The Most Bizarre Action Movie Rip-Offs

Who doesn't love a good action movie? The explosions, car chases, shootouts, special effects, and memorable one-liners! There's so much fun to be had from watching an action flick that holds nothing back. Budgets increased over the years, and the amount of mayhem depicted on the silver screen has increased at a commensurate rate. Stunts are more daring, and advancements in CGI only continue to amplify the destruction and carnage.

The overall popularity of action movies means that the genre will never go out of fashion. However, an interesting trend runs alongside the action genre — and has for decades now: movies that blatantly rip them off. And no, I'm not talking about Hollywood's constant attempts to cash in on a blockbuster. I'm specifically referring to straight-up rip-offs that, despite "borrowing" more than a few elements from an action flick, also push the material in a weird new direction, often on shoestring budgets. While it's tempting to deride filmmakers for shamelessly swiping from their major studio counterparts, such movies often deliver more fun (though in the "so good, it's bad" vein, of course). Here, we look at the most bizarre action movie rip-offs.


The plot of this Turkish movie is hard to relate here as it's so thin, but I'll do my darndest to capture the spirit of the thing. Apparently, Serdar is a musclebound commando charged with the task of hunting down a group of bandits living in the mountains of ... Turkey, I guess. Part of Serdar's plan involves orchestrating an attack on a car filled with unarmed men, most of whom get pumped full of lead, just so he can get ahold of some of them. The surviving men are placed in jail along with Serdar so that he can help them escape and gain their trust just so he can kill them later. Or something.

Don't interpret my apathy in describing the film's plot as a bad review. It's a wonderfully entertaining flick that only becomes a drag when you try to follow the story. However, if you turn your brain off, you'll have a blast watching this unbelievably cheap "Rambo" copy. "Korkusuz" (as it was called in Turkey) seems to have been made without any regard whatsoever for the basic elements of filmmaking, like acting, directing, writing, editing, and more. The special effects are largely relegated to explosions created with roadside firecrackers and blood derived from art supply store red paint. But everything is played so intensely you can't help but smile at a small group of Turkish filmmakers swinging for the fences when crafting their own militant antihero.

Süpermen Dönüyor

Tayfun seems like a mild-mannered and bespectacled reporter, but he was actually born in a far-flung galaxy, sent to Earth, and raised on a quaint little farm. Despite his human appearance, he fights crime as Süpermen with all of the same powers as the real Big Blue Boy Scout, including flight, X-ray vision, and ... mind-reading? The green alien stone that accompanied him during his journey possesses the curious ability to turn metal into gold. Not surprisingly, a group of criminals plots to attain Kryptonite-esque stone and use it for their own nefarious purposes.

There's no use in going into much more detail about the plot, as it mostly swipes from 1978's "Superman," and then condenses everything into just over an hour. Still, that doesn't mean that you should skip this $12.87 ($73.22, adjusted for inflation) version of one of the great superhero movies of all time. Christmas ornaments hanging against a black background represent the "galaxy" that Tayfun hails from. I'm being hilariously serious here. For some reason, Tayfun's father (the Turkish version of Jor-El) lacks several of his front teeth. Maybe dentures cost too much. And check out the way "Süpermen Dönüyor" visualizes the hero's powers on screen: he turns into a doll whenever he flies through the city and is so strong that he can withstand getting hit with balsa wood furniture. If that doesn't convince you to gather your buds and watch this over beer and pizza, you probably hate fun.

Os Trapalhões na Guerra dos Planetas (aka The Bunglers in the War of Planets)

The eponymous bunglers kick off this sci-fi film in spectacularly earthbound fashion: a car chase. Why this group of dufuses is being chased by thugs remains unclear, but after a zany pursuit that lasts way too long, they stumble into a spaceship piloted by an ersatz Luke Skywalker named Flik and his hirsute ersatz Chewbacca homeboy named Bonzo. Flik offers the klutzy cadre a ton of gold (because the filmmakers were too lazy to use even cliched sci-fi movie forms of legal tender like "credits" or "units") in exchange for rescuing his girlfriend Princess Mirna from the clutches of the ersatz Darth Vader, Zuco.

