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Action movies with terrible Rotten Tomatoes scores that are still worth watching

Not every action movie can be Die Hard. For every acclaimed film like Kill Bill or Mad Max: Fury Road, there's a dozen action movies that were shredded by critics. 

In fairness, a lot of those films probably deserve their lousy Rotten Tomatoes scores. After all, making an action movie is no easy task, and you need more than a couple of explosions to create an awesome film. On the other hand, Rotten Tomatoes is a website that lacks nuance, and sometimes, you might find an adrenaline-laced gem under all those slimy green splotches. Sure, these critically-derided movies might not hold up to Lethal Weapon or The Dark Knight, but despite their flaws, they're hiding fun performances, amazing set pieces, and thrilling stunts. 

From films with monstrous snakes and unbelievable boxers to gigantic gods and witch-hunting heroes, these action movies might have terrible Rotten Tomatoes scores, but they're still worth watching.

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Giant snakes and Jon Voight

Directed by Luis Llosa, Anaconda is a big, dumb monster flick that traffics in B-movie scares — and we mean that in the best possible way. Set in the Amazon jungle, this 1997 adventure follows a group of documentary filmmakers, led by Jennifer Lopez, who run into the world's biggest and hungriest snake. This creature yanks its victims underwater, snatches them out of the air, and never seems to get its fill of human flesh. And while it's occasionally done with silly CG, there's also a fantastic animatronic that looks like it escaped from an evil Rainforest Cafe.

But the serpent isn't even the highlight of the movie. The real draw is Jon Voight as a smarmy poacher with an untraceable accent. Voight leers and sneers every second he's on camera, all the while plotting ways to catch the killer reptile… even if that means using human bait. And if "crazy Jon Voight fights monster snake" isn't enough to impress you, then listen to Roger Ebert, who called Anaconda "a slick, scary, funny Creature Feature, beautifully photographed and splendidly acted in high adventure style."

Sure, most critics disagreed with Ebert, and that's why the film has a 40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. But really, you should just ignore the cynical critics who panned Anaconda because they're just trying to squeeze all the fun out of cinema.

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It's superheroes meets the sweet science

Rocky IV feels like a movie that slipped into the Rocky series after escaping from a far crazier franchise. It's got a talking robot, a monster with superhuman strength, and montage after montage after montage. Rocky IV is basically a sci-fi music video, complete with lackluster plot, flag-waving jingoism, and recycled clips from the first three Rocky films.

As a result, it was left sprawling on the canvas with a 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. But honestly, if you're watching Rocky IV as a sports movie, you're doing it wrong. It's really a superhero movie, with Rocky as a punch-drunk Captain America, sticking up for his fallen friend. And then there's Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a supervillain hybrid of Frankenstein's monster, Rocky Horror, and the Terminator. And just like Schwarzenegger, Lundgren delivers great one-liners with robotic perfection ("I must break you," "If he dies, he dies"). The final confrontation is like Superman vs. Doomsday, an epic battle with titans taking shots that no mere mortal could survive. Lean into the over-the-top awesomeness, and suddenly you're watching modern-day mythology.

On top of its comic book nature, Rocky IV has some dramatic moments that work incredibly well. Carl Weathers is great here as Apollo Creed, an aging warrior who's struggling with his own mortality, and the epic '80s montages feature some cool moments, contrasting Rocky's primitive training methods against Drago's technically advanced robo-gym. And after the final boxing match, just like any superhero would, Rocky ends the Cold War and brings peace and harmony to the world. It might not compare to the original film or Creed, but if you're looking for fun action schlock, Rocky IV is a knockout.

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It's The Karate Kid with cars

Tokyo Drift is the red-headed stepchild of the Fast and Furious franchise. Paul Walker is nowhere to be found, Vin Diesel only shows up for a few seconds, and the undercover cops and international heists are replaced by a soapy teenage melodrama. Despite all its horsepower, Tokyo Drift couldn't outrace the critics, and the movie currently sits on Rotten Tomatoes with a measly 37 percent approval rating. But while it has its haters, Tokyo Drift also has its fair share of fans, including legendary film critic Roger Ebert. As YouTube critic Patrick D. Willems put it, it's "like a high school sports movie combined with a martial arts movie." 

The plot follows a troubled American kid named Sean (Lucas Black) who moves to Japan, gets involved with the yakuza, and is forced to race the local bully to save his buddies, his girlfriend, and his own honor. Of course, before he can become the king of the road, this hotshot gaijin has to learn how to drift. In other words, it's The Karate Kid with cars, complete with training sequences and a climactic showdown, and watching these hot rods drift their way down mountain roads is pretty impressive — and even kind of beautiful. On top of all that, Tokyo Drift introduces some key players to the Fast and Furious franchise: director Justin Lin, writer Chris Morgan, and actor Sung Kang, who plays the incredibly cool and always hungry Han. These guys would be instrumental in shaping the series going forward, but even as its own movie, Tokyo Drift is a slick-looking film with fun race sequences and characters we care about.

