HomeMovies50 Most Underrated Action Movies of All Time

50 Most Underrated Action Movies of All Time

There are quite a number of widely acclaimed good action movies to watch. Die Hard, The Terminator, Taken (the first one and none of the others) — all great examples of classic action movies that deserve their place among the top action films of all time.

But what about those underrated movies that are never mentioned when talking about the greatest films in the genre? There are quite a few under-appreciated gems, too.

Whether it be that their appreciation was short-lived or they never really received the praise and discussion that they deserved, these movies deserve at least a little more love than they’ve gotten.

Here are the top 50 underrated action movies that are actually pretty great:

47 Ronin

underrated action movies

Release Date: December 25, 2013
IMDB Rating: 6.3 out of 10
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki
Streaming: Netflix

47 Ronin is another example of a movie released at the wrong time and, thus, getting largely looked over. Why this movie would release on Christmas Day is beyond me, but nonetheless, 47 Ronin is a badass action movie about a band of samurai seeking revenge for the death of their leader. 47 Ronin was really the first Keanu Reeves movie since A Scanner Darkly that was actually watchable. I mean, not in every Keanu film does he actually fight a dragon.

Still, 47 Ronin mostly flopped because it was released on Christmas Day, alongside much bigger films like The Hobbit, Wolf of Wallstreet, and Anchorman 2 – no wonder it was a huge box office bomb.

But there’s really a lot to love about Keanu’s 47 Ronin. It deserves more appreciation for its marrying of rich Japanese history and folklore with stunning visual effects and intense action sequences.

Buy the ’47 Ronin’ Blu-Ray here.

Deep Blue Sea

good action movies

Release Date: July 28, 1999
IMDB Rating: 5.8 out of 10
Starring: Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J
Streaming: Max

Putting LL Cool J in a movie is a surefire way to make the movie fail (with the exclusion of Any Given Sunday, of course). In fact, if you were to average the user rating of every movie LL Cool J has appeared in, the results are laughable. But Deep Blue Sea got a bad rap. Personally, I think it had a lot to do with the god-awful movie poster.

One of the movie’s strongest assets lies in its diverse and talented ensemble cast. Led by Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, and Samuel L. Jackson, the actors deliver performances that keep viewers engaged throughout the film. Samuel L. Jackson’s memorable monologue alone has become iconic in the world of action cinema.

But, Deep Blue Sea was a battle between humans and hyper-intelligent sharks. There are also some underlying themes pawing at the idea of genetically altering natural life. The deaths in Deep Blue Sea were well-created, the story was extremely tense, and the movie was just an all-around good time that deserved more praise. It’s one of the many good action movies that deserve a higher IMDB rating than it got.

Rent or Buy ‘Deep Blue Sea’ here.

The Grey

movies to watch

Release Date: January 27, 2012
IMDB Rating: 6.8 out of 10
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo
Streaming on Hulu

The Grey is more talked about now than it was leading up to and the few months following its release, simply because most people waited for the DVD (myself included). The film revolves around a team of oil workers that have to survive in the Alaskan wilderness following a plane crash. But instead of focusing on the starvation and freezing cold, the film focuses on the brutal and unforgiving pack of wolves surrounding the survivors, killing them off one by one.

The film closely borders horror as it plays more on your fear of beasts than anything, but Liam Neeson’s performance is top-notch and the action is quite memorable. The film made just $19.6M in its opening weekend and totaled just $51M in its theater run. The Grey is for the hardened action movie fans, as its story is unforgiving and bleak.

Buy ‘The Grey’ here.

Never Die Alone

underrated action movies

Release Date: March 26, 2004
IMDB Rating: 5.7 out of 10
Starring: DMX, David Arquette, Michael Ealy
Streaming on Hulu

Never Die Alone came out when DMX was still a relevant name in hip hop, and his tough-guy persona fit well with the action movie genre. Following Exit Wounds (which we’ll also get to later on in this list), Never Die Alone was directed by Ernest Dickerson, director of Juice, a few Walking Dead episodes, and Bulletproof (we’ll also get that one later). Most people wrote off this action movie because of its C-list cast (although Michael Ealy would eventually upgrade his career years later). It is a poetic take on villainy and revenge that contains violent gun battles from start to finish.

It’s a gritty and intense urban drama that meets the ruthless world of crime as we follow the journey of King David (played by DMX), a notorious drug lord with a haunting past. When King David returns to his former stomping grounds seeking redemption, his arrival sets off a chain of events that will change lives forever.

The story unfolds through a series of gripping flashbacks, revealing the dark and tumultuous life of King David. As he confronts old enemies and seeks forgiveness from those he wronged, he forms an unlikely bond with a struggling journalist named Paul (played by David Arquette). Paul stumbles upon a diary left by King David, which unveils the true extent of the drug lord’s sins and secrets.

