in its most audience-appealing form.

Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves in John Wick 3

Keanu Reeves became a brightly burning star early in his career with standout performances in genre-specific pieces like My Own Private Idaho, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Dangerous Liaisons. Yet it was his rise in the action genre which catapulted him to international acclaim, first starring in action classics like Point Break and Speed, like Neo in The Matrix series, and then Reeves accepted one of his best roles as John Wick, which launched a  popular action franchise trilogy with two more sequels currently on the way.

Ranker voters likely see Reeves much as the rest of movie fandom, a charismatic yet humble actor assuming savior and assassin mantles as easily as his rom-com roles. His easy-going likability and well-known propensity for treating fans and crew members with dignity only solidify his high rank among the greatest action stars.

Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis as John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard

No action movie ranked list would be complete without Bruno in the top ten. Willis started his acting career as the wisecracking David Addison in the television series Moonlighting, but it was 1988’s Die Hard that propelled him to action star legend.

Related: 10 Most Iconic Bruce Willis Movie Quotes

As perpetually battered police detective John McClane, he managed to buck Stallone-Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilder trends and fortify himself as an all-time great in five different Die Hard films as well as several classic action movies like The Last Boy Scout, Pulp Fiction, The Fifth Element, Sin City, 12 Monkeys, and Looper. Willis’ working-class swagger and down-on-his-luck grit became a signature charisma for the affable actor. All that plus pinpoint accurate comic timing makes Willis an all-time great.

Bruce Lee
A picture of Bruce Lee in his iconic yellow jumpsuit is shown.

Bruce Lee may well be the most famous martial arts movie star of all time. The Hong-Kong American actor was first utilized in the role of Kato in the television series The Green Hornet. Lee went on to star in five of the most acclaimed martial arts movies of the seventies, including The Big Boss, Fists of Fury, Way of the Dragon, Enter the Dragon, and Game of Death.

Enter the Dragon is commonly regarded as the best martial arts movie ever made. Lee’s portrayal of a reluctant antihero showcased the softer nuances of his underrated acting chops behind all the thrilling action movie sequences. He is often credited as the man who opened the door on modern mixed martial arts for the entire cinematic landscape, and hardcore martial art fans lament his early demise to this day.

Jackie Chan

Chan has appeared in over 150 films and is often thought of as the most recognized action star on the planet, with his immense popularity in both the Western and Eastern hemispheres. His most well-known films include the Rush Hour series with Chris Tucker, Supercop, Police Story, Rumble in the Bronx, and Shanghai Noon, and he also voices Monkey in the popular Kung Fu Panda series.

Chan’s claim to fame lay less in his considerable martial arts skills showcasing a more acrobatic fighting style and more in his congenial stage presence. Known for his natural comedic timing as well as his signature moves of using improved weaponry and unique stunt work, Chan made an indelible mark in the history of the action genre.

Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone Cobra TV series

Stallone’s cinematic catalog may be the most cited and quoted among the genre’s more ardent fans. Sly has been thrilling audiences since 1974’s The Lords of Flatbush and went on to star in infamous action flicks like Nighthawks, Cliffhanger, Cobra, and Get Carter. He is of course most noted for his portrayals of Rocky Balboa and John Rambo in the Rocky and Rambo series, and later in his career as Barney Ross in the Expendables series.

Stallone’s Hardcase screen persona often emulated and parodied, frequently offset his quiet vulnerabilities as a regular guy kind of man struggling to stay afloat in intensely adverse situations. His performances in Rocky and First Blood have become American rites of passage.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian holding a sword

Ranker fans put Arnie at number one and there’s little question as to why. Schwarzenegger has delivered some of the most celebrated action pieces of all time, starting with his legendary appearance in Conan the Barbarian and moving into cinematic legend by taking the villain role in James Cameron’s The Terminator, launching a franchise that would win the world over with its haunting Judgment Day sci-fi time travel tropes.

Schwarzenegger invoked the absolute Alpha Male hero in classic modern B movies like Commando, Predator, Total Recall, The Running Man, Kindergarten Cop, and True Lies. Though it was slow going at first with his clipped language and underdeveloped acting skills, Schwarzenegger eventually came into his own and exuded an alluring yet commanding screen presence. Nobody does act like the Governator.

