10 Best Action Films From Yesteryear That Deserve Legacy Sequels Like ‘Top Gun Maverick’

Top Gun: Maverick is smashing the global box office in a seemingly unlikely turn of events. After being delayed from its original 2020 release due to the pandemic, Maverick has finally arrived and audiences are lapping it up. It has even defeated box office kings Marvel, replacing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as the highest-grossing film in North America this year, and is on track to repeat that feat worldwide.

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Despite the original being nearly forty years old, the sequel has resonated with audiences and given new life to its characters. if Mavericksets a precedent for legacy sequels in the action genre, then the following classic films are ripe for a modern revival.


Lethal Weapon (1987)

Lethal Weapon follows loose cannon Riggs (Mel Gibson) and veteran Murtaugh (Danny Glover), two LAPD detectives who are forced to work together to stop a drug-smuggling ring. Three sequels and a television reboot followed over the years.

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what makes the Lethal Weapon films work is the chemistry between Gibson and Glover, and the chance to see the two partners bickering in their old age is ripe with potential. Murtaugh constantly claims “he is getting too old for this shit” so how about a chance to prove it, as the two retired officers are pulled into one more case.

Lethal Weapon is available to stream on HBO Max.

‘Big Trouble in Little China’ (1986)

A cult classic from John Carpenter, Big Trouble in Little China teams the director with Kurt Russell for the fourth time. Russell plays macho truck driver Jack Burton, who ventures into the Chinatown underworld to help save his friend’s kidnaped fiancée.

The film contains an impressive amount of world-building surrounding Chinese mythology and the supernatural underworld, especially in the days of 1980s action films. Carpenter made an effort to stay respectful to Chinese culture, and a modern sequel that incorporates this magical realism into the modern-day could have the same appeal asShang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings.

Big Trouble in Little China is available to stream on Starz.

Rush Hour (1998)

When a Chinese diplomat’s young daughter is kidnaped in the US, Hong Kong detective Lee (Chan) and LA detective Carter are assigned to the case, despite their vast differences. Though hostile at first, they soon grow on each other.

like Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour works because of the chemistry between Tucker and Chan. The series ended with 2008’s Rush Hour 3, an unfairly hated entry in Chan’s legacy. A proper sequel, with an aged Tucker and Chan, will let fans reconnect with the characters, and see how their dynamic has grown in their older age.

Rush Hour is available to stream on HBO Max.

‘Command’ (1985)

This list could be filled with just Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, but Command stands as one of his best. Arnie plays John Matrix, ex-special forces, who’s drawn back into action after figures from his past kidnap his young daughter. He’ll use every gun, knife, and gardening tool he can get his hands on to save the day.

Command is classic 80s cheese, with Arnie spouting one-liners as he dispatches goons in R-rated fashion. Perhaps a sequel can team Matrix with his grown-up daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) to take down a new army of thugs.

Command is available to stream on Starz.

‘Tango and Cash’ (1989)

Tango and Cash pairs the straight-laced, by the book Ray Tango (Sylvester Stallone) with the reckless and carefree Gabe Cash (Kurt Russell). After the two detectives are framed and thrown into prison, the two rivals are forced to work together to escape, clear their names, and find those responsible.

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In an alternate universe, Tango & Cash could have produced multiple sequels, like Lethal Weapon and Rush Hourwith followups focusing on the growing bond that develops between the two leads, similar to how Maverick and Iceman’s relationship develops during both Top Gun movies.

‘Cobra’ (1986)

Another under-looked movie from Sylvester Stallone, Cobra stars Stallone as Marion “Cobra” Cobretti, a streetwise cop intent on wiping out crime. When a mysterious cult appears and begins murdering innocent people, Cobra is forced to protect the only surviving witness as the cult hunts her.

Cobra is a unique action movie in that it almost crosses into a slasher film. The film had to be cut down to achieve an R rating after originally being rated X. A sequel was planned but never materialized, while Stallone claimed in 2019 that Robert Rodriguez is involved in creating a remake.

‘Last Action Hero’ (1993)

When a young boy is sucked into the world of his favorite action series, he teams up with the film’s star Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to defeat the villains that threaten to cross over into the real world.

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Just as much a comedy as an action movie, Last Action Hero pokes fun at the clichés of 80s action films, including the ones Arnie starred in. While these action films are rare in Hollywood today, a modern retelling that focuses on a child finding themselves trapped in a superhero film could lampoon the genre to the same effect.

Last Action Hero is available to stream on Netflix.

‘Demolition Man’ (1993)

When Reckless Police Officer John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is cryogenically frozen as a result of a failed hostage rescue, he is re-awoken in a crime-free utopia in 2032. Spartan’s nemesis Phoenix (Wesley Snipes), a ruthless killer, was unfrozen earlier and escaped to commit a crime spree. Unable to deal with such a violent criminal, Spartan is put on the case.

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Much of what makes Demolition Manworks is its futuristic setting. Spartan is a fish out of water in his new peaceful environment and is paired with officer Huxley (Sandra Bullock) to show him the ropes. A new sequel could show how Spartan has adapted to his new surroundings in the years since the original film, and how he has brought a bit of his own personality into the time period.

Demolition Man is available to stream on Hulu.

‘Escape from New York’ (1981)

Another collaboration between John Carpenter and Kurt Russell, Escape from New York stars Russell as Snake Plissken, a convict who is sent into a futuristic crime-ridden New York City to save the American President. If Snake can accomplish the mission within 24 hours, he will be given his freedom.

a sequel, Escape from LA, was released in 1996 to a lesser reception, unfortunately ending the series. A highly influential film on popular culture, videogame creator Hideo Kojima claims the movie inspired his Metal Gear Solidseries and its protagonist Snake.

‘Beverly Hills Cop’ (1984)

When his best friend is murdered, Detroit cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) travels to Beverly Hills in search of justice. Beverly Hills Cop was a smash hit with both critics and at the box office, and it helped launch Murphy to stardom. Two sequels followed though neither was as successful as the original film.

In 2013 a television series was pitched that would follow Foley’s son, with Murphy only providing a cameo. After the network passed on the pilot, plans instead moved to create a fourth film. Rumors have swirled about its production for years, but Netflix seemingly has plans to produce Beverly Hills Cop IV in the near future.

Beverly Hills Cop is available to stream on Showtime.

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