Never Die Alone weaves a gripping narrative that explores the complexities of human nature, the consequences of one’s choices, and the unyielding force of fate. DMX delivers a powerful and charismatic performance, portraying King David with raw intensity and vulnerability. The film’s moody cinematography and evocative soundtrack further immerse viewers into the dark and unforgiving world of the streets.

Rent or Buy ‘Never Die Alone’ here.

The Rundown

Release Date: September 26, 2003
IMDB Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Starring: The Rock, Seann William Scott, Christopher Walken

I’ve never been a fan of Dwayne Johnson as an actor; I could never take him seriously. But, The Rundown is generally a great action movie with great fight scenes and cool ideas, mixed with a little bit of comedy. The fight scene between Ernie Reyes Jr. (he was also in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II) and The Rock is fantastic. And, surprisingly, Stiffler Seann William Scott and The Rock actually work well on screen together. Of course, Dwayne Johnson does what Dwayne Johnson does best in this movie: kick some serious ass.

Rent or Buy ‘The Rundown’ here.

Blade II

underrated movies

Release Date: March 22, 2002
IMDB Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman

Wesley Snipes pre-prison was a great action star, and although the original Blade is the best in the series, Blade II isn’t far behind.

The film features a star-studded cast, including Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, and Ron Perlman. The film also features a standout performance from Luke Goss, who plays the villainous lead vampire, Nomak. Goss’s portrayal of Nomak is both menacing and sympathetic, making him one of the most memorable villains in the Blade franchise.

One of the standout elements of Blade II is its stunning visual effects. The film is filled with incredible action sequences, including a stunning scene in which Blade fights his way through a horde of vampires in a dark and creepy club. Del Toro’s unique visual style is on full display in Blade II, and the film is a feast for the eyes.

In addition to its stunning visual effects, Blade II is also a thrilling and intense action film. The film features some of the most epic and intense battles in the Blade franchise, and it’s sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

It’s a thrill ride from the start to the finish, and the final fight scene between Snipes and Perlman is spectacular.

Blade II was underappreciated because of how great the original Blade movie was, and things got slightly weirder here in the sequel than they ever did in the first film. But the Blade films are all good action movies, and anyone who says otherwise can fight me in a blood rave.

Rent or Buy ‘Blade 2’ here.


underrated movies

Release Date: July 1, 1998
IMDB Rating: 6.6 out of 10
Starring: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck

Stream it on Hulu

Armageddon is a sci-fi disaster flick directed by Michael Bay, and remains a staple in the disaster movie genre. With an all-star cast including Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, and Billy Bob Thornton, the film was a commercial success, grossing over $553 million at the box office.

The story revolves around a team of oil drillers who are tasked with saving the Earth from an asteroid that is set to collide with the planet. The drillers, who are led by Harry S. Stamper (played by Willis), must venture into space to plant a nuclear bomb on the asteroid in order to deflect its course. Along the way, they face numerous challenges and obstacles that threaten to sabotage their mission.

One of the key elements that sets Armageddon apart from other disaster films is its combination of action, drama, and humor. The film balances its intense action sequences with comedic moments that help to relieve the tension. The character dynamic between the drillers is also one of the highlights of the film, with each character bringing their own unique personality to the table.

Another aspect that makes Armageddon memorable is its impressive visual effects. The film was groundbreaking for its time, showcasing some of the most advanced special effects of the late 1990s. The depiction of the asteroid collision and its aftermath is still awe-inspiring to this day.

While Armageddon may not be a perfect film, it remains a beloved disaster classic that continues to entertain audiences 20 years after its release. The film’s blend of action, drama, and humor, along with its impressive visual effects, make it a must-watch for fans of the disaster movie genre.

Although Armageddon was nominated for a few Oscars, its rating among fans is considerably low…surprisingly low. I’m not sure what the gripe with Armageddon is, but it’s one of Ben Affleck’s better performances, and there’s tons of action contained within. Maybe it was the cheesy Aerosmith song that you still hear at every high school dance to this day that made people resent it? Who knows, but at its core, Armageddon was well worth the watch.

Rent or Buy ‘Armageddon’ here.

Independence Day

Independence day building exploding

Release Date: July 3, 1996
IMDB Rating: 6.9 out of 10
Starring: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pulman
Stream it on Hulu

How in the bloody hell is Independence Day not rated at least at an 8.5? This movie had tons of catchphrases like “Welcome to Earth” and “Elvis has left the building.” Not only that, it was loaded with action. Infiltrating an alien base, killing aliens, fighter pilot sequences, and more, Independence Day was a fun summer blockbuster.

The movie is set on July 2, 1996, when strange objects start appearing in the sky. The U.S. President Thomas J. Whitmore, played by Bill Pullman, and his advisors soon realize that the objects are not just satellites but aliens from another planet. The aliens attack cities all over the world, causing widespread destruction and chaos. However, a group of scientists and military officials band together to save the planet and fight back against the alien invaders.