NEXT: 10 Underrated Action Movies Of The 2010s Ranked By IMDb

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Fast & Furious 11 Needs Hobbs Vs. Dom (To End The Rock & Vin Diesel’s Feud)


Fast and Furious 11 needs to feature an epic fight between The Rock and Vin Diesel to resolve the real-life feud and bring closure to their characters’ relationship. The clash between Dom and Hobbs in Fast Five was a game-changer, and revisiting that epic confrontation in Fast 11 would elevate the action and add nostalgia. A showdown between Dom and Hobbs in Fast 11 could serve as a decisive moment of reconciliation, reaffirming the underlying themes of family and unity in the franchise.

Now that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has returned to the Fast Saga, Fast and Furious 11 needs to include an epic fight between Johnson and Vin Diesel. In the high-octane world of the Fast and Furious franchise, the thrill of fast cars and heart-stopping action has always been amplified by the magnetic on-screen chemistry between its stars. However, a real-life feud between The Rock and Vin Diesel has been brewing since 2016. Director Louis Leterrier achieved the impossible by bringing The Rock back into the fold. Now, he must find a way to reunite Luke Hobbs and Dominic Toretto on-screen.

Ever since Fate of the Furious, the void left by The Rock’s absence has grown more conspicuous. The actor’s feud with Vin Diesel has cast a shadow over the franchise, making it increasingly difficult for the writers and directors to craft a cohesive narrative. As Fast Saga fans await the next installment, all eyes are on Leterrier to weave a compelling story that not only showcases jaw-dropping action but also offers a chance for Hobbs and Dom to partake in an epic showdown.

Hobbs & Dom Fighting In Fast & Furious 11 Would Bring Their Arc Full Circle
Vin Diesel's Dom confronts Dwayne Johnson's Hobbs in Fast Five

Fast X and Fast and Furious 11 act as sequels to Fast Five in many ways, so it makes perfect sense for the upcoming installment to build on the fight scene between Dom and Hobbs from Fast Five. The clash between the two powerhouse characters left an indelible mark on fans. Revisiting that epic confrontation could elevate the adrenaline-fueled action and add a layer of nostalgia to Fast and Furious 11. Now that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has had a change of heart and returned to the Fast Saga, the anticipation for a rematch between his and Vin Diesel’s characters has reached a fever pitch.

Dom and Hobbs’ showdown in Fast Five was a game-changer for the franchise, propelling it to new heights with its intensity and raw energy. Given the unresolved tension between the two stars in real life, a meticulously crafted fight scene in Fast 11 has the potential to invigorate the climax of the series and provide a cathartic experience for the actors and fans alike. As Fast 11 may be the final chapter in the Fast and Furious universe, all eyes are on this anticipated clash. Hopefully, a brotherly fight will be the defining moment that brings harmony back to the Fast Saga family.

The Rock & Vin Diesel Can Put Their Feud To Rest On Screen
Hobbs holding on to Dom in Fast and Furious 5

Vin Diesel and The Rock’s personal history adds a layer of complexity to any potential fight between their characters in Fast and Furious 11. Given their real-life feud, it’s unlikely either actor would be portrayed as the clear winner or loser. Moreover, from a storytelling perspective, it would be counterproductive to have Dom excessively harm or kill Hobbs or vice versa. However, as the series approaches its potential end, a showdown between Dom and Hobbs could serve as a decisive moment of reconciliation. After all, throughout the Fast and Furious films, audiences have witnessed a recurring pattern of men engaging in physical conflicts before eventually forming unbreakable bonds.

For instance, Fast and Furious sees Dom and Brian’s tumultuous relationship evolve into a deep brotherly connection after a series of knock-down, drag-out fights. This same sort of understanding between Dom and Hobbs would reaffirm the underlying themes of reconciliation and family that have contributed to the franchise’s enduring popularity. By embracing the notion that they are, in a sense, brothers, Dom and Hobbs could mend their on-screen relationship and deliver a broader message of unity. This would ultimately give fans a satisfying conclusion to their relationship in Fast and Furious 11.

