After the Best Asian Asian Films of 2018, we felt that we should also compile more specific lists about the best of the year, since there were a lot of great 2018 films that were left out, inevitably. The first list in that regard includes the Best Action Films of 2018, in a collection of movies, which, in contrary to the aforementioned, where most entries were from Japan, has much more diversity, since the only country that is represented thrice is China, which probably has to do with the legacy HK action films have left.

Some films are not genuine entries of the category, like “One Two Jaga” for example. which is a social drama at least as much as an action movie, but in every case, there was enough to justify the inclusion in the category, at least partially.

Without further ado, here are the Best Asian action films of 2018, in random order. Some films may have premiered in 2017, but since they mostly circulated in 2018, we decided to include them. (By clicking on the title, you can read the full review of the film)

1. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero (Vikramaditya Motwane, India)

The angst both Bhavesh Joshi in the beginning and then Siku feel is fairly justified and relatable. Also, an individual who has never been in a fight before is not expected to suddenly become a kicking, punching martial arts expert with a few months’ worth of training and that certainly isn’t the case here, making the film work well as an original story. (Rhythm Zaveri)

2. Buybust (Erik Matti, Phillippines)

All of the above make it quite clear that “BuyBust” presents a combination of “The Raid” and “The Villainess”, but I also thought that it shares some similarities with “Mad Max” particularly in the way the villains and the setting are presented. Nevertheless, in terms of presentation, the movie is a masterpiece of the genre, with even the fact that the protagonists appear to be superheroes and the script is a bit hyperbolic at times, adding at the overall flavor. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

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3. The Night Comes For Us (Timo Tjahjanto, Indonesia)

Timo Tjahjanto directs a movie that is dominated by two elements, which actually complement each other: action and violence. Regarding the first, one can only admit that the work done on the action choreography and the stunts (by Iko Uwais and his team) is more than impressive, with them keep finding new ways and “tricks” to implement, a trait that was also quite visible in “Headshot”. In that fashion, anything can be used as a weapon, from animal bones (in the scene in the butcher shop) to pool balls and even a sign that read “Caution Wet Floor”. The “normal” weapons are here of course, including guns, machetes, but most of all, all kinds of knives, which provide the most impressive scenes on the film, along with the hand-to-hand ones. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

4. The Witch: Part 1:The Subversion (Park Hoon-jung, S. Korea)

Some may feel that the film takes too long for the action to start, but this is a story that has obviously been designed as a multi-film saga (a trilogy is rumoured) and Park takes his time to develop his characters until the final act of the film, which explodes in glorious violence. The action scenes and set-pieces are bloody, brutal and oh-so-exciting. Park waits to give us the twist in the tale and when it comes, it is fresh and unexpected. (Rhythm Zaveri)

5. We Will Not Die Tonight (Richard Somes, Philippines) 

The narrative begins in a dramatic tone, but as soon as the action begins, it never actually ceases, with the bloody fights following one another, to the point that the film becomes a slasher, after a point, as the characters use machetes, hammers, axes and almost every object that could be considered a weapon. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

6. Crossroads: One Two Jaga (Nam Ron, Malaysia)

Nam Ron directs a movie whose obvious purpose is to highlight the corruption of the Malay system, in as many forms as possible. Furthermore, the concept of “who is the criminal and who the policeman” is presented quite nicely, highlighting the fact that the borders between the two are very thin in this case.The production values of the film find their apogee in the violent finale, evidently the most impressive sequence in the movie. (Panos Kotzathanasis)

7. Operation Red Sea (Dante Lam, China)

Dante Lam, directs, pens (along Feng Ji, Chen Zhuzhu and Eric Lin) as is the action director of one of the most impressive films we have seen during the latest years. The fact that this time, the action does not focus on one man (as in Wu Jing in “Wolf Warrior 2”) but instead follows all of the eight members of the group works wonders for the movie, as much as the fact that martial arts, take a back seat to guns. In that fashion, the action is truly cataclysmic, as each member has to face different enemies in the battlefield  (Panos Kotzathanasis)

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8. Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings (Tsui Hark, China) 


Even given the fact that it does take time to get going, the carefully choreographed action sequences and their imaginative construction makes the third film in the Detective Dee series the most spectacular and affectively riveting. At the end of the day, action cinema is something that needs to be felt and experienced rather than thought and “Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings” draws us into its magical world and doesn’t relinquish its grip on us until its over. (Colette Balmain)

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9. A Better Tomorrow 2018 (Ding Sheng, China) 

Ding Sheng directs a film where the frantic action begins from the first minute, once more implementing the handheld-camera tactics Ding Yu, his cinematographer, used on “Saving Mr Wu”, with the outcome being impressive, giving a more realistic essence to the gunfight.  (Panos Kotzathanasis)

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10. The Prey (Jimmy Henderson, Cambodia) 

Jimmy Henderson and his “Jailbreak” co-writers Michael Hodgson and Kai Miller have put together a claustrophobic plot heavily inspired by past movies like “The Most Dangerous Game” and “Hard Target”, to mention only two, and filled it with action and pulp classic topics and elements. Like in a lurid comic book, the super-evil Warden smokes a huge cigar, the hero is unkillable, the hunters are complete psychopaths and Chinese rescue detective Ly (Dy Sonita) is a supermodel in pristine white silk shirt and perfect make up in the middle of Cambodian hell. Moreover, guns always finish ammo at the right moment, tree brunches are in handy spots and there is always a hole where to hide and a mirror where to spot an enemy around the corner. In other words it is un-sophisticated fun. (Adriana Rosati)

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