Top Action Movies of the 90s

Action movies might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you might be surprised at what some of them have to offer. In particular, the action movies that came out in the 90s were quite interesting and memorable. This was the time when CGI hadn’t taken over the action genre, but practical effects were also on their way out. Even with the technical limitations back then, the 90s still gave us a slew of enjoyable, thrilling, and thought-provoking action movies. 

There are several heist movies that you should watch as well, but the action movies of the 90s might even hold up today. There’s also a nice bit of diversity in these offerings, so take a look before you plan your next movie night: 

Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)

One interesting aspect of the movie is that it technically wasn’t meant to be one of the ‘Die Hard’ movies at first. In fact, it was supposed to be a thriller movie named ‘Simon Says’, but the decision to make it a Die Hard movie was probably a smart one. Die Hard still has a large fan following across the globe, so connecting another movie with the first one will almost guarantee its recognition. Plus, Die Hard 2 wasn’t very well received, so it’s just as well that Die Hard with a Vengeance was there to pick up the slack. 

One might say that this movie changes up all the original rules from the first Die Hard. However, these changes were probably for the better, especially as they retained the core of main work. Even with all the pairing and changes in character, it’s still John McClane fighting off a gang of bad guys. 

Sudden Death (1995)

With the booming success of Die Hard, it was no surprise that there were a lot of imitators of that movie in the 90s. Sudden Death was one of these, but it’s one of the best and most faithful ones so far. The main setting is a hockey arena, and the star is Jean Claude Van Damme as Darren McCord. Along with fighting his own trauma, this character has the responsibility of protecting his kids from a super villain. 

There’s also a lot of creativity in this movie, even though it gets a bit dark at times. It might technically be a rip-off, but this movie certainly does manage to stand on its own. 

La Femme Nikita (1990)

This was the action movie that became a whole franchise of its own, even though its success seemed unlikely at the time. It was also the work that launched Luc Besson as a major influence in action entertainment. The reception of this work was so positive that it gave rights to two television series and a feature film remake as well. 

The formula for the storyline is fairly simple, but it gets deeper further on. The main character is female, which is a nice change from the male-dominated action field. One can also view this film as a gritty remake of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale; the catch is that the woman herself is both beauty and beast.  You may want to relax with one of the top teen movies of the 90s after this one. 

The Last Boy Scout (1991)

This offering from the action genre in the 90s was a rare collaboration between Shame Black and Tony Scott. This creates a unique and interesting storyline that might otherwise seem too contrived to work. A football player and a detective (both past their prime) are thrown together in a dark, twisted kind of action comedy. 

Moreover, this movie showed us just how skilful the director Scott is with the action genre.  Some might still not be able to stomach this offering today, but it’s certainly on several listed for the most exciting and fun action films in the 90s decade. 

Point Break (1991)

Point Break is a favorite with many action fans, even if they didn’t grow up in the 90s. This is probably because it subtly focuses on breaking apart the usual masculine impulses that underlie most of the action films to date. It does this by presenting two forms of masculine visions and making them the center of the movie. 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

One cannot talk about action movies without at least a nod to the Terminator series. James Cameron might have faced a lot of criticism for the time he takes for procuring a sequel, but the man evidently knows what he’s doing. Cameron directed this action sequel and managed to make it just as enjoyable and memorable as the first one. 

The film here picks up with Sarah Conner again, around fifteen years after the first movie ended. We see a changed woman, with a fierce and tough exterior as the mother of the leader of the resistance. This way, the sequel turns the original movie on its head. There are several more twists and turns, but you’ll have to watch the movie (along with its prequel and several other sequels) to get the full gist of it. 

The Rock (1996)

Moving on to the latter part of the 1990s, we get the classic “The Rock” movie. Many view this as the only decent offering from Michael Bay to date, but that’s a matter of opinion. It may not be the absolute best action movie ever made, but it’s probably one of the most recognizable ones to date. 

There’s a lot of action mayhem in this film, but not so much that one feels empty-headed while watching it. There are huge stakes and several unoriginal action movie tropes as well, but the overall picture is fairly reasonable. All in all, one would have to say that this movie is a must-watch for action fans of every generation. 

The Matrix (1999)

This is yet another work that action fans have to see at least once in their lifetimes. It’s a full-fledged franchise now, and was a massive box office hit when it released in the 90s. The timing was lackluster, but the content of this movie made people visit the theater at least a few times during the first run. 

The movie is a visual treat and rife with themes, though it thankfully doesn’t skimp on the action scenes either. There are also a lot of philosophical and sub textual decade that can set your brain whirring as well. 


The action movie genre of the 90s gave us a little bit of everything–thrills, humor, and even some fashion ideas. They might be a little difficult to digest, though, so check out these top children’s movies of the 90s for a little breather afterwards. 

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