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Whenever the topic of the greatest action movies of all time comes up in conversation, it’s quick to jump to something like Die Hard, John Wick, or Terminator 2: Judgment Day, since all three are a few of the best offerings from the action genre. But sometimes, a movie slips between the cracks for one reason or another and doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. CinemaBlend, being one rooting for the underdogs whenever possible, has partnered up with Overrun to talk about 10 great under-the-radar action movies worth checking out.
But before you dive into the list of amazing action flicks you probably haven’t seen (and how to stream them) check out the Overrun trailer to see what Josh Tessier’s thriller is all about. We’ve partnered with Overrun to bring you this article and for good reason. The movie looks like a ton of fun, and if you’re into the action movies on this list, you should check that one out. You can watch it right now on a variety of streaming services.
Following years of intense training in the Finnish wilderness, Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) has become a lethal assassin who is perfect in nearly every possible way. All of that training comes in handy when she becomes the target of the mysterious Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), who has sent a legion of agents to stop her from completing a mission. The tough and stoic facade begins to crumble away, however, as Hanna becomes aware of her past and her very existence.
Why it’s worth checking out: Directed by Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, Darkest Hour), Hanna is a beautifully shot, well-paced action thriller with an emotional story and brutal action sequences. If you want a movie that combines elements of mystery, drama, and hard-hitting action, then look no further…
Toy Soldiers (1991)
Regis High School is where the teenage sons of the country’s wealthy and influential leaders go when they have been given the boot from every other preparatory academy in the country. But when a Colombian drug cartel takes over the sprawling campus and holds the students hostage to secure the release of the group’s leader’s father, it’s up to a group of rejects led by Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, and others to avert disaster.
Why it’s worth checking out: The best way to describe Daniel Petrie Jr. 's 1991 action thriller is to combine equal parts of Die Hard, Home Alone, and Red Dawn until you have a fun yet shockingly violent spectacle that is Toy Soldiers. Add in Louis Gossett Jr. as the school’s dean and you have yourself a fun way of spending a couple of hours.
When a gang of thieves led by the psychotic and vindictive former British intelligence officer Eric Qualen (John Lithgow) sets out to rob the United States treasure of $100 million no matter what it costs to get the loot, it’s up to Gabriel “Gabe” Walker (Sylvester Stallone) to stop them. This proves to be no easy task for the former mountain climber as he is still dealing with the trauma caused by not being able to save his best friend’s girlfriend before she fell to her death in the Colorado Rockies.
Why it’s worth checking out: Renny Harlin’s 1993 summer blockbuster brought in just over $84 million domestically, per BoxOfficeMojo, but Cliffhanger is often overshadowed by the other Sylvester Stallone movie that same year, Demolition Man, despite making more at the box office. We’re still hanging around waiting for that Cliffhanger remake though.
Attack The Block (2011)
When an invading force of predatory aliens decides a housing project in South London would be the perfect place to start the takeover of Earth (on Guy Fawkes night, nonetheless), they find their match in a local teenage street gang led by Moses (John Boyega). Under the guidance of the crook-turned-hero, the gang sets out to save the block, the city, and the world from this extraterrestrial threat.
Why it’s worth checking out: Directed by Joe Cornish, who would go on to write Ant-Man and direct The Kid Who Would Be King, Attack the Block combines the best elements of horror, comedy, action, and sci-fi adventure, creating a unique and incredibly fun thrill ride about the unlikeliest of heroes rising to the occasion that was arguably the best action movie of 2011.
Smokin’ Aces (2006)
Robert “Buddy Aces” Israel (Jeremy Piven) is a washed-up, cocaine-addicted magician who thinks he’s found a way out of life’s problems: turning federal witness against mob boss Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin) in hopes of starting a new life. Buddy Aces’ plan, however, goes out the window, when Sparazza takes out a $1 million hit on the snitch, leading to a large and diverse group of assassins descending upon Lake Tahoe to take out the magician once and for all.
