Ranking the best PM Entertainment ultimate action classics.
The PM Entertainment group knew perfectly how to surf on the wave of low-budget action movies produced for the home video market in the 1990s. Compared to many other DTV action flicks that had not much to offer except a cool poster and the occasional big name in the cast, PM actually made an effort to deliver what was promised on the VHS cover, and created some of the best action sequences that were ever made on a budget.
In this article we’ll list the ten best actioners from PM’s extensive filmography. Let’s embark a journey into the action wonderland of PM Entertainment, and have some fun with cost-efficient carnage and destruction! Many streaming services such as prime and tubi have at least a selection of PM productions in their catalog these days. You’ll also find almost all of them as low-quality DVD or VHS rips on YouTube, which is perfect if you want re-create the feeling of watching a rental tape that has already been played fifty times.
10) Executive Target (1997)
Executive Target prominently features the full suite of cars flipping, jumping and exploding. Add to that some shootouts, a ludicrous plot, two big names (Michael Madsen and Roy Scheider), some sights for the male audience (Angie Everheart), and we get a good cross-section of the elements PM Entertainment typically liked to include in their movies. Stunt car driver Nick is freed from a prison bus by a group of criminals, who also abduct his wife to coerce his cooperation in driving the getaway car for a bank robbery. His first job is only the overture for a much bigger plot that targets the US president himself.
Nick apparently is the best driver in the world, which must be the reason why the gangsters go so such extreme lengths to get a hold of him, instead of hiring the best guy for the job who is not in prison and will just work for money. But no problem, this premise is used to create some of the most refined action sequences PM ever created with some good camerawork and editing. Trucks and buses go up in flames, police cars fall from the sky, and a heavy machine gun shoots down a helicopter. All in all Executive Target is a nice package, and not the worst way to spend 90 minutes of your life.
9) Firepower (1993)
Firepower is a great title choice for any action movie, except for a martial arts flick, which Firepower is. Most of the film shows Gary Daniels and Chad McQueen beating up opponents in the illegal Death Ring tournament, or having pep-talks in the locker room between fights. In a dystopic future, a fake (and lethal) vaccine for AIDS is being produced in Los Angeles’ Zone of Personal Freedom (aka the Hellzone), a district where law enforcement is suspended. Police officers Darren and Nick are determined to find out who’s behind this, and go undercover into the Hellzone posing as tournament fighters.
The story hook of a fake AIDS vaccine hit the zeitgeist of the early 1990s, and the Hellzone is convincingly decorated with tons of filth on the street and characters that look equally filthy. Gary Daniels in one of his early jobs for PM gives a fun performance as cocky and bloodthirsty cop, and the fight skills he puts on display in Firepower earned him more roles in some of their later productions. The martial arts sequences are well done with savage fighters thrashing each other by using weapons that are randomly assigned to them during the matches by a computer. Firepower is a slightly sleazy, but fun martial arts flick.
8) Cyber Tracker 2 (1994)
“Your miserable lifeforce has been terminated.” Straight out of the 1990s random cyborg b-movie generator comes Cyber Tracker 2, the much improved sequel to its boring predecessor. Don “The Dragon” Wilson is back with his character Eric who has changed jobs, and is now an undercover police agent. One day, a cyborg doppelganger of his wife kills the governor in broad daylight, and she is framed for the murder. Eric starts his own investigation to clear her from the charges, which quickly escalates into a demolition derby with his adversaries.
The second Cyber Tracker is yet again a copycat of Terminator with a lot of cheap cyberpunk nonsense, including the inevitable VR martial arts sequence and a hacker battle. This time, though, PM cranked up the action dial to the absolute maximum with an endless display of explosions, and cars flipping while being catapulted over other burning cars. The film also unashamedly copies entire sequences from the Terminator franchise such as the flood channel chase and the attack on the police station. PM always knew how to steal from the best, and managed to make Cyber Tracker 2 a fun Sci-Fi action romp on a budget.
7) Recoil (1998)
Another successful collaboration between Gary Daniels and PM Entertainment gave us the last part of his “R” trilogy (the other two being Riot and Rage, which you’ll also find on this list). Recoil is just a tad less crazy than its two predecessors, but still features plenty of explosive action and Daniels in top form. During a bank robbery, the son of crime boss Sloan gets killed by detective Ray Morgan and his squad. Sloan hires some hit men to take out the whole police department, and the fun begins.
The film is composed of three acts: 30 minutes of action followed by 30 minutes drama, which are followed by another 30 minutes of action. The interlude unsurprisingly is a bit of a drag, but if you make it through it, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular sequences of the familiar carnage medley of car chases and explosions with some incredible stunt work. We close with some math: The film features a three minute chase with cars going straight through a warehouse at 50 mph, making this the longest building of its kind with 2.5 miles!
