NewsNewsBest 11 70s Action Films of 2023: A Definitive...

Best 11 70s Action Films of 2023: A Definitive Guide

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When it comes to 1970s action movies, the grittier ones are highly regarded. The top ’70s action movies offer non-stop excitement, thrills, suspense, and danger that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Films like The French Connection, Dirty Harry, and Mad Max set the standard for action films in that era. Alongside these, there is an impressive mix of disaster movies, blacksploitation films, and a plethora of Bruce Lee flicks.

During the 1970s, Clint Eastwood rose to fame as the tough-as-nails cop Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry franchise. However, you might prefer Eastwood’s more subtle performance in Escape from Alcatraz. This decade also saw a transition in the role of James Bond, with Sean Connery starring in Diamonds Are Forever and Roger Moore taking over in Live and Let Die. Of course, any list of ’70s action-adventure movies must include Bruce Lee’s iconic films: Enter the Dragon, Fists of Fury, and Return of the Dragon.

Feel free to share your thoughts on your favorite 1970s action films below to help them gain recognition.

1. Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry
In the 1971 thriller Dirty Harry, we follow Inspector Harry Callahan (played by Clint Eastwood) as he fearlessly walks the gritty streets of San Francisco. He’s a relentless and unconventional cop who wields the powerful .44 Magnum, known as the world’s most potent handgun. When the city falls under the grip of a rooftop sniper named Scorpio (Andy Robinson), it becomes Callahan’s mission to put an end to his reign of terror. Directed by Don Siegel, this film has gained fame for its unfiltered depiction of urban crime and its unforgettable main character. Although Dirty Harry sparked debates due to its violence and moral ambiguity, it undeniably holds a significant place in the history of cinema.

Released: 1971
Directed by: Don Siegel
Actors: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni

2. Magnum Force

Magnum Force
Rogue San Francisco cop “Dirty Harry” Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood, isn’t one to blindly follow the rules. But even he draws the line when a vigilante group takes matters into their own hands and starts killing criminals who have escaped punishment on technicalities. This is going too far for Callahan, who goes against the orders of his commanding officer, Lt. Briggs (Hal Holbrook), and decides to dig deeper into the murders. His gut feeling leads him to suspect his former partner, Charlie McCoy (Mitchell Ryan), who’s always been a tightly wound individual.

Released: 1973
Directed by: Ted Post
Actors: Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, David Soul

3. Rocky

The film Rocky is a sports drama that kicked off a beloved franchise. It’s about this guy, Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone), a small-time boxer from Philly who’s got a heart of gold and some serious punching power. Things get interesting when the heavyweight champ, Apollo Creed (played by Carl Weathers), offers Rocky an unbelievable opportunity – a chance to fight for the title. Rocky’s journey from nobody to superstar is a true testament to hard work and determination. Directed by John G. Avildsen, this movie really grabbed people’s attention and won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture in 1977.

Released: 1976
Directed by: John G. Avildsen
Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith

4. Enter the Dragon

Enter the Dragon
Bruce Lee stars as a skilled martial-arts expert with an unwavering determination to bring down a notorious narcotics dealer. This vile gang was responsible for the tragic demise of his beloved sister. In order to achieve his objective, Lee decides to participate in a thrilling kung fu competition. With the assistance of his loyal friends, he plans to fight his way to the heart of the dealer’s headquarters.

Released: 1973
Directed by: Robert Clouse
Actors: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly

5. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” is a film that takes us on an exciting adventure. The story revolves around a young farm boy named Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill. Luke finds himself caught up in a massive conflict that spans the galaxy. He receives guidance from the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi, portrayed by Alec Guinness.

Together, Luke and Obi-Wan embark on a daring mission to rescue Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher, who has been captured by the evil Darth Vader, portrayed by David Prowse. This space opera is considered a classic for a reason. It is filled with thrilling battles, unforgettable characters, and a blend of practical effects and CGI that was groundbreaking at the time.

The film was a huge success, winning six Academy Awards. It holds an important place in the larger Star Wars saga created by George Lucas. It’s a must-watch for any fan or anyone who wants to experience an iconic piece of cinema history

Released: 1977
Directed by: George Lucas
Actors: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

6. Escape from Alcatraz

Escape from Alcatraz
Frank Morris, played by Clint Eastwood, is not your average guy. He’s a seasoned criminal who has broken out of prisons before. But this time, he’s in for a lifelong stay at Alcatraz, the notorious maximum security prison known for its brutality and impossibility to escape.

As soon as Morris sets foot in Alcatraz, he realizes just how dehumanizing the place really is. The warden, played by Patrick McGoohan, is cruel and seems to take pleasure in the suffering of the inmates.

Enough is enough for Morris. He’s had it with this life at Alcatraz and he’s not going to take it anymore. Alongside two fellow convicts, played by Fred Ward and Jack Thibeau, Morris hatches a crazy plan – an escape from the island.

Together, they meticulously plan every single detail, leaving no room for error. They know that breaking out of Alcatraz is nearly impossible, but they refuse to let that stop them. They’re determined to regain their freedom, no matter the cost.

Will Morris and his partners succeed in their audacious escape? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure – they won’t go down without a fight.

