Thanks to Tarantino, the last ten years of the twentieth century are largely considered a decade of the auteur, despite the explosive gusto of the 10 best action scenes of the 90’s. Greats like Woo, Spielberg, and Cameron blew shit up with operatic relish. Here's the proof.

  1. “Face/Off” – The end. John Woo is one of the great action directors of all time, and “Face/Off” stands alongside “Hardboiled” as his magnum opus. Enough madness transpires in the culminating fight scene that it's difficult to describe.There are doves, a shoot out in a church, a boat chase, harpoons, and John Travolta attempting to cut his own face off with a shard of glass.

  2. “A Hero Never Dies” – Raining bullets. Where Woo imagines elaborate scenes with endless steadicam takes and carefully orchestrated melee, filmmaker Johnnie To seems to think “let’s get a bunch of people with guns in a room and see what happens.” This works to great effect in “A Hero Never Dies”, in which two master gunmen duke it out amidst a near literal rain of bullets.

  3. “Terminator 2” – Rescuing Sarah Conner. Terminator’s showdown with the T1000 in the halls of a mental hospital in “T2” is one of the best action scenes of the 90’s. T1000 gets blown apart with a shot gun, turns his arms into all manner of knives and stabbing weapons, and runs upwards of 50 miles per hour in this brilliant Mise-en-scène.

  4. “Matrix” – Rescuing Morpheus. The penultimate sequence in "the Matrix" in which Neo and Trinity kill a room full of riot police, blow up an elevator shaft, and crash a helicopter is filled with an unfathomable hail of bullets, crazy martial arts moves, and Neo’s subway station showdown with Agent Smith. It is one of the best action scenes of the 90’s.

  5. “Goldeneye” – The Library and the Tank. Agent 007 avoids a library full of Russian soldiers armed with a machine gun and his belt. Having escaped, he steals a Soviet military tank, plows through the streets of St. Petersburg, and manages to derail at armored train that is carrying a spac weapon. All in day’s work for Bond.

  6. “Jurassic Park” – Run, T Rex, Run! Steven Spielberg came up with one of the best action scenes of the 90’s when he credibly orchestrated wanton destruction at the hands of a T Rex. After eating a lawyer, Mr. Rex chases down a jeep filled with scientists. The director uses the review mirror’s warning to great effect: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

  7. “First Strike” &ndash Fighting with furniture. In one of Jackie Chan’s most intricately coordinated fight scenes (and that’s saying something), he uses a table, broom, scaffolding, giant Chinese dragon masks, his own flailing fists, and, most impressively, a ladder, to fend off an avalanche of opposition. It is one of the best action scenes of the 90’s. 

  8. “Desperado” – Guitar Cases Galore. “Desperado” is ridiculous, moronic, and incredible. In one of the best action scenes of the 90’s, Antonio Banderas gets together with two friends, each of whom has a different type of weapon concealed in his guitar case. One of them is a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher.

  9. “Bad Boys” – The Final Shootout. “Bad Boys” ends in classic fashion with a giant action scene that pits the good guys against he bad. As in any Michael Bay action scene, there are unnecessary explosions, blood, some awful jokes, and lots of very enjoyable carnage.

  10. "Die Hard With a Vengeance" - The Boat. Towards the end of "DH3", Sam Jackson and Bruce Willis chase down an enormous barge and slide down huge metal cables amidst a flurry of explosions. They're captured, placed on top of a bomb, and end up pulling large splinters of metal from their gaping wounds with their teeth.