The Best Action Movies of the 80s and 90s

by carlos_hardkore | created - 16 May 2015 | updated - 16 May 2015 | Public
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1. Predator (1987)

R | 107 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

45 Metascore

A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior.

Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall, Elpidia Carrillo

Votes: 334,324 | Gross: $59.74M

2. Predator 2 (1990)

R | 108 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

46 Metascore

Amidst a territorial gang war in 1997, a sophisticated alien hunter stalks the citizens of Los Angeles and the only man between him and his prey is veteran L.A.P.D. officer, Lieutenant Mike Harrigan.

Director: Stephen Hopkins | Stars: Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Kevin Peter Hall, Rubén Blades

Votes: 127,583 | Gross: $30.67M

3. The Last Boy Scout (1991)

R | 105 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

52 Metascore

An private detective's protected female witness is murdered, prompting him and the victim's boyfriend to investigate the crime that leads to a corrupt politician and a crooked football team owner.

Director: Tony Scott | Stars: Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans, Chelsea Field, Noble Willingham

Votes: 84,019 | Gross: $59.51M

4. Kickboxer (1989)

R | 97 min | Action, Sport, Thriller

33 Metascore

Kurt Sloane must learn the ancient kick boxing art of Muay Thai in order to avenge his brother.

Directors: Mark DiSalle, David Worth | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Alexio, Dennis Chan, Michel Qissi

Votes: 43,263 | Gross: $14.70M

5. Legionnaire (1998)

R | 99 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Alain Lefevre is a boxer paid by a Marseille mobster to take a dive. When he wins the fight he attempts to flee to America with the mobster's girlfriend Katrina. This plan fails and he ... See full summary »

Director: Peter MacDonald | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Steven Berkoff, Nicholas Farrell

Votes: 20,694

6. Total Recall (1990)

R | 113 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

57 Metascore

When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real - or does he?

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin

Votes: 270,209 | Gross: $119.39M

7. Rocky (1976)

PG | 120 min | Drama, Sport

70 Metascore

A small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight a heavy-weight champion in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

Director: John G. Avildsen | Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers

Votes: 452,592 | Gross: $117.24M

8. Commando (1985)

R | 90 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

51 Metascore

A retired Special Forces colonel tries to save his daughter, who was abducted by his former subordinate.

Director: Mark L. Lester | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells

Votes: 129,007 | Gross: $35.10M

9. Face/Off (1997)

R | 138 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

82 Metascore

In order to foil an extortion plot, an FBI agent undergoes a facial transplant surgery and assumes the identity and physical appearance of a terrorist, but the plan turns from bad to worse when the same terrorist impersonates the FBI agent.

Director: John Woo | Stars: John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen, Alessandro Nivola

Votes: 316,540 | Gross: $112.23M

10. The Rock (1996)

R | 136 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

58 Metascore

A mild-mannered chemist and an ex-con must lead the counterstrike when a rogue group of military men, led by a renegade general, threaten a nerve gas attack from Alcatraz against San Francisco.

Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Ed Harris, John Spencer

Votes: 285,602 | Gross: $134.07M

11. Starship Troopers (1997)

R | 129 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

51 Metascore

Humans in a fascist, militaristic future wage war with giant alien bugs in a satire of modern world politics.

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey

Votes: 245,160 | Gross: $54.81M

12. Demolition Man (1993)

R | 115 min | Action, Crime, Sci-Fi

34 Metascore

A police officer is brought out of suspended animation in prison to pursue an old ultra-violent nemesis who is loose in a non-violent future society.

Director: Marco Brambilla | Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock, Nigel Hawthorne

Votes: 140,455 | Gross: $58.06M

13. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

R | 169 min | Drama, War

90 Metascore

Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns

Votes: 1,056,556 | Gross: $216.54M

14. Blade (1998)

R | 120 min | Action, Horror

45 Metascore

A half-vampire, half-mortal man becomes a protector of the mortal race, while slaying evil vampires.

Director: Stephen Norrington | Stars: Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson, N'Bushe Wright

Votes: 218,406 | Gross: $70.09M

15. Con Air (1997)

R | 115 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

52 Metascore

Newly paroled ex-con and former U.S. Ranger Cameron Poe finds himself trapped in a prisoner transport plane when the passengers seize control.

