Contemporary critics might be snooty and disparaging towards your everyday cheesy dialogues, sub-par acting, and average visuals that B-action movies come with. However, for its audience, these continue to entertain with their smooth one-liners and thrilling actions. None of them may be Oscar-worthy but have claimed the heads and hearts of its audience. Let’s look into a handful of these B-Action movies that will not disappoint you.
Adam Chaplin (2011)
Adam, after his wife’s suspicious death, embarks on a journey to discover that a Mafia was responsible for this tragedy. Awry of the law, he turns to the Supernatural for justice He summons a demon who offers him superhuman strength, dark powers and promises to lead him to the killer if Adam abides by everything he asks.
Emanuele de Santi does an outstanding job as actor, director and screenwriter in this breathtaking action horror film. It is bound to immediately grab the fancy of avid readers of Japanese manga, bearing loose resemblance to Fist of the North Star by Buronson. This bloody, gore-fest, revenge saga is a culmination of creativity with ferocity. The visuals of this film, its CGI, work in its favor. Emanuele de Santi, a newcomer to the film industry, delivers a stylish film with the feel of a comic rolled into a film in this limited budget endeavor. Moreover, Derek, a hellish imp-like creature summoned to help him, also showcases endearing qualities that are unsettling yet brings out Giulio de Santi’s superior acting skills. With an atmosphere resembling the 80s and gore galore, this is quite the terrifyingly exciting watch.
Dr. Reeves and Dr. Takada, two scientists experimenting in time travel, use a drowned pilot’s body to construct a cyborg Mandroid. Reeves decides to scrap the Mandroid after its initial success but to escape his fate he takes the help of Dr. Takada to escape. Dr. Takada is soon met with an unfortunate fate as he is killed and his friend the Mandroid travels to North America to avenge his friend and stop the evil Dr. Reeves with his diabolical intentions with his time machine.
Peter Manoogianhas created a dramatic film with reference to past action flicks. It portrays a unique mash-up of characters, including a river-rat, scientist, robot, ninja, caveman and Roman soldiers, which multiply its entertainment quotient. Although it contains some cheesy special effects, they are enough to make you smile and leave you satisfied at the end with Manoogian’s wholesome effort at comic book entertainment. Despite being a low-budget flick, it never degenerates into being less desirable at any point and is completely aware of its quirks. Although it isn’t a thought-provoking award winner, it must be watched for its pure, blissful 80s status, variety in locations and creativity in costumes. Director Steven Kostanski has confessed on several occasions that this film served as the primary inspiration behind his 2011 sci-fi parody Manborg. Andrew Prine and Patrick Reynolds delivered great performances that are indeed beyond B-movie standards in this feature, which was the latter’s last. Did you know? Harry Fontana and Spot the robot’s characters were inspired by Han Solo and R2D2 from the Star Wars franchise.
Samurai Cop (1991)
Two firm police detectives Joe Marshall and Frank Washington are in a race against time to stop the Katana, a violent and sadistic Yakuza gang of killers wishing to lead the Los Angeles drug trade, at any expense.
Samurai Cop is a unique blend of Japanese/Mexican crime lords, racial tones, graphic details to violence and nudity. Amir Shervan unleashes his cinematic genius in this film, casting actors like Robert Z’Dar, Gerald Okamura and Matt Hannon. It contains comedic elements leaving viewers rolling on the floor and incredibly cheesy one-liners usually mixed with sexual innuendos. Each character possesses an energy that makes them likable in unique ways, especially the protagonist Joe Marshall who is like a breath of fresh air. Furthermore, Shervan incorporates the stereotypical set of trashy female characters to serve the protagonist’s “needs” in this B-action flick. The film is edited using the chop shop camera technique, which means that it rarely accounts for continuity between shots and its interesting dialogues are delivered effortlessly. The music of the film is rather 80s-esque in its production undertones. Overall, the film attained a large cult following and makes for an enjoyable viewing experience.
A group of ‘information terrorists’ are out to destroy societal order in what appears to be a chaotic futuristic world. Alex, an efficient cyborg assassin works for LAPD. He resigns from the force when a terrorist questions his humanity. His boss stops him with one last assignment to apprehend Jared, his former colleague for stealing data. What awaits him is deception and lies that will make him re-evaluate his allegiance.
