The 2010s produced some game-changing high-concept action movies but some were more out there than others. Fans of strange stories and weird designs can often be left disappointed by supposedly leftfield mainstream movies but there are genuine oddities out there to find if you know where to look.
Those on the hunt for genuinely weird action movies should make sure to check out these 10 titles ASAP for a crazily good time.
10 Blade of the Immortal (2017)
For his 100th film as director, Takashi Miike adapted the manga series of the same name to live-action, and his famously gory style mixed wonderfully with the story’s magical characters and frequent fight scenes.
Following a disgraced samurai who is made immortal by a series of “sacred bloodworms” taken from a Holy Lama and given to him by an 800-year-old nun, the bizarre plot incorporates elements of classic samurai movies, comedy, political power struggles, revenge, and, of course, horror.
9 Wrath of the Titans (2012)
In a world where superhero mythology dominates so much of the mainstream movie calendar, it’s rare to find a movie that’s as objectively odd as Wrath of the Titans. A followup to a generic effects-driven modern-day remake that no one seemed particularly invested in, but did well enough to mandate a sequel, this Greek mythology action-adventure is a dark, gritty, silly, epic about loss, family betrayal, daddy issues, and the death of the Olympian gods.
Set a decade after the events of the first movie, despite being released just less than 2 years after it, the story doesn’t act as a bridge for a trilogy and makes a number of very conclusive narrative decisions. The copious monster designs are often grotesque and horrific in nature and the fight scenes can be brutally violent. It is a strange anomaly in franchise Hollywood filmmaking that tops even most comic book movies in terms of weirdness.
8 Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (2013)
Based on the 16th century Chinese novel of the same name, director Stephen Chow’s comedic reimagining of the origins of the classic story’s main players is culturally very specific. But it’s played so expertly, and so broadly, in terms of humor that anyone in the world could understand and associate with the characters.
The story depicts the origins of the novel’s lead character as a naive and bumbling demon hunter on a quest to find nirvana and their run-ins with a variety of ancient monsters create some of the decade’s most peculiarly entertaining setpieces.
7 Chappie (2015)
Though Neill Blomkamp’s RoboCop movie never materialized in the end, he kind of already made one with this strange tale of a newborn AI system placed into the battered body of an old police robot.
Through dystopian cyberpunk sci-fi, street-level crime, and the philosophical mentorship of South African rap duo Die Antwoord, Chappie explores the nature of existence in a hail of blood and bullets, and all through the eyes of Sharlto Copley’s childlike performance as the titular hero.
6 The Lone Ranger (2013)
Director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp reteamed with Disney after the global success of their original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy together and it was perhaps that previous financial success that totally blinded the studio to the obvious financial pitfall of a $250 million dollar comedy-action Western based on a then 80-year-old property.
Even though the screenplay was whittled down to the point where it no longer contained werewolves, The Lone Ranger is still incredibly weird beyond just its basic premise. Though very rightfully called out for casting Depp as a Native American character, it’s an ultimately mournful story about the brutalization of native peoples in North America that’s told through semi-surrealistic slapstick comedy and all the explosive effects that a quarter of a billion dollars in production budget can buy you.
5 Snowpiercer (2013)
Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho‘s first movie primarily in the English language, Snowpiercer is as ambitious as science-fiction action thrillers ever come and displayed the filmmaker’s panache for uniquely exhilarating stories about the extreme effects of social inequality.
Set entirely on a constantly moving train that contains the last of humanity on a frozen future version of Earth, the linear plot, about the impoverished lower-class passengers attempting to move up the train to seize control of the engine, is made up of equal parts Die Hard and Parasite.
4 Mandy (2018)
Though Nicolas Cage is well-known the world over for his animated style of acting, there are really very few titles in his immense back catalog that are truly worthy of his talents in that regard and Mandy is most definitely one of them.
A moody psychedelic revenge movie about Cage’s quiet woodsman who embarks on his own dark fairytale following a gruesome attack by a roaming cult, the movie has a twisted sense of humor that combines its core elements of comedy and horror together around a hallucinatory action plot.
3 Kung Fury (2015)
Though only clocking in at 30 minutes, Kung Fury is as wholly satisfying a movie experience as many major studio tentpole action epics while being available for free on YouTube to access at your leisure; and it’s certainly worth your time.
When Hitler time travels to 1985 to wreak havoc, it’s up to Miami’s titular top cop to bring him down through a combination of martial arts, dinosaurs, David Hasselhoff, and Norse mythology in this wacky parody of retro machismo action style. If you’re a fan, make sure to look out for the feature-length sequel with added stars, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of the president of the United States.
2 Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010)
Another modern cult legend made famous through its availability on YouTube, Who Killed Captain Alex? was shot, edited, written, and directed by filmmaker Nabwana Isaac Geoffrey Godfrey in a slum of Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, for a budget of approximately $200 and is billed as the country’s “first action movie”.
By itself, there’s not an overwhelming amount that’s remarkable about the movie beyond its ingenuity with its budget but its introduction of the concept of a VJ, or “video joker”, has helped it become an international sensation. The VJ functions similarly to a narrator but, rather than helping the audience with plot details, they act more like a YouTube commentator, making fun of the very movie that they’re in.
1 Tokyo Tribe (2014)
A hip-hop action musical based on Santa Inoue’s manga series, Sion Sono’s big-screen adaptation is excessive in all the right ways.
A classically-inspired journey of gangsters and gods set during one night in the titular city, there are few movies that can quite live up to the parade of bad taste in Tokyo Tribe and even fewer that do it so enjoyably.
The Lion King: 5 Things That Didn’t Age Well (& 5 That Are Timeless)
About The Author