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There are quite a number of widely acclaimed good action movies to watch. Die Hard, The Terminator, Taken (the first one and none of the others) — all great examples of classic action movies that deserve their place among the top action films of all time.

But what about those underrated movies that are never mentioned when talking about the greatest films in the genre? There are quite a few under-appreciated gems, too.

Whether it be that their appreciation was short-lived or they never really received the praise and discussion that they deserved, these movies deserve at least a little more love than they’ve gotten.

10Smokin’ Aces

Release Date: January 26, 2007
IMDB Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Starring: Jeremy Piven, Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta

Smokin’ Aces is the best Ryan Reynolds film that no one really watched, with quite a few notable cast members like Common, Chris Pine, Kevin Durand (you’d know his face), and even Ben Affleck in a death scene (which is all too satisfying in itself). Smokin’ Aces had a few badass close quarters shootouts, brutally violent scenes and one of the best final scenes in an action movie. Smokin’ Aces is one of my favorite movies on this list.

916 Blocks

Release Date: March 3, 2006
IMDB Rating: 6.6 out of 10
Starring: Bruce Willis, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), David Morse

Aside from Bruce Willis’ god awful mustache in the film, 16 Blocks was a thrill ride! It’s a unique concept which sees Willis being tasked with transporting a convict (Bey) from jail to a courthouse just 16 blocks away, but a lot can happen (and does) in 16 Blocks, especially if the convict is expected to testify against a police officer and the entire NYPD wants him dead.

It surprisingly comes in at 6.6 out of 10 on IMDB, but to us, it’s a good action movie that deserves quite a bit of a higher rating.

8Independence Day

Release Date: July 3, 1996
IMDB Rating: 6.9 out of 10
Starring: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pulman

How in the bloody hell is Independence Day not rated at least at an 8.5? This movie had tons of catchphrases like “Welcome to Earth” and “Elvis has left the building.” Not only that, it was loaded with action. Infiltrating an alien base, killing aliens, fighter pilot sequences and more, Independence Day was a fun summer blockbuster.

Luckily, there’s a “third time’s the charm” possibility coming soon (read more about that on our mega list of new sci-fi movies coming).


Release Date: July 1, 1998
IMDB Rating: 6.6 out of 10
Starring: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck

Although Armageddon was nominated for a few Oscars, its rating among fans is considerably low…surprisingly low. I’m not sure what the gripe with Armageddon is, but it’s one of Ben Affleck’s better performances, and there’s tons of action contained within. Maybe it was the cheesy Aerosmith song that you still hear at every high school dance to this day that made people resent it? Who knows, but at its core, Armageddon was well worth the watch.

6Blade II

Release Date: March 22, 2002
IMDB Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Starring: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Ron Perlman

Wesley Snipes pre-prison was a great action star, and although the original Blade is the best in the series, Blade II isn’t far behind. It’s a thrill ride from the start to the finish, and the final fight scene between Snipes and Perlman is spectacular. I think Blade II was underappreciated because of how great the original Blade movie was, and things got slightly weirder here in the sequel than they ever did in the first film. But the Blade films are all good action movies, and anyone who says otherwise can fight me in a blood rave.

5The Rundown

Release Date: September 26, 2003
IMDB Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Starring: The Rock, Seann William Scott, Christopher Walken

I’ve never been a fan of Dwayne Johnson as an actor; I could never take him seriously. But, The Rundown is generally a great action movie with great fight scenes and cool ideas, mixed with a little bit of comedy. The fight scene between Ernie Reyes Jr. (he was also in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II) and The Rock is fantastic. And, surprisingly, Stiffler Seann William Scott and The Rock actually work well on screen together. Of course, Dwayne Johnson does what Dwayne Johnson does best in this movie: kick some serious ass.

4Never Die Alone

Release Date: March 26, 2004
IMDB Rating: 5.7 out of 10
Starring: DMX, David Arquette, Michael Ealy

Never Die Alone came out when DMX was still a relevant name in hip hop, and his tough-guy persona fit well with the action movie genre. Following Exit Wounds (which we’ll also get to later on in this list), Never Die Alone was directed by Ernest Dickerson, director of Juice, a few Walking Dead episodes, and Bulletproof (we’ll also get that one later). Most people wrote off this action movie because of its C-list cast (although Michael Ealy would eventually upgrade his career years later). It is a poetic take on villainy and revenge that contains violent gun battles from start to finish.

3The Grey

Release Date: January 27, 2012
IMDB Rating: 6.8 out of 10
Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo

The Grey is more talked about now than it was leading up to and the few months following its release, simply because most people waited for the DVD (myself included). The film revolves around a team of oil workers that have to survive in the Alaskan wilderness following a plane crash. But instead of focusing on the starvation and freezing cold, the film focuses on the brutal and unforgiving pack of wolves surrounding the survivors, killing them off one by one.

The film closely borders horror as it plays more on your fear of beasts than anything, but Liam Neeson’s performance is top-notch and the action is quite memorable. The film made just $19.6M in its opening weekend and totaled just $51M in its theater run. The Grey is for the hardened action movie fans, as its story is unforgiving and bleak.

2Deep Blue Sea

Release Date: July 28, 1999
IMDB Rating: 5.8 out of 10
Starring: Thomas Jane, Saffron Burrows, Samuel L. Jackson, LL Cool J

Putting LL Cool J in a movie is a surefire way to make the movie fail (with the exclusion of Any Given Sunday, of course). If you were to average the user rating of every movie LL Cool J has appeared in, the results are miserable. But Deep Blue Sea got a bad wrap. Personally, I think it had a lot to do with the god awful movie poster.

But, Deep Blue Sea was a battle between humans and hyper-intelligent sharks. There are also some underlying themes pawing at the idea of genetically altering natural life. The deaths in Deep Blue Sea were well-created, the story was extremely tense, and the movie was just an all-around good time that deserved more praise. It’s one of the good action movies that deserves a higher IMDB rating than it got.

147 Ronin

Release Date: December 25, 2013
IMDB Rating: 6.3 out of 10
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki

47 Ronin is another example of a movie releasing at the wrong time and, thus, getting largely looked over. Why this movie would release on Christmas Day is beyond me, but nonetheless, 47 Ronin is a badass action movie about a band of samurai seeking revenge for the death of their leader. 47 Ronin was really the first Keanu Reeves movie since A Scanner Darkly that was actually watchable. I mean, not in every Keanu film does he actually fight a dragon.

Still, 47 Ronin mostly flopped because it released on Christmas Day, alongside much bigger films like The Hobbit, Wolf of Wallstreet, and Anchorman 2 – no wonder it was a huge box office bomb.

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