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Monsters and magic and mysticism

Guy Ritchie is best known for making comedic crime thrillers like Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which would seem to make him a weird pick to direct King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, a movie set during the Dark Ages. With an unwieldy screenplay hobbled together from multiple scripts, King Arthur bombed hard with audiences, while critics refused to pledge fealty to the once and future king, giving the movie a most unroyal 31 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Admittedly, there are parts of King Arthur that are a chore to sit through. The broken timeline hurts the story, and the plot gets overwhelming. But you can't deny this movie is ambitious, especially when the monsters roll onto the screen. The movie opens with war elephants that tower over castles, and then we watch as a mass of writhing tentacles reveal slimy witches that are part woman, part kraken. There are freakish wood nymphs, oversized snakes, and Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) does battle with packs of giant rats and humongous bats.

There are freaky sorcerers, medieval warriors who feel like MMA fighters, and even the Lady of the Lake makes a mystical appearance, grasping Excalibur as she floats through dark, black waters. But there's more going on here than just high fantasy. Guy Ritchie brings his trademark humor to the film, and almost every character acts like a cockney criminal. The dialogue is fast and quippy, and the banter feels like something out of Snatch. The modern-day humor really adds to this ancient story, making King Arthur: Legend of the Sword a wonderfully weird way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

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Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!

Plagued by production woes and a whitewashing controversy, Disney's adaptation of The Lone Ranger was in trouble from day one, and things got even worse then the movie flopped hard at the box office. As for the critics, they shot this film to pieces, giving it a 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. And granted, The Lone Ranger is a mess; the screenplay is all over the place, but in a way, that's what makes it so fascinating.

There are so many ideas at play here, from the exploitation of Chinese laborers and the genocide of Native Americans to the takeover of American politics by corrupt corporations. Its framing device of an aged Tonto living in a carnival show works as a mournful dirge to the Old West, but at the same time, the movie pokes fun at the "Lone Ranger" concept made famous by radio programs and old TV shows. The cinematography by Bojan Bazelli is sweeping and beautiful, the movie borrows plot points and song cues from Westerns like Once Upon a Time in the West and Little Big Man, and some of the sets feel like they were taken from a Baz Luhrmann movie.

The Lone Ranger is also incredibly imaginative. There's a cannibal outlaw who feasts on human hearts, a legion of flesh-hungry rabbits, and a mystical stuffed crow that's not quite dead. There's a prostitute with an ivory leg that doubles as a rifle, not to mention the mysterious spirit horse that can climb trees and appear on rooftops. And while the decision to cast Johnny Depp was a bad idea, culturally speaking, he's actually hilarious as the stoic-but-insane Tonto, and he has real chemistry with the charming Armie Hammer. While it's no Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lone Ranger doesn't deserve its bad reputation and proves even the messiest movies have a silver lining.

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It all comes down to the orc

Critics hated Bright. In fact, they loathed it. And you know what? It's totally understandable. Bright has a lot of problems, from its lazy worldbuilding and sloppy screenplay to its awkward handling of racial issues. But while this fantasy thriller has a 26 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, over 11 million people watched it on its opening weekend alone. What was it about Bright that appealed to so many people?

Well, Lord of the Rings meets Training Day is a cool elevator pitch, and while Bright doesn't live up to its potential, it's filled with striking images, like a centaur cop and a dragon flying over Los Angeles. There are glowing skeletons and a gangster hideout filled with pagan antlers, and then there's the disturbing moment when our police heroes find an elf that's been morphed into the world's scariest piece of wall decor.

And while the story mechanics and character arcs are messy, David Ayer knows how to direct an action scene. The gas station shootout is a highlight, and the moment when Will Smith saves his orc partner from a gang of murderous cops is wonderfully done. Noomi Rapace is sexy and scary as an evil elf and does a lot with the little she's given, but the best thing about Bright has got to be Joel Edgerton, who plays Nick Jacoby, the first orc ever hired to work for the LAPD. 

Jacoby faces a lot of resentment from his racist co-workers, and Edgerton wonderfully conveys the pain Jacoby is feeling, even though he's buried beneath all those prosthetics. (It also must be said, the orcs look incredible.) Edgerton plays Jacoby as earnest and eager, someone doing his best in a screwed-up world, and you should check out Bright for his performance alone. 

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Dracula plus Superman equals Luke Evans

Universal Studios has been trying to create a monstrous cinematic universe for quite some time. Before The Mummy completely unraveled, the studio was hoping to get "Dark Universe" going with Dracula Untold. Unfortunately, lousy box office numbers and a 25 percent on Rotten Tomatoes forced the studio to stake this film in the heart. But while it's not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, Dracula Untold is wonderfully dumb fun — basically a vampire movie meets a superhero flick.