6) Last Man Standing (1995)
Last Man Standing is the only PM movie where a fuel truck is put sideways in the middle of a road during a car chase, but nothing crashes into it, and neither does it explode! Apart from this glitch the film features a good chunk action set pieces, and also B-action movie icon Jeff Wincott in one of his best movies. A well-organized team of bank robbers, a corrupt police department, and only detective Kurt Bellmore can bring them to justice, but not without a leaving a trail of collateral damage to cars, building and humans.
Jeff Wincott impresses with his physical performance, and also with blindness-inducing color combinations of his suit pieces. Last Man Standing is a futile attempt at a hard-boiled cop thriller, but it delivers almost non-stop mayhem, and that’s all that is needed to make us action fans happy, and to show up on our list.
5) Zero Tolerance (1994)
Sometimes PM would manage to pull in a truly good actor for a lead role in one of their films, and for Zero Tolerance they got a hold of Robert Patrick. By now, he’s a well respected character actor, but even back in the 1990s he had the talent, charisma and that “stare” that you need to be a real action movie hero. Patrick plays FBI Agent Jeff Douglas who is tasked with escorting drug lord Ray Manta from a Mexican prison back to the US. Manta arranges for Jeff’s family to get kidnapped to coerce his release, and has them killed afterwards. With nothing to lose, Jeff goes on a manhunt to take down the heads of the cartel one by one.
Zero Tolerance features a standard revenge story with the plot developments requiring a lot of goodwill from the audience as usual with PM flicks. Despite this, it’s one of the the few movies that is actually able to keep up some tension, and this is almost exclusively due to Patrick’s involvement who rages through the film like a tornado. The film is a bit slow at times, but when the action kicks in, it’s pretty spectacular, with a glossy cinematography, and some well-choreographed shootouts that even get a Gun Fu vibe on occasion.
4) Steel Frontier (1995)
The only post-apocalyptic action movie PM ever made is a fun a mishmash of Mad Max and classic Westerns. Radioactive giant rats and mutants meet the traditional PM stuff, such as car chases in the desert and all sorts of things exploding. The peaceful town of New Hope is invaded and terrorized by General Quantrill’s posse “United Regime Deathriders”. Lone gunman Johnny Yuma (played by the late Joe Lara) arrives at the scene, and gets entangled in the struggle of the townspeople against Quantrill’s motorized gangsters.
The absolute highlight of the action set pieces is the detonation of a huge chimney, which had the honor of being the largest thing ever to be blown up in a PM production. There’s also plenty of classic Western-style action with fistfights and gun duels, and in the finale Yuma even goes all Django on his enemies with a big-ass machine gun. With Steel Frontier, PM stayed true to their familiar formula, but the mix is as good as it ever got for them.
3) Riot (1996)
A grim intro with original footage from street riots sets a very different tone for Riot than almost any other PM film. Three kids get killed by the police, and riots break out in the city on Christmas Eve. The daughter of the British ambassador gets abducted in the turmoil, and ex-SAS operative Shane is sent to the epicenter of the riot zone to deliver the ransom money.
Riot puts its setting into gloomy alleys full of garbage and burning cars, which is an interesting change from the usual car chases on a sunny LA freeway. It’s certainly one of PM’s most atmospheric films, but still features almost non-stop action and thrills, with one-man army Gary Daniels once again mopping up hordes of enemies (among them a drunk softball team), always on foot and outnumbered. Riot is truly a riot of a movie!
2) Hologram Man (1995)
Hologram Man didn’t reach the type of cult status like other 1990s action cheese-fests such as Samurai Cop and Miami Connection, but I think it should be absolutely up there with them! In the near future, terrorist Slash Gallagher is incarcerated into a hologram and with the intention to be reprogrammed into a model citizen. Gallagher gets hacked out of his virtual prison by his associates, and is up to no good, now that he’s become a digital super villain.
We start off like any other PM movie, with explosions and a car chase, but soon after that the film opens up a barrel of pure insanity. A Virtual Cop session with accuracy rating 500%, digital men duking it out in super tight jumpsuits, and a sex scene that is literally crackling with electricity, the list goes on and on. Hologram Man’s mix of unrestrained nonsense with a goofy sense of humor and relentless action is an experience that transcends the boundaries of the human mind. Or maybe it’s just a chaotic pile of junk, either way it’s a ton of fun!
1) Rage (1995)
If you think Crank was the only true non-stop action movie ever made, think again! A mild-mannered elementary school teacher (Gary Daniels) is abducted by a group of rogue scientists and turned into a killing machine. Not overly content with his fate, he uses his newly acquired superpowers to escape and keep his numerous pursuers at bay. From the beginning to the end, Rage is in total overdrive mode and never stops for even a minute.
A spectacular car chase of epic length is just the overture for a cascade of old-school mayhem that is followed by one crazy set piece after another, such as Daniels dangling from a skyscraper while being shot at by a helicopter, and other sequences that feature some of the best stunt work to ever make it into a US action film. PM Entertainment and Daniels can be proud of what they achieved with Rage, a spectacle that put a lot of action blockbusters of its time to shame, and which has become a classic of 1990s DTV entertainment.