The "trapalhões" of this film were a group of comedy actors who starred in a variety of TV shows and movies that parodied famous properties. Here, they poke fun at "Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope," and boy does it make for weird viewing. The plot exists solely for the bunglers to embark on a series of gags that do nothing for the narrative. For example, there's an extended sequence in which the group meets some pretty space girls in the desert and then escorts them to a ... space disco. The film does deserve points for beating "Spaceballs" to the punch by putting a scrawny actor in an oversized menacing helmet. If you thought the "Star Wars Holiday Special" made too much sense, give this one a watch.

Lady Terminator

A hundred years ago, an evil goddess known as the Queen of the South Sea fornicated with men and then killed them. She's eventually slain by a man, only to have his distant descendant cursed by the goddess just before she dies. The film then cuts to 1989 when Tania is on an anthropological trip and stumbles upon the ancient burial site that just happens to belong to the spirit of the Queen of the South Sea. The malevolent spirit possesses Tania, turning her into an unstoppable killing machine as she hunts for her slayer's kin.

"Lady Terminator," despite the heavy fantasy elements, wears its plagiarism on its sleeve with more than just the title. It's no coincidence that once possessed, Tania dons a leather jacket and a machine gun to shoot up people in a nightclub and a police station, then performs surgery on herself. However, with the copious amounts of nudity and poorly crafted gore effects, this still rates as great Friday night fun. The bonkers story is told absolutely straight, making it all the more impossible to take seriously. To the film's credit, Barbara Anne Constable absolutely kills it as the title character, conveying a stony-faced ruthlessness that can easily go toe-to-toe with that of a certain Austrian bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-governor.

Snakes on a Train

Snakes attack a train ... Okay, there's slightly more plot than that, but not much. A woman is stricken with a curse that turns her stomach into an incubator for snake eggs that gnaw their way out of her upon hatching. However, the woman survives this ordeal but must collect those snakes so some Mayan medicine man in Los Angeles can purge her of the curse. Once she gathers them all, she hops on a train to the City of Angels, only for the snakes to escape and attack the passengers. Oh, then the woman transforms into a giant snake herself and eats the train.

The studio behind "Snakes on a Train," the Asylum, clearly thought that the Samuel L. Jackson-led "Snakes on a Plane" was too subtle and needed to be pushed over the edge into levels of insanity never before imagined. This film occupies a weird quagmire between "so bad it's good" and "so bad it's bad." The characters are both over-the-top and totally bland. The story, though ripped off from its big-budget counterpart, packs in countless narrative (and inexplicable) surprises, to the point that it comes off as somehow unique. Forget the unified field theory or the meaning of life –- scientists and theologians should collaborate on figuring out the how, why, when, where, and what of "Snakes on a Train."


A team of mercenaries trudge through a jungle on a mission to kill some people for vague, action-movie reasons. However, one of the mercenaries, Mascher, is secretly working on a human-machine hybrid that's now on the loose in the same jungle. After doing some quality killin' and rescuing a volunteer hospital nurse named Virgin, the group must contend with the android, called Omega-1, which hunts them down like it was some kind of predator (ahem). Even though Mascher created Omega-1, it kills him too, leaving only the group's leader, Major Marphy Black, and Virgin to face it.

"Predator" and "Robocop" once had a drunken tryst, and the offspring found itself orphaned in Italy where it grew up to become "Robowar." Reb Brown as Marphy Black is hilarious in his attempts to recreate the steroid-enhanced swagger that Arnold Schwarzenegger brought to Dutch. However, everyone else is pretty forgettable and functions primarily as prospective corpses of Omega-1's killing spree. Still, as goofy and derivative as it is of other, better action movies, "Robowar" features plenty of things getting shot to pieces. Also, a surprising bit of pathos in the final scene feels like it belongs in another movie that had something interesting to say. Just don't expect a cinematic masterpiece; Bruno Mattei directed this film — and he gave the world such pièces de résistance as "Hell of the Living Dead" and "Women's Prison Massacre."


