For the action movie fans looking for new thrills to watch at home, there are a lot of car chases, explosions and sword and fist fights to sift through. Let me help you by providing some streaming highlights. This month’s picks include films from around the globe and tonally range from spell-bindingly fantastical to the surprisingly comical.
No matter how hard Ethan (Thomas Nicholas) tries, a quiet life eludes him. Recently released from prison, he meets with his parole officer (Lou Diamond Phillips) in between working a ride-share job at night. Drunk college women account for much of his vexing clientele, a distrustful boss (Sean Astin) further aggravates him and his litterbug next-door neighbor Chloe (Kate Katzman) delivers greater angst to his modest surroundings. But it’s his troubled 16-year-old sister, Mia (Kelly Arjen), who most occupies his mind. Mia and her boyfriend owe big money to a local loan shark after splurging his cash on drugs. Now the debt has put their lives in danger.
Tragedy strikes. Despite his best efforts to stay away from trouble, Ethan gets embroiled in an unforgiving underworld ruled by the hobbled yet merciless Kaden (Mickey Rourke). The veteran ensemble in Brian A. Metcalf’s visceral Los Angeles-set crime thriller supplies plenty of firepower in a bloody revenge narrative that sees Ethan deliciously hammering his enemies with a crowbar. With the carnage taking a toll on his face, Nicholas delivers a grounded performance that is a perfect rejoinder to Rourke’s affecting turn as a gangster on his last legs.
‘Get the Goat’
Bearing tonal similarities to Adam McKay’s “The Other Guys,” this Portuguese-language action-comedy directed by Vitor Brandt deploys a wicked visual style of freeze frames and sight gags for big laughs and even larger explosions.
Bruceuilis Nonato (Edmilson Filho) was born to be a kung fu action hero. For starters, his first name is pronounced “Bruce Willis.” He’s also well-versed in advanced martial arts. In the small town of Guará, Brazil, however, there are no lawbreakers to be had — except for an overheated man stealing a fan from the window of a lover. Over in São Paulo, the data analyst Trindade (Matheus Nachtergaele) supports the elite Operation Thunderbolt police squad. Following a botched drug sting, Trindade (far smaller in stature than his brawny colleagues) is bumped down to the motor vehicles department.
He and Bruceuilis become unlikely partners when drug dealers kidnap Celestina, Guará’s treasured goat. In this 1980s-inspired buddy cop movie helped by heartfelt humor, thee pair have a chance not just for redemption, but for friendship, too.
‘New Gods: Nezha Reborn’
If you ever wanted a mash-up of “Mad Max” and “Ready Player One,” look no further than Zhao Ji’s animated steampunk adventure. In the screenwriter Muchuan’s adaptation of the Ming dynasty novel “Investiture of the Gods,” Li Yunxiang (Yang Tianxiang) is a motorbike racer competing for water in postapocalyptic Donghai City. Ruled by the ruthless De clan, this glistening metropolis suffers from massive economic inequality wrought by a 3,000-year war between humans and gods.
But Li can change the city’s plight: He’s the reincarnation of the fiery warrior god Nezha. Factories turn into staging grounds for breathtaking elaborate chases. Vibrant mythic beasts in the form of dragons and monkeys battle each other for supremacy. And warring spirits replay the conflicts that have dominated their centuries-long existence. Adorned in a fire-truck-red metallic suit and accompanied by a soundtrack of crunching guitar licks, Li works to harness his newfound abilities before the De clan can kill him and everyone he loves.
The director Barnaby Thompson’s hilarious neo-western “Pixie” features a potent Olivia Cooke as the title character, a woman who’s just one step ahead of everyone else. The femme fatale stepdaughter of a powerful gangster (Colm Meaney), the whipsmart Pixie works a clever scheme: In the hopes of funding her move from Ireland to San Francisco, she hires two men to rob the town’s drug-running Catholic priests of their MDMA and money. The one rub: Her secret lover and her jilted ex-boyfriend are the plundering pair. The two turn on each other and their loot falls into the unsuspecting hands of a couple of local dweebs: Frank McCullen (Ben Hardy) and Harland McKenna (Daryl McCormack).
If Pixie has any hope of escaping Ireland, she must team with the dimwitted duo on a cross-country road trip and dodge the band of murderous priests headed by Father Hector McGrath (Alec Baldwin); her own psychotic brother-in-law (Turlough Convery); a coldblooded bounty hunter (Ned Dennehy); and the pining Frank and Harland.
Sang Yu (Talu Wang) hasn’t slept in ages. Every time he closes his eyes, a gruesome gray hulking demon wielding a battle ax violently murders him. Sang believes in the off-the-wall theory that this universe is a dream world and humans are caged in mortal bodies by an advanced species. If we could only unfree our minds, we might harness unlimited capabilities to manipulate our lived experience. Evicted from his apartment, in debt and starving, he’s a struggling screenwriter pondering death until he discovers his superpower: He can pull luxury cars, dazzling gold and jewels from his dreams back to reality.
In the director Zhang Chong’s fantastical action thriller “Super Me,” Sang gains untold riches, his dream girl and unimaginable fame in the movie industry. He’s deemed the “Shakespeare of Chinese cinema.” Of course, all that glitters has a price. The rich bounty from his multidimensional time jumping lands Sang in the cross hairs of a bloodthirsty gangster. Acrobatic fights and precise world building hold in place a story predicated upon the belief that money can’t buy happiness.