Top 10 Shameless Action Movie Rip-Offs

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Top 10 Shameless Action Movie Rip-Offs

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
We're not saying these movies are bad, per se. For this list, we'll be looking at the most obvious examples of action movie copycats … or “homages”, as they might like to say. Our countdown includes “Khoon Khoon”, “Shocking Dark”, “Ator, the Fighting Eagle”, and more!
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Top 10 Shameless Action Movie Rip Offs


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shameless Action Movie Rip Offs.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most obvious examples of action movie copycats … or “homages”, as they might like to say. We’re not saying these movies are bad, per se. But they are all chasing another movie’s ideas.

Do you know of any we missed? Did you enjoy any of these movies? Let us know in the comments!

#10: “Khoon Khoon” (1973)

Bollywood boasts a few infamous copycat films, such as the 1994 “Nightmare on Elm Street” knock off, “Mahakaal.” (maw-haw-KAWL) However, 1973’s “Khoon Khoon” is one of the most memorable. Essentially a remake of “Dirty Harry”, with a similar plot about a crazed serial killer, it gives the story a new spin by taking breaks for comic relief, singing, and dancing. It’s tonally odd, for sure, but still fascinating, in the way that only ‘70s Bollywood action flicks can be. For anyone who’s curious, at the time of writing it’s streaming on Netflix!

#9: “Vahsi Khan” (1983)

The biggest films in Turkish exploitation cinema are often better known to English speakers by colloquial nicknames, like “Turkish Death Wish” and “Turkish Star Wars”. Or, in the case “Vahsi Khan,” meaning “Wild Blood”, as “Turkish First Blood.” The film doesn’t shy away from closely following the plot to “First Blood”, particularly when it comes to the mental state of its protagonist John Rambo. However, “Turkish First Blood” does amp up the WTF factor by including wanna-be zombies and a surprising amount of violence and gore. All the while, Turkish action star Cùneyt Arkin (june-ATE arkin) preens and pumps up the testosterone to 11. It’s honestly pretty awesome.

#8: “The Dragon Lives Again” (1977)

There’s perhaps no corner of the exploitation world as weird or as shameless as the genre known as Brucesploitation. Produced in order to capitalize on the tragic loss of Bruce Lee, these films often found some way to work Lee’s death into the plot. 1980’s “The Clones of Bruce Lee '' was one of the better (and more ridiculous) examples, but 1977’s “The Dragon Lives Again” is even more audacious. After all, it isn’t every day that Bruce Lee teams up with Caine from “Kung Fu'' and Popeye to battle James Bond, Dracula and The Godfather for control of hell. Yup, it's as crazy as it sounds, and basically tells intellectual property laws to go pound sand.

#7: “Robowar” (1988)

The Italian film industry of the 1970s and 80s was somewhat notorious for going ALL IN. This was reflected in their special effects, some out there lapses in film logic, and … let’s say very familiar elements from popular movies. “Robowar” was a little bit of “Predator,” with a dash of “Robocop” for good measure, all delivered on a very low budget by collaborators Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso. Both of these men had worked in the rip off business for years, delivering cheap and trashy fun. “Robowar’s” story about doomed commandos being stalked through the jungle might sound awfully familiar, but we’ll say this: the movie does know know how to have a good time.

#6: “Shocking Dark” (1989)

Action fans will likely point to James Cameron’s “Aliens” as one of the best sci-fi action films of all time. Fans of exploitation action films might point to “Shocking Dark” as one of the most shameless. This film from Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso (again!) was actually marketed as “Terminator 2” in some countries. In actuality, the plot is more indebted to “Aliens” than “Terminator”. Set in Venice, it follows commandos who are attacked by biomechanical monsters in a dark claustrophobic setting. There’s even an Ellen Ripley, of sorts.

#5: “Robo Vampire” (1988)

This rip-off isn’t your average exploitation picture, but rather the work of one Godfrey Ho, an infamous Hong Kong filmmaker with a very specific style. Ho was the king of cut-and-splice cinema, taking forgotten or unfinished films, shooting new scenes with different actors, and dubbing the dialogue to create a new storyline. Cobbling together two low budget movies, “Robo Vampire” packs in hopping vampires, a cyborg commando, and a kidnapping subplot within its 90-minute runtime. The result is an experience that’s never original…but also never boring.

#4: “Karate Warrior” (1987)

That’s right, not just a karate “kid” but a karate “warrior”! This Italian martial arts film from director Fabrizio De Angelis (fah-BREETS-YO day AWN-JAY-LEESE) follows the story of Daniel LaRusso beat for beat, from being attacked and humiliated, to his friendship and training with a new sensei. There’s even a tournament for Daniel, er, we mean “Anthony” to win at the end. What’s truly astounding isn’t so much that “Karate Warrior” was released in theaters in Italy, or on VHS in North America…but that it received no less than FIVE sequels?!

#3: “1990: The Bronx Warriors” (1982)

Post-apocalyptic, dystopian films were big business throughout the 1980s, thanks largely to the success of the “Mad Max” franchise and John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York.” Director Enzo Castellari took full advantage when he helmed “1990: The Bronx Warriors” back in 1982, produced by “Karate Warrior’s” Fabrizio De Angelis. Together with screenwriters Dardano Sacchetti and Elisa Briganti, Castellari created a movie that mashed together all these tropes for gloriously trashy consumption. New York City as a lawless warzone? Check. Colorfully dressed street gangs battling for supremacy? Double check. “1990: The Bronx Warriors” may not have had the foresight to set its story more than eight years in the future, but it knew how to be entertaining.

#2: “Ator, the Fighting Eagle” (1982)

The sword and sorcery sub-genre was another supremely popular sandbox in which many enterprising filmmakers sought to play. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s work in “Conan the Barbarian” made a lot of people eager to see how they looked in sandals, with “Ator, the Fighting Eagle” serving as one of the earliest examples of a “Conan” knock-off. Miles O'Keeffe is a big man with some equally big hair, and seemed more than up to the challenge of flexing his pecs for a quick paycheck. The character of Ator would be brought back in three sequels. The last of these, “Quest for the Mighty Sword,” was also known as “Troll 3” in some countries.

Before we reveal our number one pick, here are some honorable mentions!

“The Ark of the Sun God” (1984)
Because Every Good Indiana Jones Knock Off Needs an Ark

“Strike Commando” (1987)
Reb Brown Should’ve Won the Academy Award for Yelling in this “Rambo” Rip-Off

“Warriors of the Year 2072” (1984)
Another Film in the Spirit of “Mad Max” & “Escape From New York”

“A*P*E” (1976)
Not to Be Confused with King Kong!

#1: “2019: After the Fall of New York” (1983)


Sergio Martino and his crew were clearly going for their own take on “Escape from New York” with this sci-fi film, although there are again elements of “Mad Max” too. However, they also went with the unique plot of the hero trying to protect the last fertile woman on Earth. If that sounds curiously familiar, you’ve read P. D. James’ novel “Children of Men”, or watched Alfonso Cuarón’s adaptation. Mind you, “After the Fall of New York” actually updates James’ book by almost a decade! Even though it might feel very familiar by now, Martino’s film is actually pretty fun and worth the watch, especially with friends and some cheesy pizza.
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