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15 Movies Like The Last Mercenary Action Fans Must Watch

Jean-Claude Van Damme is still a lethal action hero, as he demonstrates in 2021's "The Last Mercenary." While bullets fly and cars race through the streets of Paris, the Belgian legend proves to be just as ripped, dynamic, and capable of doing the splits as he's ever been. The film follows Richard Brumere (Van Damme), an aging mercenary, as he returns to action to protect his son against heavily-armed criminals with corrupt government connections. This isn't a thriller, though — it's a comedic romp. "The Last Mercenary" might be pulse-pounding, but it also features a villain who watches, quotes, and imitates Al Pacino's Scarface like a college bro straight out of 2004.

With plenty of jokes, tons of explosions, a slew of killer performances, and a whole lot of fantastic martial arts, "The Last Mercenary" is worth anyone's time. If you've already watched it, however, you might be hungry for more films in the same vein. We've got you covered in that department. These 15 films are must-watch material for any action fan who loves "The Last Mercenary."

The Expendables

When "The Expendables" first exploded onto the big screen in 2010, it proved that old heroes can still deliver everything you expect in a big action flick. Led (and directed) by a then-60-something Sylvester Stallone, the cast is an all-MVP team, with many members far removed from the apex of their careers. Aside from Stallone, we've got Dolph Lundgren (who played Drago to Stallone's Rocky in 1985's "Rocky IV"), a cameo from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eric Roberts as chief baddie. They're joined by younger action heroes like Jet Li, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, and Jason Statham.

This motley crew is tasked with taking down a criminal organization to protect a girl and save her country. Essentially, they take this mission on as a form of redemption for all the bad stuff they've done in the past. "The Expendables" is what happens when you blend every action movie from the '80s until now with a ton of Ripped Fuel, then throw what results onto the big screen. To put it more simply, it's completely awesome. If you love watching Brumere do his thing, you'll love this.

Wild Bill

"Wild Bill" is one of the lesser-known films on this list, but that doesn't make this father-son homecoming story any less fantastic. Not to be confused with the 1995 film about Wild Bill Hickok, "Wild Bill" is a 2011 British movie about a parolee who gets out of prison to find his two young sons have been abandoned by their mother and are scraping by in an apartment. It's directed by Dexter Fletcher, who you might recognize as the director of 2019's "Rocketman" and the executive producer of 2018's "Bohemian Rhapsody." Cast members like Will Poulter ("The Maze Runner," "We're the Millers"), Iwan Rheon ("Game of Thrones"), and Andy Serkis ("The Lord of the Rings," "Black Panther") also bring famous faces to this indie flick.

Like Brumere, Wild Bill is a father with a violent past trying to get back into the lives of the kids who think he abandoned them. In another striking similarity to Van Damme's character, he tries to protect his cynical son from dangerous acquaintances both old and new. Both films also spotlight kids struggling with their emotions towards the fathers they've never known — and dads struggling to figure out how to be a dad. Finally, both stories reach an emotional reconciliation you'll not soon forget.


When Liam Neeson begins talking about the special skills he possesses and will be using to get his daughter back and punish the people who kidnapped her, every dad watching feels a fire in their chest. This skill-filled quest drives 2008's "Taken."

Like Brumere, Liam Neeson's Bryan Mills is the "second parent": His daughter spends most of her time with her mom and rich stepdad. Mills can't provide cuddly closeness or an endless wallet, but he makes up for lost time with lots of hand-to-hand combat. His ability to dig through the layers and find who's really behind his daughter's kidnapping also echoes Brumere's tenacity. A father rescuing his daughter from an army of baddies is definitely a movie we've seen before, but "Taken" makes this old plot feel new again. And, of course, there is Bryan's legendary speech: "If you are looking for ransom," he growls, "I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you." Even on the hundredth re-watch, this warning still sends chills down the spine.

The Hitman's Bodyguard

"The Last Mercenary" is a movie about a super-soldier using his talents to take down baddies for the sake of his child. But it's also an action comedy, much like 2017's "The Hitman's Bodyguard." This funny movie features Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce, a disgraced bodyguard tasked with protecting Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), an international assassin. Kincaid is set to testify against a vicious dictator in international court, but on his way there, his CIA escort is attacked, due to an internal leak. This is how Kincaid ends up being protected by Bryce, who's more experienced with protecting businessmen than international targets.

Of course, Bryce isn't up to the task. But with some help from Kincaid, the two make their way to court amidst a hail of bullets, fights, quips, and a bus full of nuns. The action is great, Reynolds and Jackson are at the top of their game, and the jokes never stop. While its critical reception was so-so, it got enough good buzz and made enough money to ensure a sequel, 2021's "Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard."


When it comes to superhuman feats of solo warfare against an army of jacked enemies, few heroes can compete with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tuning into one of his movies means you're in for bulging muscles, flying bullets, careening vehicles, and massive explosions. This is very much true of 1985's "Commando," which stars Schwarzenegger in his prime. Yet this is also the story of a dad using his considerable talents and immense strength to rescue and protect his child.

