The Raid
The Raid is set to be one of the surprise hits of the year (Pt. Merantau Films)

A crop of upcoming cinema releases suggests that 2012 will be the year that sees old school action films make a comeback.

Spectacular cops-trapped-in-a-building effort The Raid, released on 19 May, is set to be one of the biggest financial hits of the year, having been made on a budget of just over $1m (£650,000).

The 'action first-script later' essence of the film is best captured by its tagline: "One ruthless crime lord. 20 elite cops. 30 floors of hell."

See the trailer below:

As the trailer makes clear, this is not a film focused so much on plot and character as it is on the ballet of combat, intricate choreography and mano-a-mano combat in the true popcorn movie sense.

Having already made gross profits of more than $4m within a couple of days of its worldwide release, it is clear director Gareth Evans has tapped into an audience that has felt ignored outside of straight-to-DVD films or the odd Jason Statham effort.

Statham, one of the few actors around to carve themselves a niche as a traditional action star, has timed his career perfectly with the wave of action nostalgia, which will reach its zenith with The Expendables 2.

He's back
He's back - Arnold Schwarzenegger will return to his action cinema roots (Millennium Films)

The first Expendables film saw Sylvester Stallone set out to create the action film that fans in the 1980s and 1990s dreamt of, bringing Stone together with Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li and Bruce Willis.

The sequel, which recently got its first full-length trailer and is due for release in August, looks set to turn the nostalgic action dial all of the way up to 11, expanding the roster to include Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger - who actually utters the line "I'm back".

See the trailer below:

Judging by the levels of fan anticipation on film message boards, the action renaissance looks set to continue, even spilling over into more family-friendly certificate films.

Former wrestler Dwayne Johnson, or 'The Rock', whose addition to the Fast & Furious franchise gave it a huge box office boost, will bring his physical talents to the fore in GI Joe: Retaliation.

Gi: joe
GI Joe: Retaliation - not big on subtlety (Hasbro)

GI Joe Retaliation is released in August. See the trailer below:

Just as the start of the new millennium saw nostalgia for westerns and grimy 1970s-style cinema, it would appear that the world of film is as cyclical as that of fashion, with 1980s and 1990s audiences looking for action films that ditch the high concept for high calibre.

With plans for a new Die Hard film in the works alongside a reboot of the Lethal Weapon franchise, it would appear that audiences with a taste for explosions will have plenty to look forward to.