Top 10 Greatest Action Movie Stars of All Time

Script written by Q.V. Hough Buckle up, lock yourself in and enjoy the ride. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Greatest Action Movie Stars. For this list, we're focusing specifically on the greatest MALE action movie stars - but hold up a minute before you hit the comments section - because we already have a video for the most bad-ass female movie characters. Special thanks to our users Andrew A. Dennison and MikeyP for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Greatest Action Movie Stars


Buckle up, lock yourself in and enjoy the ride. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Greatest ActionMovie Stars.

For this list, we’re focusing specifically on the greatest MALE action movie stars - but hold up a minute before you hit the comments section - because we already have a video for the most bad-ass female movie characters. Make sure to check that one out next.

#10: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

When you’re as big as this WWE icon, literally and figuratively, it only makes sense to explore a higher stage. After a couple of early notable performances in legitimate box office hits, The Rock showed off his natural ability to mix comedy and action in the vastly underrated 2003 flick “The Rundown.” Since then, Dwayne Johnson has mostly managed to transcend the hokey clichés usually involved with being a wrestler-turned-actor, largely thanks to his unique role selections and certainly by holding it down within the “Fast and the Furious” franchise. He’s a master of comedic timing and the overall package produces hard-earned, if not easy money at the box office.

#9: Jean-Claude Van Damme

Let’s face it: if you were an adolescent male growing up in the ‘80s and didn’t have at least a couple Van Damme films on tape, you should have your man card immediately revoked. From the days of “Bloodsport” and “Kickboxer” to the early to mid-‘90s, JCVD was simply the big swinging ass-kicker of martial arts films, round housing everybody brave enough to stand in his way. And sure, the high-flying techniques seemingly lost a bit of mojo over the years, but Van Damme has never stopped doing what he does best, regardless of whether or not you want to shell out a couple bucks to see him whoop that ass. Given his latest collection of badass roles, Jean-Claude Van Damme only seems to get better with age, strange as that may seem.

#8: Clint Eastwood

If you’re not familiar with this man’s iconic Spaghetti Western roles, then you’re about to get schooled on the art of manliness. Ok, now that we’ve addressed the obvious classics, let’s move on to ‘70s-era Clint Eastwood, where he continuously shamed fellow action stars with his own unique way of shakin’ and bakin.’ Yeah, ol’ Clint ain’t the most agile of movie stars, but you don’t need to have catlike speed and reflexes to show dudes who’s boss. This guy will not only strategically hunt down movie villains to no end, but he will take a little bit of their soul as well. Here’s the deal: any actor should jump at the opportunity to be on the receiving end of an Eastwood scowl.

#7: Harrison Ford

Han Solo. Indiana Jones. Rick Deckard. That’s what you’re getting with a late ‘70s/early ‘80s Harrison Ford binge-watch. Those roles alone are enough to land him a place on our list, but then you have ‘90s Harrison Ford with all his gruff-voiced antics, saving the world time and again in breathtaking fashion. But don’t be fooled by Father Time, because Harrison Ford can still hold his own alongside younger action heroes, and you can damn sure appreciate whenever Harrison gets all emotional after handling the appropriate or inappropriate amount of business. And then…it’s back to work.

#6: Tom Cruise

In his early years, this leading man dominated the box office with his boyish good looks and undeniable charm, but then Tom Cruise went full beast-mode with the “Mission: Impossible” franchise. Live. Die. Repeat. This man essentially spits in the face of all those who dare challenge his continuing relevance, as the 2010s have unleashed ride or die Tom Cruise, a man unwilling to slow down into a life of cheesy rom-coms. Not everybody takes him seriously, but hey, Cruise doesn’t take himself too seriously. In other words, you’ll never see this dude trying to score an interview with El Chapo. He’s got other work to do.

#5: Jackie Chan

Here’s an inspiration for all you vertically-challenged Mojoholics, as this man represents the human embodiment of dynamite. Developing his stuntman skills in ‘60s Hong Kong cinema, Jackie Chan exploded in the late ‘70s, presenting an alternative style to the great Bruce Lee, and his 1980 film “The Young Master” marked the arrival of a new Hong Kong icon. With the Hollywood OG Buster Keaton providing the foundation for Chan’s comedic aesthetics, he ultimately made the trip to Tinseltown and grinded it out by performing his own stunts. He’s famously kicked it with both Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson, while never failing to provide jaw-dropping and comedic displays of Kung Fu brilliance.

#4: Bruce Lee

For years, this legend studied under the Wing Chun master known as Yip Man, and by the time Bruce Lee began doin’ work on the big screen, he had audiences saying “DEEEEAMMMNNNN!” For real, though, Bruce Lee’s quickness and technique was a thing to behold – and you just have to wonder how one actually reached that level of supreme badassery. Bruce Lee came, he saw and he conquered, and just like Keyser Soze, poof – he was gone. Fortunately, Bruce Lee left us with a handful of films that became immediate classics upon release and are still must-sees for any self-respecting fan of action movies.

#3: Bruce Willis

Believe it or not, there once was a time when this man was known mainly for “Moonlighting” and something called “The Return of Bruno”, but then Bruce Willis stepped into the role of John McClane, a brooding detective that had no patience for criminal shenanigans. Of course, Bruce Willis topped his “Die Hard” role with the Tarantino classic “Pulp Fiction,” and most film critics agree that this was the time when Bruce decided that he was going to blow shit up until he was good and ready to quit. He’s still goin’ and we’re still watching, because one does not simply walk away from this kind of cinematic magic.

#2: Sylvester Stallone

Think about this, Mojoholics: by 1982, Sly Stallone had already flexed his creative muscles with “Rocky,” “Rocky II” and “Rocky III,” and it was only then when he pulled out a long sword of justice and gave us a taste of “First Blood.” As John Rambo, Sylvester Stallone escaped the trappings of a lasting Rocky persona and proved that he could pepper in the occasional action film as well. In fact, for the entirety of the ‘90s, Stallone established himself as THE driving force of the modern action film, capitalizing on genre clichés and always staying true to popcorn thrills. Like his fellow cohorts, he continues to keep movie villains in check.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Jason Statham
Will Smith
Steven Seagal
Steve McQueen
John Wayne
Mel Gibson

#1: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Straight Outta Austria and born to blow your mind, this movie monstrosity takes the cake when it comes to kicking ass and taking names. Just pick your poison: “The Terminator.” “Predator.” “Total Recall.” It doesn’t really matter because nothing will ever change the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger gets down like nobody else, at least in the landscape of action cinema. Has Arnold ever quit making films? Hell no, and he’ll continue on until there are no other baddies to conquer. Love him or hate him, nobody can deny the power of a well-placed Arnold zinger, and he’s by far the most iconic action movie star that Hollywood has ever produced.

Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite action movie star? For more mind-blowing Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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