Director Albert Pyun incorporates aesthetic visuals, innovative ideas and an evocative cyberpunk mood in this well-crafted masterpiece. He showcases a remarkable grasp of effective action camerawork and editing in his unique style. Oliver Grunerportrayal stuns with just the right amount of restive-ness with a tinge of humanity. Its slick direction and decent special effects keep viewers engaged besides its alternate, dark ending in the extended versions released in Japan and Germany. Its action sequences involving shootouts and top-notch weaponry in beautiful urban settings are imaginative, and Pyun also uses the Sam Raimi-Styled shot in certain scenes to focus on Gruner’s head for a cinematic thrill. The plot is devoid of the usual twists and light-hearted humor of a cop flick. Instead, it simultaneously delivers the goods that make it an exciting sci-fi action movie while referring to timeless classics like Robocop, Terminator and Blade Runner.
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)
Set in 2001, this is a tale of Ricky Ho a martial artist and former music student who is now in a privatized correctional facility after being sentenced to prison for 10 years. He witnesses his friends being harassed by the officers at the facility and swears to avenge them.
Lam Nai-choi’s martial arts masterpiece is based on the Japanese manga Riki-Oh by Masahiko Takajo and Saruwatari Tetsuya and is rated amongst the top Hong Kong exploitation films. It encompasses the classic prison-film elements of dishonest guards and devious wardens and has well-choreographed fight sequences. It is known for its acting by Fan Siu-Wong, who plays an invincible protagonist, and it contains an intriguing storyline filled with graphic violence. Amidst this splatter-fest, director Nai-choi also integrates unintentional humor that makes it funnier and highly entertaining the more seriously it takes itself. Although not all the characters are presented with well-developed backgrounds, Riki-Ho’s is an inspiring character development tale in this film. The colorful cinematography adds to this classic exploitation film.
Fist of the North Star (1995)
In post-apocalyptic earth, Kenshiro, the Mater of the North Star Martial Arts School wanders around in search of his nemesis Lord Shin who was responsible in killing off his master and abducting his fiancé. Lord Shin is now the dictator of the city of Southern Cross with a personal army called Crossmen who are in search of Kenshiro.
This film is based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara. Tony Randal directed this adaptation with plenty of fight sequences first and foremost. Although the film adheres mostly to the original tale, Randall adds a Hollywood spin with some modifications to a character or two. Gary Daniels looks and plays the part of Kenshiro remarkably while the film authentically adheres to the gore and violence that the bursting arteries and exploding heads bring with it. Its majestic storyline portraying mysterious in a post-apocalyptic Earth is well-explored given the low budget and features remarkable camera work. Although this film gained a cult following, it nevertheless stirred controversy among fans of the extremely popular manga who believed that Kenshiro and Shin were not represented accurately in all their glory. Claims were made that they appeared rather tame to their manga versions. Furthermore, they compare it to the 1986 rendition of the same, saying that the fight sequences were not done justice and made the characters look very goofy.
Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
A sexy aerobics instructor is possessed by the evil spirit of a dying ninja. At first, the changes in her are barely noticeable and are limited to short interactions with an arcade game. Soon she goes on a ninja-style murdering rampage. Her targets include the ninja spirits’ assailants, the officers, and only another ninja can put a stop to her menace.
Directed by Sam Firstenberg, this film is the third installment in Cannon Film’s Ninja Trilogy anthology series. Lucinda Dickey stole the show with her outstanding performance and luscious physique in this film, so much so that she was addressed as the female Arnold Schwarzenegger. Additionally, ShoKosugi, like always, blew the viewers away with his portrayal of the character Yamada.This movie was an entertaining ride without coming with the need to overthink the plot. It contains the usual 80s cheesy factor and a fabulous extended opening. It portrays surreal violence and fantastic chemistry between the leads. Firstenberg attempts to create a fusion of martial arts combined with The Exorcist vibe with his well-choreographed fight sequences and cheesy dialogue. Overall, it is a rocket-fuelled ninja action flick that garnered a large cult following.
The Barbarians (1987)
Twin brothers Kutchek and Gore escape from Kadar, an evil tyrant, as children. The now grown up boys realize the misery of their tribe who suffer under the dictatorship of the tyrannical Kadar. Now the Barbarian Brothers must rise to the occasion and avenge their tribe and rid them off the vile ruler.
Ruggero Deodato’s sword and sorcery film is an iconic addition to the B-action genre.It is one of those rare 80s film that is comparatively tame in its approach and is more palatable to a younger audience, not to mention the brilliant ensemble its boasts of. Twins David and Peter Paul are brilliant as the leads, and B-movie veteran Richard Lynch outstandingly plays the villain Kadar. The film contains a majestic setting that calls for suitable and scantily shining attire. Although it is a cocktail of cliché sword and sorcery characters, it has terrific cinematography, gorgeous damsels in distress and is a refreshingly unique outlook on barbarians. The tale has serious undertones backed by a compelling narration and is a riot of colors that is bound to appeal any lover of the fantasy genre. Being completely aware of its cheesy quirks, the film portrays the characters’ charm and charisma to sway the audience adding to its interesting soundtrack, great makeup effects and fast pace.
