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10 Brotacular 90’s Action Movies

Movies you would watch with your bros. I tried to pick movies that were the most fun. Also, instead of filling the list with stuff you’ve likely seen, I wanted to pick movies you might have missed. So I used box office earnings in an attempt to quantify popularity, and considered any action movie that made under $100 million at the box office. (much love and thanks to my buddy Brian for the title image)

Hard Boiled


“Give the guy a gun and he’s Superman, give him two and he’s God.”

That’s how Inspector ‘Tequila’ Yuen (Chow Yun-Fat) is described. Maybe that’s why he takes on a full warehouse of mobsters with a handgun, a semi-automatic, and a shotgun. He rappels from the ceiling, wildly raining bullets down on everyone, then slides along a car roof before rolling to cover.

And then he pulls out the shotgun.

Hard Boiled is basically Tequila and an undercover cop against an entire mob organization. You’ll never see more sliding, diving, rolling, and flying in the air while shooting in any other movie. And you’ll never see as much gunfire either.

And you’ll thank me for it.



Desperado is about El Mariachi (Antonio Bandares) looking for a man who calls himself Bucho – that’s all – but instead of helping him, everyone seems to want to do things the hard way (the way that involves lots of gunfire).

Desperado is a love affair. It is a love affair between Antonio Banderes and the audience, between the audience and guitar playing, between Antonio Bandares and Salma Hayek, and between director Robert Rodriguez and John Woo’s films.

There’s still duel-wielding pistols and flying through the air while shooting, but not as much as Hard Boiled; they had to make room for the love affairs, you understand.


Point Break


Did anyone ever love someone the way Johnny Utah loves Bodhi? Or the way Bodhi loves Johnny Utah?

Point Break is about an FBI agent, Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), going undercover and trying to catch a gang of surfers lead by Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), who are bank robbers on the side. Johnny Utah is the hotshot young agent who doesn’t know how to live. Bodhi is described as a searcher, looking for the ultimate ride.

Bodhi tells Johnny that surfing is, “a state of mind. It’s that place where you lose yourself and find yourself.” Even though the two are enemies, they come to respect and bro-love each other because they share the same kamikaze spirit — they live to go to the edge, man.

If you’ve been searching movies for a sweet ride and haven’t seen Point Break yet, this is your wave, brah. Vaya con Dios.


Hard Target


I suppose Hard Target is about Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), a drifter trying to help a woman find her missing Father, but really, Hard Target is a love letter to JCVD’s mullet. We first see it sashay in the breeze off a roundhouse kick eleven minutes into the movie. A couple minutes later, JCVD turns around so we can see his mullet as he walks away, then the scene fades into an American flag.

Later, there’s a sequence where JCVD duel-wields pistols, unloads into guy, roundhouse kicks him, unloads into another guy, roundhouse kicks him too, then unloads a final time. Each kick, the mullet twirls. Twirls, twirls.

Supposedly director John Woo and JCVD didn’t get along, which is why we never saw them team up again. But I wish they’d set aside their differences — for the mullet’s sake.


Fist of Legend


Fist of Legend is about a nearly unbeatable martial artist, Chen Zhen (Jet Li), beating the crap out of every fighter he encounters. At the beginning of the film he’s attacked by fifteen guys. He breaks ten bones before the attackers change their mind, including breaking a guy’s leg in half by smashing the knee inwards.

Shortly after, he attacks an entire school of martial arts students. As Chen Zhen enters, one student tells him to leave, so Chen Zhen grabs the back of the guy’s head and slams him to the ground. As you can see, it’s glorious.

He has legitimate challenges later on, but for a long while Chen Zhen doesn’t have opponents, he has victims. And it’s very satisfying to watch.


Showdown in Little Tokyo


Truthfully, I put this entry on here out of sentiment. I’m a Bruce Lee fan, but the only Brandon Lee film I ever saw was The Crow. I didn’t even know he starred in a few action films as well. And seeing how good he was in this made me sad.

Brandon Lee plays Johnny Murata, a partner to the film’s star, Dolph Lundgren (Sgt. Chris Kenner). The two play the buddy-cop-comedy game while trying to take down some American-based Yakuza. Some of the jokes don’t work, but somehow that makes the film more endearing. Brandon Lee is a jokester, while Lundgren is a charmless straight man. I don’t know if that’s what makes Lee’s performance so bright, but he’s terrific.

Also, the main villain is the guy who played Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat, and his second in command is the same guy who was Shredder’s second in TMNT (1990), Master Tatsu. If that wasn’t enough, there’s lots of gunfire and nudity too. It’s as brotacular as it gets.


Army of Darkness

Army of Darkness is the third Evil Dead movie, where Ash (Bruce Campbell) is transported to the past where he is destined to save the land from evil.

If you haven’t seen Army of Darkness before, I’m not sure I can confidently point you in its direction. It’s weird, man. Chainsaw arms, evil twins that sprout from your shoulder, giggling mischievous mini-clones, shrieking witches, undead armies, and hokey humour. But also the best damn one-liners any movie has to offer, baby.

If that sounds like something you might enjoy, give it a look. If you ever appreciated Duke Nukem’s one liners, you have this movie to thank. And, of course, Bruce Campbell. There’s a unique quality to Campbell. Somehow he’s able to play his B-movie role both straight, while acting as though he’s in on the joke at the same time. I can’t think of anyone else who can do that.

Hail to the King, baby.


Hard to Kill


I like to imagine that Steven Seagal has a lot of input on his films. In Hard to Kill, Storm (Seagal) is gunned down in his own home, pronounced dead at the hospital, but somehow resuscitates and spends seven years in a coma until he wakes up for revenge. While in the coma, a beautiful nurse has a crush on him and refers to him as “her boyfriend.” She looks under the sheets at his naked manhood one day while encouraging him to pull through and says, “you have so much to live for.”

There’s a peculiar delight in Seagal movies. In every film, Seagal seems like that douchebag know-it-all. He studied martial arts and medicine in the East, he’s a deadeye with guns, and his big dick is a magnet for the ladies. But then we see him run, or practice his katas, and we get to see the man behind the curtain.

Seriously, look at those katas.


Universal Soldier


Universal Soldier is about dead soldiers that have been reanimated to be a superpowered army that you can command like robots. When universal soldier, Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme), starts to remember his past, he escapes with a reporter. The two are then hunted by Luc’s fellow super corpse, Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren), and the rest of the universal soldiers to make sure the program is kept secret.

Who would have thought Van Damme pretending to be a lifeless soldier would be so delightful? There’s some good comedy in the exchange between the reporter and Luc. In one scene, Luc asks for the reporters help. He strips naked and says, “there must be a tracking device on me.” The reporter asks, “what do you want me to do about it?” Luc replies: “Look for something unusual,” then grabs her hand and puts it on his stomach, “something hard.”


Jackie Chan’s First Strike


This is the fourth entry in Jackie Chan’s Police Story series. In this one, he’s trying to stop illegal nuclear arms trading.

There were a lot of great Jackie Chan films in the 90’s, and if you’re gonna say, “Why not Rumble in the Bronx? Or Who Am I? Or Operation Condor? Or Mr. Nice Guy? Or Legend of Drunken Master? Or heck, even Gorgeous?” Those are all excellent points my friends. I didn’t make Jackie Chan awesome, I’m just doing my best to acknowledge he is awesome by putting this film on the list. Because ladder fight. And yea, because ladder fight.

I’m very sorry if your movie wasn’t on here. Chances are I love and respect the movie you wanted to see. You can see the movies I considered here:

If you are interested in seeing my list without the $100 mil. cap, you can see it here:

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