Released: 1979
Directed by: Don Siegel
Actors: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Jack Thibeau

7. Death Wish

Death Wish
In Death Wish, we meet Paul Kersey, played by Bruce Willis, a regular guy who becomes a vengeful hero. The movie is set in the dangerous city of Chicago, where crime runs rampant and justice is hard to come by. After his wife, played by Elisabeth Shue, is brutally killed and his daughter, played by Camila Morrone, is left in a coma following a home invasion, Kersey, who used to be a mild-mannered surgeon, wakes up to a harsh reality. He transforms into a relentless vigilante, determined to track down criminals and make them pay. This attracts a lot of attention, both positive and negative, as people in the city yearn for safety. Director Eli Roth skillfully weaves this gripping story of revenge and justice that will leave a lasting impression.

Released: 1974
Directed by: Michael Winner
Actors: Charles Bronson, Hope Lange, Vincent Gardenia

8. The Warriors

The Warriors
A late-night subway ride home becomes a true survival mission for The Warriors, a street gang in New York City. Led by Swan, they are forced to navigate through dangerous territories when they are wrongly blamed for the murder of a highly respected gang leader. With each member, like Ajax and Fox, bringing their own unique strengths, their journey becomes even more perilous. Directed by Walter Hill, this 1979 cult classic is an action-packed thriller that skillfully blends adventure and crime. It takes you on a cinematic odyssey through the chaos of urban warfare, where every city block presents a fresh challenge.

Released: 1979
Directed by: Walter Hill
Actors: Michael Beck, James Remar, Dorsey Wright

9. The Enforcer

The Enforcer
In this action-packed film, we meet Police officer “Dirty Harry” Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood. He’s been reassigned from homicide to personnel due to his recent use of excessive force. But, things are about to get intense when a terrorist group, calling themselves the People’s Revolutionary Strike Force, starts wreaking havoc in San Francisco.

Their main goal? To line their pockets with ill-gotten gains. These criminals are organizing a series of crimes that are causing chaos and fear in the city. However, their actions reach a whole new level when they kidnap the mayor, portrayed by John Crawford, and steal dangerous weapons like rockets and rifles.

This is where Harry, our tough protagonist, comes into play. Teamed up with his new partner, Inspector Kate Moore, played by Tyne Daly, they’re determined to put an end to the terrorists’ plans. With time running out and the city in peril, Harry and Kate must use their skills and resources to stop these criminals in their tracks.

Get ready for an electrifying ride as Harry and Kate take on the challenge of protecting San Francisco and bringing justice to the People’s Revolutionary Strike Force.

Released: 1976
Directed by: James Fargo
Actors: Clint Eastwood, Tyne Daly, Harry Guardino

10. The French Connection

The French Connection
In the 1971 crime thriller, The French Connection, we follow the story of Detective Jimmy Popeye Doyle and his partner, Buddy Russo. These two New York City cops are determined to bring down a narcotics smuggling ring. The main target of their investigation is Alain Charnier, the smooth and sophisticated leader of the operation. What ensues is a thrilling game of chase and evasion that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

One of the things that sets The French Connection apart is its gritty and realistic portrayal of the crime world. The film doesn’t hold back in showing the harsh realities and dangers faced by the characters. This authenticity adds an extra layer of intensity to the already gripping storyline.

Another notable aspect of the film is its innovative cinematography. The director, William Friedkin, employed unique techniques and camera angles to amplify the tension and action. These creative choices make the film visually captivating and enhance the overall viewing experience.

Of course, no discussion of The French Connection would be complete without mentioning the legendary car chase sequence. This iconic scene has become a benchmark for action films, with its heart-pounding intensity and expertly executed stunts. It’s no wonder that this film received acclaim and recognition for its exceptional craftsmanship.

The French Connection received five Academy Awards, a testament to its quality and impact. It won Best Picture, Best Actor for Gene Hackman’s portrayal of Popeye Doyle, and Best Director for William Friedkin. These accolades highlight the film’s exceptional storytelling, performances, and direction.

Overall, The French Connection is a must-watch crime thriller that will leave you breathless. Its gripping storyline, gritty realism, innovative cinematography, and memorable car chase sequence make it a true cinematic gem.

Released: 1971
Directed by: William Friedkin
Actors: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider

11. Mad Max

Mad Max
In the action-packed movie, Mad Max, we follow the journey of Max Rockatansky, played by Mel Gibson, in a lawless and dystopian world. Max, a former highway patrol officer, reluctantly becomes a hero as he tries to navigate through a desolate wasteland where fuel and water are scarce. His biggest challenge comes from ruthless gangs of motorized vandals, led by the vicious Toecutter, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne.

Directed by George Miller, this Australian cult classic revolutionized the way car chases and stunts were portrayed on-screen, earning it six Australian Film Institute Awards. As Max fights for survival, he becomes an iconic symbol of determination and resilience in the midst of chaos and hopelessness.

Released: 1979
Directed by: George Miller
Actors: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne

Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett
With over 5 years of experience, Michael Bennett is an experienced entertainment blogger recognized for straightforward reviews. His research expertise and thoughtfully crafted blog posts make him a source for readers seeking movie and tv show recommendations.


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