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The Best Free Action Movies You Can Watch On YouTube Right Now

There are things that seem worth pursuing, but which would ultimately end in personal tragedy — buying a reasonably priced used big cat from Joe Exotic, for example, or ordering a second McRib. It's all fun and games until your insides aren't where they should be.

The same applies to a life of action and adventure. Sure, it's fun to fantasize about jumping from a high-speed train or running into an advanced krav maga class and demanding retribution, but the reality of the matter is that your body is soft and the ground is hard, and you're better off watching YouTube instead. Watching a video where a 38-year-old man falls off a skateboard will do just as much to keep you from hitting the halfpipe yourself as a trip to the emergency room, and it'll save your fragile coccyx.

While you're there, you can nab yourself a few extra vicarious adrenaline bumps with YouTube's free movie section, which offers up an all-you-can-eat buffet of action movies for the low, low price on no money at all. Experience the thrill-a-minute life of a big screen hero, minus the inevitable copay and embarrassing urgent care explanation of how you shot off your own big toe trying to snap-cock a mare's leg rifle.

Lone Wolf McQuade

Back before Chuck Norris became the punchline to every community college improv troupe skit, the actor and martial arts enthusiast spent decades building up a back catalogue of action movies on a foundation of grit and elastic-crotched pants. Sometimes they were good. Other times, as in the case of "Lone Wolf McQuade," they were even better.

It's hard to describe "Lone Wolf McQuade" without imagining Stefon from "SNL" describing it as New York's hottest club. This movie has everything: arms deals, domesticated wolves, middle-aged men high kicking each other, a pinball-playing three-foot-tall mob boss (Daniel Frishman) in a wheelchair with a gold revolver.

On paper, the story of a Texas Ranger shooting and karate chopping his way through the colorful criminal underbelly of the American south might sound like a slightly more expensive, feature-length take on "Walker, Texas Ranger," but in practice, it's ... well, exactly that. Still, you get to watch David Carradine fight Chuck Norris, which was, more or less, the Captain America versus Thanos of B-movie donnybrooks. Bonus points if you can spot "Friday the 13th" franchise regular Kane Hodder in an uncredited role as a criminal goon.

Man of Tai Chi

At some point, you've probably strolled past a group of tai chi students practicing in the park and thought "that's probably a fight club." 2013's "Man of Tai Chi" posits that you might be onto something.

The story beats here are familiar: a young martial artist named Tiger Chen, helpfully and mnemonically played by Tiger Chen, is offered oodles of duckets to do combat in an underground arena, but refuses on account of honor and whatnot. Tiger changes his tune when he learns that his favorite tai chi temple has been condemned and will be demolished if he can't come up with the money to fix it, as determined in the landmark case of Breakin 2 v. Electric Boogaloo.

The fight scenes are rad, and the background on the film is even radder — Tiger Chen is the real-life friend and teacher of Keanu Reeves, who plays the film's big bad guy, Donaka Mark. He's also credited with doing stunt work and fight sequences in all three "Matrix" movies and the third "John Wick," which gives the movie's impressive action sequences a compelling pedigree for fans of OTT pugilism.

Highlander 2: The Renegade Version

The premise is simple: there's a race of immortals living among us, surreptitiously cutting each other's heads off in order to enhance their own powers. There can, by their reckoning, be only one.

And at the end of "Highlander," it sure seemed like there was only one. Then along came "Highlander 2," and all of a sudden there was more than only one — a lot more, with an evil contingent of immortals led by Michael Ironside rasslin up a ruckus for series protagonist Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) and his until-recently-deceased mentor, Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, an Egyptian warrior with a samurai sword and a Scottish accent.

If all of this sounds bananas, you don't know the half of it. "Highlander 2" was one of the worst-reviewed films in history when it first came out, which makes the significantly more well-received director's cut, "Highlander 2: Renegade Version," all the more refreshing. It's available to watch on YouTube for free, complete with rearranged plot, reconsidered special effects, and considerably fewer aliens.

Blind Fury

1989 was a different time. Rutger Hauer was somewhere between "recognizable" and "affordable" on the Hollywood actors' scale of viability. Tim Matheson from "Animal House" was interested in producing. Director Phillip Noyce could probably still say his own last name without people repeating it while doing a self satisfied duck face.

Mix all of this together with a writer's room where nobody seems to have asked, "Is this in the best taste?" and you've got "Blind Fury," a film that challenges the "Daredevil" franchise as far as its willingness to drop a disabled gentleman into the middle of a series of street fights. Hauer plays Nick Parker, a Vietnam veteran robbed of his eyesight and trained to hone his other senses to replace it. Parker has martial arts expertise, a stubborn reluctance to let children get kidnapped by criminal organizations, and a sword. You pretty much get it. Siskel and Ebert gave it two thumbs up.

Reign of Assassins

Any fictional martial arts expert trying to live a quiet, punchless life is more or less a human Chekhov's gun, introduced in the first act only so that things can go off by the end of the second. In "Reign of Assassins," the old trope applies to Zeng Jing, played in characteristically badass form by Michelle Yeoh. 

Zeng Jing, also known by her nom de swordfight Drizzle, is the former top dog in the assassination game, now doing her best to work as a shopkeeper, while ideally murdering the smallest number of people possible in epic wirework martial arts sequences. But life is what happens when you're making other plans, and Drizzle's old life catches up with her when a group of robbers comes looking for an artifact that she was sent to recover back in her stabbing days. This inevitably results in questions about whether the past can truly be left behind, contemplations on the nature of the human spirit, and more stabbing.

Co-directed by John Woo, and featuring a familiar amount of countenance-shifting reconstructive surgery from the man who took Nicolas Cage's face off, "Reign of Assassins" has all the slicing, smacking, and guilt about slicing and smacking that an audience could ask for.