I grew up watching action and martial arts movies because I had an older brother who would usually give me a dead leg/Chinese burn/fart on my head if I didn’t agree with his film choices! The thing is however, it wasn’t really the fear of being suplexed into my mother’s coffee table by my brother that made me watch copious VHS action films on loop, I actually enjoyed them! Yes, the plot was always highly ridiculous with as many loopholes and head scratching as The Matrix Reloaded (remember Neo’s chat with The Architect that made you scream “what the actual fuck is happening!” at the screen?!) and of course, the good guy usually and predictably triumphed over evil. YET we still lapped up the explosions, cringe with a large slice of cheese dialogue and unnecessary boob shots from the damsel in distress.
With this in mind, I decided to compile my top 10 action films from the decade I loved the most, the 1990s. Now as this is the internet, and everyone has opinions and the ability to smash out a few CAPS LOCK expletives when it comes to expressing these opinions, no doubt some of you may disagree… and that’s ok! I value your opinion… but just not as much as mine! :)
Demolition Man – 1993 – Starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes & Sandra Bullock
Plot: Stallone is tough, risk-taking cop John Spartan who along with homicidal but hilarious criminal Simon Phoenix (Snipes with a wicked bleached hairdo!) is cryogenically frozen in the year 1996 for a crime he didn't commit.
They are both finally thawed out in 2032 where Spartan has to catch Phoenix in a world that has dramatically changed.
Best Part: The pianist at Taco Bell singing the Green Giant advert and Stallone and Sandra Bullock having virtual reality sex with zero contact! (Fun fact - The first time I saw this scene my parents were watching it too and it was incredibly uncomfortable for all involved!)
Best Quote: “Send a maniac to catch one”
Face/Off – 1997 – Starring Nicolas Cage & John Travolta
Plot: An FBI agent Sean Archer (Travolta) and terrorist Castor Troy (Cage) are sworn enemies who through the power of ridiculous make-believe science stuff, swap physical appearance… by switching faces. *insert facepalm here*
Best Part: The shootout scene in the church… because violence and religion basically go hand in hand!
Best Quote: “Isn’t this religious, ah yes. The eternal battle between good and evil, saint and sinners… but you’re still not having any FUN!”
True Lies – 1994 – Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger & Jamie Lee Curtis
Plot: A remake of the French film La Totale, Arnie plays a US undercover agent Harry Tasker who tries (and fails amazingly) to balance his intense high-risk life as a spy with his dull suburban life. Of course, his wife (Lee Curtis) finds out he’s not a computer salesman and they somehow find themselves embroiled in saving the world/just America from a terror attack.
Best Part: When Jamie Lee Curtis does this sexy/cringe striptease in high cut underwear!
Best Quote: “I married Rambo!”
Terminator 2 Judgement Day – 1991 – Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong & Linda Hamilton
Plot: The sequel to the game changing first instalment of The Terminator saga. Sarah Connor (Hamilton) and her 10-year-old bit of a dickhead son John (Furlong) join forces with the original Terminator (Schwarzenegger) who is now less pissed off at them because he’s a reprogrammed goody sent from the future... to run the hell away from a new fancy pants Terminator that is a shapeshifting, liquid metal son of a bitch!
Best Part: Every time the scary music kicks in when the evil Terminator T-1000 runs!
Best Quote: “Hasta la vista, baby.”
Universal Soldier – 1992 – Starring Jean Claude Van Damme & Dolph Lundgren
Plot: Some kick ass soldiers who fought (and died!) in the Vietnam War, are brought back to life to help the military on some secret mission that has “FAIL” written all over it! Obviously one of the lethal soldiers, Andrew Scott (Lundgren) who likes to collect his victims ears as a strange souvenir goes rogue, and it takes Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) to stop the psycho.
Best Part: When Van Damme casually runs and smashes through three consecutive walls of a motel… because he’s technically a zombie muscle man who can do what he likes!
Best Quote: Scott – “Say good night, asshole.” Luc – “Good night, asshole.”
Bad Boys – 1995 – Starring Will Smith & Martin Lawrence
Plot: Two funny guy cops Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Smith) run around trying to take down a drug kingpin. There’s big explosions, gun fights and Will Smith has his shirt unbuttoned a lot of the time!
Best Part: When the date for Lawrence’s daughter comes to the front door and he gets roasted and aggressively threatened by both Smith and Lawrence! Hilarity ensues!
Best Quote: “He steals our shit, kidnaps Julie, shoots at my wife. Oh, we beatin’ him down. We beatin’ him DOWN!”
The Matrix – 1999 – Starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving & Laurence Fishburne
Plot: A sci-fi classic that popularised the visual effect of ‘bullet time’ that slowed down action shots (made dodging bullets look cool!) and spawned spoof movies and cartoons!
Computer programmer Neo (Reeves) learns the truth about “The Matrix” a simulated reality believed as the real world and the actual dystopian future of Zion which is bleak as feck! Neo with the help of Morpheus (Fishburne) and Trinity (Moss) has to fight Agents in sharp suits to figure out if he’s ‘the one’. Everyone looks like a cyberpunk dressed in either leather, latex and sunglasses!
Best Part: When Neo casually says “no” and stops the bullets flying towards him in mid-air and then proceeds to batter the shit out of Agent Smith with one hand!
Best Quote: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Under Siege – 1992 – Starring Steven Seagal & Tommy Lee Jones
Plot: Ex-Navy SEAL Casey Ryback (Seagal) who is now a cook, fights to stop a group of idiots/mercenaries fronted by bitter, unstable ex-CIA Bill Strannix (Lee Jones) on a battleship. An actress from Baywatch stars as the sassy blonde Tate who brings nothing to the story except randomly jumping out of cake in her underwear!
Best Part: Tommy Lee Jones’ bandana!
Best Quote: Tate – “So, who are you? Are you like some special forces guy or something?” Ryback – “Nah. I’m just a cook.” Tate – “A cook?” Ryback – “Just a lowly, lowly cook.” Tate – “Oh my god we’re gonna die!”
Speed – 1994 – Starring Keanu Reeves & Sandra Bullock
Plot: LAPD officer Jack Traven (Reeves) tries to save a load of folk on a bus that’s rigged with a bomb. Oh, and if the bus slows down below 50mph then BOOM! Passenger and obvious love interest Annie (Bullock with bad hair but we love her anyways!) takes the wheel while Keanu tries to diffuse the bomb, catch the killer and get the girl!
Best Part: When the bus jumps a ginormous gap in the road and nobody dies, AND it stays above 50mph.
Best Quote: Jack – “Miss, can you handle this bus?” Annie – “Oh sure. It’s just like driving a really big Pinto.”
Mission: Impossible – 1996 – Starring Tom Cruise, his handsome Scientology face and perfect teeth! (Everyone else is fairly insignificant!)
Plot: The first of many confusing Mission: Impossible films where Tom Cruise does his own stunts and somehow doesn’t kill himself! Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is a super-duper spy type person who is framed for the murder of all his agent mates. Gutted. Thus, proceeds crazy aerial tricks, impossible disguises and clever clues that not even Jessica Fletcher herself would ever find as Hunt tries to track down who betrayed him and why.
Best Part: Obviously the iconic dangling from the ceiling stunt.
Best Quote: (Ethan holding explosive chewing gum) “RED LIGHT! GREEN LIGHT!”
And there we have it! Big 90s action, explosions, corny lines, guns and incomprehensible storylines! I love it!