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Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Action Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Spencer Sher

These films are the antithesis of everything that awards season stands for; and we will never stop watching them! From Lara Croft: Tomb Raider to Bad Boys II, WatchMojo is counting down the action movies that, from a critical standpoint, are technically bad, but, from an audience perspective, are honestly kinda great.

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Script written by Spencer Sher

Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Action Movies


These films are the antithesis of everything that awards season stands for; and we will never stop watching them! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Action Movies.



For this list, we will be taking a look at action movies that, from a critical standpoint, are technically bad, but, from an audience perspective, are honestly kinda great. From unabashedly cringe-worthy one-liners to bullets and explosions galore, these are the kinds of films that ask you to suspend your disbelief in the name of entertainment and uncomplicated fun.



#10: “Timecop” (1994)


Just listen to the plot of this film: in a world where time travel is illegal, a cop - played by Jean-Claude Van Damme - is tasked with bringing down a corrupt politician who wants to use it to become President of the United States. If that isn’t the start of a guilty pleasure movie we don’t know what is. “TimeCop” is riddled with plot holes, shoddy acting and enough cheesy dialogue to guarantee that no one ever takes it seriously; which is great, because “TimeCop” should not be taken seriously. It’s simply a fun popcorn flick that makes incredible use of Van Damme’s ability to kick ass and take names across various time periods.



#9: “Rambo III” (1988)



Action franchises are notorious for upping the ante to ludicrous levels with each passing sequel and the “Rambo” film series is no exception. In “First Blood,” PTSD sufferer and Vietnam vet John Rambo only kills one person and it’s with a rock. In “Rambo III,” he kills 115 people, a pretty gargantuan leap. The film elevated Rambo from disgruntled vet to full-on action hero, dropping him into war-torn Afghanistan and pitting him against everyone’s favorite ‘80s bad guys: the Soviets. Badass action sequences abound and viewers are treated to a plethora of explosions, epic one liners and a seriously pissed off Rambo mowing people down in droves. Turn off your brain and enjoy!



#8: “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001)



Film adaptations of popular video games are not an easy thing to pull off, but that doesn’t mean that they are all poorly made snooze fests. A prime example is “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”, a film that never takes itself too seriously and makes great use of lead actress Angelina Jolie’s natural charisma. The plot involves Croft going toe-to-toe with the Illuminati in order to secure an artifact that grants its user control of time and space (hey, we said it was fun, not necessarily logical). More than 15 years later and the film is still a total blast to watch thanks to its awesome action sequences and the far-out plot.



#7: “Double Impact” (1991)



The only thing better than one Jean-Claude Van Damme is two Jean-Claude Van Dammes! In this flick, the heavy accented martial artist plays twins separated in infancy that reunite in order to avenge their parents’ murders. The film’s trailer gloriously exclaims, “One packs a punch. One packs a piece”… and that’s pretty much all you need to know. “Double Impact” isn’t about making sense - it’s about watching one man play two characters to deliver the maximum level of no holds barred action. Van Damme does the splits, shoots henchmen while lying on his back and kills a bad guy while shirtless. What else could you possibly ask for?



#6: “Tango & Cash” (1989)



After being framed for murder by a drug kingpin, LAPD narcotics officers Raymond Tango and Gabriel Cash are forced to work together in order to exonerate themselves and take down their nemesis. At times the film is so bad it hurts, with Stallone chewing the scenery from start to finish and Russell feeling completely out of place, particularly when dressed in drag. One critic quipped that the film was “a waste of talent and energy on all levels"; and while that may be true it doesn’t mean that “Tango & Cash” is devoid of entertainment. You just need to leave common sense at the door in order to enjoy it!



#5: “Bad Boys II” (2003)


“Bad Boys II” isn’t a good movie by any definition. The acting is spotty, the plot is ridiculous and the writing is so cheesy you’ll think you’re watching a KRAFT singles commercial (that’s a cheesy line about cheesy lines). However, it does have an ace up its sleeve in the form of director Michael Bay. Say what you want about the guy, but he knows how to direct action. Who could forget the climax wherein Will Smith’s Mike seemingly destroys half of Cuba with a bright yellow hummer? Or that highway chase scene that no doubt caused millions of dollars in damage, but somehow didn’t get him and Marcus fired? You’re watching pure movie magic.



#4: “xXx” (2002)


If “The Fast and the Furious” was the film that put Vin Diesel on the map, then “xXx” is the one that turned him into a household name. The film attempted to capitalize on the popularity of extreme sports in the early 2000s, as Diesel’s Xander Cage pulls off one daring stunt after another while working as a secret agent for the United States government. Throughout the film, he grinds a rail using nothing more than a food tray, parachutes out of a car after driving it off a bridge and outraces an avalanche while snowboarding. It’s the film’s complete lack of logic and fun-first attitude that earn it a spot on our list.




#3: “Street Fighter” (1994)


Based on the popular video game series of the same name, this live action adaptation featured... Jean-Claude Van Damme again! This time… hamming it up in one of the campiest films of all time. The fact that “Street Fighter” managed to turn a respectable profit is astounding, as the film subjects viewers to more than an hour and half of clichés, bad acting and ridiculous plotlines. However, Raúl Juliá’s over-the-top performance as the evil General Bison and JCVD’s penchant for cracking wise while beating bad guys to a pulp help to mask “Street Fighter’s” many, many faults… if only slightly. Too bad there’s no Academy Award for films that are so bad they’re good.



#2: “The Fast and the Furious” franchise (2001-)


What started off as a story about a cop infiltrating the world of underground street racing has somehow morphed into a multibillion-dollar franchise involving super villains, heists, international terrorism and The Rock. However, if there’s one thing that has not changed over the years is the series’ love of insane stunt work and top-notch action sequences. It’s impossible to watch any of the “Fast and Furious” films and not be blown away by the level of professionalism inherent in each and every car chase, race or explosion. These films are about blowing things up, making the actors look cool and selling popcorn - they’ve perfected the art of doing all three.





Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:



“Road House” (1989)





“Bloodsport” (1988)



“Hard to Kill” (1990)





#1: “The Expendables” franchise (2010-)




There is perhaps no film series that better embodies the guilty pleasure category of the action genre than “The Expendables”. These films do not exist to win awards - quite the contrary. They are made to wow teenagers and revive the careers of actors whose glory days took place between the Reagan and Clinton administrations. They’re about muscle- bound good guys triumphing over muscle-bound bad guys with nothing more than a catchy one liner, a locked and loaded machine gun and a whole lot of grit. And while Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren have gotten old... watching them kick ass together never will.
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