Ranking the best action comedy movies by their ultimate enjoyability!
Humor and action, can there be a better combination for having a good time at the movies? It’s a great idea but not that easy to achieve a perfect balance between both genres. The films in this list combine high-octane action with endless laughs, so let’s check out the top 20 action comedies of all time!
20) Guns Akimbo (2019)
Watching deadly duels between insane criminals on your phone seems like a natural evolution of our social media habits, and it’s also the premise of Guns Akimbo. Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) becomes an involuntary contestant in the tournament when he is assailed in his apartment and gets two guns bolted to his hands. He is put up against Nix (Samara Weaving), a coke-sniffing, trigger-happy maniac.
This classic Running Man scenario is updated with some scathing commentary on the state of people’s minds in the age of social media where the worst things are just a click away. The many shootouts are filmed with furious editing, and we get lots of laughs out of people dying in incredibly bloody ways. It all adds up to an insane adrenaline rush of brutal action, corny jokes, and traces of food for thought.
19) The A-Team (2019)
Action specialist Joe Carnahan took up the challenge to recast the adventures of the eccentric quartet of rogue mercenaries. The A-Team, a covert US Army Rangers unit is set up during a mission and thrown into a wild chase to prove their innocence and bring the bad guys to justice. Carnahan and his writers showed great respect for the original show and embraced its ridiculousness without ridiculing it.
Liam Neeson as Hannibal and his mates do a fantastic job in bringing their characters to life with dialogues full of funny banter and awesome one-liners. Carnahan cranks the level of mayhem up quite a bit from the TV series with bigger explosions, heavier shootouts, and more cars being demolished. The A-Team is an easygoing and fun actioner that ranks high on the list of TV shows turned into films.
18) Men in Black (1997)
The alien hype of the 90s gave us classics such as The X-Files, Independence Day and of course Men in Black! Aliens live peacefully and unknown amongst us, and it is up to agents K (Tommy Lee Jones) and J (Will Smith) from the Men in Black that is stays that way. When an evil alien lands on planet earth with a sinister plan for the fate of the galaxy, agent K and J are called in to save the day.
Smith and Jones are cool as liquid nitrogen, and Smith’s sassy attitude perfectly complements Jones’ dry humor. The terrific alien designs come in all sizes and shapes, and the many body morphs are well played for maximum amusement. The action sequences are chock-full with crazy stuff, when tiny guns blast huge holes into everything. Men in Black succeeds in making every moment of its runtime exciting and fresh.
17) Rush Hour (1998)
Rush Hour was the big breakthrough for Jackie Chan on US soil. Hongkong police detective Lee (Chan) is sent to Los Angeles to find the Chinese consul’s kidnapped daughter. The FBI pairs him up with talkative LAPD detective Carter (Chris Tucker), and after some initial friction, they team up to crack the case.
It’s a classic buddy actioner formula, but it’s executed perfectly. Chris Tucker’s timbre and style of humor may take some time to get used to, but his banter with Chan made me burst out in laughter more than once. Chan is charming as always, and even though he dials the intensity of his fights back a bit compared to his Hongkong classics, he delivers plenty of cool stunts. Rush Hour has a perfect balance between laughs and thrills, and is non-stop fun!
16) The Nice Guys (2016)
In The Nice Guys, writer genius and director Shane Black takes us on an atmospheric and action-packed journey through 1970s Los Angeles. Private investigator March (Ryan Gosling) takes on a job to look into the suicide of an adult movie starlet. His case converges with that of his peer Healey (Russell Crowe). The two team up and enter a maze of confusion and violence.
Crowe and Gosling deliver fantastic portrayals of their slightly broken characters and have fantastic on-screen chemistry bouncing their coolness off each other. Black delivers his trademark style in its most refined form: eccentric characters, a witty script with cool one-liners and frequent outbursts of bloody violence. The action sequences are well embedded into the plot not overblown, and are a joy to watch. The Nice Guys is a fantastic piece of entertainment, and Black’s best work as director to this date.
15) Pineapple Express (2008)
Pineapple Express is testimony to the claim that smoking weed is bad for your health, but not in the way you think! Dale (Seth Rogen) witnesses a murder committed by a drug lord and flees in panic. He drops his joint, which is traced back to Dale’s dealer Saul (James Franco), and a turbulent chase begins. The film takes a stoner comedy template and adds and overdose of ultraviolent slapstick action.
Seth Rogen gives his familiar take as goofy, well-meaning normie. But James Franco as zoned-out and unshakeable weed dealer is the real treasure of this film. The plot is total chaos, and the action scenes are even more insane with a blind car chase, and a finale with a massive shootout that features plenty of tasteless deaths. Pineapple Express is a relentless barrage of cheerful absurdity!
14) Turbo Kid (2015)
Turbo Kid plunders the treasure troves of B-grade post-apocalyptic cinema and became one of the best indie actioners of all time. When scavenging the ruins of civilization on his BMX bike, the Kid (Munro Chambers) finds the power glove of the mythical soldier Turbo Rider. With his new weapon he takes it up against the ruler of the wasteland Zeus (Michael Ironside) and his army of sadistic killers.
