Ranking the action movies based on video games ever made!
Many of us enjoy being virtual action heroes on our computers and game consoles, and plenty of attempts were taken to do the reverse and bring the excitement of video games to the movies. Most video game adaptations are plagued by a mysterious curse, however, that seems to prevent them from transferring the appeal of the games onto the movie screen. Yet a few gems were made, and in this list we’ll present you the 10 best video game adaptations, so let’s have a look!
10) Double Dragon (1994)
Early video game films were considered deeply flawed by snobbish reviewers, but we don’t care as long as they are fun, and Double Dragon delivers a healthy dose of cheesy action entertainment! The film version of the 1980s beat ‘em up classic tells the story of brothers Jimmy (Mark Dacascos) and Billy on their quest to prevent kingpin Shuko from obtaining two halves of an ancient medallion that grants its wielder infinite power.
L.A. looks like a kid’s fantasy of a post-apocalyptic landscape, the world-building is pretty much incomprehensible, and some of the action sequences are seriously wonky, but it’s never boring! Dacascos, just like the rest of the cast is tuned in properly with an upbeat performance, and Robert Patrick shines as master villain in Eurodance fashion and hairstyle. Double Dragon is a fun ride for the whole family. And it is oh so colorful, it’s the Mary Poppins of video game adaptations!
9) Doom (2005)
The legendary first-person-shooter received a not so legendary conversion into movie form. There’s trouble on mars when a botched project on a research base turns people into hellish monsters. A squad of space marines is called in to clean house. The film serves us the standard “creepy space station” tropes and replicates the sober look of the mediocre Doom 3 instead of the visual shockwaves and brutal insanity of the first two games.
And even though no one stands “knee-deep in the dead” there are plenty of gruesome moments with some frantic shootouts towards the end, and a truly bad-ass sequence of FPS mayhem. Doom delivers gory fun, but is a missed opportunity to do justice to one of the greatest video games of all time.
8) Mortal Kombat (2021)
The cult game returned to the big screen, and raised high expectations from gamers and action movie fans alike. Shang Tsung and his minions seek dominion over earth, and as always just need to win one more Mortal Kombat to achieve their goal. Thunder god Raiden assembles the best martial arts fighters earth has to offer and prepares them for the ultimate showdown. The opening sequence and final showdown are both freaking awesome, and deliver high-octane action.
All other fights suffer from choppy editing, and no surprises or originality are found in any of them. The fatalities keep coming at a good rate, though, and some of them are just as gory and over the top as we would hope for. Clunky dialogues and boring villains put even more brakes on the spectacle. Overall it’s mission accomplished, but just barely, and let’s hope the possible sequel can kick it up a notch.
7) Street Fighter (1994)
One of the most popular game franchises at the time and a Jean-Claude Van Damme at the peak of his popularity, this should have been the foundation for an awesome fight flick. But the film was made in an era when video game adaptations meant maximum cheese, and what a glorious mess it became! The evil General M. Bison (Raul Julia) has captured humanitarian workers of the Allied Nations, and Colonel Guile (Van Damme) is sent into the country of Shadaloo to rescue them. He collects a few allies along the way to mount an attack on Bison’s fortress.
A chaotic story, JCVD on autopilot, and funky costumes are just some of the ingredients of this cinematic inferno. But maybe director Steven E. De Souza knew exactly what he was doing because the whole thing is highly entertaining and funny, if you can see past the amateurish execution of the action sequences. Street Fighter is a total failure as a fight flick but a full success as a goofy action comedy!
6) Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
After a slew of many mediocre (or worse) video game adaptations in recent years, the icon of the glorious SEGA days of past hit audiences with lightning speed. Sonic is forced to flee from his home planet, and lands on Earth where he becomes friends with local town sheriff Tom. His arrival is noticed by the mad scientist Doctor Robotnik, who is interested in using Sonic’s superpowers to boost his army of robots.
The film has everything I expect from an action film: a crazy car chase, a time-bending bar fight, trigger-happy killer drones, and a good fart joke. Jim Carrey delivers a great throwback to his classic comedic performances as enthusiastic evil genius. Kids will love this charming action adventure, and I bet their parents will too!
5) Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Paul W. S. Anderson’s take on the popular action horror game franchise resulted in a series of six films. Not all of them can be recommended, but the second installment delivered an exquisite display of chaos and mayhem. The T-virus escaped from the underground vault of the Umbrella Corporation, and Raccoon city is ravaged by hordes of zombies. Umbrella’s superhuman guinea pig Alice escapes from the facility and joins up with a group of humans who are trying to escape the sealed-off city.
Raccoon city becomes a stomping ground for all sorts of abominations courtesy of Umbrella that only get bigger and meaner as the film progresses. The humans have an infinite supply of ammunition, and their automatic rifles deliver head shots in triple digits. And neither zombie dogs, zombie hookers or zombie school children are a match for the ultra-bad-asses Alice and Jill Valentine. Resident Evil: Apocalypse is the ultimate sweet spot of the franchise and delivers relentless zombie action and thrills from start to finish!
4) Hitman (2007)
The stealth-action game series about the assassin with a barcode on his neck was and still is hugely popular and received an excellent conversion into a feature film. Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant), a genetically engineered super-assassin, is hired to kill the Russian president. Things don’t turn out as planned, and he gets entrenched in a political conspiracy with Interpol and the Russian secret service closing in on him.
Hitman presents a conventional political conspiracy story and mostly uninspired characters but it all works well enough as a template for bloody and stylish shootouts. The action is awesome, a supreme bullet ballet at times shot in style with glossy visuals. Despite being given a character with limited depth, Timothy Oliphant delivers a fantastic performance as stone-cold killer, whose inhuman façade begins to crumble as the film progresses. This film is his show from start to finish, and Agent 47 shows no remorse for anyone in this film.
3) DOA: Dead Or Alive (2006)
Lightly clad girls duke it out in the adaptation of another successful 1990’s beat ‘em up franchise. The world’s best fighters are invited to a tropical island to fight for big in the DOA tournament. But organizer Donovan (Eric Roberts) has a secret plan that puts everyone on the island in danger. The film doesn’t ever bother with a sensible reason for holding the tournament and all character’s motives and interactions are pure nonsense. But the cast reigns in on the cheesy fun with lots of corny humor.
And finally, we got a film based on a fight game where the action sequences do the video game justice, and then some! Director and veteran fight choreographer Corey Yuen creates furious sequences of high-caliber martial arts action. Goofy special moves, a dose of Wu Xia and lots of roundhousing are delivered in a colorful and uplifting setting. DOA: Dead Or Alive fully embraces its cheerful stupidity, and becomes an ultimate guilty pleasure!
2) Postal (2007)
In 2007, Uwe Boll redeemed himself with Postal, a film that was based on the second installment of the controversial video game series. The Postal Dude (Zack Ward) lives a miserable life plagued by unsuccessful job interviews, an unfaithful wife, and a futile attempt to apply for unemployment benefits. He joins his uncle and cult leader Dave to steal a shipment of the popular Krotchy dolls, but Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda also have taken interest in the merchandise. You will know right from the start if this film was made for you after sitting through an incredibly tasteless yet arguably very funny opening sequence.
Just like the game, Postal succeeds in offending everyone and everything US society holds dear. But even the most offensive incidents are delivered with a lighthearted vibe. The Postal dude’s encounters with Al-Qaeda, corrupt cops, and sex-addicted doomsday cultists lead to many eruptions of violence, and the body count increases exponentially during the film. Boll also does a bonkers cameo where he sets a record for how many tasteless comments you can make in 90 seconds before getting your balls shot off.
1) Mortal Kombat (1995)
After trashfests like Super Mario Brothers and Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat set things right big time for the fledgling video game movie genre. Outworld sorcerer Shang Tsung seeks to conquer earth and just needs to win one more Mortal Kombat tournament. The mighty Lord Raiden (Christopher Lambert) assembles the best martial artists earth has to offer to defeat Shang Tsung and his champions.
Mortal Kombat has everything you would want from a kick-ass action movie, good pacing, no drama, a legendary techno soundtrack, and pretty awesome fights that are relying on very earthly martial arts for the most part. Unlike in the games, there’s no gore, but that’s okay, back in the 1990s video game adaptations were mostly aimed at younger audiences. Casting Christopher Lambert as Raiden as Raiden is just priceless, a singular stroke of insanity in an otherwise well-balanced film. Up to this day, Mortal Kombat is the best video game adaptation for us here at the Ultimate Action Movie Club!