Revisiting True Romance and four other overlooked '90s action films

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The '90s don't get a lot of cinematic respect. Apart from a handful of acknowledged classics, film fans tend to overlook work from the rest of the decade. And that's a shame, because while the '90s might not be on the radar for a lot of cinemaphiles, there are plenty of good, ass-kicking crime and action movies to be found in the decade's film history. One such oft-forgotten classic, True Romance, is playing this weekend at the Esquire as part of the theater's Midnight Madness program. In honor of this screening, and to give you a few titles to look for the next time you scour a DVD bargain bin or need to juice up your Netflix queue, here are five forgotten action/crime gems from the lost decade.

See also:
- Horror auteur Don Coscarelli on meat monsters, Paul Giamatti and getting typecast
- A brief cinematic history of Mars
- The six best onscreen pairings of robots and the apocalypse

5) True Romance
Why not kick off the list with the film that inspired the list? There's no reason this movie shouldn't be acknowledged as a stone-cold classic. Let's start with Tony Scott, of Top Gun fame, directing a Quentin Tarantino script. Add Christian Slater before he turned into a parody of himself, and put him opposite a young Patricia Arquette. Garnish with then-largely unknown Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini in supporting roles. Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken drop in for unforgettable scenes, and Val Kilmer makes an appearance as an imaginary Elvis. That's a lot of potential awesomeness going into this tale of an accidental theft of a million dollars' worth of cocaine, and True Romance delivers beautifully. Why isn't this as universally known and beloved as Pulp Fiction? The world may never know, but that's no reason not to see it and judge for yourself.

4) The Last Boy Scout
Speaking of Tony Scott, this Scott-directed 1991 Bruce Willis vehicle is yet another underappreciated feather in his cap. The story, about a murder investigation that uncovers a plot to legalize sports gambling, is a little convoluted, but that doesn't hinder the fun in the least. Willis is a washed-up former Secret Service agent turned PI. Damon Wayans is a washed-up former pro quarterback whose girlfriend (a then-unknown Halle Barry!) is killed. Together they investigate her murder, take down a corrupt senator and football team owner, and blow up a tremendous amount of shit along the way, which inspires (spoiler alert!) Bruce Willis to do a jig at the end. Also, a guy gets dropped through helicopter blades, so it's got that going for it.

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Landmark Esquire

590 Downing St., Denver, CO

Category: Film

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