John Matrix's (Schwarzenegger) retirement is shattered when his home is attacked by a group of mercenaries. They kidnap his daughter to extort him to commit an assassination in South America. Matrix agrees, then manages to escape the plane taking him to South America. He proceeds to kill his way through a mercenary army to rescue his daughter. Matrix's drive to rescue his kid, who's caught up in a mess related to his brutal career, echoes Brumere's motivation. Both men also go it alone, in classic action hero fashion.


In 2006's "Crank," Jason Statham plays Chev Chelios, a hitman who has to keep his adrenaline flowing to fight a poison he was injected with by a criminal organization. As his doctor friend tells him, "If you stop, you die." Thus, Chelios has to fight his way through the gang he was once affiliated with. He does so with dramatic flair, fantastic violence, and much gallows humor. Notably, Chelios takes part in some truly absurd action scenes — watching him lead a police chase through a mall is especially entertaining.

"Crank" borders on, and often crosses the line into, absurdity, much like "The Last Mercenary" does. Statham's unique fighting style furthers this zany tone: It's a mixture of pragmatic blunt force and creative usage of any and all objects that come to hand. This has become a standard style in action movies — such improvisational combat runs strong through "The Last Mercenary" as well. "Crank" provides a great example of why this approach became popular in the first place.

Rush Hour

Jackie Chan is one of the most influential martial artists in action movie history. His prodigious fighting skills, combined with his embrace of humor and creativity, created new norms in the genre. The "Rush Hour" series, which begins with 1998's "Rush Hour," might just deserve the most credit in this department: These movies bring together guns, martial arts, and a buddy comedy approach flawlessly. The rapport between Chan and Chris Tucker, who play Jonathan Lee and James Carter respectively, is a cinematic gift. It's also fairly reminiscent of the chemistry between Brumere, his son, and his son's friends in "The Last Mercenary."

Even today, years after it debuted, there are few action movies more entertaining than "Rush Hour." Watching Carter learn how to fight in the Eastern style while he teaches Lee how to adapt to a different environment simply never gets old. This relationship's legacy is obvious in "The Last Mercenary": Brumere learns about modern Paris and the internet much like Lee and Carter learn new things, and Chan's trademark ability to use any object as a weapon is echoed in Brumere's approach. There's no better movie for it to take inspiration from.


The world changes, but that doesn't mean old warriors are any less adept. That's the message behind "The Last Mercenary," and the driving force of the story in 2010's "Red." A billionaire looking to install a puppet president decides to kill the intelligence operatives who know the candidate single-handedly wiped out a civilian village years ago. Unfortunately for the billionaire and his CIA insider, they don't really grasp who they're dealing with, as  they quickly realize when they try to pick off the retired fighters who know the truth of what happened. Short memories condemn today's wicked when they underestimate the heroes of yesterday.

John Malkovich is in classic form here. His relationship with Russian ally Ivan (Brian Cox) echoes Brumere's longtime bond with an old French government colleague of his. Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren also bring their timeless skill into the mix, with fantastic results. There are double-crosses, fun fights, and ancient wounds here, all in constant play. Plus, Bruce Willis has to rescue his girlfriend, Mary Louise Parker, who ends up being every bit the butt-kicker he is. This merry band is reminiscent of Brumere's ragtag group of allies, and a whole lot of fun besides.

Hard to Kill

There was a time in the late '80s and early '90s when Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal were two of the world's biggest action stars. Though the two actors have taken very different paths since, 1990's "Hard to Kill" captures Seagal at the height of his fame. It's an interesting artifact of a cinematic era, and a ton of fun to watch.

Steven Seagal's martial arts skills are legendary, and in no film are they more fully on display than "Hard to Kill." Seagal plays Mason Storm, a cop whose only goals are taking down internal corruption and avenging his family. He uses a killer combination of martial arts and sharp intelligence to hunt down the men who killed his wife, and then, when he discovers his son is still alive, comes back to save the boy. At the same time, he untangles a twisted chain of misdeeds that connects a senator to rotten cops, killing all who get in his way. While it's not a comedy like "The Last Mercenary," it's just as relentlessly exciting.

Knock Off

By the time 1998's "Knock Off" came out, Jean-Claude Van Damme's career was beginning to change direction, and not necessarily in a good way (a process chronicled in 2008's "JCVD," in which he plays a fictionalized version of himself). Still, the movie has some great moments. Van Damme teams up with Rob Schneider to deliver what is, perhaps, not the most sophisticated humor around, but the laughs do come. As does the action: Big explosions from tiny "nanobombs" hidden in toys by a bunch of would-be gangers are a particular highlight.