One of the key elements of Independence Day is its portrayal of the effects of the alien invasion on humanity. The film shows how people from different countries come together to defeat the common enemy and how the human race unites in the face of a crisis. The film is also a celebration of American patriotism, as the U.S. military and its allies are shown to be the ones who lead the charge against the aliens.

Rent or Buy ‘Independence Day’ here.

16 Blocks

movies to watch

Release Date: March 3, 2006
IMDB Rating: 6.6 out of 10
Starring: Bruce Willis, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), David Morse

Aside from Bruce Willis’ god-awful mustache in the film, 16 Blocks was a thrill ride! It’s a unique concept that sees Willis being tasked with transporting a convict (Bey) from jail to a courthouse just 16 blocks away, but a lot can happen (and does) in 16 Blocks, especially if the convict is expected to testify against a police officer and the entire NYPD wants him dead.

At its core, 16 Blocks is a story about redemption and the struggle to do what is right in the face of adversity. The movie explores themes of integrity, sacrifice, and the human capacity for change, adding depth and emotional resonance to the action-packed narrative.

Unlike over-the-top action movies, 16 Blocks grounds its action sequences in realism, making them all the more intense and believable. The gritty and urban setting adds to the authenticity of the film’s action scenes.

Richard Donner’s direction brings a steady hand to the film, allowing the characters’ emotions and the tense atmosphere to take center stage. His skillful storytelling and attention to detail elevate 16 Blocks above the average action movie.

It surprisingly comes in at 6.6 out of 10 on IMDB, but to us, it’s a good action movie that deserves quite a bit of a higher rating.

Rent or Buy here.

Smokin’ Aces

action movies to watch

Release Date: January 26, 2007
IMDB Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Starring: Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta
Stream it on Max

Smokin’ Aces is the best Ryan Reynolds film that no one really watched, with quite a few notable cast members like Common, Chris Pine, Kevin Durand (you’d know his face), and even Ben Affleck in a death scene (which is all too satisfying in itself).

Smokin’ Aces is a fast-paced and adrenaline-pumping action movie released in 2006, directed by Joe Carnahan. The film boasts an ensemble cast that includes Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Alicia Keys, Ben Affleck, and many other talented actors. The story centers around Buddy “Aces” Israel (played by Jeremy Piven), a former Las Vegas magician turned mob informant who finds himself in grave danger after agreeing to testify against the powerful mafia boss, Primo Sparazza.

Smokin’ Aces had a few badass close-quarters shootouts, brutally violent scenes and one of the best final scenes in an action movie. Smokin’ Aces is one of my favorite movies on this list.

Rent or Buy here.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

underrated action movies

Release Date: September 14, 2005
IMDB Rating: 7.7 out of 10
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is widely considered one of the most underrated action films of all time. Even though it’s highly rated, it only grossed $4.2M in its initial theatrical run. Yikes. You wouldn’t think people would love a Val Kilmer movie so much, but he’s actually quite brilliant as a gay guy. There were some funny moments in the movie, too (Russian Roulette, anyone?).

Rent or Buy here.


mel gibson movies

Release Date: February 5, 1999
IMDB Rating: 7.1 out of 10
Starring: Mel Gibson, Lucy Liu, Gregg Henry

Before the world hated Mel Gibson, he was in quite a few great action movies. Payback is a lot of fun with Mel Gibson playing the anti-hero, and it contains a lot of great characters. There are some great action sequences contained within, and even though it’s slightly harder to do nowadays, it was once easy to root for Mel Gibson.

Rent or Buy here.

John Wick

underrated action movies 2014

Release Date: October 24, 2014
IMDB Rating: 7.2 out of 10
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alfie Allen, Michael Nyqvist

Somehow, John Wick only brought in $42M and is rated at a 7.2. Anyone who has seen John Wick has nothing but great things to say about the brutal revenge tale, and it’s unfortunate that we all wrote it off when it hit theaters because it starred Keanu Reeves (and prior to its release, he had a string of awful movies). But, Reeves in John Wick is very enjoyable to watch (probably because there isn’t a ton of dialogue), and the movie is action-packed. I would rate the film much higher (more like a 9.0 out of 10), which is why it made it onto our action movies list of underrated films. Its sequel was also great, and now that there’s a third movie in production, we’re all-in on the John Wick franchise.

The original John Wick is one of the best revenge movies of all time, and the sequels are all pretty great, too.

Rent or Buy here.

