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Blockbusters with the Wrong Purpose: 10 of the Most Laughable Action Movies Ever Made

Updated on November 13, 2019
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Heather has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Moravian College and has been freelance writing for more than 14 years.

What makes a good blockbuster movie a truly good one? Lots of explosions? Fight scenes? Silly one liners? Take your pick because it was usually all of the above and much more. Sometimes, it was good to get away for a while in the privacy of a darkened theater with hundreds of your closest strangers.

When you think of a popcorn flick, many people can picture sitting back in a dark theater, or in the privacy of your living room. Munching on the theater, or microwave treat, and leaving all of your cares behind. Watching a flick that allowed the thought process to take a backseat and logic flew out the window. Stunning visual effects and fight scenes made up for lack of a substantial plot. Those types of movies were usually released around the end of the year for awards season bait anyways. These are the types of films meant to earn money and not critical acclaim of any kind. That's a given.

Sadly, there are a batch of action films that tended to overly embrace some of their genre's troupes with the embrace of any one on Dynasty in the 80s and their love for shoulder pads. That was just the name of the game, and some of the biggest cinematic offenders came from that decade. Movies that were so over the top that they were considered good for a different reason. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger likely starred in the bulk of some of those offenders, but they played to their strengths and became box office draws because of it.

On the same spectrum, there were some action movies that could either be classified as so bad that they were nearly a guilty pleasure to enjoy and others that made you cringe with laughter at the same time. Here is a list of 10 films that are considered either entertainingly over the top, or so bad that viewers wanted to forget they were ever made in the first place. Read on to see if you agree or disagree with this list.

Demolition Man Poster
Demolition Man Poster
The Specialist Poster
The Specialist Poster
Assassins Poster
Assassins Poster
Judge Dredd Poster
Judge Dredd Poster

The Sly Block From the 1990s

  • Demolition Man (1993)- When it comes to Sylvester Stallone, many critics will never think of his action films as anything but disposable shoot 'em ups with a high body count and full of movie clich├ęs. Those movies were where his acting took a backseat to his fight scenes and lots of cheesy one liners. In that vein, this 90s action flick was a blockbuster success when it came out. Why is it on this list? Three words: over the top. Everything in this movie was dialed up to 11 from the fight scenes all the way to the campy dialogue. Sure, Sandra Bullock had a memorable appearance in the film, but Stallone and his onscreen rival Wesley Snipes were literally one upping each other in the camp factor. It was might have been by accident or by design. It's hard to say, but there are times when you won't be sure if you're laughing with the cast or at them.
  • The Specialist (1994)- This particular Stallone entry was all kinds of bad from start to finish. From the downright miscasting of Rod Steiger as the head of a mob family with an accent that was cartoonish from his first to his last syllable. The movie had monstrous problems with chronological details. 20 years went by from when Sharon Stone's character was a child to an adult, but Eric Roberts' character didn't age a day. If that's the case, he should definitely spill his secret. Of course, another obvious gripe was that the acting was so campy that it was either entertaining or embarrassing at the same time. The main offenders were Stallone's Ray Quick and James Woods' Ned who defined new meaning to a macho rivalry. With each one trying to shout which one was in control, sometimes with deafening volume. Sure, this movie will never end up on any best of lists, but it was still a decent way to kill an afternoon if nothing else was on.
  • Assassins (1995)- Poor Sly. This turkey of an action flick did him no favors in the 1990s. It bombed at the box office and was just underwhelming from the start. He played a hit man looking to get out of the business and was being threatened by an upstart (Antonio Banderas) looking to take him place. This rival was also looking to take him out as well. Wherever Sly's Robert Rath went, Banderas' character followed with guns in tow. The only one who seemed to be having fun with this movie was Banderas who wasn't quite a household name. He was playing the role of a bombastic killer with the zeal and gusto that Stallone seemed to have lost by this point. He looked like he was stuck in this film based on losing a bet or coin toss. If he had some enthusiasm and a better script, it could've done a lot better at the box office.
  • Judge Dredd (1995)- Okay, now this film has been considered the cream of Stallone's less than stellar crop. It was adapted from a classic comic book series, but the movie took some significant liberties that irritated many fans of the character when it was released. The acting was silly at times and sometimes a little too campy for words. The movie gave a disposable part to Diane Lane that helped to launch her into bigger and better films in the future. Overall, the movie was just entirely forgettable. They attempted to revive the character in 2012's Dredd with the same amount of success, but that version has gotten a little better with age instead of this one.