"Knock Off," which takes place in Hong Kong, involves CIA betrayals, knock-off clothing, tons of combat, and plenty of Van Damme martial arts trickery. It also shows just how well Jean-Claude Van Damme does as a heavy accompanied by a funny, computer-savvy, physically weak sidekick,  just like Brumere and his son. In many ways, "The Last Mercenary" feels like an unofficial sequel to "Knock Off."

OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies

Every country has its own sense of humor. France's unique comic sensibilities are on full display in "The Last Mercenary," but it's not the only movie out there that can give you a peek at the nation's taste in funny films. Michel Hazanavicius' "OSS 117" films are flawless examples of French action-comedy, and there's no better one to start with than the very first, 2006's "OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies."

If you're an American cinephile, you may know Hazanavicius and "OSS 117" star Jean Dujardin for their Oscar-winning homage to old Hollywood's silent movies, 2011's "The Artist." But before "The Artist" hit theaters, there was "OSS 117," a brilliant send-up of spy movies full of satirical clandestine action and an endless array of jokes. "OSS 117" is a full satire, unlike "The Last Mercenary," which can merely be described as satirical. But if you like one, odds are, you'll like the other. Plus, "OSS 117" has all the elements necessary to basically act as a French Action Humor 101 class.

John Wick

Bad guys kill man's dog, man kills them all in revenge. So goes the plot of 2014's brilliantly brutal "John Wick." You might think this premise is a weak one, but this movie kills — literally. Keanu Reeves plays the eponymous fast-moving master of the fight scene, an ex-hitman who dispatches enemies with a blend of jiu-jitsu, epic shoot-outs, wild car chases, and lethal blows to avenge his beloved pup.

If you like "The Last Mercenary," you need to watch "John Wick." For one thing, you'll have a great time. But beyond that, "The Last Mercenary" is an action movie, and arguably, the entire action genre was reinvigorated by this Keanu Reeves revenge romp. This is why the movie has spawned three sequels and become a huge franchise, and why every theater seems to have been flooded with "John Wick" clones in recent years. "John Wick" is also stuffed with dizzying action sequences, much like "The Last Mercenary" is. Basically, if you like action movies, especially ones about a single man taking on countless bad guys, you need to watch "John Wick."

21 Jump Street

One might say that comparing 2012's "21 Jump Street" to "The Last Mercenary" is a bit of a stretch. It is, after all, a satirical reboot of the '80s series of the same name. One would be mistaken, however. Sure, it lacks the martial arts Van Damme delivers in "The Last Mercenary." Yet it brings the explosions and the gunplay. It brings the idea of a tough guy and a wannabe tough guy punching above their weight in a fight against criminal organizations and corrupt authority figures. And it has an utterly absurd car chase.

In "The Last Mercenary," the big car chase involves Van Damme steering a student driver car from the passenger seat while his inept son (who doesn't even have a driver's license) screams behind the wheel. In "21 Jump Street," there's an epic ending car chase in prom limos. 2014's "22 Jump Street" brings an even more absurd vehicle into the chase with a super-charged golf cart shaped a football helmet. And, of course, there are plenty of explosions, guns, and jokes to go around. They might seem dissimilar at first glance, but if you like "The Last Mercenary," "21 Jump Street" is worth a watch.

Central Intelligence

"The Last Mercenary" is driven by the play between skilled mercenary Brumere and his team, made up of his geeky son, his son's savvy friend, and her big brother. 2016's "Central Intelligence" tells a similar story about a CIA super-stud named Bob, played by Dwayne Johnson, who reconnects with Calvin, a high school friend played by Kevin Hart. Calvin's become an accountant, but in high school, he was the coolest kid around, while Bob was a chubby nerd Calvin stuck up for. Now, Bob needs Calvin's help once more.

Bob is trying to root out CIA operatives selling information. While Calvin is a forensic accountant, he's not very skilled with the tough guy stuff. Of course, Bob, being played by the Rock, has that covered. Calvin proceeds to get dragged screaming through one wild action sequence after another. Along the way, he manages to learn how to stand up and be strong, as he once did. Action? Check. Comedy? Oh yeah. An experienced warrior teaching a smart civilian how to be tough? Yup. If Johnson were a couple decades older and reuniting with a kid, "Central Intelligence" and "The Last Mercenary" would basically be the same movie.


If you like Jean-Claude Van Damme now, you need to see him in his prime. 1988's "Bloodsport" is one of the Belgian actor's most well-known films — it's so legendary, there's even a "Bloodsport" poster hanging in the villain's game room in "The Last Mercenary." "Now that's a real man," Brumere says, as they walk by the poster. He isn't wrong.

Granted, the premise of "Bloodsport" is nothing like "The Last Mercenary." Here, Van Damme's character competes in an underground fighting tournament to prove his ninjutsu skills. What results is a true martial arts classic, and a tribute to Van Damme's talent. Watch "Bloodsport," and you'll understand why Jean-Claude Van Damme has had such a long career. Plus, you'll get why he's first seen in "The Last Mercenary" holding an improbable split to brace himself in the portico above a quarry. That split is his signature for darn good reason.