"Lesser" 90's Action Films

by ultimatenexus | created - 1 month ago | updated - 1 month ago | Public

This is a list of action films that are pretty entertaining, but didn't make much of a dent critically or financially. They may have even been box office bombs, or forgotten entirely. Still, if they have any merit, it's that they are still pretty fun to watch on a quiet afternoon with nothing to do. Will be adding to this list as time goes on and I am open to suggestions. There are many that I have either forgotten or just haven't seen yet.

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1. Last Man Standing (1996)

R | 101 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A drifting gunslinger-for-hire finds himself in the middle of an ongoing war between the Irish and Italian mafia in a Prohibition era ghost town.

Director: Walter Hill | Stars: Bruce Willis, Bruce Dern, William Sanderson, Christopher Walken

Votes: 49,955 | Gross: $17.60M

Bruce Willis and Walter Hill unleashing their John Woo tribute in a recycled Kurosawa setting in a Prohibition Era town? I'm game.

2. Soldier (I) (1998)

R | 99 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

A soldier trained from birth is deemed obsolete and dumped on a waste planet where he is reluctantly taken in by a community of defenseless, stranded wayfarers.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson | Stars: Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaacs, Connie Nielsen

Votes: 48,811 | Gross: $14.57M

Sure, maybe it's not a great film by any stretch, but Kurt Russell gives an interesting performance and while the plot is nothing to write home about, its action scenes are still entertaining.

3. Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991)

R | 79 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

Two cops have to work together to bring down the Yakuza, while trying to protect a beautiful woman.

Director: Mark L. Lester | Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tia Carrere

Votes: 14,897 | Gross: $2.28M

An underrated classic schlockfest. This feels like a barebones adaptation of a men's adventure pulp novel. Glorious.

4. The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996)

R | 121 min | Action, Crime, Drama

44 Metascore

A woman suffering from amnesia begins to recover her memories after trouble from her past finds her again.

Director: Renny Harlin | Stars: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, Yvonne Zima, Craig Bierko

Votes: 67,365 | Gross: $33.33M

Nobody talks about this one, and that's a damn shame...

5. Passenger 57 (1992)

R | 84 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

An airline security expert must take action when he finds himself trapped on a passenger jet when terrorists seize control of it.

Director: Kevin Hooks | Stars: Wesley Snipes, Bruce Payne, Tom Sizemore, Alex Datcher

Votes: 41,928 | Gross: $44.07M

Not very good either, but one of the better "lesser" Die Hard ripoffs. Makes a good double feature with Executive Decision. Speaking of which...

6. Executive Decision (1996)

R | 133 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

62 Metascore

When terrorists seize control of an airliner, an intelligence analyst accompanies a commando unit for a midair boarding operation.

Director: Stuart Baird | Stars: Kurt Russell, Halle Berry, Steven Seagal, John Leguizamo

Votes: 46,390 | Gross: $56.57M

One of the few action films where Steven Seagal dies in the first half-hour and that's good enough for me. What follows after is a fine ride with Kurt Russell in a John McClane-like role... sort of.

7. Timecop (1994)

R | 99 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

48 Metascore

Max Walker, an officer for a security agency that regulates time travel, must fend for his life against a shady politician who's intent on changing the past to control the future.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mia Sara, Ron Silver, Bruce McGill

Votes: 51,350 | Gross: $44.85M

As a time travel movie, it's garbage, but as a Van Damme action film, it's pretty good. Watch this with these next three and you're in for the best of 90's Van Dammage.

8. Double Impact (1991)

R | 110 min | Action, Crime

Twin brothers are separated when their parents are murdered but 25 years later they re-unite in order to avenge their parents' death.

Director: Sheldon Lettich | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Geoffrey Lewis, Alonna Shaw, Corinna Everson

Votes: 34,705 | Gross: $30.10M

They never do explain how these two twin brothers raised in Miami and Hong Kong both have French accents... no matter. Double Impact is too much stupid fun for that sort of thing. It's a collection of most of my favourite dumb action tropes, right down to the explosive barrels of fuel stacked uselessly all over the bad guys' warehouses and docks.

9. Sudden Death (1995)

R | 111 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

A former fireman takes on a group of terrorists holding the Vice President and others hostage during the seventh game of the NHL Stanley Cup finals.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Boothe, Raymond J. Barry, Whittni Wright

Votes: 29,738 | Gross: $20.35M

Sure, Van Damme is game here (haha) in yet another Die Hard ripoff that's better than it deserves to be, but Powers Boothe steals the show!

10. Hard Target (1993)

R | 97 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

A woman hires a drifter as her guide through New Orleans in search of her father, who has gone missing. They discover a deadly game of cat and mouse behind his disappearance in the process.

Director: John Woo | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, Chuck Pfarrer

Votes: 40,550 | Gross: $32.59M

A big cult classic now, with Lance Henriksen giving one hell of a villainous performance, but at the time, most people didn't seem to care.

11. Naked Killer (1992)

R | 89 min | Action, Crime, Romance

A young woman is trained by a martial arts specialist to become a professional assassin.

Director: Clarence Yiu-leung Fok | Stars: Chingmy Yau, Simon Yam, Carrie Ng, Madoka Sugawara

Votes: 2,017 | Gross: $0.03M

Hard to find an uncut version of this sleazy action classic, but find it and you might enjoy the over-the-top antics that ensue here.

