There's nothing quite like seeing a really good action movie. The genre has been through a lot of changes over the history of motion pictures with trends and filmmaking advancements making way for new eras in action movies. There remain those iconic films that have always been considered the best of the genre as well as recent hits that could achieve the same acclaim.
But then there are those great action films that get overlooked. Sometimes smaller films fail to find an audience. Sometimes poorly reviewed films deserve to be revisited. Sometimes older films are forgotten in time. Whatever the reason, these great films should be sought out. Here are some action masterpieces you've probably never seen.
10 Smokin' Aces
Sometimes it's fun to shut your brain off and enjoy some mindless insanity. Smokin' Aces is the perfect movie for that kind of mood as it makes no apologies about being totally mad. The ensemble film follows the various cops, bounty hunters and assassins who are after a stage magician hiding out in Lake Tahoe.
The film sports a star-studded cast that includes Ben Affleck, Chris Pine, Taraji P. Henson and Ryan Reynolds to name but a few. Director Joe Carnahan balances all the insanity before unleashing it in a wild and violent third act.
9 The Long Kiss Goodnight
Shane Black is one of the most iconic names in the action movie genre and he has a few movies that could be included on a list like this. However, The Long Kiss Goodnight is a straight-up action thriller infused with his particular style that somehow got overlooked.
The film stars Geena Davis as a mild-mannered housewife who discovers she had a secret life as an assassin. As with some of Black's early scripts, it feels like the director doesn't quite understand his unique tone, but the movie is nonetheless a ton of fun.
8 Assault On Precinct 13
John Carpenter is probably best known for his iconic horror films like Halloween and The Thing, but he's responsible for a lot of influential action films as well. Assault on Precinct 13 was one of his earliest efforts and follows a group of cops and criminals who must fight together when their police precinct is attacked by a murderous gang.
Despite the small budget, Carpenter manages to create a highly entertaining action thriller. He uses his signature claustrophobic style and minimalist approach to tell this simple yet intense story.
7 The Grey
Joe Carnahan is another filmmaker who has a few projects worthy of this list. The Grey remains his best film and the most underrated. The story of survival stars Liam Neeson as a hunter who finds himself among a number of survivors of a plane crash. Stuck in a frozen tundra, they must make their way to civilization while being hunted by wolves.
The film was marketed as an over-the-top adventure in which Neeson fights wolves, but it is much more interesting than that. The movie is an intense and brutal depiction of men struggling against nature to stay alive.
6 The Rundown
Dwayne Johnson might be one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood now, but there was a time when people weren't sure The Rock was ready for the movie world. Though The Rundown was not a hit like his later films, it did prove Johnson was ready.
The action-adventure film stars Johnson as an effective but reluctant bounty hunter who must travel to a remote village in South America to apprehend a target. Not only is Johnson a great lead for the film, but the fight sequences are totally inventive and a whole lot of fun.
Mel Gibson has been in some of the biggest action franchises of all time, but Payback remains one of his overlooked gems of the genre. Based on the Lee Marvin film Point Blank, Gibson stars as a small-time criminal who will stop at nothing to get what he's own after being betrayed on a job.
While not quite the "shoot-em-up" adventure Gibson is known for, the movie is still a very clever, witty and entertaining ride. The old-school vibe of the movie is great and will have you smiling ear-to-ear the whole time.
4 Grosse Point Blank
John Cusack might not seem like your typical action hero, but Grosse Pointe Blank is a much different action movie than the norm. Cusack stars as a hitman who takes an assignment in his old hometown at the same time his high school class is having its ten-year reunion.
The movie is a fun and hilarious twist on the hitman story with Cusack playing a great neurotic assassin. But as funny as it is, the film is also filled with some solid action scenes, including a few exceptional fight sequences.
The first time Judge Dredd was brought to the big screen, it was a disaster and far from what fans had hoped for. Perhaps those sort feelings were still raw as the next attempt to bring the futuristic lawman to the movies, no one showed up to see it, which is a shame because it's an awesome movie.
Karl Urban takes over the role of Dredd and is the perfect badass to carry the film. Filled with inventive and brutal action sequences and a simple story, the movie just lets you have fun in this wild sci-fi world.
Despite boasting an incredible cast and an acclaimed director, Ronin is one of those 90s action movies that went under many people's radar. The film follows a group of mercenaries who are gathered for a mission to retrieve sensitive materials but soon find they are in a bigger conspiracy than they thought.
The film stars Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Sean Bean, and Stellan Skarsgard among others and was directed by John Frankenheimer. The result is a smart, polished thriller with some of the best car chase sequences ever on film.
1 The Guest
The Guest is a unique action film as it plays out almost like an action-slasher movie. It stars Dan Stevens as a man who introduces himself to family, claiming to have served with their soldier son who was killed in action. As the stranger becomes more involved with the family, his darker side begins to show.
The film failed to reach a large audience but was praised by those who did manage to see it as a flashy, brutal and thrilling genre blend. It remains a lot of fun and well worth seeking out.