The Long Kiss Goodnight

long kiss goodnight

Release Date: October 11, 1996
IMDB Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Starring: Geena Davis, Samuel L. Jackson

The Long Kiss Goodnight is a 1996 action-thriller film directed by Renny Harlin and stars Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles. The movie follows the journey of Samantha Caine (Geena Davis), a seemingly ordinary suburban schoolteacher suffering from amnesia. As the story unfolds, Samantha’s life takes a dramatic turn when she starts to uncover hidden memories of her past as a highly-skilled government assassin named Charly Baltimore.

After a near-fatal accident triggers Samantha’s memory, she embarks on a quest to discover her true identity and the events that led to her amnesia. Along the way, she forms an uneasy alliance with Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson), a cynical and street-smart private investigator. Together, they set out to unravel the dangerous conspiracy that threatens Samantha’s life.

Buy here.

The Last Boy Scout

Release Date: December 13, 1991
IMDB Rating: 6.9 out of 10
Starring: Bruce Willis, Damon Wayans

Damon Wayans had a string of movies in the 90s that were actually quite fantastic. Most of them were comedies, like Major Payne and Blankman, but he was in a couple action comedy flicks like Bulletproof (we’ll get to that later) and The Last Boy Scout. The Last Boy Scout only brought in $59.5M, but the duo of Willis and Wayans deserved much more love than it initially received.

The movie follows a former football player and a murder case surrounding a football team, with Willis playing the detective that is tasked with getting to the bottom of the case. Big explosions and an interesting story make The Last Boy Scout a great action movie to watch.

Rent or Buy here.


sahara movie

Release Date: April 8, 2005
IMDB Rating: 6.0 out of 10
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, Penelope Cruz, William H. Macy

Matthew McConaughey was a different actor 10 years ago than he is now, which is probably the reason why Sahara was so largely overlooked. Sahara is a great action adventure film though, with a fantastic train sequence, gunfights, and some cool chases. And Penelope Cruz.

Sahara is a 2005 action movie directed by Breck Eisner and based on the novel of the same name by Clive Cussler. The movie stars Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt, a charismatic and resourceful adventurer, and Steve Zahn as Al Giordino, his loyal sidekick. Together, they lead a team on an expedition in West Africa in search of a long-lost Civil War ironclad battleship, the CSS Texas, rumored to be hidden in the deserts of Mali.

As the mission progresses, Dirk and his team find themselves entangled in a web of intrigue and conspiracy involving a toxic waste dumping cover-up. They cross paths with Eva Rojas (played by Penélope Cruz), a World Health Organization doctor investigating the outbreak of a mysterious and deadly disease in the region. As the unlikely allies dig deeper, they uncover a dangerous plot that could have catastrophic global consequences.

Set against the breathtaking landscapes of the Sahara Desert, ‘Sahara’ is filled with thrilling action sequences, daring escapes, and witty banter between the central characters. The film combines elements of classic adventure movies with a modern twist, making it an entertaining and enjoyable ride for audiences.

Rent or Buy here.

Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

underrated action movies

Release Date: January 19, 2005
IMDB Rating: 6.3 out of 10
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Laurence Fishburne
Stream it on Amazon Prime Video

Assault on Precinct 13 is a remake of John Carpenter’s 1976 film of the same name, directed by Jean-François Richet. The action-thriller stars Ethan Hawke as Sergeant Jake Roenick, a jaded cop assigned to oversee the closing of a rundown police precinct on New Year’s Eve. The precinct is about to be shut down for good, and only a few personnel remain, including Roenick, the secretary Iris Ferry (played by Drea de Matteo), and a few officers.

As the clock ticks down to midnight, a massive snowstorm blankets Detroit, isolating the precinct from the outside world. Unexpectedly, a prison transport bus carrying notorious criminals, including the dangerous Marion Bishop (played by Laurence Fishburne), is forced to seek shelter at the precinct. With tensions already high due to the impending closure and the unpredictable mix of criminals and law enforcement personnel, the situation quickly escalates into a deadly showdown.

When a group of corrupt cops, led by Marcus Duvall (played by Gabriel Byrne), arrives to take Bishop by any means necessary, the precinct becomes a war zone. Roenick must put aside his reservations and lead an unlikely alliance between the criminals and the remaining officers to defend themselves against the relentless assault.

I know a lot of people would prefer I make a case for the original Assault on Precinct 13, but the 2005 version felt more underrated than the original. The idea of cops and prisoners teaming up to survive is great, but the cast of the 2005 version is well put together. Excluding Ja Rule. We prefer our movies sans-Ja Rule.

Rent or Buy here.

The Punisher (2004)

Release Date: April 14, 2004
IMDB Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Starring: Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Ben Foster

John Travolta plays the criminal well, and Thomas Jane really stood out as an anti-hero in 2004’s The Punisher. I realize everyone will want to talk about Dolph Lundgren’s version from the 80s, but, again, the remake felt more relevant to today’s interests (naturally). Jane as a reckless vigilante out for revenge is filled with crazy explosions, gunfire and fight scenes. To me, Thomas Jane was the best Punisher.

