The 90s were hugely significant years for the action movie genre. Coming off the influence of the Hong Kong action movie craze and before the days of CGI-heavy set-pieces, there was a slew of big, explosive and entertaining movies that thrilled audiences.
These kinds of action films are rarely seen in Hollywood today, but there are plenty of great genre entries from this era to look back on. Though some of these movies are better than their reputations suggest, there are also a few that have not lived up to their acclaim. Here are some of the most underrated and overrated action movies of the 90s.
10 Underrated: Point Break
Point Break is one of the films that helped launch Keanu Reeves as the most underrated action star of the 90s. Reeves stars as Johnny Utah, a young FBI agent who goes undercover in a surfer gang to solve a recent string of bank robberies.
The film is often poked fun at for its (admittedly implausible) plot and dismissed as part of the goofy surfer culture. However, with future Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow at the helm, Point Break is a high-octane and wild action film that still holds up today.
9 Overrated: Bad Boys
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence were just some young sitcom stars when they were cast in this buddy cop movie from first-time director Michael Bay. The film follows two Miami detectives who are trying to protect a key witness.
The movie was a big hit and spawned an even wilder sequel, but, looking back, it's rather forgettable. The leads are charming and Bay's talents are evident, however, his worst tendencies are also seen. In the end, it's a fine display of rising talent but a rather dull action film on its own.
8 Underrated: Die Hard With A Vengeance
Die Hard is considered by many to be the greatest action movie of all time, but many people forget that the third film in the franchise is almost as good as the original. Die Hard With A Vengeance finds John McClane in New York City, forced to play the deadly games of a mad bomber with a personal grudge.
The sequel wisely drops the Christmas theme and expands the scope, while maintaining the fast-paced energy of the original. Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson make a great pair and Jeremy Irons is a fantastic villain.
7 Overrated: Face/Off
Though it's not really the case now, John Travolta and Nicholas Cage were two of the biggest stars of the 90s. So, to see these exciting actors paired together in a John Woo action film with an absurd premise sounded like a great bit of fun.
Face/Off is the story of a cop and criminal who, for reasons too crazy to go into, swap faces. The ridiculousness of the movie and the performances from the two leads are fun, but it's hard to tell when we're supposed to laugh along with the movie and when we're supposed to take it seriously.
6 Underrated: Ronin
Ronin is a more lowkey action film than some of the others on this list, but it is also one of the most engrossing films in the genre. The movie follows a group of mercenaries hired to retrieve a specific item, who are drawn into a deadly conspiracy.
The film is enticing enough for the amazing cast (which includes Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno, Sean Bean, and Stellan Skarsgård), but the real showstoppers are the amazing car chase sequences, which are among the best ever seen on film.
5 Overrated: Independence Day
Alien invasion films have been around for many years, but it was Roland Emmerich who decided this premise was the perfect setup for an action film. Independence Day is the epic adventure of a deadly army of aliens who come to Earth and wreak havoc, as the remaining human survivors try to fight back.
Independence Day is certainly a fun popcorn movie, but it's one of those action films that is much longer than it needs to be. The initial setup for the film is exciting, but after the White House is destroyed you can pretty much stop watching.
4 Underrated: Cliffhanger
Sylvester Stallone is one of the icons of the action genre, thanks to such franchises as Rambo, Rocky and The Expendables. However, Cliffhanger is an often-forgotten film of his, despite being one of his most entertaining.
Stallone plays a search and rescue officer who must fight off a gang of mercenaries he encounters on top of a mountain. The unique setting makes for a ton of inventive and thrilling action sequences. It is also one of the most gorgeous action films ever, thanks to the stunning locations.
3 Overrated: Rush Hour
Few actors have such an impressive career in the action genre as Jackie Chan. The legendary actor is known for performing his own ridiculous stunts and being one of the most gifted physical performers in the movie business.
Rush Hour was Chan's first starring role in an American film, in which he was partnered with comedian Chris Tucker. The two actors are fun together and Chan has some impressive stunts, but the film is a pretty standard buddy cop movie. There are much better films that really display Chan's amazing talents.
2 Underrated: The Last Boy Scout
Shane Black is one of the most significant contributors to the 90s action movie era. Before he was directing Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, Black was a screenwriter best known for Lethal Weapon. However, he is responsible for several other memorable films of the decade, including The Last Boy Scout.
The movie stars Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans as a private detective and washed-up football star who join forces to unwrap a conspiracy. The movie is elevated by Black's hilarious and irreverent script. While it probably would have been better had he directed it himself, it is still a very fun ride.
1 Overrated: Boondock Saints
Boondock Saints is the violent story of two Irish brothers living in Hell's Kitchen, who embark on a journey to eradicate the city's most evil people. Though a small film, it eventually gained a cult status and a sequel.
Boondock Saints not only encapsulates the action movie craze of the 90s, but also the decade's endless Tarantino knock-offs. The film is a messy, ugly film without any really interesting action sequences to speak of. Aside from a great performance from Willem Dafoe, it's a movie that thinks it's cooler than it is.