The best action adventure flicks for kiddos aged 8 or below!
All of us action movie fans were kids once, and probably many of us have children. So we decided it was about time to have a look at kid-friendly action movies (PG rated only). In this article, we’ll present you the best movies for the youngest action fans aged 6-8, and we’ll put together another article for older children ages 9-11 soon.
While there are many family-friendly action-packed movies like Star Wars and Back to the Future, we’ll only discuss films that manage to convey the style of the great action classics. Creating a kick-ass action flick for small children requires some balance between spectacle and not being scary and too intense, and all movies our list manage to achieve this feat. Even if some entries will make your eyes roll as an adult, they should all be entertaining enough for parents so that you can watch them together with your kids.
An additional qualifier for the movies on this list is that almost all of them have been approved as awesome by my seven-year old daughter. So let’s get started and let us know what your favorite kids action movies are!
10) 3 Ninjas (1992)
Revenge of the Ninja meets Home Alone in this martial arts comedy about three brothers who are trained by their grandfather to become ninjas. Weapons dealer Hugo sees the kids as perfect targets for abduction to force their father, FBI agent Sam, to stop his investigation into Hugo’s criminal activities. 3 Ninjas is not a spectacular movie, but a pretty good mix between action, comedy and some minor drama elements. The fight scenes are fun to watch, they’re well-choreographed, and the kids show some pretty good moves. The humor, on the other hand, is so flat I believe only kids will enjoy it, unless this was your favorite movie when you were a child. The antagonist who is smuggling missiles is a bit odd for a children’s movie, but I guess it’s never too early to introduce them to the harsh reality of a choleric villain (“They’re just kids! I want them found, or I’ll tear out your liver!”) with a ponytail and a white suit, who also has an army of ninjas at his disposal. Despite its silliness, 3 Ninjas is a fun and action-packed film that I believe the youngest martial arts fans will enjoy a lot.
9) The Karate Kid (2010)
The remake of the 1984 classic did not receive a very warm welcome by action movie fans, but this was mostly due to false expectations. While no attempt would have been able to surpass the genius of the first movie, the new Karate Kid is aimed at a younger audience. 12-year old Dre moves with his mother to China. He meets Caretaker Mr. Han (played by Jackie Chan) who teaches him Kung Fu and prepares him for his confrontation with rowdily martial arts student Chang at an upcoming tournament. All in all, the new Karate Kid is a well-done downgrade of the original for children. This includes the martial arts action which looks good but is less intense than that of its predecessor. In line with that, Jayden Smith gives a decent, if slightly reserved performance as main protagonist compared to Daniel’s cocky and rebellious behavior in the original. The Karate Kid is not a masterpiece, but perfectly fine entertainment for children.
8) Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)
The Power Rangers TV series became a successful franchise in the early 1990s with its goofy characters and recycled action sequences from Japanese superhero TV series. The first feature movie did not contain any stock footage, had a reasonable budget to made it look a lot better than the TV series, and is a lot more fun to watch than the lackluster 2010 re-boot. Just like in the TV show, the Power Rangers are battling yet another incarnation of evil, this time the purple sorcerer Ivan Ooze, his ooze monsters, and cans of ooze that turn all adults of the city of Angel Grove’s into apathetic slaves. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is all about non-stop action, as our crew of heroes is busy beating up bad guys all the time. It’s all staged quite harmlessly and comical, though, with even the colorfully costumed bad guys just having a good time while being evil. The super-flimsy CGI effects during the showdown round off this action-packed pleasure for the young and guilty pleasure for the old.
7) Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)
The icon of the glorious SEGA days of past finally got its moment in the movie spotlight. Sonic is forced to flee from some monsters on his home planet through an interdimensional portal, and lands on Earth where he becomes friends with local town sheriff Tom. His arrival is noticed by the evil genius Doctor Robotnik, who is interested in using Sonic’s superpowers to boost his army of robots. A video game adaptation that is treated with care by Hollywood is a rare thing, and Sonic The Hedgehog is a full success. There’s tons of action as Sonic and his new friends are trying to escape from Robotnik and his minions. We get a ridiculously crazy car chase, one of the funniest bar fights I’ve seen in a while, and a nice demolition sequence of Sheriff Tom’s living room. The CGI-created Sonic looks pretty good, and he really is the good-hearted rascal you remember from the video game. Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Dr. Robotnik is another boon for the movie. He gets to crack the best jokes, and just owns every scene he’s in. And no Top 10 list would be complete without a movie that contains a good fart joke, and we just found our winner!
6) Inspector Gadget (1999)
Inspector Gadget is based on the 1980 animated TV series of the same name and may be the most action-packed movie in this list. Security guard John gets severely injured in a car crash and is turned into a police cyborg with an endless repertoire of powerful gimmicks. His creator Brenda goes on to work for the evil Dr. Claw who wants to create a cyborg army for himself. John’s approach to stop Dr. Claw is not very subtle, which results in fights, explosions, car chases, more fights, and more explosions. Despite all the mayhem, the movie manages to always stay light-hearted and harmless fun. Most jokes are simple, old-school slapstick, and usually involve some malfunction of Gadget’s suit. Matthew Broderick is great as well-meaning and clueless Inspector Gadget, while Rupert Everett found his calling as cultivated psychopath with a terrifying robot hand. Pleasantly short with a little more than 70 minutes, Inspector Gadget is a pretty crazy and charming film that should make your kids jump up and down on the couch with excitement. Go go Gadget!
