Five Action Movies to Stream Now

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What if “Stranger than Fiction” was an action film? The absurd, melancholic happenings of the Chinese director Lu Yang’s “A Writer’s Odyssey” answers the question with feverish abandonment. It follows Guan Ning (Lei Jiayin), a former banker unmoored six years prior by the kidnapping of his daughter. All is lost until the tech giant Li Mu (Yu Hewei) sends his assistant to hire Ning. As it turns out, an online fantasy writer’s book about a young warrior destroying a mythic beast is magically killing the mogul. He wants Ning, endowed with the power to sling projectiles with deadly accuracy, to murder the writer, and in return, he’ll find this wanderer’s daughter.

“A Writer’s Odyssey” is a gripping fairy tale where dragons are made of hot air balloons, golf balls become weapons and a parade of arrows paints the sky black. A narratively inventive film that moves with the verve of Guillermo Del Toro’s best work, Lu’s adventure embraces storytelling that has the power to hurt and heal, and to reunite.

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It’s February 1945: A trio of young women, heading to a wedding, gleefully ride down a country road. But an idyllic day turns tragic when a plane’s bullets ravage their car, killing all inside. A few yards away, a young boy named Henry (Bertram Bisgaard Enevoldsen) sees the carnage and is rendered mute. Henry is sent to Copenhagen to recover, and arrives in a city so brutally governed by the Danish auxiliary police that a young officer (Alex Hogh Andersen) questions the boy’s allegiances.

The German army occupies the city’s center in the Shell House, the Gestapo headquarters. They know an attack from the Allies is coming, so they’ve imprisoned resistance fighters in the attic as human shields.

Based on a true story, the Danish writer-director Ole Bornedal’s film recalls an airstrike, aimed at dismantling the German army, leading to a deadly mistake. In it the camera depicts a chase by exclusively filming the actors’ legs in motion, recalling the work of Robert Bresson, A point-of-view shot within a cockpit gives the air sequences a breathless rush. And the later devastation, similar to the 1985 war drama “Come and See,” gives this film an arresting, uniquely redemptive edge.

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The director Reem Morsi’s “Last Mark” begins as a prototypical gonzo action flick. Peyton (Alexia Fast), a call girl, finds herself at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Her client is murdered by two hired killers: the psychotic Palmer (played to deranged precision by Bryce Hodgson) and the weary Keele (Shawn Doyle). For the latter, it’s his last job before he moves to Anchorage to start a trucking fleet. But those plans evaporate when it is discovered that the lone witness, Peyton, might possess a special connection with Keele. Rather than allow Palmer to kill her, Keele takes the frightened woman to a safe house, where he hopes he’ll find answers.

The brisk script by Cheryl Meyer could’ve relied exclusively on genre tropes. Instead, this microbudget action movie flexes from a hostage film to a father-daughter drama. Because in between Palmer killing off every witness he can find, Peyton and Keele share shouting matches through doors. The angsty energy plays against expectations, allowing Morsi to deliver both a vicious murder-for-hire film and an easeful character study with surprising depth.

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The fourth film in the series, “Never Back Down: Revolt” reinvents the masculine-bound Mixed Martial Arts franchise through a feminist lens. By the director Kellie Madison, the first woman to helm a film in the series, Audrey Arkins’s script concerns Anya (Olivia Popica), a Chechen refugee studying nursing in London while her brother, Alsan (Tommy Bastow), a struggling MMA fighter, sleeps on her couch. The siblings have survived foster care and a civil war to find a better life. In a bid to earn extra money, however, Alsan agrees to throw a match, only to accidentally win it. To pay off his debt, the ruthless and wealthy Mariah (Brooke Johnston) enlists Anya to participate in underground fights, ultimately kidnapping her.

While the film features sharp fight sequences, relying on fluid editing and balletic choreography, it’s how Madison and Arkins craft a world where immigrant women like Anya are trapped in cages, and decide to escape, that imbues this film with larger political and socio-economic themes. Rather than these ideas being forced, like in “The 355,” they occur organically, and gives this movie a real-world prize worth fighting for.

The swordplay and characters present in South Korean period pieces lend themselves well to the tradition of swashbuckling action flicks. The 2014 film “The Pirates” understood that inherent aesthetic connection. Its spiritual sequel “The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure,” by the South Korean director Kim Jeong-hoon, continues the concept by focusing on new characters. developing grander set pieces and expanding the franchise’s lore.

In the year 1388, Goryeo generals stole the treasure belonging to Korea’s ruler, Yi Seong-gye, but haven’t been found since. Years later, Woo Moo-chi (Kang Ha-neul), a buffoonish bandit in the mold of Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, teams with a no-nonsense pirate captain, Hae-Rang (Han Hyo-joo ), to recover the bounty before their sole competition, the brutal Kang-Seob (Kim Sung-oh) finds it first.

Slow-motion swordplay, and a series of winding clues, offers meat-and-potatoes genre hallmarks. Indelible set pieces include a killer whirlpool, a fight surrounded by a biblical lightning storm and a physics-breaking, mythical river raging within an ocean. These should not only delight fans of Greek tragedies, but also deliver supercharged thrills in an elaborate reimagining of what high-seas adventures can offer.

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