20 Action Movies ’80s and ’90s Kids Remember Loving


Even with the glitz and glamour of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the sometimes impressive films the DCEU puts out, the grapevine has it that the ‘80s and ‘90s were some of the best times to be alive. Kids from that time enjoyed adrenaline-pumping movies that (arguably) trump the kinds that are made now.

If you lived and thrived in that era, let me feed your nostalgic senses with a non-exhaustive list of some of the movies that really blew minds back then. Know any movie that should’ve made this list? Let me know in the comments.

The Blade trilogy (1998 – 2004)

The Blade movies followed the life of the titular Blade (Wesley Snipes) fighting off vampires while being a vampire-human hybrid himself. Not many know that the character Blade is a Marvel comics property and that a reboot of the character in live-action is coming soon, to be played by Mahershala Ali. When is a good time to rewatch the Blade trilogy? Now.

Face/Off (1997)

Starring Nicholas Cage and John Travolta as co-leads, this movie about an FBI Agent who undergoes plastic surgery in order to impersonate and get hold of his son’s killer and his arch-enemy was very popular. It was one of the earliest movies to impress kids with the idea of some of the fantastic things technology will someday be able to do.

The Matrix film franchise (1999 – 2021)

What would life look like if we didn’t have the red pill vs. blue pill analogy to banter on every now and then? I still think of this franchise as a trilogy, but I’m grateful for Morpheus, Trinity, and Neo for this gift that keeps on giving.

Alien (1979)

In this Ridley Scott Sci-Fi movie, the crew of a spacecraft intercepts a distress signal from a planet and set out to investigate it. However, to their horror, they are attacked by an alien which later invades their ship.

Predator (1987)

This was one of the many films that solidified Arnold Schwarzenneger’s reign as a true action hero of his generation.

Any of the James Bond movies from the late ’90s and early ’00s

There are either 25 or 27 James Bond movies depending on who is asking or who is doing the ranking. Golden Eyes, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World Is Not Enough were all released in the 1990s and were very popular.

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Tom Cruise’s career has now become synonymous with the Mission: Impossible franchise. It all started with the first one released in 1996.

Speed (1994)

Keanu Reeves’ second appearance on this list saw him team up with Sandra Bullock in the high-speed chase scene about a man who plants a bomb in a local bus and threatens to set it off unless his demand is met.

The Indiana Jones 1, 2 & 3 (1981 – 1989)

The Indiana Jones movies need no introduction. ICYMI: a new movie in the franchise is coming in 2023.

Terminator 1 & 2 (1984 & 1991)

Arnold Schwarzenneger is a true action star, and his collaboration with James Cameron to bring to life this franchise about a cyborg sent back in time will always remain his most iconic role.

Robocop (1987)

In a dystopic and crime-infested Detroit, a terminally injured policeman returns to the force as a potent cyborg haunted by submerged memories.

Bad Boys (1995)

It’s sad to think we might be getting a 4th Bad Boys movie after the stunt Will Smith pulled at the Oscars. A good thing is that we can hold onto the memories of the ones we got already. The movie that started this whole franchise was a big deal upon its release in ‘95.

Commando (1985)

Another Schwarzenneger joint. Ex-black ops commando John’s daughter Jenny is kidnapped by a band of revenge-seeking thugs. With only a few hours to find and rescue his girl, he sets out on an explosive mission.

Drunken Master (1978)

Although this Jackie Chan movie was made in the ‘70s, one can argue it didn’t get to this part of the world until advancements were made with home video viewing in the ‘90s. Jackie Chan won all our hearts with his role in this movie.

Police Academy 1 – 7 (1984 – 1994)

I still remember the first time I watched this movie. Let’s just say I couldn’t stop till I watched some more.

Heat (1995)

The Police and Thief game many ‘80s and ‘90s kids played had to have come from somewhere. While Nigerian classics of Emergency’ (2004) obviously contributed to it, they, too, must’ve learned from the source. Movies like ‘Heat’ were that source.

Con Air (1997)

This is Nicholas Cage’s second appearance on this list, which should give you an idea of how popular he was with the action films of the ‘90s.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Go, go, dinosaurs!

Gladiator (2000)

Russel Crowe yell-asking “Are you not entertained!?” is forever engrained in my head, thanks to this movie.

Rambo: First Blood (1982)

John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), a former US soldier traumatised by memories of the Vietnam War, gets into trouble when an incident with a small-town sheriff triggers his violent side.

Lethal Weapon (1987 – 1998)

This buddy-cop movie franchise starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover still remains one of the best entries in the sub-genre.

Know any movie that should’ve made this list? Let me know in the comments.

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