10 Action-Adventure ‘Quest’ Films That Have Come To Define The Genre

Uncharted has taken plenty of inspiration from its source material and the genre that it seeks to emulate. There are plenty of treasure hunting, quest-based, and action-adventure movies that have hugely contributed to the genre in general (for better and worse).

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These films have certainly left their mark on Uncharted in a variety of ways, from the swashbuckling tone of the piece, to even some of the casting choices. Cinema fans will definitely recognize elements from these releases within the Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg blockbuster, and plenty of films in the future will continue to look to these as they craft their own retelling of familiar beats.


Indiana Jones: Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones grabbing treasure in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

From the visuals to the concept itself, the Indiana Jones franchise has absolutely filled the rest of the action-adventure genre with its imagery. The iconic series was launched by Raiders Of The Lost Ark, which sported a heroic and charismatic lead as well as over-the-top, caricature villains.

With a mystical premise and a treasure-based quest, plenty of movies have tried to emulate the fast-paced feeling of that original Indy hit with its heightened action and deep exploration scenes. The Uncharted games undoubtedly take some cues from Indiana Jones as a whole, and it’s surely difficult to adapt the rope swinging Nathan Drake without looking to the archaeologist first.

Jumanji (1995)

Jumanji has had an incredible impact on the industry as a whole. Bringing the world of a jungle-based board game into reality, the quest to complete the adventure was on, as these young players tried to best the beasts that roamed the fantastical landscape.

The original film has, of course, led to a sci-fi spin-off and two separate sequels which take audiences into the jungle itself. Its comedy is top tier and the rugged survival aspect of the piece definitely lends itself to the dangerous and hilarious situations of the Uncharted series.

The Mummy (1999)

The leads of the Mummy in an Egyptian tomb

The Mummy might have been pulling from the themes of the old monster movies popularized by Universal, but it also plays off of the treasure-hunting and archeological investigations of the Indiana Jones series. With a supernatural threat, The Mummy movies became action sensations.

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The international settings and mysterious tombs to uncover match the vibes of Nathan Drake globe-trotting to find an underground clue. The film has really set the benchmark for what a modern release within the genre can look and feel like, and there have been attempts to reboot the narrative even more recently. Of course, it’s the charm and whimsicality (despite the dark backdrop) that allows the original to thrive.

Romancing The Stone (1984)

Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone

Whether it’s Jungle Cruise or indeed Uncharted, plenty of movies within the genre owe something to Romancing The Stone (which demonstrated that an exploration of a tropical setting could completely enthrall audiences). With serious performances (despite the freewheeling premise) accompanied by some moments of genuine comedy, the release was catapulted into cinema history.

The production value of Romancing The Stone alone is stellar, as these real-world locations and beautiful set work come together to create an out-of-this-world experience. Even the costume work has been emulated since in similar productions, setting the standard for other jewel-hunting epics.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)

Pirates Of The Caribbean Curse Of The Black Pearl Jack Sparrow

There are a lot of reasons as to why the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise became as successful as it did. A huge portion of those explanations comes down to the character of Captain Jack Sparrow, who oozed charisma while boasting an erratic personality that felt different from other action leads.

The scale of these films is massive, with the first in particular setting up the general tone for the series moving forward, as undead pirates search for the lost gold that cursed them. The action was intense and it paid homage to the sword-fighting sequences seen within other genre films. It’s hard to ignore the pirate ship-sized inclusion in Uncharted that surely traces itself back to this swashbuckling production.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, standing and turning to the side.

While many of the movies added a quality installment to the studios’ respective archives, the first Lara Croft: Tomb Raider release left a lot to be desired from critics. It’s built a cult following and set the stage for future video game adaptations.

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It taught successive movies what to do and what to avoid in building a protagonist that fans would be familiar with from a different format. The portrayal of Lara Croft herself is to be commended and Sony would have looked to Tomb Raider in regards to its storytelling when adapting such a huge property. Its impact is undeniable even if its reception was frosty.

Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max holds a gun

While it may be in a completely different genre, the post-apocalyptic Mad Max series definitely lends some of its tropes to other action-adventure films. The lone adventurer, in search of something, complete with a leather jacket and dust-laden boots, certainly plays on the imagery of familiar characters.

Often, these kinds of films feature a lead that wisecracks and talks their way out of danger, but here, Max set the bar for other silent-type protagonists. Action-adventure films usually have to build out a mystical lore for the hero to break down (much like Nathan Drake does in Uncharted and the mystery of the missing ships). The world-building in Mad Max and the barren planes is not that much different.

Moonraker (1979)

Bond and Holly in Moonraker

There are countless James Bond adventures that could be featured, from Live And Let Die to some of the most recent installments. However, Moonraker demonstrated that the book-adapted franchise really could go anywhere, launching its next outing into space.

Laughable yet terrifying villains like Jaws have really been a major feature of the genre as a whole and played a little into Uncharted’s protagonists. But the notion that a suave and sophisticated hero can take their mission beyond normal achievements absolutely plays into the cocktail making Nathan Drake and his venture into the unknown.

Allan Quatermain And The Lost City Of Gold (1986)

Allan Quatermain And The Lost City Of Gold

Much like the throwback classic of Romancing The Stone, Allan Quatermain And The City Of Gold set the aesthetic for the action-adventure genre early on. There’s a touch of Indiana Jones in its costuming and set design as productions tried to capitalize on the success of Raiders. 

The Allan Quatermain character is actually adapted from a series of books and the lost city premise is even being recycled in another upcoming genre release. The chemistry of the leads should also be touched upon as an integral part of the makeup of The City Of Gold and future movies, with the great dialogue becoming a part of the relationship for most leads who begrudgingly quest together.

The Mask Of Zorro (1998)

The heroic Zorro in The Mask Of Zorro.

Is there a more iconic swashbuckler than Zorro? The Mask Of Zorro is one of the best examples of the masked vigilante in action, as this hero woos, rescues, and hides in the shadows while taking down comic book-esque antagonists that are so representative of the genre.

It’s cheesy yet serious at the same time, giving audiences a great ride with a beloved hero. Not only is the visual design astounding but the performances are top-notch, so much so that Uncharted stole one of its stars to capture that same essence. As part of a major franchise, the mark of Zorro will live on forever thanks to the effect that that initial release had on audiences in the 1920s.

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