Directed by Gary Shore, Dracula Untold finds Luke Evans as the titular bloodsucker. Only instead of trying to murder innocent women, this Dracula is an undead superhero, trying to protect his homeland from invading Turks. And this dark tale truly shines when Dracula is beating up bad guys: He plows into a platoon of goons like a mad NFL player, all while roaring like a lion, and using Force-like powers, he commands a legion of bats to batter his enemies. He even creates his own vampire army, resulting in a brilliantly bloody climax. This isn't high art by any stretch of the imagination, but if you've ever wondered what would happen if Dracula used his bat-powers for good, fortunately for you, that story has been told.

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Kevin Bacon at his bloody best

Directed by James Wan, Death Sentence has the gore of Saw, the scares of The Conjuring, and the family feels of Furious 7. In fact, we're legitimately shocked that it only has a 20 percent approval score on Rotten Tomatoes. Unlike most of the films on this list, there are no glaring flaws in Death Sentence, no obvious reasons why it was blasted so hard by the critics. Instead, this 2007 revenge thriller is gritty, gross, and utterly compelling.

With its opening montage of home video footage, we're rooting for Nick Hume (Kevin Bacon) from frame one. He's a good dad and a loving husband, so naturally, he's devastated when his oldest son is murdered by a machete-wielding gangster. When Nick realizes the legal system is going to let the killer off easy, he takes justice into his own own hands. But what starts off as a simple act of revenge spirals into a full-on war when the criminal's brother comes back for blood.

Kevin Bacon is key to the movie's success. He's not some Charles Bronson-super vigilante. He's a real human being struggling with guilt and grief. He barely knows how to use a gun, and he breaks down into tears after murdering his son's killer. You really feel the love this guy has for his family… and his hatred for the thugs who've threatened his home. In addition to Bacon, there's John Goodman as an f-bomb-dropping force of nature who sells Nick his cache of weapons in the best "gun-buying" scene since Taxi Driver. It all caps off with one of cinema's most underrated gunfights, an epic battle awash in red light. Thanks to Wan, Bacon, and screenwriter Ian Jeffers, Death Sentence is a badass, bloody affair that proves Rotten Tomatoes can sometimes get it wrong.

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A divine time at the movies

Alex Proyas is a man with vision… a vision critics don't always appreciate. That's especially true for Gods of Egypt a movie that was lambasted for its Eurocentric cast, cheesy acting, and shabby CGI. But casting controversy aside, the film's over-the-top performances and bizarre look are actually what make it worth your while, even if it only has 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Set in ancient Egypt, the plot follows a human thief named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) who's caught in a struggle between two larger-than-life deities, the heroic Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and the power-hungry Set (Gerard Butler). The two are battling to control Egypt, and this mythological conflict takes our characters into outer space before plunging them into the underworld. Along the way, they encounter a demonic worm made of teeth and darkness, a sandy Sphinx with a fondness for riddles, and serpent-tongued women who hunt their prey while riding giant cobras.

The movie is absolutely bonkers when it comes to the visuals. Gerard Butler flies around in a chariot pulled by scarabs. The gods bleed golden blood and morph into metallic monsters. On top of all that, Gods of Egypt is a drama of Shakespearean proportions, where royal relatives stab each other in the back and a prince has his eyeballs ripped from his skull.

But the movie always stays lighthearted and fun, and while this was never going to win any Oscars, Gods of Egypt gets you to care about Bek and Horus as they save their loved ones from Butler's delightfully hammy acting. Despite the big performances, the movie plays everything perfectly straight. There's no cynical winking, no annoying irony, and if you enjoy big-hearted adventures like Thor or Willow, then Gods of Egypt might be good for your soul. Plus, Chadwick Boseman shows up, and he always makes everything better.

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It's Evil Dead...but crazier

It's easy to see why Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters has 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It's mostly because of Hansel and Gretel. Other than realizing that not all witches are evil, they don't have character arcs, their dialogue is flat, and there's nothing distinguishing them from each other besides the fact that one is played by Jeremy Renner and the other by Gemma Arterton. Really, they're just two badasses who run around and blow up witches.

Of course, if you're into seeing evil creatures getting their heads cut off, then Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is the movie for you. This 2013 horror adventure is like Evil Dead on crack, complete with anachronistic weapons, buckets of blood, and more wicked old hags than you can shake a broomstick at. The monster makeup here is on point, especially at the end when an international coven of witches shows up for a bit of child sacrifice. There's an animatronic troll reminiscent of something from The Dark Crystal, and the flying effects are both creepy and cool.

And while Renner and Arterton aren't doing a lot with their characters, Famke Janssen more than makes up for it as the villainous head witch. She's big, she's bad, she's over-the-top glorious. And Peter Stormare is here too, bringing his smarmiest Stormare out for everyone to hate. Granted, watching Jeremy Renner punch women in the face is a bit unsettling, but for the most part, the kills here are creative, with living trees ripping men in half and witches getting blasted with magical bullets. If you're in the mood for a movie that's lost its mind, this witchy flop is for you.