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Pulp Fiction: The Non-Traditional Action Movie of the ’90s


In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the action movie genre was dominated by big-budget films with muscle-bound heroes, explosions, and car chases. However, in 1994, director Quentin Tarantino released a film that would change the game. Pulp Fiction was a non-traditional action movie that combined gritty violence, snappy dialogue, and non-linear storytelling to create a masterpiece. In this article, we’ll explore what makes Pulp Fiction a non-traditional action movie and why it’s still relevant today.

What is a Non-Traditional Action Movie?

A non-traditional action movie is a film that breaks the rules of the action genre. While traditional action movies rely on basic plots, clear-cut heroes and villains, and action-packed sequences, non-traditional action movies often subvert these conventions. They may have non-linear plots, antiheroes as protagonists, and a focus on dialogue rather than action. Pulp Fiction is a prime example of a non-traditional action movie.

The Characters

One of the ways Pulp Fiction stands out is through its memorable cast of characters. Instead of a conventional hero, the film features a range of complex and flawed characters. The two hitmen, Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield, are morally ambiguous and are often more concerned with discussing pop culture than carrying out their jobs. Mia Wallace, the wife of a mob boss, is a fascinating character who is both glamorous and dangerous. The film even features a pair of lovestruck petty criminals, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. The characters in Pulp Fiction are not one-dimensional; they have faults, desires, and past experiences that shape their motivations and actions.

Dialogue and Structure

Another way that Pulp Fiction defies convention is through its use of dialogue and non-linear storytelling. Tarantino is known for his snappy, verbose dialogue that is both entertaining and informative. The film’s structure is also unique; it is divided into several vignettes that are presented out of order. This allows the audience to piece together the story themselves and adds to the film’s unpredictability. When the film was released, it effectively revived the use of nonlinear storytelling in cinema.

The Violence

While Pulp Fiction has a reputation for being violent, the violence is not presented in a traditional way. Instead of long, drawn-out action sequences, the violence is sudden and shocking, often occurring unexpectedly. While there are certainly moments of intense action, such as the adrenaline-filled chase between Vincent and Mia, much of the violence happens off-screen or is implied. The presentation of violence as sudden, almost shocking bursts is now a Tarantino trademark.

The Legacy

Pulp Fiction was a critical and commercial success and cemented Tarantino as a director to watch. The film went on to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes and was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture. It has since become a cultural touchstone and is regularly cited as one of the greatest films ever made. Pulp Fiction’s legacy can be seen in pop culture elements like Uma Thurman’s iconic outfit and Samuel L. Jackson’s famous Bible verse speech.


Pulp Fiction is a non-traditional action movie that has proved to be a game-changer. Its unique characters, dialogue, storytelling method, and approach to violence allowed it to stand out in the crowded action movie landscape. Today, Pulp Fiction continues to inspire directors and filmmakers and remains a testament to Tarantino’s talent. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out on a cinematic masterpiece.