Rent or Buy here.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

underrated action movies

Release Date: September 7, 2007
IMDB Rating: 7.7 out of 10
Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster
Stream it on Hulu

3:10 to Yuma is a gripping and gritty Western film released in 2007, directed by James Mangold. The movie is a remake of the 1957 film of the same name, based on a short story by Elmore Leonard. The film stars Russell Crowe as the charismatic and dangerous outlaw Ben Wade and Christian Bale as the struggling and honorable rancher Dan Evans.

Set in the rugged and lawless American frontier, ‘3:10 to Yuma’ follows the story of Dan Evans, a desperate rancher facing financial ruin and struggling to earn the respect of his family. When Evans agrees to take on the dangerous task of escorting the captured outlaw Ben Wade to the town of Contention, where he will be put on the 3:10 train to Yuma Prison, he sees it as an opportunity to secure a much-needed reward that can save his family’s livelihood.

The journey proves to be anything but straightforward, as they face a treacherous and deadly path filled with ambushes, cunning bandits, and the relentless pursuit of Wade’s gang, led by the ruthless Charlie Prince (played by Ben Foster). As the two men traverse the unforgiving landscape, they engage in a battle of wits and wills, each challenging the other’s convictions and principles.

The film delves into themes of morality, redemption, and the blurred lines between good and evil. As the unlikely companions spend time together, they develop a grudging respect for one another, leading to unexpected bonds and personal revelations.

‘3:10 to Yuma’ is notable for its strong performances, with Russell Crowe delivering a charismatic and nuanced portrayal of the complex outlaw Ben Wade, while Christian Bale portrays Dan Evans with a quiet strength and determination. The chemistry between the two leads adds depth and authenticity to their evolving relationship.

Rent or Buy here.


Release Date: January 16, 2009
IMDB Rating: 7.2 out of 10
Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell
Stream it on Netflix

While Craig was taking a break from Bond movies, he was in a movie named Defiance that surrounded Polish Jewish brothers during WWII while Nazis occupied Belarus. The brothers vow to avenge the death of their parents. It’s not only a good history lesson — although some of it is inaccurate — it’s a great action movie to watch.

Defiance is a gripping historical drama released in 2009, directed by Edward Zwick. The film is based on the true story of the Bielski partisans, a group of Jewish resistance fighters who defied the Nazis and fought for survival during World War II. Starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell, ‘Defiance’ recounts the extraordinary tale of courage, resilience, and brotherhood in the face of unimaginable adversity.

The movie is set in the Belarusian forests in 1941, shortly after the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Tuvia Bielski (played by Daniel Craig), along with his brothers Zus (played by Liev Schreiber) and Asael (played by Jamie Bell), witnesses the brutal massacre of their family and fellow Jews at the hands of Nazi forces and local collaborators. Determined to resist and protect their community, the Bielski brothers escape into the wilderness.

In the vast and unforgiving forest, the brothers take on the responsibility of caring for and leading a growing group of Jewish refugees fleeing from the ghettos and seeking safety from the genocidal regime. Their makeshift camp, known as the Bielski Otriad, becomes a sanctuary for those seeking shelter and hope.

However, it’s a film that’s rarely talked about among action movie buffs. Why is that?

Rent or Buy here.

Exit Wounds

steven seagal movies

Release Date: March 16, 2001
IMDB Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Starring: Steven Seagal, DMX, Isaiah Washington

This is the last good Steven Seagal movie.

Rent or Buy here.


Release Date: September 6, 1996
IMDB Rating: 5.8 out of 10
Starring: Damon Wayans, Adam Sandler, James Caan

Action films don’t have to be straight up excitement, and some films in the genre have more comedy than others. Bulletproof was not only a good action movie, but it was a good comedy. Wayans and Sandler make the perfect duo on-screen. Not only did the movie have some truly funny moments (like the whole “Disney Lannnd?” bit), but it had some great action scenes with shootouts, fast cars, and explosions, too.

The movie didn’t fare well at the box office, bringing in just $6M in its opening weekend and $21M total. It was most likely due to poor marketing, which included an atrocious first trailer.

Rent or Buy here.

Marked for Death

underrated movies

Release Date: October 5, 1990
IMDB Rating: 5.8 out of 10
Starring: Steven Seagal, Joanna Pacula, Basil Wallace
Stream it on Max

Segal owned the 90s with great action movies like Under Siege and The Patriot, but everyone seems to forget about one of his earlier films, Marked for Death. In Marked for Death, Segal pisses off some Jamaican druglords whom then mark him and his family for death. With Segal out for revenge, the action is non-stop! It’s straight action from start to finish, and one of the best revenge movies of all time.

Rent or Buy here.

