The 10 Best Cheesy Action Movies of the 1990s

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The 10 Best Cheesy Action Movies of the 1990s

Action cheese in our favorite action movies is a subtle art. These films must be exciting and entertaining but contain enough camp to be comedic and not overly serious. If you go too far, though, you just end up with a comedy film that makes the action suffer. The secret to a good cheesy action movie is an honest approach to the material. The film must strain its eyes as much as possible to avoid winking at the audience. The films that are able to pull off this delicate balance develop cult followings that will rewatch the movies for years to come. Here are ten of the best cheesy action films from the 1990s.


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10 Double Impact (1991)

Columbia Pictures

First up on the action-cheese train is the 1991 action classic Double Impact. This film features a double dose of action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, who plays two brothers who were separated at birth. The film was released in 1991 and was distributed by Columbia Pictures. One brother, Alex, is living as a petty crook in Hong Kong when he meets his long-lost brother Chad, who convinces him to help him get revenge for their murdered parents. However, Chad has some unseen motives for his sudden appearance, which result in some epic fights where Jean-Claude Van Damme has to fight himself on screen.

This film delivers double the action and double the cheese, and is an entertaining ride the whole way through. Much of the rest of the cast has wooden performances, but that just adds to the charm of the cheesy dialogue. There are many 2nd rate-quotable action phrases throughout the film that adds a fun feeling. Van Damme adds plenty of machismo via constant muscle flexing and poses to make it a legendary performance. In a sit-down interview, Van Damme described the process he had to undergo to play both characters and drew upon life experiences to differentiate the character’s personalities. This method made him feel like a different character, even when looking in a mirror.

Related: Action Movies from the ’80s That Need a Sequel

9 Universal Soldier (1992)

Universal Soldier 1992
Tristar Pictures

Another worthy entry on this list also stars versatile action star, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Next on the list is the 1992 film Universal Soldier. This film was released in 1992 and distributed by TriStar Pictures. This time, Van Damme is teaming up with fellow action star Dolph Lundgren to tell the story of a group of experimental soldiers. The military has developed a “Universal Soldier” project, which essentially lets them resurrect dead soldiers as super-powered cyborgs that no longer possess memories or free will. Lundgren and Van Damme play a pair of soldiers in this program who are sent on missions, during which Van Damme’s character regains his memories and works to reject his programming and save the day. This leads to an epic showdown between Van Damme and Lundgren that delivers super-powered action fused with action-liner cheese. It makes for a remarkable achievement to behold.

Related: Universal Soldier: A Look At One of the Best Action Films of the ’90s

8 Demolition Man (1993)

DEMOLITION MAN (1993) 8
Warner Bros.

Next up is a cheesy action film with a science fiction dystopian flavor, Demolition Man. Demolition Man was released in 1993 and starred Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, and Sandra Bullock. The premise follows a police officer who was put into suspended animation after a showdown with a criminal. Years later, he emerges to a society that is completely non-violent, to the point that things like swearing and murder are foreign concepts to them. Unfortunately, a violent criminal is loose in society, and this officer is the only person who knows how to deal with it properly.

The film has an impressive variety of action set-pieces and delivers comedic moments that don’t feel forced. It embraces satire in a way few action films do, and feels more relevant to real life as the years go by. The film also features two of the kings of action movie one-liners meeting up in the same movie, Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. The cheesy dialogue does not disappoint action fans.

7 Face/Off (1997)

face-off-church
Paramount Pictures

Face/Off is an action film by director John Woo that was released in 1997. The film stars Nicolas Cage and John Travolta and was distributed by Paramount Pictures. Cheesy action films don’t always need an absurd premise, but it certainly helps. The plot follows an FBI agent who undergoes a medical procedure to steal the face of a criminal mastermind to infiltrate his gang. However, things go awry when the criminal takes the FBI agent’s face and begins impersonating him in his personal life. The stakes escalate further after an FBI raid that turns into a bloodbath for everyone involved, resulting in huge displays of vehicle destruction. The cheese in this film doesn’t come so much from the one-liners, but from the hammy performance from Nicolas Cage that provides gut-busting laughter.

