What makes a great action movie? Is it a fresh, compelling story? Unrelenting pace? Eye-popping stunt choreography? Gritty fisticuffs? Self-aware winks? The answer no doubt involves a unique, incalculable combination -- the kind that leaves you with something like a Die Hard or a Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those are the kinds of classics that net big audiences, stand the test of time, and set the bar high for big-budget, contemporary competition.
Of course, there are scads of projects released every year that don't seek to steal the same action-movie crown. There are those lesser-known love letters to the genre that -- whether because of budget, distribution, or an imperfect formula -- don't seem to land the same type of success, but still deserve attention for their quality, heart, and original flair.
What does an underrated action movie look like? We've provided more than a dozen recently released gems, which check several of the boxes outlined above. The best part? You can watch them all right now via streaming sites and online retailers.