Showdown in Little Tokyo

showdown in little tokyo

Release Date: August 23, 1991
IMDB Rating: 6.0 out of 10
Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Lee, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

This movie has one purpose and one purpose only — to entertain! It doesn’t get poetic or make you think, it’s just straight-up action-packed fun. Lundgren and Lee against Yakuza? Magic!

Rent or Buy here.

Big Trouble in Little China

big trouble in little china james hong

Release Date: July 2, 1986
IMDB Rating: 7.3 out of 10
Starring: Kurt Russell, Kim Cattral, James Hong

The 80s and early 90s were kind to Kurt Russell (whom is now pretty much not even relevant in the movie business). Big Trouble in Little China was seriously weird fun. James Hong’s character is memorable, but the action comes from Russell, who plays a truck driver that gets caught up in a kidnapping. Big Trouble in Little China didn’t try to be anything but a fun B-movie, with its cheesy dialogue and martial arts. Even though it was a fun time, the film only brought in $11.1M total in the USA on a $25M budget. Yikes.

Rent or Buy here.

Rapid Fire

brandon lee

Release Date: August 21, 1992
IMDB Rating: 6.2 out of 10
Starring: Brandon Lee, Powers Boothe, Nick Mancuso

When you put the son of Bruce Lee into an action movie, you expect big things to happen. Before Lee’s unfortunate death, Rapid Fire served as a showcase for his martial arts capabilities. It is a fun movie to watch with great fights and a good pace. It only brought in $14.3M at the box office.

Rent or Buy here.


Ricochet Denzel

Release Date: October 4, 1991
IMDB Rating: 6.1 out of 10
Starring: Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice-T

John Lithgow always puts on a great performance, and about 90% of Denzel’s movies are great. Somehow, Ricochet fell through the cracks, bringing in just $21.7M. But it’s an intense movie with a great plot with a few different angles, and the action isn’t overdone.

Rent or Buy here.


brigitte Nielsen Cobra

Release Date: May 23, 1986
IMDB Rating: 5.6 out of 10
Starring: Brigitte Nielsen, Sylvester Stallone, Reni Santoni

Brigitte Nielsen in Cobra? Yowza! She makes it worth the watch alone, but the film is also a highly amusing action movie. It feels like a B-movie with an A-list cast, with ridiculous violence, machismo and a great score.

Rent or Buy here.

Demolition Man

underrated action movies

Release Date: October 8, 1993
IMDB Rating: 6.6 out of 10
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Sandra Bullock

Snipes and Stallone on screen together were magic. Snipes’ character was highly amusing, and Stallone did what Stallone did best. The film is set in the year 2032, in fictional San Angeles where a cryogenically frozen crime lord (Snipes) is revived for a parole hearing. The man that captured him (Stallone), is also frozen then revived to put an end to the violence. It had a miserable box office run, even though it was a great futuristic action flick. Demolition Man is definitely a must-see action movie.

Rent or Buy here.

Passenger 57

Release Date: November 6, 1992
IMDB Rating: 5.8 out of 10
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Bruce Payne, Tom Sizemore

Wesley Snipes has always been a favorite of mine, and Passenger 57 was no exception to his awesomeness. It revolves around the hijacking of a plane that contains a security expert (played by Snipes) who tries to stop it. There are quite a few slick action scenes, and Snipes puts on a good performance (even with the mediocre storyline). It is chaotic, claustrophobic and explosive.

Rent or Buy here.

The Hunted

Release Date: March 14, 2003
IMDB Rating: 6.0 out of 10
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Connie Nielsen

Two great actors in a thrilling plot, The Hunted is a highly underrated action movie. It grossed just $34M on a $55M budget. It is a thought-provoking action movie that is a great performance from both Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, and action fans who skip it will miss the great cat and mouse between the duo.

Rent or Buy here.

Murder at 1600

movies to watch

Release Date: April 18, 1997
IMDB Rating: 6.0 out of 10
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane, Daniel Benzali

A murder at the White House? Count me in! The film follows D.C. homicide detective Regis in his investigation of the murder. Obviously, it wouldn’t be a great movie if it wasn’t filled with twists, and it wouldn’t be a Wesley Snipe movie if it didn’t contain some absolutely brilliant action sequences.

Rent or Buy here.

A Murder of Crows

movies to watch

Release Date: July 6, 1999
IMDB Rating: 6.3 out of 10
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr, Tom Berenger, Marianna Jean-Baptiste

After a struggling author steals the work of his late friend and claims it as his own, but the contents of the book — including five murders — gets the writer (Gooding Jr.) into some trouble with the law, as they believe he is the killer. It has a great plot and great acting, and even though it’s more thriller than action, it’s still a highly underrated film that needs to be seen.

Buy here.