12. Rapid Fire (1992)

R | 95 min | Action, Crime, Drama

When student Jake Lo witnesses a killing, he finds himself caught between two feuding drug lords. Betrayed and set up by the federal agents protecting him, the only one he can trust is Ryan... See full summary »

Director: Dwight H. Little | Stars: Brandon Lee, Powers Boothe, Nick Mancuso, Raymond J. Barry

Votes: 7,519 | Gross: $14.36M

Brandon Lee's second-best solo film behind The Crow, as far as I can tell.

13. Blue Steel (1990)

R | 102 min | Action, Crime, Drama

54 Metascore

A female rookie in the police force must engage in a cat-and-mouse game with a pistol-wielding psychopath who becomes obsessed with her.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow | Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Silver, Clancy Brown, Elizabeth Peña

Votes: 11,095 | Gross: $8.22M

Perhaps more of a psychological thriller than an action film, I think this still deserves a spot on here. I didn't even know it existed until I looked back on Bigelow's career.

14. Black Mask (1996)

R | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

A survivor of a supersoldier project must fight his former comrades as a masked hero.

Director: Daniel Lee | Stars: Jet Li, Ching Wan Lau, Karen Mok, Françoise Yip

Votes: 10,383 | Gross: $12.49M

A mess in its own right, one release even replaced the original soundtrack with "trendy" hiphop. Somehow it fits this silly little film. Its action scenes are freaking awesome, though!

15. Eraser (1996)

R | 115 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

56 Metascore

A Witness Protection specialist becomes suspicious of his co-workers when dealing with a case involving high-tech weapons.

Director: Chuck Russell | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vanessa Williams, James Caan, James Coburn

Votes: 96,364 | Gross: $101.30M

The last "good" Schwarzenegger action film, overshadowed by a string of failures and his career in politics.

16. Maximum Risk (1996)

R | 101 min | Action, Crime, Mystery

A cop/flic discovers that he had a twin who just got murdered in Nice, France. In order to find out who did it, he takes his place including the cute girlfriend in Little Odessa, NYC.

Director: Ringo Lam | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Natasha Henstridge, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Zach Grenier

Votes: 18,543 | Gross: $14.50M

Couldn't resist adding this Van Damme piece.

17. End of Days (1999)

R | 122 min | Action, Fantasy, Horror

33 Metascore

At the end of the century, Satan visits New York in search of a bride. It's up to an ex-cop who now runs an elite security outfit to stop him.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Kevin Pollak

Votes: 99,694 | Gross: $66.89M

Yeah, it's bad, but it's funny as hell. It's Arnold Schwarzenegger versus Satan! Come on!

18. Ransom (1996)

R | 121 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

60 Metascore

When a multimillionaire man's son is kidnapped, he cooperates with the police at first but then turns the tables on the kidnappers when he uses the ransom money as a reward for the capture of the kidnappers.

Director: Ron Howard | Stars: Mel Gibson, Gary Sinise, Rene Russo, Brawley Nolte

Votes: 110,690 | Gross: $136.49M

Pretty good movie, all things considered. Seems to have been all but forgotten nowadays.

19. Payback (I) (1999)

R | 100 min | Action, Crime, Drama

46 Metascore

After a successful heist, Porter is shot by his wife and his best friend. They leave him there to die but when he recovers, he seeks revenge and wants his share of the money.

Director: Brian Helgeland | Stars: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer

Votes: 124,218 | Gross: $81.53M

I love both versions of this movie.

20. Stone Cold (1991)

R | 92 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A tough Alabama cop is blackmailed by the FBI into going undercover in a violent Mississippi biker gang.

Director: Craig R. Baxley | Stars: Brian Bosworth, Lance Henriksen, William Forsythe, Arabella Holzbog

Votes: 6,233 | Gross: $9.29M

Bosworth's acting is atrocious here but the action and Lance Henriksen make up for its mediocre qualities.

21. The Perfect Weapon (1991)

R | 83 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Jeff, a young delinquent, is enrolled by his father in a kenpo school, in the hopes of teaching the boy some self-discipline. Years later, Jeff's mentor, Kim, is being threatened by one of ... See full summary »

Director: Mark DiSalle | Stars: Jeff Speakman, John Dye, Mako, James Hong

Votes: 3,207 | Gross: $14.06M

Jeff Speakman has no charisma whatsoever but it's a fine film to pop in every once in a while.

22. Navy Seals (1990)

R | 113 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

A Navy Seal team must set out to destroy a shipment of US-built Stinger missiles that have fallen into terrorist hands.

Director: Lewis Teague | Stars: Charlie Sheen, Michael Biehn, Joanne Whalley, Rick Rossovich

Votes: 14,640 | Gross: $25.07M

Action is enjoyable and slightly above par. Despite its shortcomings, it is a minor classic.

23. The Corruptor (1999)

R | 110 min | Action, Crime, Drama

56 Metascore

With the aid from a New York City policeman, a top immigrant cop tries to stop drug-trafficking and corruption by immigrant Chinese Triads, but things get complicated when the Triads try to bribe the policeman.

Director: James Foley | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Mark Wahlberg, Ric Young, Paul Ben-Victor

Votes: 16,649 | Gross: $15.16M

One of the better American films starring Chow Yun-Fat. Not as good as Replacement Killers though... but the action is pretty good.

24. The Replacement Killers (1998)

R | 87 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

42 Metascore

A troubled hitman seeks aid from a forger to help him get papers to China. However, the drug lord has hired replacements to finish the job, and kill the hitman.

Director: Antoine Fuqua | Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Mira Sorvino, Michael Rooker, Kenneth Tsang

Votes: 25,495 | Gross: $18.97M

Still one of Fuqua's finest in my opinion. Severely underrated.

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