Columbia Pictures

Everyone knows that Denzel Washington is one of America's greatest living actors. But as it turns out, this beloved star is also pretty good at kicking butt on the big screen.

To help tide you over until the release of "Equalizer 2," here are 12 essential Denzel action movies.

'Ricochet' (1991)

Warner Bros.

This crime thriller had the misfortune of hitting theaters just a few weeks before the very similar "Cape Fear," which didn't exactly help its long-term prospects. Still, it's a stylishly shot action movie that showcases a young Washington, and it's hard to ask for more than that.

'Crimson Tide' (1995)

Buena Vista Pictures

"Crimson Tide" is the first of several movies to prove that Denzel Washington plus director Tony Scott equals great action movie. Together, this duo gave us one of the best submarine thrillers ever made, one that has intelligence to back up its gripping conflict.

'Courage Under Fire' (1996)

20th Century Fox

"Courage Under Fire" proved to be a respectable hit in summer 1996, which is no small feat considering it landed in theaters in the immediate aftermath of "Independence Day." Clearly, audiences found something to like in this wartime drama about a disgraced military officer investigating whether a fallen soldier (Meg Ryan) deserves to become the first woman to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor.

'Man on Fire' (2004)

Buena Vista Pictures

Washington and director Tony Scott struck gold again in this 2004 action/revenge movie. Here, Washington played an ex-soldier-turned-bodyguard whose mission becomes personal when a young girl (Dakota Fanning) is kidnapped by a ruthless drug cartel. It's basically Washington starring in a Punisher movie, just without the costume.

'Deja Vu' (2006)

Buena Vista Pictures

Washington and Scott shifted in a slightly more outlandish direction for their next collaboration, with Washington being cast as an ATF agent who travels back in time to prevent a devastating terrorist attack. Not everyone was sold with the sci-fi premise, but some critics agreed that "Deja Vu" is a sleek, enjoyable romp regardless.

'Inside Man' (2006)

20th Century Fox

If you want a smart, cleverly constructed heist movie, there are far worse directors to turn to than Spike Lee. Seeing Washington reunite with his "He Got Game" and "Malcolm X" director is just one of the appeals with this film. There's also the stylish direction and a script full of twists and turns.

'Unstoppable' (2010)

Columbia Pictures

"Unstoppable" would mark the final collaboration between Washington and Tony Scott before the latter's death in 2012. At least they crafted one more great action movie together, with Washington starring alongside Chris Pine as a man charged with halting a runaway freight train. It's a much better "Speed" sequel than the actual "Speed 2."

'Safe House' (2012)

Universal Pictures

Every once in a while it's fun to see Washington play the bad guy for a change. "Safe House" is a welcome change of pace in that regard, with Ryan Reynolds playing a rookie CIA agent forced to protect an agency turncoat (Washington) from ruthless mercenaries. At times, the actors seem better than the script they're given, but this one is still worth a watch.

'The Equalizer' (2014)

Columbia Pictures

"The Equalizer" reunites Washington with "Training Day" director Antoine Fuqua, and the results are satisfying. It's essentially a low-key take on "John Wick," featuring a retired assassin mowing down gangsters left and right and overflowing with stylish hyper-violence. It's a film that proves that Washington only seems to get cooler with age.

'The Magnificent Seven' (2016)

MGM/Columbia Pictures

Washington and Fuqua joined forces again for this remake of the classic Western (which itself was a remake of "The Seven Samurai"). This tale of seven unlikely heroes defending a poor, desolate town didn't necessarily need to be told all over again. Still, with a great ensemble cast and exciting shootouts, it certainly delivers a rollicking good time.