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10 Best So-Bad-They’re-Good Action Movies of the ’90s, Ranked

A thrilling decade full of epic cinematic game-changers and trailblazers, the 1990s was a wonderful time to be action movie fans. It was massively successful for the action genre, seeing the release of incredible classics like Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Point Break, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and The Matrix, which dominated the box office and became highly influential on pop culture. While it produced countless remarkable action flicks, not all films that came out in the ’90s are beloved by fans today for their excellent quality.




Many ’90s cinematic blunders rank as some of the most iconic so-bad-they’re-good movies of all time. They are spectacularly awful, low-quality, and highly absurd action movies that fans can’t help but feel entertained and amused by. Over the years, these duds have garnered significant cult followings, being praised by audiences for how terrible they are. From an infamous Batman sequel to a bizarrely acted cop movie, here are the best of the worst action films the 1990s had to offer.


10 ‘Batman & Robin’ (1997)

Directed by Joel Schumacher

Mr. Freeze smiling while firing his ice gun in Batman and Robin
Image Via Warner Bros.


The most infamous Batman sequel, Batman & Robin, has also become one of the most iconic superhero flops ever. Starring George Clooney as the caped crusader Batman and Chris O’Donnell as his trusty side-kick Robin, it sees the two facing a couple of challenging new foes, Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman).

It’s no secret that Batman & Robin is considered one of the best “so-bad-it’s-good” superhero movies ever. Its legacy as an enjoyable but awful comic book film adaptation has endured over the years, becoming immortalized through pop culture and other references. From the cringy-worthy dialog to the abysmal, phoned-in performances to Schwarzenegger’s notorious ice puns, it all comes together to make a genuinely memorable cult classic that becomes increasingly hilarious with every rewatch.

batman-and-robin

Batman and Robin

Release Date
June 20, 1997

Runtime
125

Writers
Bob Kane , Akiva Goldsman


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9 ‘On Deadly Ground’ (1994)

Directed by Steven Seagal

Michael Jennings and Forrest Taft looking at each other in On-Deadly-Ground
Image via Warner Bros.

Admittedly, most of Steven Seagal‘s filmography is full of “so-bad-they’re-good” movies. While today he’s considered a cult action icon of the ’90s, Seagal has his fair share of hilarious duds in his acting career, ranging from laughably mediocre to highly absurd. Take 1994’s On Deadly Ground, a cheesy action-adventure film also directed by Seagal. Set mainly in the Alaskan wilderness, it follows its uniquely named protagonist, Forest Taft, on a lone environmental mission to bring down a greedy oil tycoon.


Look no further than On Deadly Ground for good old-fashioned mindless action entertainment. Incorporating the best and worst clich├ęs of Seagal’s other action films, the story leaves its viewers chuckling at some of its greatest unintentionally hilarious moments. It’s also worth watching two-time Academy Award-winning actor Michael Caine giving a laugh-out-loud performance as the film’s main antagonist, Michael Jennings. He’s, hands down, the best part of the film and easily steals every moment of screen time with his unique charm and oh-so-memorably bizarre fake American accent.

On Deadly Ground

Release Date
February 18, 1994

Cast
steven seagal , Michael Caine , Joan Chen , John C. McGinley

Runtime
101 minutes

8 ‘Double Dragon’ (1994)

Directed by James Yukich

Koga Shuko raising his eyebrows in surprise in Double Dragon (1994)
Image via Gramercy Pictures


Double Dragon is a 1994 fantasy action film starring Robert Partick, Mark Dacascos, and Scott Wolf based on the iconic punch-em-up arcade game of the same name. Set in a post-apocalyptic future of Los Angeles, it follows two magically gifted martial arts brothers in a heroic quest to defeat a power-hungry tech billionaire hellbent on taking over the city.