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Vin Diesel Posts Paul Walker Tribute On 10th Anniversary Of His Death


Vin Diesel shares a touching tribute to Paul Walker 10 years after the actor’s tragic death on November 30, 2013. Diesel expresses that “more smiles manage to break through the tears” as years pass because he knows his bond with Walker will be stronger than ever when they eventually reunite. Walker’s character, Brian O’Connor, remains alive in the world of Fast and Furious, and Diesel has previously teased that the franchise won’t end without a proper farewell to Brian and Walker.

Fast and Furious star Vin Diesel takes to social media to share a touching tribute to Paul Walker, 10 years after the actor’s death. First released in 2001, the debut installment in the long-running Fast and Furious franchise introduces Diesel as Dominic Toretto and Walker as Brian O’Connor. Both characters would return for a number of sequels, but Walker tragically passed away on November 30, 2013, during the production of Furious 7.

Now, on the 10th anniversary of Walker’s passing, Diesel has shared a touching tribute post on Instagram to honor his late Fast and Furious costar. Check out the actor’s emotional post below:

Accompanying an image of Walker with one of his daughters, Diesel reminisces about an important lesson learned from the late actor and how his legacy still lives on today. Diesel’s full caption is included below:

I was listening to a song this morning…‘That Lucky Old Sun’… thought of you, racing around Heaven all day. Hahaha…
The family of the Mourning, feels like it has grown since a decade ago… feel’s like that experience of losing someone is far too common today. Leaving more and more of us in search for meaning, trying to make sense of this complex existence…
Oh, I have finally understood what you use to do with the phone, “phone Fasting”… you had the insight to turn off your phone for long stretches of time. I started this year to do just that. You used to say, Vin and I can go years without talking, and our brotherhood will always be stronger than we left it, the ones who truly love you will always be there.
Amen to that.
This is one of my favorite images ever taken… You knew how proud I was when my daughter, the Alpha Angel, your niece would play the piano… well last night she was playing Moonlight Sonata… it took me back to the night before she was born. Me and you were working late… you were telling me that the best moment in life would be witnessing my child being born. That priceless smile you had when I told you the next day that I had cut the umbilical cord…
The next song she started playing on the piano is by an artist you would have loved, named Billie Eilish, ‘What was I made for’… when she started to play, the other angels all came and joined her at the piano and they started singing… wow…emotions… angels, I know you were listening.
After ten years… I know these days of beautiful remembrance will be filled with tears. But as time rolls on, with each year that passes… more smiles manage to break through the tears. Cause I know, when I see you again… our brotherhood will be stronger than we left it.
Miss you.

Will Brian Be Seen Again In Fast & Furious?
Furious 7 Reveals How Paul Walker’s Character Can Return
CGI Paul Walker in Furious 7.

Walker’s death in November 2013 came with a great deal of sadness, but it also created problems for the Furious 7 production, which was about halfway done. It was ultimately decided that Walker’s remaining scenes would be completed with a digital recreation of the actor, with his two brothers, Cody and Caleb Walker, serving as body doubles. Although Walker may have passed away, Brian remains alive and well within the world of the films, though he has not been seen in the flesh since Furious 7’s emotional ending.

The closet audiences have come to seeing Brian again (outside of the flashbacks featured in Fast X) is at the end of F9: The Fast Saga, when the character’s iconic Nissan Skyline pulls up at Dom’s house. This summer’s Fast X supposedly sets up the conclusion of the franchise in an 11th and potentially 12th installment (in addition to the announced Dwayne Johnson Luke Hobbs spinoff movie), and it’s very likely that the final movie will see Brian return in some capacity.

Diesel has also essentially teased as much, telling Total Film (via GamesRadar) earlier this year: “I couldn’t imagine this saga ending without truly saying goodbye to Brian O’Conner.” It’s unclear if this will mean a substantial digital recreation of the actor for extended portions of the film or a quick cameo at the very end, but it seems like audiences haven’t seen the last of Brian just yet. Even in death, Walker remains a key pillar of Fast and Furious, and it’s fitting that the final film will feature another heartfelt goodbye to further honor the late actor.

Source: Vin Diesel/ Instagram

Fast and Furious 11 temp poster

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All 4 Fast & Furious Heroes Who Stayed Dead (& Which One Is Most Likely To Return)


Fast & Furious franchise is known for bringing back dead characters, but there are a few heroes who have remained dead. Jack Toretto, Dom’s father, died in a racing accident and his death should not be undone in the franchise. Jesse, a member of Dom’s crew, was killed in a drive-by shooting, while Vince was killed during an ambush. Elena, Dom’s love interest, was killed by the villain Cipher.

