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It’s tough to make a great action movie. Not as tough as a timeless comedy perhaps, but still not easy. Pacing is key, as you don’t want the audience to get bored, but you don’t want to overwhelm them either.
Looking at this list of films, you may see a few movies that you always thought were bad or not your cup of tea. That’s the point. Bust out the popcorn, kick back, and turn your brain off to the tune of an explosion or five.
Looking at the trailer for Demolition Man, it looks like a total cheese fest, but it’s not a “so bad it’s good” kind of movie. Instead, it’s just a good movie. What seemed like a ridiculous future when Demolition Man was released in the 1990s now seems, well, not that far off.
Another ’90s action movie that seems to have aged better than anyone would have guessed, Last Action Hero is part parody, part straight-up action movie. This movie acknowledges how ridiculous certain action movie tropes are while simultaneously celebrating those very same tropes.
You might be looking at this thinking “but Dredd always looked like it would be good!” That’s true, but anyone who saw the 1995 Judge Dredd would know exactly how bad this movie could have been. Fortunately that wasn’t the case.
4. John Wick
Yes, we know John Wick is good now, but we didn’t always. Keanu Reeves had kept working, but hadn’t yet had the resurgence that catapulted his career into the renaissance it’s currently having. Regardless of what you think of the sequels, John Wick is a back-to-basics action movie that doesn’t let up for a second.
Big Trouble in Little China is a movie that gets better on repeat viewings, especially when you realized that Kurt Russell, who you assume is the hero of the movie, is not the hero at all. This was a commercial failure when it was released, but eventually found its audience, turning it into the cult classic it is now.
In a world where The Expendables already existed, an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where he plays an aging cop fighting against the odds seemed like a tough sell. Add Johnny Knoxville to the equation and things looked even worse. Despite that, it’s actually a pretty fun movie.
7. Shoot ‘Em Up
Shoot ‘Em Up is a ridiculous movie and it knows it. If you’ve ever wondered exactly how effective a carrot can be in hand-to-hand combat, well, you should probably watch this one. I’ll leave it at that.
The Fast and the Furious had done well, but after the lackluster 2 Fast 2 Furious, the next sequel Tokyo Drift didn’t even get any of the original cast members. Fast and Furious could have been the end of the series, but instead it was the beginning of its transition from a series only car enthusiasts could love to the over-the-top blockbuster franchise it is now.
Jason Statham movies had already started to reach a sort of plateau before Crank came out, so at first this seemed like a generic action movie. Instead, it’s like an action movie with a diet of nothing but caffeine and sugar, making it way more fun than it has any right to be.
More Surprisingly Good Movies?
Yes, there are some awesome movies on this list, and hopefully not all of them are movies you have already seen multiple times. That said, if you’re a movie aficionado you’re always looking for more. Don’t worry, we’ve got more for you!