Director: Simon West | Stars: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Colm Meaney

Votes: 249,948 | Gross: $101.12M

16. The Terminator (1984)

R | 107 min | Action, Sci-Fi

84 Metascore

A seemingly indestructible android is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield

Votes: 701,627 | Gross: $38.40M

17. Terminator 2 (1991)

R | 137 min | Action, Sci-Fi

75 Metascore

A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her teenage son, John Connor, from a more advanced and powerful cyborg.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick

Votes: 869,832 | Gross: $204.84M

18. Die Hard (1988)

R | 132 min | Action, Thriller

70 Metascore

John McClane, officer of the NYPD, tries to save his wife Holly Gennaro and several others that were taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson

Votes: 691,857 | Gross: $83.01M

19. Universal Soldier (1992)

R | 102 min | Action, Sci-Fi

35 Metascore

Private Luc Deveraux and his sadistic sergeant, Andrew Scott, got killed in Vietnam. The army uses their bodies for a secret project - reanimating dead soldiers as deadly obedient cyborgs. However, their memories come back too.

Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Ally Walker, Ed O'Ross

Votes: 75,659 | Gross: $36.30M

20. Bloodsport (1988)

R | 92 min | Action, Biography, Drama

29 Metascore

Follows Frank Dux, an American martial artist serving in the military, who decides to leave the army to compete in a martial arts tournament in Hong Kong where fights to the death can occur.

Director: Newt Arnold | Stars: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Donald Gibb, Leah Ayres, Norman Burton

Votes: 67,140 | Gross: $11.81M

21. No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)

PG | 85 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

30 Metascore

Jason Stillwell, a Bruce Lee fan, is beaten numerous times and trains from the ghost of Lee. Jason then must use his newly acquired skills to save Seattle from a crime syndicate, whose top ... See full summary »

Director: Corey Yuen | Stars: Kurt McKinney, Jean-Claude Van Damme, J.W. Fails, Kathie Sileno

Votes: 13,656 | Gross: $4.66M

22. Heat (1995)

R | 170 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

76 Metascore

A group of professional bank robbers start to feel the heat from police when they unknowingly leave a clue at their latest heist.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight

Votes: 505,185 | Gross: $67.44M

23. Escape from L.A. (1996)

R | 101 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

54 Metascore

Snake Plissken is once again called in by the United States government to recover a potential doomsday device from Los Angeles, now an autonomous island where undesirables are deported.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi, Stacy Keach, Peter Fonda

Votes: 61,787 | Gross: $25.48M

24. First Blood (1982)

R | 93 min | Action, Adventure

61 Metascore

Former Green Beret John Rambo is pursued into the mountains surrounding a small town by a tyrannical sheriff and his deputies, forcing him to survive using his combat skills.

Director: Ted Kotcheff | Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, Richard Crenna, Bill McKinney

Votes: 195,126 | Gross: $47.21M

25. The Running Man (1987)

R | 101 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

45 Metascore

A wrongly convicted man must try to survive a public execution gauntlet staged as a game show.

Director: Paul Michael Glaser | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown

Votes: 126,390 | Gross: $38.12M

26. Cobra (1986)

R | 87 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

25 Metascore

A tough-on-crime street cop must protect the only surviving witness to a strange murderous cult with far reaching plans.

Director: George P. Cosmatos | Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson

Votes: 58,310 | Gross: $49.04M

27. Lethal Weapon (1987)

R | 109 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

68 Metascore

Two newly paired cops who are complete opposites must put aside their differences in order to catch a gang of drug smugglers.

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan

Votes: 213,867 | Gross: $65.21M

28. Hard to Kill (1990)

R | 96 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Left for dead with his wife killed in their house, L.A. Detective Mason Storm will have to make a quick recovery, expose those behind the murder and take revenge.

Director: Bruce Malmuth | Stars: Steven Seagal, Kelly LeBrock, William Sadler, Frederick Coffin

Votes: 24,671 | Gross: $47.41M



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