20 Lyrical Action Movies To Watch Before ‘John Wick 4’

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Films from Hong Kong-based filmmakers have been treating action like art for decades, and martial arts films have always done big business in China, South Korea and Indonesia, even though directors have started mixing in generous doses of gunfire and maybe even a car chase or two into the action. American action movies favored fistfights over heavily choreographed battles, but that all started to change in the ’90s as a ballet actor like John Woo. hard boiled were imported, inspiring “revolutionary” Hollywood films like The matrix.

As evidenced by the enthusiastic response on the Internet to the release of the trailer for John Wick: Chapter 4this series has crystallized a market for films that are almost nonstop violence, but also so elevated and carefully choreographed and directed that they feel…operatic.

John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023 Movie) Official Trailer – Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen, Bill Skarsgård

Like the 20 films collected here, the best of this genre – affectionately labeled “gun-fu” – often have a lot in common: they have martial arts (or at least well-choreographed street fighting), guns, tons of opponents, and plots almost always involve an almost primordial need for revenge on the part of the protagonist. These similarities are a feature rather than a bug – the plot is just the canvas the filmmakers paint on (usually bright red).