Top Ten Action Adventure Classics of All Time

Top Ten Action Adventure Classics of All Time

Dr. Von Zuko's highly subjective and rather opinionated reviews. With a critical eye on pure entertainment value. Here are the Top10 Action Adventure Classics of All Time.

#1 Raiders of the Lost Ark (Collection) (1981 - 2008)

Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark

The Film: One of the most successful Action Adventure movie series of all time, with box office receipts of nearly $2 Billion worldwide! The Indiana Jones adventures are built around the old concept of the Saturday matinee movie serial and as movie fans have affirmed, the Indian Jones story, plots, adventures, and action continue to entertain and fascinate audiences extremely well.

Soundtrack and Cinematography: Two words are all that it takes to describe the camera artistry and music here . . . brilliant and unforgettable. The India Jones signature song is undoubtedly one of the most recognized songs in the world.


"Raiders of the Lost Ark" Indiana Jones a Professor of Archaeology and adventurer searches for the Ark of the Covenant. Set in 1936 Dr.Jones (Harrison Ford) must keep its awesome and mystical powers from the Nazi’s.

"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" Set in 1935, Indy must find stolen Savalinga stones which have mystical powers. Through numerous harrowing and life threatening situations Indy fights Chinese gangsters, a sinister and demonic cult, frees enslaved children and restores an entire village to normal life.

"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" Set in 1938, Indiana must find the Holy Grail and rescue his father Dr Jones Sr. (Sean Connery) from the Nazi’s. After many tense and exciting encounters with the Nazi’s, a cave filled with booby traps, and the Holy Grail guarded by an enchanted centuries old knight from the Crusades, Indy saves the day (barely) and the good guys ride off into the sunset.

"Indiana Jones the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" takes us to 1957 to an Area 51 warehouse and the Russians, want Jones to retrieve a case containing an alien body unearthed 10 years before in Roswell. After escaping the Russians Indy stumbles into the middle of a nuclear bomb test, which he survives by hiding in a lead lined refrigerator. In the course of the movie Indy discovers he has a son (with Marion), rescues Dr Oxley, finds a crystal skull (in the shape of an alien head) and is pursued relentlessly by the Russians.

Ultimately they discover a hidden temple with strange skeletons with crystal skulls, except for one. The crystal skull they found and fought over has power and when it is replaced onto its body it transforms into an inter-dimensional being and a giant flying saucer rises from beneath the temple rubble and vanishes into another dimension sucking up the sinister bad guys with it. The film ends with Indy and Marion finally marrying. The ending also leaves us with a possible opening for a future Indiana Jones movie

Action Adventure Classics

The Action Adventure Classics Ranking:

Number 1 Action Adventure Classic
Number 2 Action Adventure Classic
Number 3 Action Adventure Classic
Number 4 Action Adventure Classic
Number 5 Action Adventure Classic

#2 National Treasure (1994)

National Treasure

The film: National Treasure . . . for pure unbridled family entertainment value surely ranks among the best Action Adventure movies ever.

Soundtrack and Cinematography: Outstanding is the first phrase to come to mind!

Synopsis: The story line of National Treasure centers on Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage), a highly educated historian, cryptologist and engineer. Benjamin (Ben) is from a long line of treasure hunters who have pursued the legend of a vast treasure, hidden during the Revolutionary War by the Founding Fathers of the United States. To confound the British the location of the treasure was obscured through cryptic clues and puzzles that were scattered far and wide. Ben’s family had been collecting and following the clues, generation after generation since 1832. When Ben and his partner, Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and financier Ian Howe (Sean Bean), find a solid clue in an arctic ship wreck that leads to the treasure, greed takes over and Ian Howe’s villainous intent is revealed. In a stand-off, Ian nearly does away with Ben and Riley . . . but they survive.

The clue leads to an alleged secret map, invisibly inscribed on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Ian and his henchmen conspire to steal the historical document while Ben and Riley must find a way to protect it. When Washington officials, Homeland Security, and Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) at the National Archives scoff at their warning that the Declaration of Independence will be stolen, they do the only thing they can do to protect the document . . . they steal it.

Ian and his men attempt to steal it too, but Ben temporarily fools them with a reproduction. Dr. Abigail Chase tries to stop Ben but is kidnapped by Ian. Ben and Riley engage in a chase to rescue her, and have the original Declaration of Independence. (Enter the FBI) Ben realizes the FBI is watching his home. The only option is to go to his father's (Jon Voight) house, where Dr. Chase and Ben do find secret markings on the back of the Declaration document.

