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Understanding the History of Action Movies a Unique Genre

If you love a great high speed chase, you’re a sucker for a gun fight, and you are happy to find yourself raging on at famous superheroes as they perform various missions including the Mission Impossible, then you’re probably a fan of action movies. These jam packed thrillers that include enough action for a lifetime in just an hour or so on screen are attractive to many audiences, and we’re taking a deep dive look at their history. Checkout the history of action movies and how this incredible film genre has impacted various genre conventions to evolve and engage audiences for over 100 years.

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Early Action Movies

Action movies represent a unique film genre that is one of the most widely recognized next to horror flicks and of course comedies, but looking back at the history of action movies, do you know how it all began? Where did this amazing film genre originate and how has the history of action movies changed over the years since the first action movies were filmed 100 or more years ago?

Although action films date back several years, the most profound evidence of action films begins around the 1970s when early movies by Steven Spielberg, including Jaws (1975) would combine disaster with adventure to create what we now know as an action flick. Action films of the 1970s were not their antecedent “disaster” movies, which were slightly more calm, action movies were defined as:

– Having a clearly defined hero as well as a victim and a potential villain.
– Having a heroin that wishes to stop the villain so that he or she can save the victim.
– Having a protagonist that will typically be thrown into a series of violent events including fights, rescues, high-speed chases, or other physical feats.

While there were some early action movies, the history of action movies really begins to become more prominent in the late 1980s and early 1990s when we saw films like:

– Die Hard
– Batman
– Dick Tracy
– Total Recall
– Terminator

And many other films begin to sweep theaters and define households.

Action Movies in the 1990s

Throughout the 1990s, action movies would continue to largely take over screens attracting large audiences for their violence, suspense, and spectacle sights. In fact, throughout the 1990s audiences couldn’t get enough of the action, their attention constantly thrown from one extreme to the next as they pictured desperate, scattered attempts to fleet potential danger and overcome risk to apprehend the villain and rescue the victim. 

Throughout this time in the history of action movies, we saw films such as:

– Jurassic Park
– Cliffhanger
– The Firm
– The Fugitive
– Con Air

And many other action movies that would come to theaters and television screens for the enjoyment of massive audiences. This was the time when action movies were about speed of epic proportions, danger of insane potential risk, and victim rescues like never seen before.

Recent Action Movies

The history of action movies continues to evolve, with action films still a major part of theatrical recognition today. Through the early 2000s into 2020, action movies have evolved a bit further, though. Today’s action films tend to incorporate art and special effects alongside the speed, conflict, and amazing action taking place on the screen. However, there’s a slight difference in many of the action movies that make their way into theaters today – they share less of an emotional connection, lack some of the storyline that early action movies were known for and tend to be mostly just – action.