This list of the 10 best action movies ever features explosions, wisecracks, square-jawed heroes and diabolical villains galore. Ranging from sci-fi epics to buddy cop movies and an all-star World War II shoot 'em up, our list of the best action movies ever will set your screen on fire. Here they are, in all their big, bombastic, manly, explosive glory.

  1. "Die Hard" "Die Hard" pits wise-cracking cop John McClane, played by Bruce Willis in a star-making role, against the equally wry Alan Rickman as a terrorist who' taken over an LA office building to steal the cash held in its vaults. The blueprint for many action films to follow—after all, "Speed" was referred to as "Die Hard" on a bus—it is an easy choice to top the list of the best action movies ever.

  2. "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" The only sequel on this list surpasses the original in spectacle with Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his role as an android killing machine, this time sent to protect the future instead of destroy it. Robert Patrick, as the T-1000, almost steals the show, but the special effects and stunts orchestrated by James Cameron top everything else.

  3. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" The firs Indiana Jones movie is chock full of throwback adventure. It would be on the list of the best action movies ever even if it had only been ten minutes long. The opening sequence, with Indy escaping a deadly cave, is one of the most breathtaking in film history.

  4. "Dirty Harry" Clint Eastwood's iconic rogue cop faces quite the opponent in the vicious Scorpio killer (a wonderfully creepy Andy Robinson). Harry Callahan takes the law into his own hands and utters one of the most memorable lines in action movie history: "Do ya feel lucky?"

  5. "The Terminator" The original "Terminator" film made Arnie a star and gave us another immortal line: "I'll be back." It is one of the most thrilling movies of the eighties and though it does not match the spectacle of its sequel, it is truly one of the best action movies of all time.

  6. "Lethal Weapon" The seminal buddy cop movie is an '80s classic. Its gunfire-fueled action scenes and witty script make it one of the best action movies ever.

  7. "The Matrix" "The Matrix" changed the game, bringing action movies into the CGI era, for better or for worse. In this case, it was for the better leading to a visionary movie with intensely artful action sequences. With the sequels, it was sadly for the worse.

  8. "Cliffhanger" The last pure stunt action film to achieve major success was Stallone's "Cliffhanger." Villain John Lithgow and a breathtaking opening sequence that rivals "Jaws" for suspense combine to make this one of the best action movies ever.

  9. "The Killer" John Woo's gangster film turned gunplay into high art. The ballets of bullets in this film make it one of the best action movies ever.

  10. "The Dirty Dozen" The first real all-star action film brought together Lee Marvin and a cast of misfits as convicts on a suicide mission to assassinate German officers in World War II. It closes out our list of the best action movies ever.