15 Movies Like John Wick To Get Your Blood Pumping

15 Movies Like John Wick To Get Your Blood Pumping

John Wick, at first glance, appeared to be just another action movie. What we got, though, was a stunning physical performance from Keanu Reeves, tight action from director and former stuntman Chad Stahelski, and an exciting new world to inhabit thanks to characters like Winston (Ian McShane) and Charon (Lance Reddick). These elements took a simple revenge story and turned it into something much bigger.

John Wick’s story starts simply: The son of a Russian mobster tries to buy retired hitman John Wick’s car. When John refuses, the hood and his goons break into the ex-assassin’s house, leaving him on the edge of death and killing his dog–a last gift from his now-dead wife. Wick goes on the warpath, putting down 77 people before the credits roll. Sharp action, a compelling protagonist, and some truly great world-building help make what could’ve been a forgettable action movie into a modern cult classic.

Now, with John Wick’s fourth entry in the rear-view mirror and spin-off film Ballerina a year out, we’ve been craving some good action-revenge movies to fill the gap. Not every movie on this list is a pure revenge flick, and not every one of them has the same kind of brutal action that John Wick had made so popular. They all fall along those lines, though: Someone messed with the wrong badass, whether that’s a vengeful father, an assassin doing one last job, or a triple-agent infiltrating the KGB. So let’s get mad, and then get even.

1. Nobody (2021)

Where to watch: Prime Video

Bob Odenkirk wasn’t always thought of as a skilled dramatic actor. His background is in comedy, having written and performed on shows like SNL, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and Mr. Show, and he was a storied and respected comedy performer in his own right. He found a new audience with his role as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, but nobody expected, well, Nobody. This action flick puts Odenkirk in the role of Hutch, the father of a mostly estranged family, who decides not to fight back when some burglars invade his home. What they don’t know is that he’s a retired “Auditor,” an assassin who worked for US intelligence. Similar to John Wick, Hutch ends up redeeming himself by fighting back against the Russian mafia with some help from his elderly father (Christopher Lloyd) and his brother (RZA) to reclaim the quiet life he left his old job for.

2. Atomic Blonde (2017)

Where to watch: VOD

Atomic Blonde was one of the earliest films that aped John Wick’s specific tone. Directed by John Wick producer (and co-director of the first film) David Leitch and written by Kurt Johnstad (Rebel Moon), Atomic Blonde is set in the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany in 1989. Visually, the film pulls from both its geographic and period settings eagerly, making great use of the 1980s neon and brutalist drabness of those influences. But the film wouldn’t work without Charlize Theron, who has shown time and time again that she’ll commit herself fully to any role she takes on. Theron makes a meal out of the brutal, stylish action sequences, and it’s a shame we haven’t gotten a sequel just on that alone. The whole thing mashes up the best parts of John Wick and James Bond, and Theron has enough charisma to make the core story work despite feeling like the comic book that it is.

3. Commando (1985)

Where to watch: Tubi

While Commando might not be the height of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s power, it certainly is Arnold at his Arnoldest. The intimidating Austrian plays the role of ex-Special Force Colonel John Matrix. Someone is taking out members of Matrix’s old unit, and he refuses to take up arms until his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped. There are some awesome chases and great fights (see the fist-fight between Matrix and Cook, played by Bill Duke), and the movie holds up weirdly well, giving both Jenny and Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) plenty to do without simply being a captured girl and a hanger-on. While Predator and Terminator might be Schwarzenegger’s best-known roles, this one shouldn’t be missed.

4. Man on Fire (2004)

Where to watch: Max

This Denzel Washington movie is a perfect fit for that cliche, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Former CIA agent (and current alcoholic) John Creasy goes on the warpath when the young girl he was supposed to protect (Dakota Fanning) is kidnapped. Creasy’s chilly fury puts him closer to a slasher villain than an action hero, and it’s satisfying/horrifying to watch him work. Director Tony Scott and his team gave the film, set in Mexico City, the color and post-processing to make the Mexico City setting look as hot as it probably felt (Rockstar’s Max Payne 3 would later go on to ape this look closely for its Sao Paolo-set story).

5. The Killer (1989)

Where to watch: DVD/Blu-ray

Doves, candles, slow-motion action, and akimbo pistols–these are the great trademarks of a John Woo movie. The Killer is a top-tier buddy movie that pairs up an assassin (Chow Yun-Fat) and a Police Inspector after a hit job gone wrong leaves an innocent woman blind. The climactic action sequence is as exciting as it is tragic, and nothing out there quite looks like a John Woo movie.

6. Ip Man (2008)

Where to watch: Prime Video

Ip Man is best known as the man who first trained action legend Bruce Lee, but he was a master of Wing Chun martial arts long before the two ever met. This historical fiction movie introduces us to Ip Man in his prime. In a city teeming with martial arts houses and masters, he is respected as the most skilled among them. When the Japanese army occupies the village and other masters are put down one after another, Ip Man unleashes his fury on the Japanese army, fighting 10 Karate experts in the film’s most famous scene. Donnie Yen is an excellent martial arts actor, but this is perhaps him at his best, years before he would appear in John Wick 4.