While not quite as memorable as other terrible ’90s video game adaptations like Mortal Kombat, Super Mario Bros., or Street Fighter, the absurd Double Dragon still endures as a cheesy masterpiece. It delivers a fun action thrill ride that doesn’t fail to entertain. Fans of Robert Patrick‘s iconic performance as the terrifying T-1000 in James Cameron’s Terminator 2 will get even greater enjoyment out of the film as they see him shine in the spotlight as the film’s absurd and delightful antagonist, Koga Shuko. Viewers can’t help but laugh as he graces every moment with his hilarious charm and oh-so-bizarre hairstyle.


Double Dragon

Release Date
November 4, 1994

Runtime
96

Writers
Paul Dini , Neal Shusterman , Michael Davis , Peter Gould

7 ‘Congo’ (1995)

Directed by Frank Marshall

Based on Michael Crichton‘s 1980 novel, Congo is a 1995 sci-fi action-adventure film starring Laura Linney, Tim Curry, and Ernie Hudson. Set in the jungles of Africa, it follows a team of scientists, explorers, and diamond hunters on a dangerous rescue mission to recover a lost expedition. As their journey takes them far into the treacherous wilderness, they soon unearth a mysterious lost civilization, home to a sinister race of murderous primates.


With its B-movie plot, clumsy performances, and shlocky special effects, Congo may not be one of the best movies of 1995, but it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable. It’s a comedic joyride from start to finish, with enough humor and even a few genuinely exciting action moments to keep the audience invested. Though some other “so-bad-they’re-good” ’90s movies overshadow this flick, Congo is still a wildly entertaining laugh fest that deserves a cult following.

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6 ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III’ (1993)

Directed by Stuart Gillard

Two mutant turtles with confused expressions in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
Image via New Line Cinema


Director Jeff Rowe wowed audiences with his wonderfully unique 2023 animated version, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. However, the iconic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters, unfortunately, haven’t always been easy to adapt to the big screen. While the early ’90s saw two moderately successful and entertaining film adaptions, their third installment, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, is best remembered today as the most enjoyable bad Turtles film ever made.

Although critically panned by critics and audiences upon release, over the years, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III has slowly garnered a reappraisal from fans who laugh and love rewatching its terrible moments. Whether it’s the mangled plot or the hilariously lousy turtle costumes, there’s always something to point out and enjoy about this lackluster sequel. While it may not be the best entry in the Turtles franchise, it leaves a lasting impression on its viewers enough to make them smile.

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5 ‘Double Team’ (1997)

Directed by Hark Tsui

Yaz and Jack looking at each other in Double Team
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

’90s action star Jean-Claude Van Damme and NBA sports legend Dennis Rodman join forces in Hark Tsui‘s comedic action spy thriller Double Team. Co-starring Mickey Rourke as the film’s main antagonist, it follows the two odd couple partners in an international game of cat-and-mouse to stop a deadly terrorist before he can seek revenge against them for the death of his son.

Double Team
is a spectacularly cheesy ’90s action movie marked by incredibly hammy acting, impractical stunts, and odd fighting choreography.


It’s impossible not to enjoy the sheer amount of absurdity and hilariousness shown in Double Team. It’s a spectacularly cheesy ’90s action movie marked by incredibly hammy acting, impractical stunts, and odd fighting choreography, featuring one of the most ridiculous and wildly entertaining explosive endings imaginable. At least Van Damme and Rodman know the type of movie it is, and they more than blend into the ridiculousness. Its sheer stupidity deserves a watch, and audiences will surely laugh and cheer at just how wild and strange it can get.

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4 ‘Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot’ (1992)

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty in a promotional still for 'Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot'
Image via Universal Pictures


With a fake-sounding title and an unusual pair-up, viewers can expect nothing but hilariously bad entertainment from Roger Spottiswoode‘s Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Released in 1992, this oddball action comedy stars ’80s leading man Sylvester Stallone and Estelle Getty of The Golden Girls fame as mother-son crime-fighting duo dishing out street justice in a case to find an elusive killer.

It’s incredibly funny to see how self-aware Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot is. The film is in on the joke of how entirely ridiculous its premise is, and it goes all-in on it. It’s harmless fun and an absolute laugh riot from beginning to end, both intentionally and unintentionally. While Stallone has since cited the film as one of the worst of his career, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot certainly is one of his funniest.

Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot

Release Date
February 21, 1992

Cast
Sylvester Stallone , Estelle Getty , JoBeth Williams , Roger Rees , Martin Ferrero , Gailard Sartain

Runtime
87

Writers
Blake Snyder , William Osborne , William Davies


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3 ‘Street Fighter’ (1994)

Directed by Steven E. de Souza

Guile aiming a shoe blade at M. Bison in Street-Fighter-1994
Image via Universal Pictures

Based on the iconic Capcom game from the late ’80s, Street Fighter is a 1994 martial arts action adventure film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia. Directed by Steven E. de Souza, it follows a capable and highly decorated Allied Nations commander, Col. William Guiles (Van Damme), as he leads the charge to defeat the sinister warmongering General M. Bison (Julia) before he can enact a dubious plan to create an army of genetically modified super-beings.


A box office success, Street Fighter was ruthlessly panned by critics, who ridiculed it for its lackluster performances and cheesy dialog. It missed the mark on the video game’s popularity, but it’s still a delightful action flick with enough over-the-top thrills and campy moments to entertain. It’s also worth seeing the talented and charming Raul Julia in his last film role before his passing. He easily saves this bad film with his stellar acting, and every moment of his screen presence makes it all the more enjoyable.

street-fighter-movie-poster.jpg

Street Fighter

Release Date
December 23, 1994

Runtime
102

Writers
Steven E. de Souza

2 ‘Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’ (1997)

Directed by John R. Leonetti

A group of warriors in line looking to the distance in Mortal-Kombat-Annihilation
Credit: New Line Cinema


Regarding terrible video game movie adaptions, few are as iconic and infamously memorable as Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. As a direct sequel to the 1995 original Mortal Kombat, the story picks up right after the cliffhanger ending. It follows the Earthrealm’s mighty heroes in their next challenge to save the world from the power-hungry Shao Kahn.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation feels like the definition of a “so-bad-it’s-good” movie. It’s a cheap-looking, mediocre, poorly acted and incoherent mess that has nothing working for it. Ultimately, this chaotic combination of terrible elements is the reason why it’s so iconic. It’s objectively bad, with not an ounce of creativity or quality but tons of terrible moments that make it impossible to look away. Whether it’s the over-the-top dialog or the unbelievably fake CGI effects, there is no part that fans have come to appreciate.


Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

Release Date
November 11, 1997

Cast
Robin Shou , James Remar , Talisa Soto , Sandra Hess , Brian Thompson , Lynn Williams

Runtime
95

Writers
Ed Boon , Lawrence Kasanoff , Joshua Wexler , John Tobias , Brent V. Friedman , Bryce Zabel

1 ‘Samurai Cop’ (1991)

Directed by Amir Shervan

Joe Marshall aiming his katana at someone in Samurai Cop
Image via Demel International Corporation/Cinema Epoch

When it comes to “so-bad-it’s-good” action movies of the ’90s, nothing tops Amir Shervan‘s B-Movie action classic Samurai Cop. Today seen as one of the best bad movies in cinematic history, it follows its titular katana sword-wielding police officer, Joe Marshall (Mathew Karedas), along with his partner Frank Washington (Mark Frazer), as they take to the streets of Los Angeles to bring down a ruthless Yakuza crime syndicate.

Samurai Cop
is an amusing buddy cop action flick with memorable cheesy dialog, over-the-top characters, and laughable fight sequences.


Samurai Cop thrives on how ridiculous and terrible it is and never once tries to be anything else. It’s an amusing buddy cop action flick with memorable cheesy dialog, over-the-top characters, and laughable fight sequences. Despite its cheap, direct-to-video, amateur-looking quality, Samurai Cop has become a memorable cult classic of the highest caliber and certainly won’t be forgotten by fans. Indeed, this movie is the Showgirls of action movies; what can be better than that?

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NEXT: 10 Most Underrated Action Movies From the ’90s, Ranked

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