Why it’s worth checking out: Joe Carnahan’s 2006 action thriller Smokin’ Aces is something that has to be seen to believe. Around every corner there are unique hitmen and hitwomen played by Chris Pine, Alicia Keys, Taraji P. Henson, Joel Edgerton, Tommy Flanagan, and more. And then there are the FBI agents played by Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, and Andy Garcia. Oh, and did we mention Ben Affleck? Yeah, he’s in this bloodbath as well.
Edge Of Darkness (2010)
Boston homicide detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) finds himself on a dark and unknown path after his daughter, Emma (Bojana Novakovic) is murdered in cold blood on his doorstep. What follows is a grieving father and a man on the ropes with nothing to lose trying to get to the bottom of the heinous crime, even if the death of his child is just the beginning of the whole affair.
Why it’s worth checking out: Mel Gibson’s first lead role since Signs in 2002, Martin Campbell’s 2010 conspiracy action thriller Edge of Darkness is very much in line with the movies the action star built a career on in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s violent, tense, and has more twists and turns than pretty much anything else on this list.
Green Room (2016)
What’s the worst that could happen when you play a show in a Nazi skinhead bar in rural Oregon? Well, The Ain’t Rights find out firsthand when they not only piss off an entire gang of neo-Nazis with a cover of the Dead Kennedys’ classic “Nazi Punks, Fuck Off.” But that is just the beginning as they soon find themselves trapped in the bar after witnessing a murder backstage. In order to escape, the outmatched and outmanned band must fight off wave after wave of Nazis led by Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart)
Why it’s worth checking out: Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is no-joke, one of the most violent and harrowing movies that came out in 2016. True, there are other movies with loads more gore, but there is something about the realism of this movie’s approach to violence that sticks with you. You’ll never look at your arm the same after one scene involving Anton Yelchin, a door, and a machete.
13 Assassins (2011)
When a government official in 19th Century Japan grows tired of Lord Naritsugu Matsudaira (Goro Inagaki), he secretly hires a group of assassins led by Shinzaemon Shimada (Koji Yakusho) to eliminate the ruthless and blood-thirsty ruler. Together, the group consisting of Japan’s 13 most lethal samurai hatch a plan to trap the mad lord and his most loyal followers.
Why it’s worth checking out: Takashi Miike’s 2011 remake of 13 Assassins is admittedly a slow burn that isn’t for those who like their movies jumping right into the action. But after you meet all the characters and become invested in their backstories and motivations, you are provided with some of the best samurai action of the modern era. It’s violent, it’s bloody, and once it gets going, this movie doesn’t stop.
Black Rain (1989)
When NYPD officers Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) and Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia) are forced the transport murder suspect Koji Sato (Yusaka Matsuda) back to Japan for a murder trial, his fellow Yakuza break him out in a daring escape, kicking off a journey through the criminal underworld of the Japanese metropolis to track down the fugitive. This, however, proves to be no easy task for anyone involved…
Why it’s worth checking out: Directed by Ridley Scott, Black Rain is a dark, wet, moody, and bloody action thriller about the clash of cultures that is started when two New York cops travel to a foreign land with a different understanding of justice. The movie takes an even darker turn once the villains’ motivations, and inspiration for the title, are revealed. The crime thriller also features Michael Douglas’ longtime stunt double in some badass motorcycle chases.
Blind Fury (1990)
When Nick Parker (Rutger Hauer) is blinded by a landmine explosion during the Vietnam war, he is taken in by a local tribe and trained to fortify his remaining senses while also becoming an absolute badass with swords. Years later, when he returns to the United States in hopes of reconnecting with an old war buddy, Nick finds himself in the middle of a dicey situation involving a mob boss, trained assassins, and the rescue of a young kid.
Why it’s worth checking out: Blind Fury is one of those movies you catch about halfway late at night on some random movie channel and keep watching because it’s just so bonkers. Released in 1990, this Phillip Noyce-directed action flick has thrills, chills, and tons of amazing action sequences and one-liners by Rutger Hauer.
These are just some of the great under-the-radar action movies that are worth checking out. With more great action thrillers coming out everyday, including Overrun, there is a lot to discover out there.
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Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.