It’s Mad Max on bicycles! The whole film is a charming homage to the post-apocalyptic classics we all love and throws in a load of references to 1980s pop culture, plus a killer Synthwave soundtrack.
The action features gory slapstick sequences, with plenty of heads being chopped off and fountains of blood. Turbo Kid also teaches us the ultimate rule for close combat: Eyes! Throat! Genitals!
13) Bad Boys 2 (2003)
In his last true masterpiece, director Michael Bay launched a fireworks of tasteless humor and megalomaniacal action. Miami police detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are investigating a smuggling operation of Ecstasy. When taking it up against multiple gangs, they leave a trail of mayhem through Miami.
Martin Lawrence and Will Smith are classic action heroes that shoot first and ask questions later. They are also incredibly funny, spouting an endless stream of hilariously offensive jokes. The action sequences go completely over the top leaving whole blocks of Miami in ruins. Bay chains one overlong set piece into another, with a couple of spectacular car action sequences standing out. Bad Boys 2 is as an epic and totally abrasive monument of US action cinema.
12) Dead Heat (1988)
“Remember the good old days when guns killed people?” Re-Animator meets Lethal Weapon in this unique blend of a buddy cop action comedy and a zombie flick. Detectives Roger Mortis (Treat Williams) and Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) investigate a medical facility and are attacked by disfigured humans. Mortis is killed, but a strange machine returns him from the dead. As an undead cop he has an edge in finding the people responsible for his unlife.
In Dead Heat, people get whole magazines emptied into their bodies but are not dying, it really takes a lot of effort to kill anyone in this film. The practical special effects by mastermind Steve Johnson are top notch with melting bodies, burned faces, and a whole butchers’ shop of reanimated animals. The humor is cheesy, the action goes completely over the top, Dead Heat is a great time for every action fan!
11) Tropic Thunder (2008)
Ben Stiller’s parody of ultraheroic Nam movies and the movie business became an unparalleled spectacle. The production of the Vietnam war film Tropic Thunder is on its way to disaster. The director opts for a radical approach and drops his four stars in the jungle for a guerilla-style shooting. The area is controlled by a local warlord and his gang, and the actors soon realize that the action is real and deadly this time.
Tropic Thunder delivers comedic perfection from the first to the last minute, It may occasionally be a satire on the movie studio system, but there’s just so much fun to be had here. An incredible cast (among them Robert Downey Jr. and Frank Black) are in the form of their life. The action is well-shot and hilarious with pyrotechnic excesses and gory slapstick sequences. Tropic Thunder takes no prisoners!
10) Black Dynamite (2009)
An ingenious homage to 1970s Blaxploitation cinema, Black Dynamite blows Tarantino’s Jackie Brown out of the water big time! Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White), war hero and ex-secret agent, is the protector of his neighborhood. When a new drug ravages the community, he takes out the dealers, but soon discovers a larger conspiracy against the African American population.
Once more, White shows what a talented actor he is, and his Kung Fu is big as always. The sets, the costumes, the music, it’s all arranged perfectly to re-create the often ultra-low budget vibe of exploitation flicks, including continuity errors, and needless fast zooms. Nothing is played for cheap laughs, though, Black Dynamite radiates much respect for and love of the genre.
9) 48 Hrs. (1982)
The film that launched Eddie Murphy’s movie career created an ingenious recipe for buddy action flicks that was copied countless times. San Francisco police detective Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) gets convict Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) out of jail for 48 hours to help him find escaped killer Albert Ganz. Murphy’s charisma and quips find the perfect counterpart in Nolte’s constant aggravation.
The film used the now classic template of two fundamentally opposite characters that are forced to work together, with the resulting tension relieved through coarse humor or outbursts of violence. Director Walter Hill created high-caliber action sequences with the classic suite of fights, shootouts, and car chases, and every single one of them hits like a train. 48 Hrs. is an ultimate classic of action cinema, and every other buddy cop actioner owes its existence to it.
8) Machete (2010)
Robert Rodriguez built a monument to Danny Trejo’s bad-assery that secured him everlasting cult status among action movie fans. Mexican Federal agent Machete is betrayed during an operation and left for dead. Some years later, he is hired to kill a Texas State Senator. Things go terribly wrong, and Machete needs to free himself from the web that his enemies are spinning around him.
Rodriguez topped his previous classics with even more absurd humor, ultraviolet slapstick action sequences, and manic characters. Machete is a charming bad-ass that calmly eats a burrito while crushing an opponent in a fistfight, and is also pretty good at escaping through windows using his opponents intestines as a rope. He cuts everyone to pieces who gets in his way and makes love to every woman he comes across. Machete is a riot of a movie: cool, sexy and funny!
7) Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Stephen Chow held the banner high for Hong Kong action cinema in the 2000s with Kung Fu Hustle. The Axe gang terrorizes the people of Shanghai, and small-time gangster Sing (Chow) wants to be a part of it. He is completely untalented, but after taking a massive beating, Sing is transformed into a Kung Fu luminary for the forces of good.
