Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Dredd, for example, take the violence and gore to a gruesome extreme that borders on the horror side of things.
During the decade of the 2010s, a new action film subgenre emerged marked by brutal, gratuitous violence. Violent scenes in this film are not only sanitized, but they’re turned up to an outrageous level. Every bullet and stab wound has effects and the suffering feels real, unlike the normal shredded supermen played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In some cases, these films go into the horror genre with more blood and guts than A Nightmare on Elm Street. They’re creepy and disturbing to the point of being frightening.
1. Upgrade (2018)
Upgrade is a cyberpunk thriller written and directed by Saw and Insidious creator Leigh Whannell, about a technophobe who becomes a well-oiled killing machine after receiving an experimental computer chip implant.
Filmmaker Stefan Duscio experimented with new techniques to keep the camera focused on the battle sequences and move with the action.
2. The Raid & The Raid 2 (2011 & 2014)
An elite squad of cops led by Iko Uwais storms a high-rise building controlled by a criminal lord in Gareth Evans’ The Raid. Machete-wielding henchmen are the main focus of the film’s action sequences, which last the entire length of the film. It is impossible for the camera to keep up with the violent deformities that are being inflicted on the victims.
The Raid 2 expanded the scope of the tale dramatically. It’s an epic that takes viewers through the jail system and the criminal underworld without sacrificing any of the violence.
3. RoboCop (1987)
It is in the opening scene of RoboCop that an unnamed police officer called Murphy is killed by gunfire. Finally, Omni Consumer Products brings him back to life as a murderous killing machine for the police state.
It’s a biting satire on capitalism, authoritarianism, privatization, and the media that Paul Verhoeven’s film is anything but.
4. Oldboy (2003)
After being held captive for years for no apparent reason, a man is finally freed with nothing but his clothing, a cell phone, and a little amount of cash. He now has to identify the person who imprisoned him before things get even worse for him. In Park Chan-Vengeance wook’s Trilogy, Oldboy is the second film.
Even without the notorious blood-soaked corridor scene, the scene in which a man eats a live octopus is enough to make spectators gag.
5. Kill Bill: Vol 1 & 2 (2003 & 2004)
Uma Thurman’s principal character, the Bride, goes through hell in Quentin Tarantino’s two-part martial arts epic Kill Bill: she is beaten, shot, stabbed, assaulted, and buried alive.
Without her ability to rise up and avenge herself, the story would be a horror movie. She takes her rival’s eye out of its socket in one scenario.
6. Dredd (2012)
Filmmaker Pete Travis is listed as director of Dredd, although according to Karl Urban, author Alex Garland is the film’s actual director because so many of the reshoots were handled by him. It’s no surprise that Dredd has a horror sensibility, given that Garland authored 28 Days Later.
Dredd’s protagonist is a vengeful fascist who hunts down the manufacturers of a time-slowing drug. Filmmakers were able to depict bullets traveling through victims in slow motion with this substance. Prior to being tossed from a high-rise, certain characters are given the medication to make the fall more gradual.
7. The Night Comes For Us (2018)
The Night Comes for Us, a Netflix original, has a tiny group of justice-seekers against the entire Indonesian crime world and corrupt cops on their payroll to save the life of a little girl who fled from the Triad’s killing of her entire village.
In this video, you’ll see some of the most gruesome fight scenes ever seen on film. It crosses all of the expected boundaries. The tiny girl stabs a man in the face in one scenario.
8. Battle Royale (2010)
Children from a totalitarian regime are transported to a secluded place and informed they’ll be pitted against each other in a battle to the death at the beginning of Battle Royale.
This movie is one of the best action thrillers of the last century. It was released in theaters years before The Hunger Games, and it’s far more brutal than the latter.
9. Rambo (2008)
Grizzled, elderly Rambo appeared in the fourth Rambo film, simply titled Rambo, which took place in Burma. In order to free oppressed people, a group of political activists begs him to accompany them into the heart of the beast.
At first apprehensive, he soon goes back into full-blown vigilante mode and exacts severe revenge. Once upon a time, Rambo held the record for the most kills in film history. Rambo climbs behind the wheel of a massive machine gun and decimates the Burmese militia in the final act. This film is scarier than all of Halloween’s previous offerings put together.
10. Brawl In Cell Block 99 (2017)
S. Craig Zahler’s Brawl in Cell Block 99, with its bone-crunching, skull-scraping devastation, will be difficult to see even for the most hardened viewers. Vaughn was hired by the Bone Tomahawk director for the role of the dangerous felon who is pushed to fight his way through prison to save his pregnant girlfriend from an experimental abortion.
The near-cartoonish violence of the action is emphasised by the lifelike cinematography. Horror-film villains get their comeuppance just as horribly as they deserve it.