"Transmorphers" is set in a future when massive alien robots have taken over Earth and subjugated the human race by screwing around with the environment, making the planet almost uninhabitable. However, after several centuries of living just outside of where the alien robots can find them, a group of human survivors hatches a scheme to defeat them and reclaim Earth. After one of their missions goes awry and results in the death of a squad at the hands of robots that can change their form and disguise themselves, the other freedom fighters decide to defrost a talented soldier -– who was cryogenically frozen years earlier for a violent crime -– to help them in their fight.

This film was obviously made to cash in on the popularity of Michael Bay's "Transformers," but halfway through the writing of its screenplay, the writer thought, "You know what? Let's throw in some 'Terminator!'" The Asylum — the studio behind the "Sharknado" series — made this film, meaning you should expect acting slightly better than that of a high school performance of "Death of a Salesman," CGI that looks as if it was rendered in a high school computer lab, and a story that feels like someone conceived it the night before a creative writing assignment due date. Look, what I'm trying to say is that "Transmorphers" is extremely amateurish. Should you still watch it while knocking back some cold ones and Costco hot dogs? There are worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon.

AVH: Alien vs. Hunter

Journalist Lee Custler and Sheriff Joel Armstrong stumble upon a spaceship that crash-landed near their town. As they approach it, an Alien appears and kills the sheriff, prompting Lee to dash back to town to warn everyone about the angry extraterrestrial on the loose. A group of townspeople heads back to the site where the spaceship sits, only to have the Alien appear and kill one of them. However, another badass E.T. shows up — this one more cybernetic in nature — and dukes it out with the first Alien.

Oh, Asylum. When will your writers stop looking at the box office grosses of blockbusters for inspiration for your movies? Because "AVH" was released right around the same period as "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem," the studio hoped some clueless shoppers would mistake their film for the big-budget counterpart, wondering why such a big movie ended up in the Best Buy bargain bin. Its low budget materializes in every frame; I'd bet my meager savings that it was all shot within a half-mile radius. The Alien and Hunter special effects are so low-quality that it's no wonder they're on screen for seconds at a time and dimly lit to hide their blatant pixels. I wouldn't make an effort to see it again, but I might put it on as background noise to drown out the nightly gunshots and police sirens that plague my neighborhood.

James Batman

A shadowy organization of bad guys called CLAW is hellbent on ruling all the nations of Earth. If the world's leaders fail to give in to CLAW's demands within five days, they will commit global genocide via nuclear weapons. Who can stop this syndicate of evildoers? Why, Batman, of course. Oh, and Robin, too. And don't forget James Bond. Earth's nations aren't taking any chances with CLAW, so they send the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder along with "Bond, James Bond" to save the world. But the Dynamic Duo doesn't get along with 007, and a conspirator among them seeks to foil their plans.

Perhaps this film's creators figured they could consolidate all of their violations of intellectual property law into just one lump sum if they combined multiple properties into a single film. Either way, "James Batman" is quite fun to watch. Although "James Batman" came out in 1966 and had an obviously microscopic budget, the quality of the action and fight scenes compares to that of "Batman" from the same era. The director and cameraman seemed to have a lot of fun putting the camera in weird places, giving the flick a youthful, experimental feel. Tell yourself that it's a film student's senior project and "James Batman" becomes a lot more enjoyable.

Mad Shelia

2016's "Mad Shelia" is set in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland and follows a tough female warrior of the road as she rescues a band of virginal young women from the clutches of a tyrannical madman. I'm pretty sure if I continued describing the plot of this film, I'd receive a cease and desist letter from George Miller's team of lawyers; that's how much it resembles "Mad Max: Fury Road."

The creators behind "Mad Shelia" do nothing to hide what inspired them to make the film. But can you blame them? CNN states that "Mad Max: Fury Road" couldn't be released in China, meaning "Mad Shelia" was probably shot more out of necessity rather than with a goal of financial success. It's hard to get a hold of this film, but judging by its trailer, the cars were painted with Rust-Oleum in an attempt to give them a dystopian presentation, and the costumes appear as if someone constructed them out of accessories bought from a Hot Topic clearance sale. The posters for the film copy the expensive aesthetic of the "Fury Road" one-sheets, but the film itself features a budget that couldn't have exceeded that of the original "Mad Max" film. However, "Mad Shelia" looks absolutely bonkers, so it might be fun to watch for its madcap mayhem alone.