Nostalgic binge-watches are one of the most popular ways to unwind these days, and nothing conjures up a trip down memory lane than revisiting some action flicks from the 90s. Unsurprisingly, many of these films were products of a very different time.
Just because an action movie doesn’t meet today’s standards doesn’t automatically mean it’s terrible or unpleasant, but it does raise the need to recognize the kind of flaws that can only be seen without the rose-tinted lenses of nostalgia.
ten The action isn’t as hardcore as it used to be
The most obvious difference between ’80s and ’90s action movies is that movies made in the past decade have lost some of the genre’s previous grit. That’s not to say ’90s action movies were completely bloodless, but the level of on-screen brutality and violence was clearly toned down in the later years of the decade.
A good way to see this in motion is to observe how the RoboCop the movies started out as a satirically excessive gorefest in 1987, but became a PG-13 shell in 1993. Blood and gore alone don’t make a good action movie, but it’s hard to deny that the offers PG level as Gum or the unintentionally funny Judge Drdddidn’t hit as hard as its predecessors like Commando Where Rambo.
One of the main ways the ’90s changed movies is that it ushered in the dominance of effects-driven blockbusters. Thanks to the likes of independence day and jurassic park, action movies had to be more than just an action star showing off his fighting prowess. This, in turn, heralded the decline of the traditional action film.
Action movies that relied on fights and stunts couldn’t resist the over-the-top spectacles of Armageddonwhile those who might love The Mummy prioritized the visual effects that no longer hold up today. Big-hitting movies have their place, but seeing their smaller counterparts slowly fade away through a ’90s-themed retelling can be tough.
8 Some ’90s action movies may be too cheesy for modern audiences
90s action movies are often generalized as edgy thrillers about serial killers or anxious plots about the coming internet age. But before that point, the genre dabbled with more wacky and stylish ideas. In short, it made for some pleasantly bad movies that some might sincerely and/or ironically love, but most will consider an acquired taste at best.
For example, the 90s was when classics were so bad they were good like batman and robinand Mortal Kombat: Annihilation came out of. Also, the early 90s saw a lot of goofy action movies like Stop! Or my mother will shoot or literally anything that featured Hulk Hogan in theaters or home video. Needless to say, these goofy movies aren’t exactly for everyone.
seven The decade’s genre films were a mixed bag
A significant shift the action genre went through in the 90s was the adoption of more outlandish genre ideas. This has manifested itself in highly publicized adaptations of comic books or video games, most of which can be charitably called guilty pleasures. For every true game changer like Blade Where Batman returns, there were five weaker films on par with Steel.
In the 90s, action movies went through the necessary growing pains that paved the way for the absolute dominance of its genre (especially those in the superhero genre) in the present day. Before the MCU cracked the code, action movies struggled with examples that aged badly like Double Dragon, Street Fighter, and Super Mario Bros.
6 Everyone was trying too hard to copy Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino
There are no two filmmakers as synonymous with the 90s as Rodriguez and Tarantino. The duo practically changed Hollywood overnight with their unapologetic styles and genuine love of forgotten exploitation films, so much so that they inadvertently inspired and started some of the most unbearable trends of the time.
If these clones weren’t mimicking Rodriguez’s flashy action, they were ripping off Tarantino’s reference-rich dialogue, but without his spirit. The big hit, Saints Boondock, and countless others tried and failed to replicate Rodriguez and Tarantino’s signature styles, only to date themselves so much that they embodied the most lame traits of the decade.
5 The genre refused to outgrow some 80s clichés
Much has already been said about how ’80s action movies with the kind of dodgy cliches don’t live up to modern standards, but they can be somewhat excused due to their age. That being said, many of these conventions should have stood and died in the 80s, but instead they endured into the 90s and beyond.
At best, it meant that the nerdy, one-dimensional macho heroes had overstayed their welcome. At worst, tropes like casual misogyny, zealous patriotism, and hero cop abuse of power have remained. See them in the Jack Ryan films or the lethal weapon sequels (especially in a modern context) date otherwise decent films in the worst possible way.
4 Many action films of the era have been lost in time
These days, many 90s action movies last only unorthodox recommendations. Usually it’s thanks to cult hit lists or a highlight video from Red Letter Media. Although this can be partly attributed to the films’ lack of quality and success, the obscurity of films like dead presidents Where cold stone mainly has to do with the fact that they never escaped home video.
Many mainstream ’90s action movies were released straight to VHS, and only a lucky few made it to DVD – let alone streaming services – in subsequent years. Only the biggest hits of the decade like Terminator 2: Judgment Daycan usually be revisited right now, while potential sleeper moves are either hard to find or lost forever in time.
3 The action legends of yesteryear got caught in a rut
Many of today’s most beloved action heroes broke through in the ’80s, but what even their most dedicated fans wish to forget was the stagnation of those stars in the ’90s. exception to the genre’s holy trinity, as it successfully steered away from action movies while Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone struggled to stay afloat.
Watching these otherwise legendary actors try and fail to recapture their prime can be tough on a rewatch, even if some of them managed to make a comeback in the 2000s. However, not everyone was lucky. to escape this rut, as many of these stars (like Charles Bronson) were stuck making unscrupulous action movies until they retired or died.
2 The next generation has been unjustly buried and forgotten
When it comes to action stars, the aforementioned Big Three plus Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and more enjoy the most name recalls. In fact, they later reemerged as the oldest statesmen of their kind. Sadly, not everyone has experienced a career resurrection, and that’s painfully clear when reviewing some titles from the 90s.
Many forgotten action movies from the 90s feature the kind of talented fighters and performers who never got the big break they deserved. For instance, Cry Freeman Mark Dacascos only really broke with direct-to-video fare in the 2000s, while Invincible Cynthia Rothrock never graduated from the B-movie scene despite her skills as a martial artist.
1 The 90s could be considered the dying breaths of the classic action movie
If the 80s were the heyday of old-school action movies, the 90s were their sunset years. The last decade before the new millennium was the genre’s transition from its traditional roots to its digitized future, and it’s hard to ignore that feeling of melancholy when revisiting the adrenaline-pumping escapism of the time. That being said, even the filmmakers knew that.
For example, Schwarzenegger’s meta-vehicles true lies and Last Action Herowere, respectively, a blaze of glory and a farewell to its peak. From 2000, action movies were mostly effects-driven blockbusters. The classic style has survived through occasional homages and conscious nods like John Wick Where The Expendables, respectively.