5) The Pacifier (2005)
Vin Diesel stepped in Arnold Schwarzenegger footsteps, not as Kindergarten Cop, but as a Nanny. Schwarzenegger’s take on putting an action hero amidst a bunch of pre-school kids was probably more charming, but The Pacifier is a lot more suited for a younger audience. Diesel’s character Shane is involved in a failed mission to rescue scientist Dr. Plummer, who gets killed instead. After that, Shane is tasked to protect the Plummer family’s children, and to find information about Plummer’s secret research project before the enemy faction gets to it. The Pacifier is your chance to see Vin Diesel change diapers and beat up North Korean ninjas in one and the same movie. And much of the humor is indeed derived from Diesel’s image as a tough action hero who enters virgin territory as he needs to navigate through the minefield of raising children. It’s also one of the few movies where he expands on his repertoire of facial expressions, and adds “desperate” and “confused” to “cool” and “angry”, as he tries to bring order into the chaotic household with five kids and a duck while fending off sinister forces. The Pacifier puts its emphasis on humor rather than all-out action, but still features a couple of pretty good fight scenes, a light car chase, and a showdown worthy of a James Bond movie. All in all, a nice package that makes for perfect family entertainment.
4) Surf Ninjas (1993)
Surf Ninjas has a vibe that could be completely irritating for adults because of its daft humor, and completely perfect for kids because of the same daft humor. What will both age groups will enjoy is the action, of course, and Surf Ninjas fully delivers on that front. The film tells the story of brothers Johnny and Adam, and their friend Iggy, who one day are suddenly attacked by Ninjas in their home. They’re saved by the martial arts master Zatch who reveals to them that Johnny is the righteous heir to the throne of the kingdom of Patusan. An adventurous journey begins to free the country from the grip of evil cyborg Ninjutsu master Chi. Surf Ninjas is a colorful and chaotic affair, nothing makes sense, and the movie is mostly alternating between Rob Schneider’s character Iggy cracking one terrible joke after another, and Johnny beating up enemy ninjas. The main reason why Surf Ninjas is still a great movie are the creative and awesome choreographed action scenes. There’s a couple of small skirmishes that among other things involve a skateboard creatively used as a weapon, pulling enemies noses with chopsticks, and an awesome massive martial arts battle during the surf ninjas’ attack on Chi’s stronghold. Surf Ninjas is a slightly demented feel-good romp from beginning to end.
3) Spy Kids (2001)
With Spy Kids, Robert Rodriguez created a movie like maybe no other that molded the spectacle and excitement of classic action movies into a kid-friendly template. And it seems he thought well about how to make a crazy and fun flick for kids that avoids dumb jokes and hysterical characters. Spy Kids follows the adventures of siblings Carmen and Juni, whose parents are master spies. When they don’t return from an assignment, their children set out to rescue them. Their quest puts them on the radar of kid TV show host Fegan Floop, who has big plans for world domination, with an army of Ninja Thumb robots and “Fooglie” mutants at his disposal. Just as with almost all of Rodriguez’ movies, Spy Kids is a vibrant and creative affair, with spectacular set design and cinematography especially for a children’s movie. The humor is great, all the actors seem to be enjoying themselves, and the action is as good as it can get for a PG rated movie. There’s a seemingly endless supply of chases and fights with submarines, jetpacks and planes, and tons of other gadgets and contraptions to spice things up. With Spy Kids, Robert Rodriguez gave us the best spy movie ever made for children.
2) Around The World in 80 Days (2004)
Get ready for one of the most exciting adventure films for the whole family! An exciting journey with charming humor, great characters, and some of the funniest martial arts scenes you’ll see in your life. The movie is based on the classic Jules Verne novel about inventor Phileas Fog who accepts a bet with the British Academy of Science to traverse the world in 80 days using modern 19th century technology. On their way, Fog and his companions are not only racing against the clock, but also face a clan of martial arts warriors and corrupt British police officers. The film captures the adventurous and open-minded vibe of the book perfectly, and updates it with a good dose of humor and a large dose of Jackie Chan. The whole cast gives a joyful performance, but undoubtedly Jackie Chan as Fog’s aide frequently steals the show from everyone with his comedic talent and martial arts sequences that are a riot to watch. There are many cameos by well-known actors, but especially for action fans Arnold Schwarzenegger appearance as eccentric Turkish prince needs to be mentioned, and his look in the movie can never be unseen. Around the World in 80 Days is a masterpiece of kid-friendly action, and has every right to become a classic, so spread the word!
1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
COWABUNGA! The first movie based on the massively popular comic and animated series is still one of the best action films for kids ever made. The adventures of Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello in their fight against evil ninja master Shredder and his Foot Clan are a wild ride full of action, humor and heart. Living in a spacious underground apartment, skating through sewer channels, eating pizza every day, and beating up bad guys at night, who wouldn’t want to live like this? The Turtles are a charming bunch of kids with superpowers and an attitude that quarrel all the time, but ultimately care for each other. The movie has aged remarkably well, the turtles costumes still look pretty awesome today, and the fights between our green, three-fingered heroes and the Foot Clan ninjas are quite spectacular with a lot of physical jokes. Add to that plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor that even adults can appreciate, and we get ourselves our No. 1 movie for the youngest action fans! The first film spawned several sequels and reboots, with the direct follow-up The Secret of the Ooze almost being as good as the first one.