Slapstick humor that always hits its mark is combined with action sequences that mix classic Wuxia with Looney Toon physics. And on the top of all the Kung fu madness, Chow creates an immersive setting and an engaging story with charming characters. Almost every line will make you smile or laugh, and the fights are jaw-dropping in their intensity and ridiculousness. Kung Fu Hustle is a splendid action comedy and a piece of art.
6) The Other Guys (2010)
Director and writer Adam McKay brought together the unlikely couple of Will Farrell and Mark Wahlberg, and they turned out to be a dream team! After New York’s two finest cops die in action, sidelined detectives Gamble (Farrell) and Hoitz (Wahlberg) believe they are called for bigger things. Their investigation of a scaffolding permit violation turns into a turbulent chase for Wall Street’s white-collar criminals.
Gamble and Hoitz tumble from one absurd situation into another and pile up joke after joke with the social commentary being almost buried under all the laughs. Farrell and Wahlberg deliver a fantastic parody of your typical action movie cop duo. The film moves at breakneck speed, which is also due to the many awesome action set pieces that are seamlessly integrated into the story. The Other Guys goes completely over the top and is an absolute blast to watch!
5) Army of Darkness (1992)
With the third part of his Evil Dead trilogy, director Sam Raimi went all in and created an ultimate masterpiece, a fantasy horror slapstick actioner for the ages. After being sucked into a maelstrom by the evil book Necronomicon, Ash (Bruce Campbell) finds him in a medieval world haunted by Deadites. He tries to retrieve the book so that he can return to his time and rid the world of its curse, but he messes up the ritual and unearths an army of evil.
Bruce Campbell shines again as arrogant and clumsy Ash, a human punching bag who always fights back, though, and who takes it up against bloodthirsty demons, ravenous books and a skeleton army. Raimi lets his imagination run wild and delivers non-stop action and laughs, it’s a terrific homage to classic swashbuckling and monster movies, combined with Evil Dead-style jump scares. Hail to the King, Baby!
4) True Lies (1994)
Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron joined up for another successful collaboration with True Lies, an ingenious blend of relentless action and a spy comedy. Harry (Schwarzenegger) is a secret government agent but for his family he poses as a sales manager. His wife is bored with her life and gets involved with a fake spy. When Henry finds out, he inadvertently takes her on a dangerous mission to catch a group of terrorists who got their hands on nuclear weapons.
Cameron creates a respectful parody of the genre whereas Schwarzenegger delivers a great parody of his own action hero persona. The film features lots of unique and cool set pieces that become more megalomaniacal with every minute. The action is all about chases from horses to fighter jets, and we witness many creative kills. True Lies is as perfect as an action comedy gets, and an ultimate 90s blockbuster classic!
3) Hot Fuzz (2007)
After reviving the zombie genre with Shawn of the Dead, director Edgar Wright and his two partners in crime Simon Pegg and Nick Frost took on cop thrillers. High-performing London police detective Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is transferred to the small town of Sandford, and shocked by the laid-back work attitude of the local police. He becomes friends with fellow officer Danny (Frost), and when a series of mysterious murders shakes up the community, Angel can put his investigative and combat skills to good use.
Wright impresses with a clever script that has many surprises. Along the way he pays homage to lots of films, with special attention given to Bad Boys 2 and Point Break. The movie starts as a rural detective thriller – with comically gruesome killings that pay homage to classic slasher movies – and escalates into an outrageous action inferno. Hot Fuzz is a charming, intelligent, and roaringly funny flick!
2) Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Eddie Murphy’s big breakthrough has become a timeless classic of action cinema. Detroit police detective Axel Foley (Murphy) travels to Los Angeles to solve the murder of his friend. His numerous violations of police protocol get him into trouble with the Beverly Hills police department, but after booking progress with the investigation, he teams up with the local cops to bring the killers to justice and dismantle a large crime operation.
Thanks to a lean plot and sharp direction, each scene is set up to maximize Murphy’s mesmerizing screen presence. His Axel is witty, charming and a genuinely kind human being. The jokes land perfectly, the action sequences are loads of fun, and the iconic soundtrack kicks ass. Beverly Hills Cop is pure fun from first to last minute, it’s mandatory watching for every action fan!
1) Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
John Carpenter’s and Kurt Russell worked their 1980s movie magic to create an incredible action adventure. The film takes us on the quest of truck driver Jack Burton (Russell) and his friends to defeat ancient evil sorcerer Lo Pan. San Francisco’s Chinatown becomes the gateway to a mystical world, as we follow our heroes sneaking and fighting through alleyways, sewers, and hidden tunnels.
Russell is great as tough talker and clumsy wannabe action hero, who never gets anything done right but, in the end, still gets the girl. The film is sparkling with imagination and creativity, and the action rocks with magic attacks, kung fu and fistfights. Fantastic special effects, an enchanting atmosphere and, a banging soundtrack composed by Carpenter himself, all contribute to make Big Trouble in Little China one of the best action-adventures to ever see the light of day!