In the cinema we have thought about films in a very linear way for years. Action movies were action movies, comedies were comedies, romantic dramas were … you get the idea. Sure, a comedy can have action here and there, but overall you laughed and didn’t see his face blown to pieces. Over time, this medium has evolved and now we will often see all of the aforementioned genres mixing together to create a movie that literally has no place. Is it action? Drama? Voltage? Romantic comedy?
This whole debate gets thrown into an even bigger downward spiral as we throw holidays into the mix. And the only holiday that seems to have crossed more genres is that of Christmas. I’m not saying you have a heist movie and suddenly Santa shows up with his reindeer and a bunch of elves (although that certainly can happen). I say you will have Marion Cobretti (Sylvester Stallone) inside Cobra shooting people with a bunch of Christmas trees around him. Christmas can sometimes interface with the story, but at least it’s part of the movie. Without this, the movie really wouldn’t be the same. Don’t think so? Read this list and imagine a movie without “the best time of the year” happening in the background.
Die Hard 2
The next installment in the action-filled life of John McClane (Bruce Willis) is set again over Christmas and sees our hero try to stave off catastrophe when a group of terrorist types (led by the ever-great William Sadler) set their sights. at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC Okay, Christmas time, the airport, is there a more fertile situation that could go terribly wrong for John McClane? With Christmas lights and other things to remind us what time of year it is, McClane has tempered this time of year even more by the fact that his wife happens to be on one of the planes that could be a victim of our bad guys. story. Okay, Die Hard 2 is essentially Die hard is set in an airport and also in any case a Christmas film like its predecessor.
Death Wish 3
The late Charles Bronson, once the greatest and most bankable actor in America, also happened to serve up a Christmas action movie in the form of Death Wish 3. When Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) returns to New York, he is wanted by a not-so-honest police chief (Ed Lauter) to clean up the crime-ridden neighborhoods. Christmas serves as the backdrop for this no-hold-barred street justice tale, but it’s also a classic Bronson action movie all the way. With his trusty Magnum 475 in hand, Bronson hands out his own Christmas spirit and makes the holidays a little redder and stomachs a little greener with his methods. While a Christmas action movie isn’t as well known as the others on this list, Death Wish 3 more than the Christmas spirit during its 92 minutes.
Featuring Chuck Norris’ signature line in the movie, “It’s Time to Die,” this is a Christmas action movie on steroids. In this’ 80s classic, Christmas sets the stage for Matt Hunter’s (Norris) return to CIA status. Invasion USA makes no difference in showing the many ways a person can be killed during the holiday season. Whether it’s popping your neck or getting shot with a bazooka, this movie (which also has a fight in the most Christmas spot of all … a mall!) Is arguably the gold standard of the Christmas Action genre. That it was made by the folks at Cannon Films only reinforces its credibility in this category.
While it is ultimately a great propaganda film about the United States’ superiority over Russia during the Cold War, Rocky IV is also an equally uplifting Christmas movie as It’s a wonderful life. After losing Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) to Russian Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in an exhibition match, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) goes to Russia against everyone’s will to fight Drago in a grudge on Christmas Day. Training in the mountains, snow and the coziness of a log cabin, like Rocky IV had even more Christmas Spirt, it could be un-American. The fact that Rocky Drago beats on consumerism’s most celebrated day only further reinforces the propaganda angle Rocky IV goes out. Forgetting all of this, this is a great Christmas action movie, and Rocky beating Drago and getting the Russian audience to chant his name is a Christmas wonder like no other.
Christmas is everywhere in this Richard Donner masterpiece. But in the end, when Mel Gibson and Danny Glover finally corner a deranged and very fit Gary Busey, there’s no denying the Christmas spirit that prevails in the street fight between Gibson and Busey. Cementing this movie in the lore of Christmas action movies is the fact that red and green colors abound, and just moments before the aforementioned fight, Busey screamed and shot a TV show A Christmas song. The characters of Riggs (Gibson) and Murtaugh (Glover) are the stuff of the action movie / buddy cop legend, but I defy anyone who sees this movie on Christmas Day not to stop and watch it. When we meet Riggs, he even introduces himself to us with a shootout in a parking lot with Christmas trees. Before that, the film opens with holiday classic “Jingle Bell Rock”!
At first sight Cobra is your Sylvester Stallone action movie in the garden. He plays Marion Cobretti. A tough police officer who has to protect a witness (wife Brigitte Nielsen at the time) against “The New World”. This is a group whose intention is to take over America (or whatever they go after the “weak”), and it’s up to Stallone and his candy-loving partner Gonzales (Reni Santoni) to stop them. This movie is not full of Christmas sentiments. If you expect the milquetoast atmosphere Love actually then you will be seriously disappointed. However, if you want shootings in supermarkets and other places where there are Christmas items, Cobra is as solid a Christmas action movie as you’re likely to find.
The long kiss good night
Renny Harlin, directed from a script by Shane Black (see his other Action Christmas opus above in Deadly weapon), made a well-crafted Action Christmas thriller with Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson at their best. Davis plays an amnesiac teacher who was also a cold-blooded, hired murderer in a past life. Like many of the movies on this list, Christmas isn’t the reason for the screenplay, but it does feature prominently in it. There’s even a season parade where Davis has to try and keep some bad guys from doing a really horrible scenario. Again, this movie is rich with Christmas colors and cheer, and it’s sure to get a positive response as something to watch after the Christmas meal.
Kiss kiss bang bang
Writer / director Shane Black must love Christmas because this is another movie the Christmas Action Author plays over the holidays. In fact, this movie starts with Robert Downey Jr. who steals one from a toy store! This begins a litany of events that ultimately see Downey (with assistants Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan) embroiled in a murder mystery with both Christmas and Hollywood as the backdrop. Besides being one of the funniest, wildest and most inventive Christmas action movies ever, Kiss kiss bang bang is also a great movie. With his spirited Shane Black dialogue and action sequences, Robert Downey Jr. the perfect actor for this movie and the Christmas season.
In this eccentric Christmas action movie, Mel Gibson plays a role that resembles everything Martin Riggs has ever experienced. Gibson has apparently reached that point in his career where he can and cannot play Santa Claus. His opinion is dark and it makes sense because he has a business that he’s trying to protect … I mean, Gibson really is Santa! Meanwhile, a young child wants to see him dead because he doesn’t like the present he got from Ol Saint Nick. Add Walton Goggins as the person trying to kill him, the US military needs his services too and Fat man is probably the ONLY Christmas action movie that could (or should have been) out in 2020.
In this sex-filled Christmas action movie, Ben Affleck takes on the role of a dead man simply so he can connect with the dead man’s ex (Charlize Theron). All this makes sense until a casino heist is thrown into the mix with Affleck as a reluctant participant. As you can imagine, after he just got out of prison, he definitely doesn’t want to go back and, well, it’s vacation right? Reindeer games is certainly not the gold standard of the Christmas action movie genre. It’s in the genre though, it thwarts many Christmas conventions by giving viewers sex to watch AND it’s directed by none other than the legendary John Frankenheimer. He made The Manchurian Candidate in case you want to see something different on December 25th.