The 5 Best Action Movie Franchises of All Time

Photo Credit: Orion Pictures Corporation
April 10th, 2014

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A great action movie franchise is often born from a film that is so good, fans beg for more, wanting nothing more than to see their favorite characters and cinematic elements on the screen again. Whether a trilogy like "The Matrix" or a six-film series like "Die Hard," the best franchises continue to live off their original fame with action-packed sequels that fans tirelessly soak up. The following five action movie franchises are some of the best of all time, offering unforgettable characters and fast-paced plots.


first-blood.jpgPhoto Credit: Lionsgate

The "Rambo" Film Series

"First Blood," a 1982 action film based on the novel of the same name, stars Sylvester Stallone as Rambo, a Vietnam veteran whose mishap with the police makes him the target of an all-out manhunt. However, his advanced military skills make him a dangerous target for the unsuspecting police officers. The character of Rambo and the story behind him became so popular that a film franchise was born. "First Blood" was followed by "Rambo: First Blood Part II" in 1985 and "Rambo III" in 1988. The franchise was revived in 2008 with a film simply titled "Rambo."



matrix_0.jpgPhoto Credit: Warner Bros.

"The Matrix" Trilogy

The 1999 sci-fi action flick "The Matrix" quickly captivated the minds of moviegoers everywhere with its captivating storyline and groundbreaking action sequences. Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a seemingly normal man who soon gets caught up in a battle between machines and men. A wise, mysterious man named Morpheus becomes Neo's mentor, explaining that the world in which he lives is no more than a computer program and that his true body is being used as an energy source for a world dominated by machines. Morpheus believes that Neo may be the man prophesied to save the last true human city. Although "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions" were not as highly acclaimed as the original, they continue the story of Neo and feature even more exciting action sequences.



indiana-jones.jpgPhoto Credit: Paramount Pictures

The "Indiana Jones" Franchise

This action-packed adventure series follows Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, a whip-wielding archeologist whose goal is to keep precious historical objects, such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail, out of the wrong hands. The franchise includes "Raiders of the Lost Ark" from 1981, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" from 1984" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" from 1989. The original franchise was revived in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" with Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the popular franchise soon accumulated a large cult following and even inspired a Disneyland ride.



terminator_1.jpgPhoto Credit: Orion Pictures Corp.

"The Terminator" and Its Sequels

"The Terminator" is a 1984 sci-fi action film that stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as an indestructible cyborg who is sent back in time from the year 2029 to kill a waitress whose son would become a leader in the war against machines. The film spawned the memorable catchphrase "I'll Be Back" as well as a number of sequels starring Schwarzenegger. "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" hit theaters in 1991, and a prequel called "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" followed in 2003. "Terminator Salvation" was released in 2009, and "Terminator: Genesis" is set to be released in 2015.



die-hard.jpgPhoto Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

"Die Hard" and Its Sequels

Starring action legend Bruce Willis as police detective John McClane, the "Die Hard" movies are a staple of the action movie genre. In the first film, the NYPD officer must save his wife Holly when she is taken hostage by terrorists. Although the odds are against him, McClane must use a combination of stealth, skill and courage to take down 12 men. The "Die Hard" franchise is characterized by fast-paced plots, suspense, clever twists and non-stop action. To date, the franchise has released a total of five films, including "Die Hard" in 1988, "Die Hard 2" in 1990, "Die Hard With a Vengeance" in 1995, "Live Free or Die Hard" in 2007 and "A Good Day to Die Hard" in 2013. Upon the release of the fifth film, there was already talk of a sixth film, which Bruce Willis has confirmed.

From gritty war veterans to heroic archaeologists, the memorable characters of these five movie franchises have kept them fun and interesting even after multiple films. Although some fans argue that the filmmakers should stop while they are ahead, others appreciate the chance to see their favorite action film universes brought to life again and again. Although some of these film series have ended for good, others promise even more action in the years to come.