Great Car Chase Movies

Posted on 9 Aug 00:00

Car chases in movies are not only indispensable to make a good action movie but this undoubtedly helps the filmmakers to produce electrifying and audacious movies for the cinema. The exhilaration due to some incredible features and stunts not only make the movie pay off but on the other side, the crowd in cinemas relish when the deerstalker successfully catches its target or when the car being chased gets away. Incredible stunt drivers and visual effects make the audience feel what the on-screen character is going through. Following is the list of some great car chase movies in the history of the cinema.

1)  Bullitt (1968)

Lt. Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen), a San Francisco detective, is given the duty to protect a witness for two days by an ambitious politician, Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaugh). Before the night is over, the witness and one security officer are shot by two hit men. Walter becomes annoyed with detective Bullitt and considers him the one who leaked the location of witness to hit men.

On the other hand, Frank Bullitt is determined to investigate the leaks and gathers all the information about the hit men and their boss. Bullitt chases the hit men and the mafia through a maze of double-crosses and complications.

The movie, directed by Peter Yates stars Steve McQueen (as Bullitt), Robert Vaughn (as Walter) and Jacqueline Bisset (as Cathy). Bullitt, released in 1968, won an Oscar for the Best Film Editing and was also nominated for the Oscar in the Best Gilm Sound category. Bullitt is the fifth highest grossing film of the year of its release and earned about $ 42 million on Box Office with budget of only
$5.5 million. 

Bullitt’s car chase scene is legendary and lasted for about ten exhilarating minutes in the movie.

2)  The Road Warrior (1981)

Mad Max 2, released in the United States as “The Road Warrior” is one of the most famous car chase movies coming out of Australia. The movie was directed by George Miller and was released in 1981. The plot of the movie highlights a character “Mad” Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), who is wandering throughout post-apocalyptic Australia in search of fuel.

Max, now known as “The Road Warrior” stumbles upon a gas refinery community of survivors who are terrorized by a motorcycle gang led by The Humungus (Kjell Nilsson) and his finest warrior Wez (Vernon Wells). The community hires Max Rockatansky to fight for their freedom and transport the gasoline across the highway where he is regularly chased by motorcyclists.

The Road Warrior won two Australian Film Institute awards in several categories including the Best Director and Best Cinematography awards.

3)  To Live and Die in L.A (1985)

To live and Die in L.A is a thrilling action film of 1985, directed by William Friedkin is based on a novel written by a former secret service agent Gerald Petievich. The movie earned $ 3.6 million in the opening week of its release, and went on to earn $17.3 million whereas the budget of movie was only $6 million.

The movie is about two secret service agents Richard Chance (William Peterson) and his friend Jimmy Hart (Michael Greene) who are assigned to investigate a counterfeit money case. Chance loses his partner Jimmy Hart because the counterfeiter Rick Masters (played by Willem Dafoe) kills him.

The cop, Richard Chance, is determined to chase and Capture Rick Masters while working with another agent John Vukovich (John Pankow). The famous car chase sequence was filmed at the very last of film the filming took more than six weeks to shoot. The reason for shooting the car sequence at the end was because the director did not want to replace anybody and wanted to complete the bulk of their movie prior to the terrifying car chase scene.

4) Death Proof (2007)

'Death Proof' is  a Quentin Tarantino directed exploitation horror movie which was also written by Tarantino. Leading actors for the movie include Kurt Russel (as stuntman Mike), Rose McGowan (Pam), and Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Jungle Julia). The story is about three friends Julia, Arlene, and Shanna who decide to defend themselves agains a serial killer, Mike. Mike is a former movie stuntman who is on a mission to kill women in his engineered car.

Mike, kills numerous women using his car which he claims is death proof. Later in the movie, Zoe (Zoe Bell) and Kim (Tracie Thomas) are chased by Mike in Lebanon. Both the girls are tough and decide to pay back Mike for the attack.

The movie, though acclaimed, garnered mix reviews at the box office and attracted much of the crowd due to memorable stunts and car chases. Zoe Bell did all her stunts herself in the movie.

5) The Blues Brothers (1980)

The Blues Brothers is directed by John Landis featuring John Belushi (Joliet Jake) and Dan Aykroyd (Elwood Blues) in the leading roles. The movie also featured Carrie Fisher (Mystery Woman), John Candy (Burton Mercer), Henry Gibson (Head Nazi), and featured a host of celebrity cameo performances. 

The story centers on the two brothers Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues. Jake after his release from the jail visits the catholic home where he grew up with his brother Elwood. The brothers learn about the deficiency of funds which will eventually cause the shut down of the catholic homes. Both brothers decide to help the catholic orphanage by raising $5000 in 11 days. This story line leads to the reunion of the brother's R&B band and numerous chases and escapes from the police and their other enemies.

The Blues Brothers earned a whopping $116 million with a budget of $30 million. The movie won a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Effects and Editing.

6) Ronin (1998)

An action thriller film re-known for its spectacular car chase scenes, directed by John Frankenheimer and co-written by David Mamet and David Zeik was released in 1998. The story revolves around a suitcase with mystical content. An Irish women, Diedre ( Natascha McElhone) hires five ronin from all around the world to form a team in order to retrieve the suitcase from a man who is plans to sell the suitcase to Russians.

The action thriller movie features Robert De Niro (Sam), Jean Reno (Vincent), and Natascha McElhone (Diedre) in leading roles. The movie performed moderately well on the box office grossing about $ 71 million with its budget of $ 55 million. Ronin was second top-grossing film during its opening weekend and it was 1998’s 11th highest-grossing R-rated movie.

7) Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Smokey and the Bandit is a 1977 road action thriller classic movie directed by Hall Needham. This was the directorial debut for Hall Needham, a former movie stuntman. The story line of the movie highlights two truck drivers Bandit “Bo Darville” (Burt Reynolds) and Cledus (Jerry Reed) who are on a mission to illegally smuggle beer in their trucks.

In order to deliver the truck to Atlanta, Bandit and Cledus meet Carrie (Sally Field) and Junior (Mike Henry). Junior, a son of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) becomes aware of the beer smuggling, and he and his father, Justice, go on a high-speed pursuit across the southeast in order to catch the Bandit.

The movie featuring the excellent talents of  Mike Henry, Jackie Gleason, Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed and Sally Field earned an Oscar nomination for Best Film Editing in 1978.


Car chases have been part of movies since the middle of the 20th century. Awesome car chases in movies not only showcase incredible stunts by the drivers, but also feature tremendous driving skills. Good and effective car chase scenes in movies not guarantee the success of a movie but it helps the movies box office sales.

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