6 Last Action Hero (1993)

Arnold in the video store in Last Action Hero
Columbia Pictures

Next on the list is Last Action Hero. This film was released in 1993 and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a fictional action hero in a movie that teams up with an action movie fan to save our universe from unleashed action movie villains. It was directed by John McTiernan and was distributed by Columbia Pictures. Despite the film containing many one-liners, it does so with a comedic wink, somewhat diminishing the experience. Still, the ironic cheese it offers still does the job well to provide one of the best 90s cheesy action viewing experiences. It found an audience and commercial success at the box office, and later found a cult audience who sing its praises.

5 Batman & Robin (1997)

BATMAN & ROBIN (1997) joel schumacher
Warner Bros.

Batman & Robin is one of the biggest kings of cheesy moments from the ’90s. Pretty much every aspect of the film, from the costumes to the dialogue to the action, is corny and fun. It was released in 1997 and directed by Joel Schumacher. It was distributed by Warner Bros and stars George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Uma Thurman. The plot follows superheroes Batman and Robin as they must foil the plans of a team of villains who seek to terrorize the city. Standout cheesy moments include Batman paying for an auction with a “bat credit card” and a gang of ice hockey minions that serve the villain Mr. Freeze.

4 RoboCop 2 (1990)

ROBOCOP 2
Orion Pictures

Another great cheesy ’90s action film to add to your watch list is RoboCop 2. Robocop 2 was released in 1990 and distributed by Orion Pictures. The film follows cop cyborg RoboCop as he fights criminals and drug dealers in a dystopian version of Detroit. Robocop is comically slow and clumsy, unable to catch criminals properly. Lucky for him, he is allowed to carry a giant gun that allows him to blow any opposition away. This time, though, a rogue engineer has created an evil version of RoboCop to oppose his reign of justice. This new Robocop is made from “legally dead” police officers who, of course, keep trying to commit suicide whenever they are activated.

3 Con Air (1997)

Nicolas Cage in Con Air
Buena Vista Pictures

Next on the list is the airplane thriller action film Con Air. Con Air was released in 1997 and stars Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, and John Malkovich. It was distributed by Buena Vista Pictures and released in 1997. The story follows an ex-con and a US ranger that are part of a prisoner transport plane that must work together to defend it when the convicts take control of the plane. What follows is a fun ride that is short on brains but overflowing with entertaining action dialogue and tense scenes.

2 Rumble in the Bronx (1995)

Rumble in The Bronx-1
New Line Cinemas

Rumble in the Bronx is a martial arts action film released in 1995. The film was distributed by New Line Cinema and stars Jackie Chan. Jackie Chan plays a young man who comes to New York to visit his uncle from Hong Kong. While there, he becomes embroiled in the world of street gangs and violence. With lazy cops that refuse to take on local gangs and petty thugs, Jackie Chan’s character is forced to take matters into his own hands. The action and stunts in the film are top-notch, but the cheesy dialogue really sells the fun actor of this movie.

1 Out for Justice (1991)

Out for Justice
Warner Bros.

Last on the list is Out for Justice. Out for Justice is a neo-noir action film starring Steven Seagal that was released in 1991. It was distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by John Flynn. Seagal plays a police detective who sets out on a revenge mission after his partner is killed by the criminal who murdered him. Seagal unleashes a savage display of violence that achieve his goals, eventually discovering the group and motive behind the murder. It turns out the mafia is connected to the murder, making the task much more difficult. The film is well-paced and delivers bone-crunching action at regular intervals. It doesn’t get too bogged down in the plot, and it quickly gets forgotten once the fists and weapons start flying. One of Steven Seagal’s best cheesy action films that delivers everything it promises on the box.

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