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No. 6: Charles Bronson — Top Action Movie Stars

Charles Bronson
MGM

I LOVE Charles Bronson, and my guess is that if you are an action film fan, you do too. But does my love for Bronson cloud my judgment, placing him too high in this list?

Here is why I don’t think so. It can’t really be denied that Bronson’s star power faltered later in his life. Many an action hero has seen harder times when younger, fresher whippersnappers come along and challenge their careers. But if you look past the diminishing returns of the ‘Death Wish’ films, Bronson boasts an impressive resume.

He plays the lead in my favorite Western of all time, ‘Once Upon A Time In The West,’ embodying one of cinema’s great badasses: Harmonica. As a part of an ensemble, Bronson played in some of the great large cast epics, including ‘The Great Escape,’ ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ and ‘The Magnificent Seven’! He also teamed up with action director Walter Hill for ‘Hard Times’ and even went toe to toe with legends Toshiro Mifune in ‘Red Sun’ and Lee Marvin in ‘Death Hunt.’

My personal love affair with Bronson started when I saw ‘The Mechanic.’ His quiet, luxurious-living, methodically-planned assassin was a blast, and I had to seek out every Bronson film I could find after that one. But action cinema fandom will almost certainly remember Bronson most fondly for his turn as Paul Kersey, liberal gun-hater turned master vigilante in ‘Death Wish.’

“ Murder is only killing without a license.” –- Arthur Bishop, ‘The Mechanic’

NEXT: The Man With All the Luck in the World

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