Crank Poster
Crank Poster
Crank 2: High Voltage Poster
Crank 2: High Voltage Poster
Fast & Furious 7 Poster
Fast & Furious 7 Poster

Statham's Time in Action Land

  • Crank (2006)- As an action star, Jason Statham had made a brand on being the tough guy placed in impossible situations. In this film, he played a professional killer who was poisoned by a rival. In order to stay alive, he had to keep his adrenaline level which led to some hilarious scenes of his efforts to do so. In one particular scene, he had a public scene with his character's girlfriend as they got physically intimate to keep his heart rate up. It did the trick and allowed his unintended audience a nice thrill in the process. The film garnered some intended and accidental laughs in the process, but it was still a nice way to spend an afternoon overall.
  • Crank 2: High Voltage (2009)- In this action sequel, Statham's character managed to defy the odds and survived long enough to be on another perilous adventure as he tried to stay alive. His increasingly comedic efforts to do so were often hysterically entertaining and ludicrous as the film went on. Sure, the plot was often laughable, but it was still a breezy way to kill part of an afternoon.
  • Fast & Furious 7 (2015)- Okay, this flick isn't necessarily a bad one, but the franchise's increasing need to outdo the last installment brought in some truly over the top stunts. The biggest one being in this one with the leads driving through one high rise to another high rise with the greatest of ease. If that happened in real life, the car wouldn't make it to the other side. It's just not possible. That being said: these movies work in entertaining viewers; even if they defy logic and gravity. This movie introduced viewers to Statham's Declan Shaw who started off as a villain before becoming the good guy in the follow-up film. He also got his own spin-off franchise in Hobbs & Shaw this year that did so well that a sequel was inevitable.

John Carpenter's Escape From L.A.
John Carpenter's Escape From L.A.
Catwoman Poster
Catwoman Poster
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Poster
X-Men Origins: Wolverine Poster

Sequels and Prequels of Iconic Characters

  • John Carpenter's Escape From L.A. (1996)- Four words: Snake Plissken is back. Bad news was that it was in this silly sequel that came 15 years after the original (1981's Escape From New York). It brought really nothing new to the story, because it seemed to mine a lot from the first film with Snake being forced into service once again. This time there was a wide array of Hollywood players taking on cameo type appearances from Pam Grier to Peter Fonda. With the latter, viewers were treated to a laughable sequence of seeing Russell's Snake on a surfboard as he tried to continue his mission. The sequel could've had promise and if it didn't Hollywood should've left well enough alone.
  • Catwoman (2004)- Poor Halle Berry. She won an Oscar in 2002 to only follow it up with this disappointingly horrific film that could've been a franchise starter. Instead. it was a campy and unfunny nightmare from the first to the last frame. The special effects exuded so much cheesiness that audiences couldn't help but laugh as Berry's action sequences were too unconvincing. Sharon Stone also portrayed a stone cold villainess who didn't seem interested in doing anything accept looking good. She showed little to no interest in what she was doing onscreen. If you're looking to watch a good Catwoman onscreen watch anything but this failure of a flick.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)- Star Hugh Jackman had a breakthrough role when he was cast as Wolverine in the original X-Men in 2000. So, it was fitting that Hollywood decided to give him a spin-off/prequel of sorts. Unfortunately, the script could've been much better than it truly was. The film had a stellar beginning in introducing Wolverine's past in the opening credits as he fought in various wars. Sadly, it was after that brief moment that the film started to fall apart. Ryan Reynolds' original version of Deadpool was disappointing from start to finish. Luckily, he was able to rectify that with his own film series about the character. The special effects were just subpar and the script was poorly written. The only bright spot was Liev Schreiber's Victor Creed who gave the right amount of intensity and entertainment that the rest of the film sorely lacked.

In the end, not every movie is meant to hit the top of the critics' lists. It's just not possible to make a film that everyone likes across the board. Some movies are just destined to be panned from start to finish and watch through half shut eyes. Logic might not apply, but Hollywood sure knows how to sell killer visuals along the way. Of course, most viewers were secretly thinking that a particular CGI heavy scene was unlikely, but it was still cool to watch nonetheless.

An action star is constantly born and reborn in the eyes of the moviegoing public. When the previous decade's crop of box office muscle faded, three more popped up in their place. Stars like Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis have had their glory days come and go ages ago. Only Stallone seemed to be mining his legacy correctly as Rocky Balboa in the Creed films by allowing a new hero to take center stage. Jackman retired from playing Wolverine after his scripted demise in Logan because he knew when it was time to bow out gracefully and change course. In terms of bad action flicks, they will always be a part of the Hollywood landscape for better or worse. Just accept the facts and rent them immediately. You know you want to.


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