On Sunday, actor/legendary vampire slayer Wesley Snipes tweeted out that it was the 24th anniversary of “Demolition Man,” one of the greatest action movies of the ’90s.
In that classic film, Snipes played the villain, Simon Phoenix, who was frozen in a cryo-prison and released in Los Angeles — renamed San Angeles — in the year 2032 on the whim of a corrupt public official who hopes to control him for his own nefarious purposes.
To stop Simon, who delights in making puns based on the Simon Says children game while he slays his enemies, the San Angeles Police Department thaws out John Spartan, a renegade cop played Sylvester Stallone who was also frozen as a punishment after Snipe’s character set him up to unintentionally cause the deaths of dozens of hostages.
OK, this all sounds complicated but I promise you it is nowhere as complicated as those last two paragraphs make it out to be. Also, Sandra Bullock in her full 1990s glory co-stars as Spartan’s partner, Lenina Huxley.
The point is, you should watch “Demolition Man” if you haven’t; I’ll even let you borrow my original VHS copy if you DM me on Twitter.
Snipes’ post also got me thinking: What are some other great action movies from the 1990s that I grew up loving?
So without further adieu, here are some other bona fide action classics from that wonderful decade
“Terminator 2: Judgement Day”
The Terminator franchise should have just stopped right here because this movie is action movie perfection. Hard to argue against this as being possibly the greatest action movie ever.
This was peak James Cameron, who directed this film, a direct sequel to his less heralded but still relevant 1984 film, “The Terminator,” and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger at the apex of his action movie career.
If you were a kid sometime in the 1990s, you probably caught yourself saying, “Asta la vista, baby,” or, “I’ll be back,” countless times on the playground. In retrospect, I’m glad this film came out before the era of online gaming. Playing “Call of Duty” or “Halo” online was already annoying due to the smack talking prepubescent super gamers, but being hit with Terminator catchphrases on top of that would have been too much.
While “The Matrix,” which came out in 1999, barely makes into the decade, it’s still one of the most emulated action movies of all time.
Can you even think of how many times you’ve seen the “bullet time” special effect used since the film's release? And that’s just the most prominent example of the way this movie changed action filmmaking.
I was so deep into “The Matrix” rabbit hole, I remember delivering a PowerPoint presentation on the film in my freshman basic computer skills class in high school.
I’m actually still pretty proud of that PowerPoint. One slide featured a picture of Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, zooming into the screen in slow motion while leaning backward so it sort of replicated "bullet time."
I wish I still had a copy of it. I'm sure it's stored on some floppy disk lost in my step-dad's basement.
“Die Hard with a Vengeance”
The original “Die Hard” is perfect and has taken on an extended life as a Christmas movie.
The first “Die Hard” sequel as well as the latest one were ehhh, but No. 3 pairs hero cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) with Zeus Carver played by Samuel L. Jackson of Samuel L. Jackson Beer fame.
These two provide an Odd Couple like dynamic to saving New York City and we get see them face off against Simon Gruber, the younger brother of Hans Gruber, the villain from the first “Die Hard” played by the late and great Alan Rickman.
Another buddy cop movie, this vehicle turned Chris Tucker into a mainstream Hollywood movie star — “Friday” is his first and still most iconic film role — and provided Jackie Chan one of the highest grossing films in his long and varied career.
This movie follows the same troupe as “48 Hours” and “Lethal Weapon” except the white cop in those pairings is replaced by a detective from Hong Kong played by Chan.
“Rush Hour” is fun, funny and features Chan kicking butt as only he can, although I would avoid the third movie in the series because as is the case with most films that are the third in a series it’s terrible.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”
I don’t care if you consider this more of kid’s movie rather than an action movie, it holds up, uses practical effects and has better stunt choreography and fight scenes than some more recent action movies.
This movie has fantastic action, humor, teenage brooding, sibling rivalry, romance, touches on the significance of father and son relationships, cultures, showcases the importance of pizza to one’s diet and it just happens to feature four humanoid turtles and a humanoid rat who all happen to be good at martial arts.
I own this film on VHS, DVD and Blu Ray and will think nothing of rewatching it just because. Also, in my mind the reboots spearheaded by one of mortal enemies, Michael Bay, do not exist.