10 Most Cringe-Worthy One-Liners in Action Movies

10 Most Cringe-Worthy One-Liners in Action Movies
Image credit: Legion-Media

Okay, full disclosure here: we love ‘em anyway.

1. Commando (1985) – “Let off some steam, Bennett”.

Ah, the golden era of Arnold Schwarzenegger's action career! In the movie Commando, after impaling villain Bennett with a steam pipe, Arnold's character John Matrix quips, Let off some steam, Bennett. It's moments like these that make you wonder if the script was written by a wisecracking deli slicer. To give some context, John Matrix is on a mission to rescue his kidnapped daughter and Bennett is his final hurdle.

2. Independence Day (1996) – “Welcome to Earth!”

This line from Independence Day sees Will Smith, playing Captain Steven Hiller, knocking an alien unconscious and then quipping, Welcome to Earth! The cheesy one-liner and the punch, it's like Smith was trying to give the alien a crash course in humanity. It's so unabashedly corny, but it's Will Smith, and he manages to make it work, in a cringe-worthy kind of way. Despite, or perhaps because of, such moments, Independence Day was a commercial success, raking in over $817 million worldwide.

3. Judge Dredd (1995) – “I am the law!”

Sylvester Stallone's unforgettable line from Judge Dredd, I am the law, is the epitome of action movie cringe. It's not just the line itself, but the overly dramatic way Stallone delivers it. It's like trying to put out a fire with a bucket of gasoline. Judge Dredd's self-proclamation of being 'the law' was supposed to be a dramatic declaration of his commitment to justice, but it came off as hilariously grandiose. Still, despite its lukewarm critical reception, the film grossed over $113 million worldwide.

4. The Mummy Returns (2001) – “I hate mummies!”

The phrase, I hate mummies, uttered by Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) in The Mummy Returns, is perhaps the understatement of the century considering he had his first encounter with the living dead in the prequel. It's like saying you dislike stubbing your toe on the furniture. However, the humor lies in its sheer obviousness and the comedic timing of Fraser, which deserves some credit. Trivia time: In reality, Fraser nearly died during a scene where his character is hanged. The execution was a little too convincing, and he had to be resuscitated.

5. Deep Blue Sea (1999) – “You ate my bird”.

This line from Deep Blue Sea uttered by LL Cool J's character Preacher, just after a genetically enhanced shark had devoured his pet parrot, is oddly endearing. However, the unintentional hilarity stems from the gravity he attaches to his pet's demise amidst their dire shark-infested circumstances. Interestingly enough, the parrot, who was unfortunately dinner for the shark, was named Bird.

6. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997) – “'re alive. Too bad...YOU...will die”.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation is known more for its laughable dialogue than its martial arts. The cringe-worthy interaction between Kitana (Talisa Soto) and her evil mother Sindel (Musetta Vander) is a treasure. Sindel's dramatic pause between YOU and will die is the kind of delivery that makes you wonder if the actress was trying to remember her next line. Still, despite the film's generally poor reviews, it was praised for its faithful recreation of the video game's characters, if not their dialogue.

7. Batman & Robin (1997) – “Ice to meet you”.

Batman & Robin is renowned for George Clooney's Bat-nipples and a whole host of ice puns courtesy of Mr. Freeze, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (again). Among the many frosty one-liners, Ice to meet you takes the cake for being un-brrr-lievably cringe-inducing. Mr. Freeze bursts onto the scene at a charity gala, freezes everyone in sight, and makes his chilly introduction. Even for a comic book film, this line would have made the Joker cringe.

8. Anaconda (1997) – “You can't scream if you can't breathe”.

10 Most Cringe-Worthy One-Liners in Action Movies - image 1

Anaconda is filled with moments that are so absurd they're comical, but the line, You can't scream if you can't breathe, takes the cake. Jon Voight, as the snake hunter Serone, delivers this gem with a bizarre accent that seems to be from nowhere in particular, adding an extra layer of hilarity to an already over-the-top scene. Despite being widely mocked, the film managed to squeeze out over $136 million worldwide. Goes to show that a giant snake can indeed swallow a lot of cash.

9. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) – “Nice shoes”.

Sienna Miller's line, Nice shoes, in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra lands like a high heel on a glass floor. This line was an awkward attempt at comedy during an intense action sequence, proving that timing is everything, and unfortunately, this one-liner's time was never. As for the box office, it seems the fans of the action figures the movie is based on didn't mind the cringe. The film raked in over $302 million worldwide, proving that sometimes, toys do make the best movies.

10. Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) – “Just in case we get killed, I wanted to tell you, you have the biggest d*ck I've ever seen on a man”.

This has to be one of the most random and unnecessary lines in action movie history. The line comes out of nowhere, turning a life-or-death situation into a moment of bizarre buddy cop bonding. Despite its awkwardness, it's a hilarious moment that epitomizes the genre's propensity for cringe-worthy one-liners. The film wasn't a huge hit, grossing only around $2.3 million worldwide. But its memorable one-liners keep it alive in the annals of action movie lore.