Last year for Junesploitation's '80s Action day, I published a list of 10 '80s action movies I feel are underrated (and by "underrated," I only mean that they don't seem to be as widely discussed or as well-regarded as some of their contemporaries; of course a lot of people like them and don't underrate them at all, which is always the danger in writing a piece like this). It only seems fair to give the '90s the same treatment. While the genre was in a very different place a decade later, it was every bit as important to the box office -- action movies were, in fact, made on a $100 million scale. The movies appearing here were not, but that doesn't mean they don't deliver the goods and deserve more love than they often get.
2. Nowhere to Run (1993, dir. Robert Harmon)
3. Terminal Velocity (1994, dir. Deran Serafian)
4. Drive (1997, dir. Steve Wang)
5. Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991, dir. Simon Wincer)
6. Trespass (1992, dir. Walter Hill)
incredible theme song), but it's also a kickass action movie in which the great Bill Paxton and the equally great William Sadler star as firemen who run afoul of a gang when searching for treasure in an abandoned building. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale wrote the script for this in the 1970s and it shows; Trespass is just the kind of lean and mean action thriller (populated by character actors, no less) that was de rigueur during that decade. I wish we'd get a proper Blu-ray release of this one.
7. Metro (1997, dir. Thomas Carter)
8. Chill Factor (1999, dir. Hugh Johnson)
Speed ripoff that's already six years two late: small town short order cook Skeet Ulrich and ice cream salesman Cuba Gooding Jr. have to transport a chemical weapon in Gooding's delivery truck because it's the only way to keep it below the temperature at which it will detonate and kill everyone. They have stupid bickering along the way, but Midnight Run this ain't. Still, there's a certain goofy charm to the movie, which is surprisingly dark and violent for a film this dopey. Of all the movies on the list, this is the one I can least easily defend.
9. The Corrupter (1999, dir. James Foley)
10. Stone Cold (1991, dir. Craig R. Baxley)
Action Jackson and I Come in Peace) and the movie designed to turn Brian "The Boz" Bosworth into an action star. Released in 1991 -- arguably the best year for #HeavyAction ever -- Stone Cold distinguishes itself with a fantastic villain turn by Lance Henriksen, its setting inside biker subculture and director Baxley's usual penchant for incredible stunts and a tone that's just this side of absurd. Everything is a little bigger, a little crazier than it might be in the hands of another filmmaker and the results are glorious.