Judge Dredd

underrated action movies

Release Date: June 30, 1995
IMDB Rating: 5.4 out of 10
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Armand Assante, Rob Schneider, Diane Lane

Stallone’s Judge Dredd, while a far cry away from the rest of his good movies, was one of those great action flicks that didn’t get enough credit. It had a miserable opening weekend, bringing in just $12M. The film was a lot of fun, and the sci-fi dystopian setting and characters made it an enjoyable movie. Explosions? Check. Guns? Check. Fights? Check.

Rent or Buy here.


Release Date: May 28, 1993
IMDB Rating: 6.3 out of 10
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker

We have quite a few Renny Harlin-directed films on this list, and there’s a reason: his films are usually pretty great. Cliffhanger was a unique action film that provided a great set not often seen in movies. Even though the film made $255M worldwide, it’s pretty low-rated at just a 6.3/10. But the action sequences within provide for a fantastic time, and both Lithgow and Stallone put on great performances. Add this one to the list of should be classic action movies.

Rent or Buy here.

Kickboxer (1989)

Release Date: September 8, 1989
IMDB Rating: 6.3 out of 10
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dennis Alexio, Dennis Chan

Another movie where Van Damme is avenging someone — this time, it’s his brother. Kurt Sloan, brother of the U.S. kickboxing champion, witnesses his brother become maliciously paralyzed in the ring by the Thailand champion. Kurt (Van Damme) trains in the art of Muy Thai to seek out revenge for his brother’s misfortune. It’s a fun film and feels like a grown-ups version of The Karate Kid. Of course, it’s a tad more violent and contains great fight scenes.

Rent or Buy here.

The November Man

Release Date: August 27, 2014
IMDB Rating: 6.3 out of 10
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko

Pierce Brosnan as anything other than James Bond in a movie isn’t usually something I’d want to watch, but last year’s The November Man was a surprisingly great action flick. Brosnan’s character is a badass and does badass things. It has a fast pace, and a sexy leading lady in Olga Kurylenko. I think people skipped it because of the types of Brosnan movies we’ve been expecting lately, but it definitely deserves a Blu-Ray watch.

Rent or Buy here.

3 Days to Kill

action movies to watch

Release Date: February 21, 2014
IMDB Rating: 6.2 out of 10
Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielson, Amber Heard

Another out of the ordinary flick for a big name actor, 3 Days to Kill saw Kevin Costner in a leading role in an action film. And, the results were pretty great. 3 Days to Kill is an underrated action movie not only because of Costner’s performance, but also because of its great villains, including one played by Tomas Lemarquis (Snowpiercer). Great villains aren’t typical in action movies, as most of them tend to be simple drug kingpins without much else to them.

Rent or Buy here.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Release Date: May 2, 2014
IMDB Rating: 6.9 out of 10
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx, Emma Stone

If you take out the ludicrousness of it being a comic book movie, it stands up as a great action film with some cool special effects. While it’s pretty much shit on from the view of any Spider-Man fan, the film’s action sequences make it a genuinely fun action flick.

Buy here.

The Last Stand

last stand

Release Date: January 18, 2013
IMDB Rating: 6.4 out of 10
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville

Despite the fact that Johnny Knoxville is in it, The Last Stand contained a ton of action. Of course, what do you expect with Arnold in the leading role. But the film was widely passed on due to it being a January release, so many missed the great return of Schwarzenegger. Although it starts off a little slow, once the action starts it’s a high-octane thrill ride.

Rent or Buy here.

Rising Sun

underrated action movies

Release Date: July 30, 1993
IMDB Rating: 6.2 out of 10
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Sean Connery, Harvey Keitel

Directors liked to play the hot hand in the 90s, and Wesley Snipes was that hot hand. Rising Sun follows the death of a professional mistress at a business party and the investigation of the event. It has a great plot with twists and turns, with Connery and Snipes playing the investigators. It’s a classic mismatch duo pairing, with a young black male paired with an old-school white guy.

Rent or Buy here.

U.S. Marshals

movies to watch

Release Date: March 6, 1998
IMDB Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes, Robert Downey Jr.

Oh hey, it’s Wesley Snipes again! And Tommy Lee Jones again! The movie follows another cat and mouse game, this time between Jones and Snipes.

Rent or Buy here.

Law Abiding Citizen

underrated action movies

Release Date: October 16, 2009
IMDB Rating: 7.4 out of 10
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Gerard Butler, Colm Meaney

Gerard Butler is a terribly overrated actor, but Law Abiding Citizen is an underrated action movie for sure. It only grossed $73.4M on a $50M budget, and should be rated more like an 8.5 out of 10. There’s a lot to love about Law Abiding Citizen, but it mostly received mediocre to low ratings because of its ending (which is notably bad). But up until the ending, it’s a thrilling action movie.

Rent or Buy here.

10,000 B.C.

