Best Action Movie Directors, Ranked – MovieWeb

From James Cameron to Akira Kurosawa, here are the best action movie directors, ranked.
Action movies have not historically been viewed with the same respect as other genres, like drama and period movies, and have often been dismissed as low brow. However, there have been great action films that deserve recognition for their ability to incorporate deep and complex stories amidst all the excitement and fun that come with the genre. The fact that action movies have been around for, according to Priceonomics, about 80 years speaks to the popularity and longevity of the action genre. Time Out published a list of 101 of the best action movies ever made, again speaking to how well-loved the genre is.
In order to make an action film great and not feel overproduced, a lot of decisions need to be made from the director. The craft that goes into filmmaking involves many important decisions and directorial talent that not many can master. In fact, some of the greatest directors in the history of cinema were or are action movie directors. From James Cameron to Akira Kurosawa, here are the best of them.
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James Cameron is one of the most well-known and successful directors in history, having directed huge blockbusters like Titanic and Avatar; however, Cameron has definitely made a name for himself as a master of the action genre. Cameron directed epic action films like Aliens, Terminator 2 and True Lies, which all became huge successes and developed strong cult following. Cameron’s style is unmistakable, and he is particularly famous for his use of special effects that were unlike anything else when his films were first released. Even now, with the release of first footage of Avatar 2, Cameron displays an eye that always one step ahead.
Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski rank among the most iconic film directors of all time and this was cemented with their work in The Matrix franchise, which has become a massive success as well as an instantly recognizable piece of pop culture. Their impressive visual style and fast-paced thrillers have become features of their work and allow their films to have a unique impact that extends beyond the films themselves. The themes of The Matrix include a reality that is constantly questioned, as well as beautiful visuals that, during time, had never been seen before. In addition to The Matrix, they have directed Bound, which is an erotic crime thriller focusing on two women who are having an affair while scheming to steal from the mob.
Tony Scott made a name for himself when he directed True Romance, which was a screenplay he obtained from Quentin Tarantino after he was initially refused Reservoir Dogs. The film isn’t a classic action film that could be compared to others on this list, however, it features phenomenally-crafted shootouts and fight scenes that justify its place on this list. Scott would dedicate most of his career to the action genre and contribute to some of the best action films in history: Top Gun, Unstoppable, and Enemy of the State.
Die Hard is undoubtedly one of the most popular and impactful action movies of all time and John McTiernan is responsible for its creation. The story line has been replicated many times, particularly its single-location hostile takeover story. McTiernan continued his legacy of action film by directing Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator as well as The Hunt for Red October. His film style is truly unique amongst his peers.
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George Miller is a versatile director who is responsible for some of the best children’s films in the genre, including Happy Feet and Babe: Pig in the City. More than that, he’s best known for his sleeper hit that revolutionized cinema, Mad Max. The franchise became a massive success and spawned several sequels, the most successful of which was Mad Max: Fury Road, which truly cemented his place as a modern-day master of the action film genre.
Akira Kurosawa is a hugely influential filmmaker and has directed some of the most acclaimed films to ever exist, including Ran, Yojimbo, Rashomon, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, becoming a master of the art form. Seven Samurai set the bar for countless action films that would come after it, and it’s considered one of the greatest films ever.
John Woo is another legend of the action genre who needs no introduction. Woo is the original action film expert, who has been credited with influencing the work of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. He has produced a body of work that stands the test of time, including Hard Boiled, The Killer and A Better Tomorrow. His work is famous for its slow motion dramatic fight scenes.
Andrew McGrotty is a contributing writer for Evergreen. They are an experienced and educated writer and can produce excellent written content, particularly relating to the fields of film and tv, and pop culture.


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