It’s time to buckle up when Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw arrives in Cineworld on 1st August. A spin-off from the blockbusting Fast & Furious series, Hobbs & Shaw follows the best of frenemies Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), recruited to save the world from the schemes of genetically-engineered terrorist Brixton (Idris Elba).
We can expect no shortage of the over-the-top action set pieces we’ve seen from the Fast & Furious films over the past 16 years, but our main cause for excitement here has to be watching these two hot-headed leads butt heads to hilarious effect. Hobbs and Shaw’s love-hate relationship in the two most recent Fast & Furious movies has resulted in them becoming fan favourites, so we naturally can’t wait to see them in their own adventure.
Hobbs and Shaw aren’t the only two heroes who’ve made action movies even better. Here are five more of our favourite action movie double-acts.
1. Cates and Hammond – 48 Hrs. (1982)
The buddy cop formula always makes for fantastic action double-acts, and this includes the unlikely pairing of by-the-book policeman Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) and wisecracking con artist Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy in his film debut) in 48 Hrs.
Although it wasn’t the first buddy cop film (that honour is considered to go to Akira Kurosawa’s 1949 film Stray Dog), it was one that popularised a particular blend of action and comedy, as we followed the pair on their mission to catch two murderers within – you guessed it – 48 hours. Oscar-nominated Nolte’s seriousness and Murphy’s cavalier attitude work wonders together, delivering constant laughs throughout and creating a genuinely heartfelt friendship by the end.
2. Riggs and Murtaugh – Lethal Weapon (1987)
If it was 48 Hrs’ Cates and Hammond who popularised the action movie double-act, then it was Lethal Weapon’s Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) who showed us that this combination could reach iconic status.
The first Lethal Weapon movie, which spawned three sequels and a television series, sees veteran LAPD detective Murtaugh being partnered with the reckless and self-destructive Riggs. However, when the pair get caught-up in a conspiracy involving drug smugglers, they need to learn to work together to get the job done.
Lethal Weapon is remembered fondly for its explosive action and intriguing mystery, but it’s the explosive onscreen relationship between Riggs and Murtaugh that keeps us coming back over and over again. We’ll never be too old for this pair.
3. Marcus and Mike – Bad Boys (1995)
Contrary to the previous examples we’ve cited, not all action movie double-acts need to be frenemies – sometimes they can just be regular best friends. Look no further than loudmouth detective duo Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) from 1990s action classic Bad Boys to see just what we mean.
After millions is seized from a police vault, our two heroes find themselves working against the clock to find the culprit, who’s believed to be a member of their own department. Starring then-rising stars Smith – who was still appearing on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – and Lawrence – known at the time for sitcom Martin and the House Party films – the pair’s comedic banter is simply a joy to watch. And while Smith and Lawrence had the comedy covered, it was Transformers director Michael Bay who provided the action in his directorial debut.
A sequel followed in 2003, and we can look forward to Smith and Lawrence joining forces once more when Bad Boys for Life hits cinemas in January 2020.
4. Lee and Carter – Rush Hour (1998)
In order for a double-act to qualify for this list, they have to be unique and memorable, and we don’t think you can get any more memorable or unique than Lee (Jackie Chan) and Carter (Chris Tucker) from outrageous action trilogy Rush Hour.
Accomplished Hong Kong police officer Lee is sent to LA to rescue the Chinese Consul’s daughter. There, he’s partnered with the far less accomplished LAPD detective Carter, who plans to solve the case alone. With Tucker’s vibrant personality playing-off Chan’s straight-man character with some culture clashes thrown in, there’s no shortage of laughs to be had here.
And with Chan’s legendary martial arts skills on display (all the more incredible when you remember he does all his own stunts), there’s just as much action here, too. But what separates Rush Hour from the rest is how Chan is able to turn slick fight choreography into creative slapstick. It was such a winning formula, it was reprised in two successful sequels.
5. Ashburn and Mullins – The Heat (2013)
Who says it’s just the boys who serve as our favourite action duos? Following the success of Bridesmaids, director Paul Feig delivered another side-splitting outing in the form of The Heat. Sandra Bullock stars as uptight FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn and Melissa McCarthy portrays crass and hot-headed Bostonian police officer Shannon Mullins, as they are forced together to take down a powerful drug lord.
McCarthy has shown herself to be one of the biggest stars in comedy today and everything we love about her screen persona is on full show in this fiery performance. And Oscar-winning Sandra Bullock’s comedic prowess is brought to the forefront when these polar opposites collide.
Although this flick leans more into the comedy between the two leads than the explosive action of the above examples, Ashburn and Mullins are nonetheless a prime example of why we love these actors and why we’ll always have a soft spot for action movie double-acts.
Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.