The plot shows Kristi Jones participating in Mafia-aided street fights, along with her gang for a quick buck to fund her sister’s college education. We come across Stingray, an underground fighter, who has been abandoned by his wife. Deranged by the betrayal he vows to kill his wife and to that end kidnaps women resembling his wife and torturers them, to which Kristi’s sister becomes a victim and eventually dies from her injuries. An enraged Kristi sets on a mission to find Stingray and give him a taste of his own medicine.
Director Godfrey Ho created this movie with the pseudonym Godfrey Hall, starring Cynthia Rothrock and John Miller. It is an epic masterpiece led by the queen of martial arts herself who portrays an outstanding performance mixed with rage, sadness and ambition. Its minimal gore and special effects slightly resemble a Troma film. This resembles Godfrey Ho’s previous works in terms of its entertainment and quality action sequences. It both shocks and enthralls viewers with its cheesy, poetic script, top-notch production and high technology for its photography and camerawork. The characters are all memorable and keep viewers engaged throughout with their colorful traits and cheesy dialogues. This entertaining, action-packed flick can be your go to if you have the heart for it.
Crash and Burn (1990)
Post the Global economic crash, a powerful corporation Unicom is overseeing its whereabouts. In its quest to restore economic stability it has banned computers worldwide. However, a Unicom robot manages to infiltrate a TV station, which is also a revolutionary setup against the totalitarian company, and kills off its manager. Now, a simpleton delivery boy must rise to the occasion to protect the surviving members of the station and protect them from the impending horrors.
Charles Band directed an enjoyable movie with a more than capable cast, while heavily borrowing ideas from John Carpenter’s The Thing and the Terminator franchise. It’s a sci-fi flick with a futuristic plot and a decent pace. It is 80 minutes of brilliant special effects with vibrant characters. Paul Ganus, Megan Ward in her debut, Eva LaRue and Bill Moseley, four B-movie superstars, all portray outstanding performances. Ganus’ role Tyson Keen showcases a certain magnetism onscreen, which attracted a broad female audience. The concept of the storyline is imaginative and gets sci-fi fans immediately hooked. Not to mention its political undertone, commentary on revolution and an authoritarian government might also appeal to lovers of alternate history films. Charles Band’s energetic direction makes the film an overall engaging and entertaining action opus. David Allen portrays excellent nifty stop motion animation. Greg Cannon’s grody makeup special effects and Richard Band’s stirring musical score all make this decent, modest, B-action film worth watching.
Equalizer 2000 (1987)
In a setting of post-nuclear Alaska, a merciless, fascist vehicular group known as The Ownership rebels in hopes to possess a dangerous weapon called Equalizer 2000. This weapon had been created by Captain Slade, a former leader of an authoritarian group, who joined the rebellion to defeat Mayor Lawton-the man responsible for his father’s death. Lawton and General MacLaine are involved with the group The Ownership and naturally become the prime targets of Captain Slade.
Filipino exploitation movie titan Cirio Santiago creates an out-of-the-world action flick using arid, godforsaken desert landscapes as its setting and keeps the entertainment flowing at a brisk pace. The over-the-top action only adds to the fun factor of the film. What would an action movie be without it? Solid performances from cast members like the extremely muscular Richard Norton as Slade and the gorgeous Corrine Wahl as the feisty Karen keep viewers engrossed to witness the variety in their colorful characteristics and depth. Ding Achacoso provides a funky syncopated music score, which adds the right amount of groove to fit the film’s overall atmosphere. Viewers often accuse Santiago of trying to create a low-budget Mad Max but we can hardly complain as we still have an entertainer with us.
Stone Cold (1991)
A tough, solitary cop Joe Huff has an almost insatiable flair for infiltrating dangerous biker gangs. He gets dragged into an undercover operation by the FBI to convict a volatile group of bikers who are out to avenge their captured leader.
This Craig Baxley-directed film served as a debut for 1980s football star Brian Bosworth. The film relentlessly exceeds all of the viewers’ expectations with its over-the-top entertainment value portraying violence with weapons, sleaziness and a climax that has to be seen to be believed. Baxley incorporates his own unique spin to an otherwise cliché plot and manages to present a top-notch entertainer. It portrays nonstop action and other excellent cast members like Lance Henriksen and William Forsythe, delivering remarkable performances. Furthermore, its interesting script, flawless camerawork, and cheesy dialogue stirred up a large cult following for this low-budget flick. Although some aspects of the storyline might seem slightly bleak, the film’s intense action and violence more than makeup for this.