Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013: the best action films

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013: the best action films

Paris Countdown

Car chases, kidnappings and counter-espionage thrills at the EIFF

Days of Grace

With a frenetic pace and a full-on soundtrack to match (featuring Nick Cave and Bad Seeds/Grinderman cohort Warren Ellis), this Mexico City-set thriller uses the confusion and bustle of three World Cup football matches (in 2002, 2006 and 2010) as a backdrop for three kidnappings. Told from a variety of perspectives, this debut feature from writer-director Everardo Valerio Gout has inspired critics to employ phrases like 'adrenaline rush' (Hollywood Reporter) and 'insanely over-the-top' (Variety) - which is just how we like our action round these parts.

7 Boxes

Another Latin American thriller, this one following street kid Victor (newcomer Celso Franco) as he transports cargo through a crowded Paraguayan market place. What's in the boxes, he doesn't know, but it soon becomes apparent that it's something of interest to people who'll do anything to get it. Shot in the tight, claustrophobic confines of the real life Mercado 4 in the capital city of Asunción, 7 Boxes is a classic chase movie with a Hitchockian plot device - the mystery MacGuffin - at the heart of it.


A Hong Kong action film about a seasoned 'high speed pursuit' specialist (Infernal Affairs' Anthony Wong), joining forces with a rookie partner (Shawn Yue) for one last mission... We've sold it to you already, haven't we? Making no bones about it's highly familiar set-up, Motorway is all about the car chases - have a look at the various trailers available online and tell us the combination of gasoline and Drive-esque electronica doesn't get your motor revving.

The Berlin File

Falling into the Festival's Korean Cinema strand, The Berlin File is a spy thriller with no shortage of chases, gun-play and hard-hitting fight sequences. The plot is standard double-crossing counter-espionage stuff - when a top spy is betrayed by his superiors he starts to uncover a conspiracy that might (sing it with us) go all the way to the top. Not that a traditional plotline is necessarily a bad thing - we'd wager the film's action-packed set pieces are where we'll see some real innovation and excitement.

Paris Countdown

Two French nightclub owners, Milan and Victor, are on the run when a criminal from their past comes to Paris looking for revenge. As you might expect with that setting, the clubland score is very much a driving force in a film that also packs in some explosive bursts of action and some taut drama in the form of Milan and Victor's estranged friendship.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

The oldest continually running film festival in the world, the EIFF draws on its prestige to consistently present abundant programmes of new features, documentaries, retrospectives, shorts, panel discussions and educational workshops, with a few high profile premieres thrown in for good measure.

Days of Grace (Días de gracia)

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • Mexico
  • 2h 13min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Everardo Valerio Gout
  • Written by: Everardo Valerio Gout, David Rutsala
  • Cast: Paulina Gaitan, Carlos Bardem, Miguel Rodarte
  • UK release: 26 July 2013

A Mexican thriller set over three World Cup games in 2002, 2006 and 2010, following three different stories in a film about survival.

Le Jour se Leve (Le jour se lève)

  • 1939
  • France
  • 1h 33min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Marcel Carné
  • Cast: Jean Gabin, Jacqueline Laurent, Arletty

Gabin's masculinity and 'boy-next-door' charm are put to good use as a tragic working-class hero in this pre-war film which features groundbreaking use of flashbacks.

Motorway (Che sau)

  • 2012
  • Hong Kong
  • 1h 30min
  • Directed by: Pou-Soi Cheang
  • Cast: Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Shawn Yue, Xiaodong Guo

‘Did you get this job so you could speed legally?’ Seasoned cop Lo (action film legend Anthony Wong) and his rookie partner Cheung (Shawn Yue) are members of an elite squad of Hong Kong police dedicated to high-speed pursuit of criminals. On the verge of retirement, Lo gets behind the wheel one last time to help Cheung…

7 Boxes

  • 2012
  • Paraguay
  • 1h 40min
  • Directed by: Juan Carlos Maneglia/Tana Schembori
  • Written by: Tito Chamorro, Juan Carlos Maneglia
  • Cast: Celso Franco, Lali Gonzalez, Nico García

A thrilling chase through the markets of Paraguay. Víctor is a teenage boy who finds himself in a man’s game. What begins as a normal day at the market where he works, soon transforms into a Hollywood style chase scene through the maze of bustling markets in Asunción. In return for a $100 bill, Víctor agrees to transport…

The Berlin File

  • 2013
  • South Korea
  • 2h
  • Directed by: Seung-wan Ryoo
  • Cast: Jung-woo Ha, Suk-kyu Han, Seung-beom Ryu

State-of-the-art thrills from a master action director. Ryoo Seung-wan, one of Asia’s top directors, spins a fast-paced and twisty yarn of international intrigue. After an arms deal in a Berlin hotel ends in chaotic violence, a North Korean spy who narrowly escapes comes to suspect that he’s been set up by a double agent.