10 Underrated Action Movies of the 1970s Worth Revisiting
The 1970s were a decade where action movies were more than CGI and explosions; they were gritty, raw, and oh-so real.
Here are some of the most underrated action films from the '70s you've gotta revisit.
1. The Driver (1978)
"The Driver" stars Ryan O'Neal as, well, the Driver, a professional getaway man for hire. The guy is smooth, speaking only when necessary and displaying unparalleled skills behind the wheel. Bruce Dern plays the Detective hell-bent on taking him down.
We're talking crazy car chases through narrow alleys, across parking garages, and even inside a warehouse where the Driver shows off his skills in a Mercedes, dodging police cars as if it's child's play. But here's the twist: the Driver is set up by the very criminals he was working with.
2. Rolling Thunder (1977)
If you thought "John Wick" was about sweet revenge, wait till you see "Rolling Thunder." Major Charles Rane (William Devane) comes home from the Vietnam War to a hero's welcome but finds his wife and son murdered by thugs looking for stolen silver coins. What happens next? An explosive spree of revenge, of course.
Armed with a shotgun and a hook for a hand, Rane teams up with his war buddy Johnny (Tommy Lee Jones) to go after the criminals.
3. Sorcerer (1977)
"Sorcerer," directed by William Friedkin, revolves around four men with shady pasts who take on a near-suicidal job: transporting volatile nitroglycerin across treacherous jungle terrain. One wrong move, and boom! They're history.
The film is filled with edge-of-your-seat tension, especially during the nerve-wracking scene where they have to cross a rotting wooden bridge in the middle of a storm.
4. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
Four armed men hijack a New York City subway train and demand a million bucks in exchange for the hostages. Walter Matthau plays Lieutenant Garber, the guy tasked with negotiating. What's genius here is the clockwork precision of the heist led by Mr. Blue (Robert Shaw).
They've thought of everything — or so they think. Even when they seemingly get away with it, Mr. Green (Martin Balsam) sneezes, just as he did on the train, tipping off Garber.
5. The Warriors (1979)
"Warriors, come out to play!" This cult classic follows a New York City gang falsely accused of assassinating a rival gang leader. They've got to make it from the Bronx back to their home turf in Coney Island, all while evading hostile gangs and the NYPD. With baseball bat-wielding gangs, tough-as-nails chicks, and the scene where they face off against the Baseball Furies, this movie is as enjoyable as they come.
6. Death Race 2000 (1975)
In a dystopian future, a cross-country car race is the national pastime, but it's no ordinary race — pedestrians equal points.
David Carradine stars as Frankenstein, the masked reigning champ who's more than just pedal and metal. Alongside him is his co-pilot Annie, who has her own secret agenda. Rivals like Machine Gun Joe (played by a young Sylvester Stallone) make this race an all-out war on wheels.
From demolishing an entire marching band to high-speed chases, this movie is as gruesome as it is entertaining.
7. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974)
Mix a NASCAR hopeful, his mechanic, and a grocery store heiress – and you get "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry." Larry (Peter Fonda) and Deke (Adam Roarke) rob a supermarket to finance Larry's racing dreams. Mary (Susan George), a one-night stand of Larry's, ends up joining them for the wild ride.
The movie is basically one long car chase, and it's as thrilling as they come.
8. Breaker! Breaker! (1977)
Before Chuck Norris was a meme, he was John David 'J.D.' Dawes in "Breaker! Breaker!" J.D. is a trucker looking for his brother who's gone missing in a corrupt rural town. The plot is as straightforward as a highway: J.D. kicks butt and takes names.
From brawls in diners to smashing through roadblocks in his truck, it's classic Chuck Norris action.
9. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Long before it got a 2005 makeover, "Assault on Precinct 13" was a '70s classic directed by John Carpenter. The plot kicks off when a gang swears a blood oath to kill everyone inside a decommissioned police station. That leaves a skeleton crew, including Lieutenant Ethan Bishop (Austin Stoker), to defend the fortress.
They're outnumbered and outgunned, but they're not going down without a fight. The ragtag defenders use everything from shotguns to improvised explosives in a desperate battle for survival.
10. Black Sunday (1977)
"Black Sunday" mixes political drama with white-knuckle action. A deranged Vietnam vet teams up with a Palestinian terrorist to plan an unthinkable act: blowing up a Goodyear blimp over the Super Bowl, packed with explosives and steel darts. The plan unfolds meticulously, with the FBI and an Israeli agent hot on their heels.