12 Guilty Pleasure Action Movies You Need To See

We get to win this time.

Back in the day an audience€™s appetite for action was sated by Glenn Ford on a horse, a sword and sandals epic, or a movie about how America won WWII for the Allies. But all of that changed when Hollywood discovered the blockbuster. As the movies became bigger, plots got smaller and expectations had to be reduced in order sit through them. Movies like Tango & Cash or Hudson Hawk might€™ve been big, but they weren€™t particularly clever, and didn€™t offer much in the way of thrills. Last Action Hero, hyped by Arnold Schwarzenegger as €œbig, gigantic, monstrous€, was basically a bad joke made at the expense of the films that had made him a star. Van Damme in Sudden Death? Steven Seagal€™s On Deadly Ground? Horrendous. All of them. But somewhere between the lows of Seagal€™s oeuvre and the highs of Die Hard and Beverly Hills Cop exists the kind of action film that genre enthusiasts look upon with real love. To paraphrase Stephen King, it€™s the love one spares for an idiot child, but love is love and enough said. In these movies, invincible henchmen do battle with bulletproof cops, musclemen win wars singlehanded and WWE stars walk away from fireballs in slow motion. In order for them to work, disbelief is suspended, brains are disengaged and physical laws are thrown out the window.

12. Commando (1985)

No list of guilty pleasure action movies is complete without acknowledging the contribution of Joel Silver, the producer who helped turn Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis into action megastars. He burnt his fingers in the 90s with Hudson Hawk, but then The Matrix helped put him back on top again (at least until The Matrix Reloaded came out). Anyway, Commando was his first movie with Schwarzenegger, and in many ways it€™s the archetypal 80s Arnie movie €“ in between making corny jokes, he kills about a hundred people. And yes, he does say €œI€™ll be back€, but it was still fun back in those days, which puts the movie above, say, Terminator 3 and Expendables 2. It also accomplishes something that most late-period Arnie didn't do €“ it gets everything said and done (and exploded and sent flying through a window) in 90 minutes without extraneous subplots or €œdramatic€ scenes where Arnold attempts to add €œdepth€ to his character. Sorry, Arn, but that€™s not what people want to see.
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Ian Watson is the author of 'Midnight Movie Madness', a 600+ page guide to "bad" movies from 'Reefer Madness' to 'Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.'