With the FBI in chase and Ben, Abigail, and Riley attempting to stay one step ahead of Ian and his men, a wild chase ensues, with new clues leading to additional clues. Ian ultimately takes the Declaration from Riley and Abigail, and the FBI arrests Ben. Ian of course needs Ben because Ben is the guy who figures out what the clues mean. So Ian coerces (and orchestrates) Ben’s escape from the FBI. Also by kidnapping his father, Ian forces Ben to interpret the clue on the back of the declaration, which leads them down a deep and dangerously crumbling shaft to a secret chamber under Trinity Church in New York City. The chamber is empty and appears to be another dead end, presenting yet another clue . . . so Ben tells Ian it points to the Old North Church in Boston. Ian leaves Ben, Riley, Abigail, and Ben’s dad stranded to die in the ancient and empty treasure chamber.

Now stranded, they must find a way out of the deep chamber. They find a secret passage into another chamber, but it too is empty and appears to have no exits. In despair, they assume that the treasure had been moved long ago. Searching frantically for a way out, Ben realizes he still has a piece of the puzzle (a clue) from the Arctic ship wreck. Ben examines the walls of the room and finds a strangely shaped notch in the wall. This notch is a lock and the clue he carries fits perfectly and opens a door into another dark chamber. This chamber turns out to be the true treasure room, containing unimaginable treasures and artifacts from throughout the history of man. And . . . they find a secret passage back to the surface.

In the end, Ian is arrested by the FBI, Ben and Riley receives a finder’s fee for finding the treasure and returning it to the people. They are now quite wealthy. Ben and Abigail are romantically entwined and live in a wonderful historic mansion. A great set-up for the sequel.

#3 Lara Croft The Cradle of Life (2003 )

Lara Croft The Cradle of Life

The Film: It literally has something for every movie buff. Action, Adventure, Suspense, Comedy, and Romance.

Soundtrack and Cinematography: A brilliant, stimulating, and evocative soundtrack.

Synopsis: Wealthy adventurer/archaeologist Lara Croft is tasked by British Military Intelligence (MI6) to find, an object from ancient legend referred to as Pandora's Box. This fabled object is said to have the power to unleash one of the deadliest plagues ever experienced by mankind. Lara must find Pandora’s Box before any villains of evil intent do. The story's antagonist is Jonathan Reiss (Ciarán Hinds), is your typical Nobel Prize-winning scientist billionaire madman and as with all megalomaniacs, he wants to gain ultimate power over man and the related untold wealth power brings. To achieve his delusional goals, Reiss recognizes that he must have Pandora’s Box and the horrific power it possesses. Reiss hires a notorious Chinese gang to acquire the deadly object by any means necessary.

The key to finding the deadly box, is a magical luminous orb. The luminous orb that serves as a map to Pandora’s Box, which is hidden in a mysterious temple called the Cradle of Life. Lara finds the secret orb off the coast of Santorini, while exploring and ancient submerged temple. As Lara finds the orb an earthquake occurs, and it is then stolen Chinese gangsters, who plan to sell the orb to Reiss. Now Lara must track down the gangsters so she recruits an old lover, and former Royal Marine turned mercenary Terry Sheridan.

The adventure, fraught with intense action and tight situations, takes Lara and Terry mainland China where they deal with heavily armed gangsters, and eventually into Africa. After interpreting the glowing orb’s map the location of the Cradle of Life is revealed to be somewhere near Kilimanjaro in Africa. Lara sends this info back to her assistant Bryce back at Croft Manor. Intercepting the message transmission, Reiss and his henchmen attack the mansion and capture Bryce and Hillary.

Lara, with the help of information obtained a local tribe, mounts an expedition to find the Cradle of Life. Conflicts with Croft, tribesmen and Reiss' soldiers ends with Lara being captured. Lara is coerced into leading Reiss to the Cradle of Life. Along the way they face supernatural and deadly perils that decimate their ranks. Upon entering the Cradle of Life, they encounter a pool of highly corrosive black acid which holds Pandora’s Box. To the (attempted) rescue Terry arrives, frees the' captives, and catches up to Lara.

A climactic fistfight between Lara and Reiss occurs in which Reiss is knocked into the pool of acid. The lure of ultimate power is too much and Terry attempts to take the Pandora’s Box as compensation, but Lara staunchly refuses to let him leave with it. Terry draws a gun on Lara and she is forced to fatally shoot him in self-defense. To protect it from mankind, Lara places Pandora's Box back into the pool. Some ancient artifacts are never meant to be found.