The Fast & Furious franchise has brought many characters back from the dead, but a handful of its heroes have remained killed off after their demise. The Fast Saga has taken its characters on a wild ride from street racing to the most outlandish adventures possible. The running theme of the Fast & Furious franchise has long been family, with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) building quite a large family indeed over the course of the Fast Saga’s run.

On top of its embrace of ridiculous, superhuman feats as a staple of its action scenes, the Fast & Furious movies are also well known for bringing back seemingly dead characters for more missions. The returns of Sung Kang’s Han in F9 and Gal Gadot’s Gisele Yashar in Fast X would be especially noteworthy in emphasizing the notion that no Fast & Furious death is irreversible. However, that is not entirely true, as there have been a few Fast & Furious heroes who have died and never come back.

RELATED: 10 Fast & Furious Characters Who Must Return In New Hobbs Spinoff

4 Jack Toretto
An image of Jack Toretto driving a car in F9

Jack Toretto (J.D. Pardo) is the father of Dom, Mia (Jordana Brewster), and Jakob Toretto (John Cena), and is first seen in a flashback to 1989 in F9. Jack is a highly skilled race car driver who instilled that talent in his children, with Dom and Jakob being part of his racing pit crew. However, Jack’s racing career took a tragic turn when his car malfunctioned and crashed, killing him. Dom later beat his father’s racing opponent, Kenny Linder (Jim Parrack), almost to death with a wrench, believing him responsible for his father’s demise.

This tragedy also led to Dom and Jakob falling out, with Dom later coming to believe that Jakob set up their father’s death since he was the last one to work on his car. However, Jack was intentionally attempting to throw the race in order to get his family out of debt. He had asked Jakob to help tinker with his car so that it would fail, with Jack’s death being unintentional on both their parts. While his return has been theorized by fans, of all the characters killed off in Fast & Furious, Jack Toretto’s death should never be retconned.

3 Jesse
Jesse in The Fast and the Furious pic

One of the early members of Dom’s family in the original The Fast and the Furious, Jesse (Chad Lindberg) was the brains of Dom’s crew in his enterprise of stealing DVD players. Jesse went on the run after losing a street race to Dom’s rival, Johnny Tran (Rick Yune), having bet his MK3 Volkswagen Jetta in the race. Jesse was later killed outside of Dom’s house when Johnny Tran and his associate Lance Nguyen (Reggie Lee) arrived and performed a drive-by shooting. Dom and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) then chased down Johnny Tran and Lance Nguyen to avenge their fallen friend.

2 Vince
fast and furious 5 vince

Vince (Matt Schulze) was another member of Dom’s crew in The Fast & the Furious, and he was badly injured during a truck heist in that first movie. After his recovery, Vince fled to Rio de Janeiro where he later reunited with Dom and family in Fast Five. Despite Vince having settled down with a wife and a baby son, he agreed to join Dom’s daring heist of Rio’s most feared crime boss Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida). Unfortunately, Vince was killed during an ambush by Reyes’s team. After successfully pulling off the heist, Dom left Vince’s intended share of the money with his wife and son.

1 Elena
Elena Neves walks with her gun drawn by a car

Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky) worked alongside Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in apprehending Dom and his crew in Fast Five. She and Dom gradually developed feelings for each other, however, and departed for Spain with Dom at the end of the movie. After Dom learned that his wife Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) was still alive despite her apparent death in Fast & Furious, Dom and Elena had an amicable split, only for it to later be revealed that Elena is the mother of Dom’s son in The Fate of the Furious.

RELATED: How (& Where) To Watch The Fast & Furious Movies In Order By Release Date & Chronologically

After Elena was killed by the villainous Cipher (Charlize Theron), Dom and Letty raised the boy together, with the two naming him Brian after Brian O’Conner. Meanwhile, Dom later met Elena’s sister Isabel (Daniela Melchior), who joined Dom’s crew in Fast X. While Elena remains deceased as of Fast X, the arrival of her sister Isabel and Fast & Furious’s habit of not truly killing off characters makes her the most likely thought-to-be-dead hero to potentially return as the franchise speeds towards its finale.

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