Jalmari Helander’s directorial ‘Sisu‘ is a historical action thriller movie set during World War II. Aatami Korpi is a retired Finnish commando who lives in the Finnish Lapland collecting gold nuggets. After accumulating a significant amount, he decides to sell it in the city but encounters Nazi officer Bruno Helldorf and his men, who steal his gold. This pushes Aatami to return to his former ways, where he was notorious for being a one-man killing machine. Determined to take his gold back, he wages a total war on Helldorf and his men, unbothered about the trail of blood he leaves behind.
Inspired by the real-life Finnish military sniper Simo Häyhä and the 1982 movie ‘First Blood,’ the Jorma Tommila-starrer is a treat for those who love high-octane action and the one-man army trope in cinema. So, if you enjoyed this action saga and wish to enjoy more such stories, we have the perfect recommendations for you. You can watch most of these movies like ‘Sisu’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime!
8. The Equalizer (2014)
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, ‘The Equalizer‘ is an action-adventure movie loosely based on the eponymous 1980 TV show. It follows Robert McCall, a former Special Services Commando who wishes to put his past behind him and start afresh. Hence, he fakes his own death and enters a life of peace, eventually befriending a young girl named Teri.
However, when McCall sees her being manhandled by a dangerous Russian gang, he is compelled to return to his old ways and deliver his brand of unforgiving justice. Although not a war movie like ‘Sisu,’ ‘The Equalizer’ also features a hardened ex-commando forced out of retirement to face a ruthless enemy and defend what he holds dear. Moreover, the power-packed action sequences in both movies are equally entertaining.
7. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
‘Inglourious Basterds’ may not be a hardcore action flick like ‘Sisu,’ but the backdrop of World War II is one of the many similarities between the two movies. The Quentin Tarantino directorial follows a group of Jewish guerrilla soldiers who go undercover as Nazi officers to bring down the enemy government. Quite unexpectedly, their plans collide with Shosanna Dreyfus, a Jewish refugee who also plots to avenge her family’s death at the hands of Nazi soldiers.
Apart from the same timeline, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ and ‘Sisu’ feature protagonists with a common vengeance against the Nazi army. Though their methods and motivations differ, they are ready to put their lives at risk for their beliefs and to fulfill their missions seeking justice against the enemy who wronged them.
6. Polar (2019)
In Jonas Åkerlund’s ‘Polar,’ Duncan Vizla, aka The Black Kaiser, was one of the world’s most sought-after assassins who is now trying to enjoy a peaceful retirement away from violence. Sadly, his former employer has other plans for him and orders a hit on him after marking him a liability. Cornered by a group of young and faster assassins, Vizla is forced to pick up his weapons again to fend for himself, unleashing rage within that has been dormant for a while.
Vizla in ‘Polar’ and Aatami in ‘Sisu’ are men who are forced to return to their violent past selves when enemies threaten their present peace. Besides, both are infamous for their merciless ways of destroying their opponents and do not stop once they begin. While Vizla is desperate to protect his life, Aatami tries to protect the fruits of his hard work. With so much at stake, both protagonists are like wounded beasts pushed back into bloodshed.
5. Fury (2014)
Helmed by David Ayer, ‘Fury‘ bears many resemblances to ‘Sisu.’ Set during World War II, it follows Wardaddy, an experienced tank commander, who is stuck in war-torn Germany with his five crew members. Despite the odds being stacked against them, he leads them on an unthinkable mission of defending a field hospital from the approaching Nazi troops.
Determined to eradicate the Nazis, Wardaddy pulls all stops and goes head-to-head with the enemy. Apart from the common setting of the Second World War, both ‘Fury’ and Sisu’ revolve around two protagonists hardened by their past, who wage a war against the Nazis. Even though the chances of survival are bleak, Wardaddy and Aatami are men of honor who put their missions above their lives and pull all stops while attacking their enemy.
4. Warhorse: One (2022)
‘Warhorse: One,’ directed by Johnny Strong, is a modern tale, yet the elements of war and a protagonist navigating the enemy’s territory to complete a risky mission remain the same as in ‘Sisu.’ Master Chief Richard Mirko is a Navy SEAL operator who miraculously survives after his team’s helicopter is shot down during a rescue mission in Afghanistan. As he continues evacuating missionaries, he stumbles upon a little girl and connects with her emotionally.
Given his affection for the child, Mirko decides to transport her to safety and embarks on a perilous journey in the war-torn land, battling insurgent attacks and harsh terrain. Regardless of the vast differences in the premises of ‘Sisu’ and ‘Warhorse: One,’ both movies explore how any war (old and new) brings out the worst side of humanity and how the underdog protagonists single-handedly navigate through dangerous terrains to reach their destinations, despite the enemy being hot on their trail.
3. Nobody (2021)
‘Nobody‘ is an action thriller movie directed by Ilya Naishuller that revolves around Hutch Mansell, a mild-mannered family man who avoids conflict at all costs. However, when a burglary at home makes his wife and kids mock his docile nature, he is pushed over the edge and walks down a violent path. Soon, Hutch makes a dangerous enemy in the Russian mafia and must now tap into his violent tendencies to protect his family.
Regardless of the diverse situations depicted in ‘Nobody’ and ‘Sisu,’ both movies feature underdog protagonists with underlying rage, trying to avoid bloodshed as they know that once they indulge in the same, the consequences will be unpredictable. Yet, when they face extreme threats, they embrace their dark pasts and surprise both the enemies and the audience.
2. John Wick (2014)
Helmed by Chad Stahelski, ‘John Wick‘ is an action thriller movie that follows the titular protagonist, an ex-hitman forced to reawaken his deadly past self when the Russian mob steals his car and cruelly kills his beloved dog. Following the brutal attack, John Wick sees red and goes after his enemies with animalistic vengeance, indiscriminately eliminating anyone who comes his way.
Even though the movie has a different treatment of the action revenge genre, it is highly similar to ‘Sisu’ in terms of the protagonists’ character arcs. Both John Wick and Aatami are trying to steer clear of their pasts as trained killers, but once wronged by their enemies, their extreme ways of seeking justice are pretty similar. Not only are the two examples of a one-man army pitted against a much bigger opponent, but their hidden rage is the only emotion that drives them in life.
1. First Blood (1982)
Since it is, after all, the inspiration behind ‘Sisu,’ Ted Kotcheff-directed ‘First Blood‘ undoubtedly tops this list. Starring Sylvester Stallone, the iconic action movie centers around John Rambo, a Vietnam War veteran still haunted by traumatic memories from the battlefield. When a ruthless small-town sheriff drives him out of town, he gets triggered to the extent that he wages a full-blown war against the town’s police department.
On the run from the law, Rambo is forced to unleash his worst side to defend himself and teach a lesson to those who wronged him. As one can see, Rambo’s predicament mirrors Aatami’s in ‘Sisu’ — both are ex-military men with a tragic past they are desperately trying to escape. Still, they are the wrong guys to mess with, and once provoked to leave their solitude aside, they go full force upon their enemies, living up to their former reputations of being killing machines.
Read More: Is Sisu Based on a True Story?