#4 The Mummy Returns (2001)

The Mummy Returns

The Film: The Mummy Returns (A sequel that really works!) This story picks up where the first film "The Mummy" left off. High on action, adventure, suspense and some very, very cool visual effects. This is a fast paced and highly entertaining adventure that will definitely quicken your pulse but at the same time put a smile on your face . . . great humor!

Cinematography: Superb, expertly shot, with many exotic and fanciful scenics . . . and of course outstanding visual effects! Action shots are extremely well planned and coordinated with a visual perspective that drops you right into the middle of the action. (Even more incredible in Blu-Ray.)

Synopsis: The action picks up 10 years after the original; tomb raiders Evie (Rachel Weisz) and Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) are now married, with 8-year-old child Alex in tow. They discover a curious Egyptian artifact which proves to be an enchanted bracelet of the legendary Scorpion King. The bracelet (in the wrong hands) has the power to unleash great peril to the world, and once again, Evie and Rick have to stop it.

Of course a contingent of dark and sinister villains want in on the astonishing power of the ancient bracelet, and they raise Imhotep (the mummy from the first movie) to take on the Scorpion King. An exotic and villainous woman named Meela (Patricia Velazquez), who is the reincarnation of Anck-Su-Namun, Imhotep's long-lost forbidden love, is the de facto leader of the sinister group of who resurrects the mummy.

The adventure begins when 8 year old Alex secretly puts the bracelet on his wrist only to discover he cannot remove it. The bad guys and the resurrected Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) want it. Ancient mummy guards are awakened and chase the O’Connell’s to get the bracelet in a high-action, yet humorous pursuit through the streets of London. Ultimately the bad guys kidnap Alex. The villains take their young captive on an excursion into Egypt with Rick and Evie O’Connell in hot pursuit.

Using ever means necessary, including a fanciful rocket and hot air powered flying boat, Rick and Evie follow clues left by young Alex. Imhotep and Meela through every evil obstacle they can to thwart the O’Connell’s rescue of their son. Culminating at a secret jungle oasis, all manner of evil is encountered and must be dealt with. Alex is told by his captors that he must be in the safety of a mysterious pyramid at the center of the oasis before sun rise or the bracelet will kill him. In the race to the pyramid, creepy carnivorous pygmy mummies pursue and attack everyone good and bad. The O’Connell’s finally get Alex back, but he is still wearing the enchanted bracelet. Rick must get his son to the pyramid fast . . . and they literally race the rays of the sun.

Just as Rick saves his son, Anck-Su-Namun (Meela) stabs Evie with a dagger. She is dying! Rick must however fight Imhotep to keep him from reaching The Scorpion King and gaining ultimate power over the earth. In the mean time young Alex realizes that with the help of his uncle and the Egyptian book of the dead he can save his mother. As Imhotep and Rick fight, the darkly evil army of Anubis is raised and epic battles ensue between the defenders and the evil ones. Ultimately Rick wins defeating not only Imhotep but the Scorpion King (played by the Rock) and peace is restored and the O’Connell’s and their friends sail away into the clouds. A funny and smart fantasy based action adventure . . . pure entertainment!

#5 The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy

The Film: A fun and exciting take off from an old American horror classic. This 1999 version however, is not in the horror genre. The Mummy is delightfully high on adventure, exotic far away places, and comedic relief.

From beginning to end, the film is fast-paced and loaded with action and suspense at every turn in the story. Special effects, elaborate sets, exotic scenery . . . all first rate! A wonderful action adventure that you can watch again and again. (Chances are you'll notice something new each time.)

Soundtrack and Cinematography: The Mummy received numerous awards and nominations for sound and visual effects. A few include: MTV "Best Action Sequence," Sierra Award "Best Visual Effects," Saturn Award "Best Make-up." The cinematography is phenomenal which really comes through when you watch this movie on a big screen . . . in Blu-Ray . . . Wow!

Synopsis: An American adventurer (Brendan Fraser) serving in the French Foreign Legion discovers the location of the ancient lost city of Hamunaptra. He gets into trouble and is thrown in a local prison. An English librarian (Rachel Weisz) hears of the tale and buys his freedom to mount an archaeological expedition. Unfortunately others have heard the Hamunaptra story and of fabled riches. Competition heats up fast and an ancient, and quite sinister cursed mummy is awakened to wreak havoc and place the teams in great peril. Action, suspense, mystery, terror, and treasure, all punctuated The Mummy has it all punctuated with witty humor.

A classic Action Adventure film that the entire family can enjoy for many years to come.

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