7. Taken (2008)

Where to watch: VOD

Revenge movies often take themselves so seriously that they lend themselves to a bit of gentle ribbing and are the subject of plenty of memes. Liam Neeson became an unexpected action lead in 2008’s Taken, in which a former Green Beret and CIA agent’s daughter is abducted (or taken, if you will). This is when we learn that Bryan Mills (Neeson) has “a certain set of skills” that he’ll be unleashing on the arrogant criminals. The movie also inspired Key & Peele to proclaim their love for it in one of their best skits, which will have you calling the movie’s star Liam Neesons like it’s his real name.

8. Wrath of Man (2021)

Where to watch: Prime Video

Going into Wrath of Man, it sounds like a bog-standard Jason Statham movie–a security specialist is on the warpath after his son is killed when an armored car robbery goes wrong. But this complex revenge thriller is a dark movie that gives us as much time with the heisters as it does with Statham until the two collide in a massive shootout full of bullet wounds and betrayals.

9. Kill Bill 1+2 (2003, 2004)

Where to watch: Netflix

While the Kill Bill films are a mash-up of martial arts, blaxploitation, samurai movies, and spaghetti westerns, they ultimately pair together as a great revenge story. The Bride’s quest to pay back her former comrades is still one of the most entertaining revenge stories out there. Fight scenes like the massive sword battle between her and the Crazy 88 army, followed by the duel against O-ren Ishii, are some of the best put to film.

10. Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)

Where to watch: VOD

Shoot ‘Em Up is the dumbest movie on this list, but don’t take that as a knock against it, because it’s an absolute blast to watch. It’s just also really stupid. The movie opens with Clive Owen’s character, Mr. Smith, witnessing a woman with a baby fleeing a hitman. He kills the hitman with the carrot he was eating. The most memorable sequence in the movie involves Smith having a shootout with a bunch of gunmen while he and the woman (Monica Bellucci) continue having sex.

11. The Raid/The Raid 2 (2011, 2015)

Where to watch: Hulu

What’s more compelling than someone fighting for their life within the bounds of a single building? Bruce Lee’s Game of Death, Die Hard, and Dredd are three great examples. But for this list, we want brutal combat and a vendetta. In The Raid, a few good cops with incredible martial arts skills find themselves trapped in an apartment block full of criminals. Rama finds himself trapped and has to fight his way out. The standout fight here is between brothers Rama (Iko Uwais) and Andi (Donny Alamsyah) and a brutal martial artist named Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian). Ruhian’s performance was so powerful that he appears in the sequel, The Raid 2, as an entirely different character; he also appeared in John Wick 3: Parabellum.

12. Payback (1999)

Where to watch: Peacock

Based on the 1962 novel The Hunter, written by Donald Westlake under his Richard Stark pen name, Payback follows one of the worst guys you can imagine on a petty quest for revenge. And yet, it’s absolutely compelling. After a small-time hoodlum with big dreams cheats Porter out of his $70,000 share of a heist and leaves him for dead, Porter heads back into the city with a laser focus on getting his money back–not a cent more, not a cent less. This movie is problematic these days, being that it stars Mel Gibson, but he still makes for a compelling version of Stark’s stone-faced professional criminal. This movie can be harder to hook into; Porter is a bad guy, often even worse than the guys he’s messing around with. The movie starts with him working through a bunch of short cons and petty crimes to get cleaned up and get back on his feet. By the time we understand his quest, he’s committed identity theft, petty theft, credit fraud, and money laundering. Despite all of that, Porter is magnetic and impossible to stop watching.

13. Extraction (2020)

Where to watch: Netflix

A lot of the movies with the Netflix Original tag are pretty forgettable. Extraction rises above the standard Netflix Original fare though, thanks to a great performance from Chris Hemsworth and a lot of fun action. In this movie, Tyler Rake has to find the kidnapped son of an Indian drug lord and get him out of the city in one piece, while a rival drug lord has control of not just the city’s gangs, but the police as well. Rake quickly finds himself under fire from both sides as he tries to keep the young man safe. With movies like this and 2024’s Furiosa, Hemsworth is slowly making a case for himself as someone with a lot more to offer than simply being a great-looking God of Thunder.

14. Hard Boiled (1992)

Where to watch: VOD

There was no way we were going to get out of this list with just one John Woo entry. While John Wick might be the present standard bearer for gun action, John Woo and Chow Yun-fat were the first to turn 9mm pistols into cinematic gold. Look no further than this line from the opening sequence to tell you why: Yun-fat’s Inspector Tequila Yuen gets the riot act from his superior officer: “Give a man a gun, and he’s Superman. Give him two, and he’s a god!” It was supposed to be a warning, but it’s a prophecy. Tequila and his two dual pistols make for some of the best action-movie fun, even 32 years later.

15. The Night Comes for Us (2018)

Where to watch: Netflix

Another project to come out of Indonesia’s burgeoning cinema scene, The Night Comes for Us stars Joe Taslim and Iko Uwais, who also starred in The Raid. Taslim plays Ito, an elite enforcer for the South East Asian Triad. After killing most of a village of people for stealing drugs from the Triad, Ito finds a young survivor named Reina and begins to feel remorse for his actions. Of course, if there’s one thing we know about being an elite fighter for a clandestine organization, you have to fight your way out. Ito has to do just that, relying on his skills and a few allies to save himself and Reina from the mafia. And beware–this movie is really violent.

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