Action films set during Christmas are surprisingly common. Sure, everyone brings up the original Die Hard. The 1988 action classic starring peak Bruce Willis is often simply called a “Christmas Movie” at this point. However, here’s a group of 80s and 90s high-octane flicks that also spread some holiday cheer.
Lethal Weapon is a 1987 buddy cop film starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as clashing police officers – the hotheaded Martin Riggs and the buttoned-down Roger Murtaugh. However, many forget the sunny Los Angeles set film takes place during Christmas. Lethal Weapon is filled with Christmas imagery and themes, and opens with the cheerful tune of “Jingle Bell Rock”. Gibson’s unhinged cop Martin Riggs is even first introduced doing a drug bust at a Christmas tree lot.
1992’s Batman Returns features Gotham’s dark knight, played by Michael Keaton, facing off against the formidable duo of Catwoman, portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, and the Penguin, played by Danny DeVito. The entire movie takes place during the Holiday season. Director Tim Burton is known for incorporating Christmas motifs in his films, like Edward Scissorhands and A Nightmare Before Christmas. Just take in all of the yuletide cheer Gotham has to offer during this early scene.
‘Die Hard 2: Die Harder’
1990’s Die Hard 2: Die Harder, like the original, takes place during Christmas. In this action-packed sequel, John McClane battles terrorists who have taken over a busy airport in Virginia. The film effectively captures the stress and chaos of the holiday season, with people rushing through the airport, trying to catch flights, retrieve baggage, and make phone calls from crowded booths. The trailer is packed with Christmas cheer, even featuring the song “Jingle Bell Rock.”
‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’
Renny Harlin (who helmed the above Die Hard 2) directed his former wife Geena Davis in the Christmas set action thriller The Long Kiss Goodnight. The movie follows Samantha Caine, a schoolteacher in Pennsylvania who is an amnesiac and unaware of her true identity as Charlene “Charly” Elizabeth Baltimore. However, as she unravels her past, Samantha discovers she is an elite CIA assassin skilled in combat, firearms, sniper rifles, and knife skills. Of course, this is another buddy action film penned by Shane Black, who also wrote Lethal Weapon. Davis’s Caine is paired with the hilarious Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a private investigator who helps Caine uncover her true identity. One of the most brutal fight scenes is filled with holiday decor.
The Most Bonkers Classic Action Film Set During Christmas… ‘Invasion USA’
No Christmas action movie can ring in the season quite like Chuck Norris in the 1985 classic Invasion USA. As the holidays approach, Soviet Commander Mikhail Rostov (played by Richard Lynch) orchestrates an invasion of the U.S., leading a ruthless army of guerrilla soldiers. However, it falls upon Matt Hunter (played by Norris), a retired CIA operative and longtime adversary of Rostov, to bring him to justice and thwart his plans. Perhaps the key Christmas scene is Chuck taking on a gang of terrorists in a busy mall decked out with Holiday decorations.
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