10 Action Films That Changed Everything

'Star Wars'
A man walks past a poster promoting the 'Star Wars' final episode in Santiago, Chile, on May 18, 2005. It's pretty much a heavyweight across all film genres. Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

"Star Wars" is the perfect example of a movie you probably don't think of as an action movie. It's science fiction. Or adventure. Or space opera. But it has sword fights, gun battles, explosions and chases. There's no doubt "Star Wars" is packed with action.

It's easy to see how "Star Wars" changed everything. The film achieved astonishing success when it was released back in 1977, but that success goes far beyond box office numbers. "Star Wars" has become a massive part of pop culture, one film trilogy spawning another, numerous rereleases, TV shows, comic books, games, toys, theme parks, novels and even more movies. It's a cultural juggernaut. It's difficult to imagine a world without droids, Wookiees, Jedi and the Force because they've become ubiquitous.

Hollywood went straight to work trying to repeat that success. The film industry's new willingness to gamble on big-budget, sci-fi action movies in hopes of another "Star Wars"-size jackpot led to the "Terminator" series, the "Alien" movies, "RoboCop," "Jurassic Park," "The Matrix" and dozens of others. Sure, a lot of those series might have been made without "Star Wars" paving the way, but they might have had smaller budgets or fewer big stars.