Prison movies are normally pretty depressing and tend to leave you with nothing, however occasionally it can just be a setting where lots of kick-ass action takes place. Here are my 10 personal favorite action flicks set in prisons.
1. Lock Up – Sylvester Stallone stars in this classic (yet underrated) prison movie, where he’s at the mercy of Donald Sutherland’s sadistic warden. It’s not exactly feelgood, but it is very satisfying and Stallone gives a fantastic performance.
2. Death Warrant - Van Damme goes undercover and has to fight a seemingly invincible killer known as “The Sandman” played to perfection by Patrick Kilpatrick. It has a great final fight sequence too.
3. Undisputed 2 & 3 – Not much to say about these 2 movies that you don’t already know. Scott Adkins is Yuri Boyka, the best fighter in prison who isn’t a particularly nice guy. This changes when he is defeated by George “Iceman” Chambers played by Michael Jai White. Thus begins his journey of redemption.
4. Tango & Cash - Prison shouldn’t be fun but it is in this Stallone and Kurt Russell classic. Two mismatched cops are framed and sent to prison, much buddy bantering ensues.
5. In Hell - Definitely the most depressing film on the list is another Van Damme movie where he is sent to prison for the murder of this wife. It’s extremely harrowing and Van Damme gives an amazing performance.
6. Get the Gringo - A lighthearted and yet pretty violent action comedy starring Mel Gibson; he plays a nameless thief dumped in a Mexican prison. Most notable for Mel Gibson’s Clint Eastwood impersonation.
7. Death Race - Jason Statham stars in this remake of Death Race 2000 which has plenty of fight scenes and car chases for all the family. The only bad thing about it is Joan Allen’s dialogue: “Fuck with me, and we’ll see who shits on the sidewalk.” Umm OK Joan.
8. No Escape - Ray Liotta stars in this futuristic prison movie, which I actually just reviewed the other day; it has some nice battle scenes and Liotta’s character is not a one-dimensional hero. You’ve also got Stuart Wilson hamming it up as the villain Marek.
9. Fortress - Christopher Lambert stars in another futuristic prison movie where he and his wife have an illegal baby, the bastards!
10. Lockout - Guy Pearce has to break into a prison in space to rescue the President’s daughter. The film may have its flaws but Pearce is in pure John McClane mode in it and has some great one-liners.
So there you have it; prison may be hell, but it can also be pretty damn entertaining.