• Total Nerd

18 Underrated Action-Adventure Movies

List RulesVote up the action-adventure movies that deserve more love.

If you're looking for a good action-adventure movie to watch but have already seen all the usual entries a million times, help is on the way. Sure, it's always fun to revisit Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Marvel pictures, and The Mummy. They're totally rewatchable. Sometimes, though, you're in the mood for something new. That's when having some recommendations comes in handy.

What makes these films underrated? In many cases, they came out during slower months at the box office, or were released on the same weekend as a blockbuster that sucked all the air out of the room. A couple were simply ahead of their time, while a few more were initially popular but faded from the public's memory over the years. Whatever the reason, these movies often contain A-list stars and/or come from name directors. They may not have achieved the classic status several of their counterparts did, but they're plenty good for viewers looking to kick back, relax, and watch something fun for two hours.

Which of these action-adventure movies do you think is the most underrated? Vote up your favorites.

  • There have been many different screen versions of The Three Musketeers, but Disney's 1993 iteration is in a class by itself. The movie takes a lighthearted, fun approach to Alexandre Dumas's famous tale, and benefits from the chemistry among stars Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, and Oliver Platt as the titular trio. Taking a lot of liberties with the source material, it follows d'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell) as he journeys to Paris to help Athos, Porthos, and Aramis prevent the villainous Cardinal Richelieu (Tim Curry) from snatching the crown.

    You can plainly see the stars are having a great time putting on costumes and engaging in swashbuckling antics. The fun they're having is infectious. The film additionally benefits from Curry's magnificent scenery-chewing performance as the bad guy. Sure, this is a "lite" version of The Three Musketeers, but that makes it suitable for younger viewers or anyone who just wants some light escapist entertainment.

    A great adventure?

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  • In Hidalgo, Viggo Mortensen plays Frank Hopkins, a pony express courier who also does some trick riding in a traveling sideshow. He's invited to take part in the Ocean of Fire, a treacherous 3,000-mile horse race through the Saudi desert. To say the race is punishing would be an understatement. It pushes both Frank and his horse to their limits.

    Sequences like the one showing them attempting to navigate during a sandstorm are intense. Hidalgo really gives you a sense of how arduous the trek is. Beyond that, they also must contend with traps set out for them by a rival, including being pushed into a pit and having to face tigers. Adding a level of entertainment value to the film is the appearance of Omar Sharif as the sheikh who invites Frank to participate. The veteran actor obviously knows a thing or two about acting in the desert, having co-starred in the classic Lawrence of Arabia. His appearance here gives the whole picture a boost.

    A great adventure?

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  • In 1998, a bunch of fine actors gathered together with GoldenEye director Martin Campbell for a dose of throwback fun. The Mask of Zorro brought the legendary swashbuckler back to the big screen. Anthony Hopkins plays Zorro - also known as Don Diego de la Vega - and he's training young protege Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) to become his successor. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Don Diego's daughter, who of course is beautiful and catches Alejandro's eye. Together, the trio attempts to stop an old nemesis from snatching a fortune in gold.

    The character of Zorro dates all the way back to 1919. The Mask of Zorro stays true to the basic premise, giving us exciting sword fights and action sequences. At the same time, Campbell uses modern filmmaking techniques to energize them. Seeing Hopkins, Banderas, and Zeta-Jones in an old-school adventure is a blast, too. They prove there's still a lot of life left in the type of characters audiences thrilled to in yesteryear.

    A great adventure?

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  • 8


    Apocalypto was a huge risk for director Mel Gibson. Using a cast of unknown Native American and Indigenous Mexican actors and having all the dialogue spoken in an ancient language was hardly a ticket to box office success. Nevertheless, it did an impressive $50 million at the domestic box office, thanks to an alluring atmosphere and loads of intense action. 

    The plot is pretty straightforward. A Mayan kingdom is on the verge of crumbling. A young hunter named Jaguar Paw (Rudy Youngblood) is taken captive by the elite, who believe they can forestall catastrophe by making human sacrifices to the gods. He escapes, then undergoes a peril-filled journey to reunite with his family. 

    The setting and characters are unusual for movies, which makes Apocalypto feel very different from most adventure movies. It also contains near wall-to-wall action scenes that are both graphically violent and intricately staged. This is one of those movies where you pretty much hold your breath the entire time, as the hero faces one dangerous obstacle after another.

    A great adventure?

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