John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum delivered yet another fantastic entry into the unexpected John Wick franchise. The first film arrived without much fanfare but proved to be a glorious treat for action movie fans. The sequels have continued to explore the fascinating world of assassins and their culture as they follow Keanu Reeves’ titular killer on his deadly journey.
The John Wick films feel very unique, but they do owe a lot to some work that came before. Directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski have talked about some of the great films that helped shape the John Wick series. Some are classics you probably know, others might be new to you. Here are the movies that influenced John Wick, ranked worst to best.
10 Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance
Directors Leitch and Stahelski have pointed to Park Chan-wook's South Korean Vengeance Trilogy as a major inspiration for the John Wick movies. While this first entry is the lesser of the series, it is still a very compelling and uncomfortable film. The story follows a man who kidnaps a young girl for ransom to pay for his sister's removal. When the kidnapping goes wrong, the young girl's father sets out seeking revenge. The dark and extreme violence of the movie will not be for everyone. But the haunting tale and striking visuals make it worth watching for those who can handle such disturbing material.
Few actors can pull off being cool as effortlessly as Steve McQueen. Nicknamed the King of Cool, McQueen excelled at playing calm and smooth heroes. Bullitt was perhaps his finest role. The crime film followed McQueen as the titular San Francisco detective looking into the murder of an informant. The movie is famous for having one of the best car chases ever seen on film. The movie is a solid cop film elevated by some stellar set pieces and a great performance from McQueen.
8 Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was the final installment in Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy. The revenge tale follows a woman who is released from prison after serving 13 years for a murder she didn't commit. Now free, she sets out to find the real man responsible and seek her own redemption. The film is another gruesome and dark tale, but has Chan-wook's signature complexity. This is not the kind of revenge story that makes an audience cheer. It is a difficult film but deeply compelling and a great end to an underrated trilogy.
7 The Man From Nowhere
The John Wick directors are clearly big fans of South Korean cinema, as they also named this action thriller from Lee Jeong-beom as a very influential movie for them. The most modern film on the list, The Man from Nowhere is a brutal and bloody action movie about a quiet pawnshop owner who sets out to find a kidnapped girl. It's easy to see the similarities to John Wick, as this is another story about a reserved man of violence who the mob unintentionally provoked and now his target. The fight scene and shoot-outs are thrilling, making it an excellent film for any action movie fans.
6 Point Blank
John Wick is a practical man. He is one of the deadliest people on earth, but he’s only dangerous if you get in his way. He has a mission, and he just wants to see it through. In that respect, he is very similar to the character of Porter in Point Blank.
Played by Lee Marvin, Porter is a matter-of-fact man who just wants to get back the money that was stolen from him by his former partner. This takes him on a deadly quest and pits him against an entire crime syndicate. The movie is a stylish and entertaining crime tale with a memorable and cool anti-hero at its center.
5 Le Cercle Rouge
Le Cercle Rouge is a French-Italian crime film from acclaimed French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville. The film is a gritty crime drama about a newly released convict who meets two strangers and begins planning a daring heist with them. The John Wick movies are keen to let the action do the talking, and that can very much be said of this film as well. The slow-burn approaches leads to the climactic and elaborate heist which plays out with almost no dialogue. The film is tense, exhilarating and a standout in the crime genre.
The second film in the Vengeance Trilogy is also the series' crowning achievement. Oldboy is a dark and twisted psychological thriller that has been called one of the best films of the 21st century by many critics. It is the story of a man who is imprisoned by unknown assailants for several years only to be suddenly released without explanation. With his old life gone, his only purpose left is vengeance. Only with the same visual beauty of Park Can-wook's other films, this also has one of the most memorable fight scenes in modern cinema. It is a violent journey filled with horrifying twists that are not to be missed.
3 The French Connection
The 70s was a decade famous for gritty crime dramas with heroes who operated in a morally grey area. One of the finest examples of this is William Friedkin's masterpiece, The French Connection. Gene Hackman stars as Popeye Doyle, a hard-edged New York cop who attempts to hunt done a French heroin smuggler operating in his city.
The film was a huge success at the time and became the first R-rated film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. The stripped-down and realistic action make it an unforgettable thriller. And like Bullitt, it has one of the most amazing car chases you'll ever see in film.
2 The Killer
John Woo is one of the most influential directors in the genre of action films. The surge of shoot-em-up action movies that became popular in the 90s is largely due to the work Woo was doing in China with his stylized and violent films. While he has many classics under his belt, The Killer might be his best. Chow Yun-fat stars as a mob assassin who embarks on one last dangerous job in order to pay for surgery for a young woman he injured on his last job. Woo balances the melodrama of the picture with over-the-top action, making it a wild and thrilling ride.
1 The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is celebrated as one of the best movies of all time and for good reason. Many other filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino have named it as one of their favorite films, as well. The most iconic of the Spaghetti Western genre follows three deadly men all in search of a buried fortune. The movie has so many iconic aspects from the score, to Clint Eastwood’s hero, to the climactic showdown. After all these years the film still holds up as a masterpiece of filmmaking and pure entertainment for any audience.