Release Date: March 7, 2008
IMDB Rating: 5.0 out of 10
Starring: Camilla Belle, Steven Strait

The reason no one saw 10,000 B.C. was because it had an unremarkable cast with no star power. Had the casting been better with some notable names, 10,000 B.C. could have been a much better movie. With that being said, what we did get was still a good movie, and not deserving of the low reviews that it received. There were some bloody fantastic action-packed scenes, prehistoric beasts, and it was a great story. It also could have been better as a grittier, rated R type of movie. Still, the 10,000 B.C. we did get was pretty good.

Rent or Buy here.

Terminator Salvation


Release Date: May 21, 2009
IMDB Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington

Terminator: Salvation is widely considered to be the worst film in the franchise, and I just don’t understand the hate. It was quite similar to the first Terminator movie in that it didn’t have the cheesy humor the other films in the franchise had. It contained good performances from Christian Bale and Sam Worthington, had tons of great sequences, yet it doesn’t get a lot of love.

There’s a new Terminator film on the way, so here’s to hoping it’s as action-packed as Terminator Salvation.

Rent or Buy here.

Escape Plan

escape plan movie

Release Date: October 18, 2013
IMDB Rating: 6.8 out of 10
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 50 Cent, Jim Caviezel

When I first heard about Stallone and Schwarzenegger being in a new movie together, the whole idea made me chuckle — a chuckle that said, “how ridiculous is this movie going to be.” But after actually seeing the film, I was stunned at just how great the film turned out to be. Sly and Arnold trying to break out of prison together is an interesting journey, and a fun time to be had. The film brought in only $25M on its $50M budget. It had a great supporting cast, including Jim Caviezel, 50 Cent and even Daredevil baddie Vincent D’Onofrio.

Rent or Buy here.

The Score

Release Date: July 13, 2001
IMDB Rating: 6.8 out of 10
Starring: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Marlon Brando

It’s rare that Marlon Brando is overshadowed by the actors around him, but that was the case with 2001’s The Score. Robert De Niro and Edward Norton were both great in this heist-gone-awry movie. It’s a suspenseful crime movie that was well written, well-directed and extremely well-acted. And we all love heists.

Rent or Buy here.


lionheart movie

Release Date: January 11, 1991
IMDB Rating: 6.1 out of 10
Starring: Jean Claude Van Damme, Harrison Page

Say what you will, but I’d put Lionheart in the top 5 Van Damme films of all time. Lionheart came out during a time when MMA wasn’t nearly as watched as it is today, so watching bare knuckle, no-holds barred fights — even the highly scripted kind found in the movie — was thrilling. Even today, fans gravitate towards the underdog street fighters (Kimbo Slice, for example, once became popular based on YouTube fighting videos). Lionheart felt like the anti-Rocky, in that it focused more on the fighting itself than the training and hard work necessary to win fights. It also helps that the final fight in the movie is the much smaller Van Damme taking on such a big opponent (Attila). We’d actually consider it one of the best action movies Hollywood has given us so far. Hell, if you’re looking for other good action movies, start with Van Damme in the 90s.

Rent or Buy here.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

movies to watch

Release Date: June 12, 2009
IMDB Rating: 6.4 out of 10
Starring: John Travolta, Denzel Washington, Luis Guzman

John Travolta’s career was clearly on the decline at this point, but he plays the bad guy well in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. Travolta vs. Denzel is a great match, and the movie is an intense stand-off on an NYC subway train between a dispatcher and a criminal mastermind. The film only hit $23.3M in its opening weekend, and paired that with the fact that users are rating it at just a 6.4, I’d have to say that The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 did not get the recognition it deserved.

Rent or Buy here.


Release Date: July 28, 1995
IMDB Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Starring: Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper

Waterworld is one of those movies that you either love or you hate, and I definitely loved it. I thought Kevin Costner’s performance was brilliant, the entire concept of the movie was unique and creative, and the action sequences (mostly in the form of chases) were fantastic.

The movie is widely considered to be Costner’s worst movie, but I have to strongly disagree. Sure, some of it was a bit strange — like giving a man webbed fish feet — but Waterworld had some creative ideas and wasn’t your run-of-the-mill sci-fi action movie. The score was amazing, the characters were great, and the villains were cool. If you take it seriously, Waterworld is a crappy movie, but take it for the fun film that it’s intended to be, and you’ll end up with a new favorite movie.

Rent or Buy here.

Join our mailing list

Bobby Bernstein
Bobby is the Co-Owner of Nerd Much?. He's the former Games Editor and current Shopping Editor at Heavy.com, former Editor in Chief of Den of Geek, and former bylines at HiConsumption, Slickdeals, Gamedeveloper.com, and more! He is also on Opencritic. He has been writing about nerdy stuff on the web for over 10 years. The best way to reach him is on Twitter.

Must Read