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Top 10 Cult Classic Action Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Joe Jatcko Can’t get enough trouble? Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 cult classics – category: action. For this list, we’re focusing on action films that were mostly under-appreciated by audiences or critics upon their initial release but have since gained a large and dedicated following. Special thanks to our users James Gibson, Scotty Arbour and Jake Roberts for submitting the idea through our Suggest Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest

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Written by Joe Jatcko

Top 10 Cult Classic Action Movies

Can’t get enough trouble? Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 cult classics – category: action.

For this list, we’re focusing on action films that were mostly under-appreciated by audiences or critics upon their initial release but have since gained a large and dedicated following.

#10: “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986)

The all-but-crowned prince of cult action flicks, Kurt Russell gives perhaps his most over-the-top performance in John Carpenter’s camp masterpiece. Russell plays eccentric long-haul trucker, Jack Burton, whose travels take him to the wrong neighborhood on the wrong night, where he is unwittingly thrust into the ultimate battle between good and evil. Silly—yes; politically correct—not even a little; but as always, Carpenter and Russell infuse it with so much charm, you probably won’t care.

#9: “Dredd” (2012)

A film that fully embraced the 3D format, this colorful orgy of violence has spawned a significant cult following and movement for future sequels. Karl Urban—also responsible for breathing new life into Star Trek’s Bones—makes the role of this iconic walking courthouse his own. The film also boasts a strong female co-star in Olivia Thirlby, and legendary bad guys from The Wire and Game of Thrones, in Wood Harris and Lena Headey, respectively.

#8: “Red Dawn” (1984)

Of course we all know the Soviet Union disbanded in the 1990s, but don’t tell Patrick Swayze circa-1984 that. He’s as ready as ever to lead his rag-tag group of high school-aged freedom fighters against the combined might of the Soviet Union, Cuba and Nicaragua when they descend on a small Colorado town. While seemingly a universe away from other flicks being turned out by this who’s-who of ‘80 teen idols, this film is remembered as a dark, gritty what-if, and even spawned a 2012 re-make.

#7: “Bloodsport” (1988)

This late ‘80s gem was responsible for propelling little-known Jean-Claude Van Damme into the elite rank of martial arts masters who can act…kind of. Loosely based on a true story, “Bloodsport” follows Frank Dux as he enters a secret tournament in Hong Kong and proceeds to beat the hell out of just about every guy in the country. While it’s cheesy and mildly xenophobic, the film’s impressive fight sequences make it one of the most loved martial arts movies of all time.

#6: “The Raid: Redemption” (2011)

One of the most shocking and action-packed movies to come along in years, this 2011 Indonesian crime film pits a team of special forces agents against the most violent crime lord in Jakarta. While the fact that its American release title sounds like a sequel would be grounds enough for cult status, the film has gained an international audience for its action, thrills and martial arts, prompting studios to move ahead with sequels and adaptations.

#5: “The Warriors” (1979)

Framed for the killing of the city’s most important gang leader, The Warriors must make it back to Coney Island by night with every gang in the city in hot pursuit. One of the most iconic cult films of all time, this journey through the back alleyways of 1970s New York is remembered for its early blending of comic book and film, quotable dialogue, and ability to somehow make the sound of bottles clicking together menacing.

#4: “Repo Man” (1984)

In this crime comedy, we follow Emilio Estevez’s Otto Maddox through a bizarro version of 1980s Los Angeles as he realizes just how intense the life of a repo man can be. With its original characters and mesmerizing effects, it’s the only film to make both our cult sci-fi and action movie lists. Why? Because Alex Cox’s 1984 film is able to transcend its b-movie casing to become one of the most beloved cult classics of all time.

#3: “Escape From New York” (1981)

An early pairing of Carpenter and Russell, this dystopian masterpiece pits the actor against nearly every thug on the island of Manhattan. But that’s not all; Snake Plissken’s also gotta deal with the fact that the island’s been converted into a prison colony and taken over by Isaac Hayes, who as a result, gets to cruise around in this: A return to the gritty style of Carpenter’s early cult hit, “Assault on Precinct 13,” this film has held up as one of the legendary director’s best-loved films.

#2: “Mad Max” (1979)

Equipped with what would become his iconic leathers, Mel Gibson’s Max gives up a life of the law and seeks revenge against the motorcycle gang responsible for the death of his family and partner. The film that would come to define the post-apocalyptic genre, this 1979 Australian sci-fi movie chronicles the last days of order before the even-bleaker landscape of its sequels.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Cobra” (1986)
- “Road House (1989)
- “Death Race 2000” (1975)
- “Red Heat” (1988)
- “Demolition Man” (1993)

#1: “Point Break” (1991)

Before Kathryn Bigelow became an Oscar-winning filmmaker for 2008’s “The Hurt Locker,” she was best known for this mesmerizingly excessive 1991 gem.
List of just some of the things that make it awesome: surfing bank robbing, skydiving, rubber presidents masks, Gary Busey, and one of the best character names of all time: Johnny Utah. While certainly not making many critics’ top 10 lists, it is right at home on at the top of this one.

Do you agree with our list? Which cult action movies make you want to take on 10 guys at once? For more entertaining top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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