I've only scratched the surface of this fantastic subgenre, but watching three Damian Chapa movies back-to-back has taken its toll and it's time for a break. While this isn't really a comprehensive Top 10, each of these movies represents a wonderful way to spend 90 minutes.
The movie has to be written and/or directed by its star.
The character that star plays has to be comically idealised.
Only one movie per egosploitationist (aka The Breen Rule).
* Since doing this Top 10 I have been blessed by the discovery of Deadly Spygames (1989), which would have featured somewhere around the middle.
Groom Lake (2002)
Egosploitationist: William Shatner
Groom Lake is penalised a few places because Shatner doesn't give himself a gratuitous sex scene, or even a too-attractive love interest half his age. But don't let that put you off, it's brilliantly silly and one of my favourite recent discoveries.
Den D aka Russian Commando (2008)
Egosploitationist: Mikhail Porechenkov
Virtually a shot-for-shot remake of Schwarzenegger's jingoistic 80s classic Commando, Den D (D Day) is the directorial debut of Russian TV hard-man Mikhail Porechenkov. When not pretending to be his hero, Porechenkov has been known to fire live ammunition at Ukrainian soldiers from across the Russian border.
Video uploaded by Neon Harbor
The Terror Within II (1991)
Egosploitationist: Andrew Stevens
Having spent the 80s as a journeyman character actor, Andrew Stevens leapt at the chance to break into directing with this sequel to Roger Corman's post-apocalypse clunker, The Terror Within. The first thing Stevens did was rewrite the script, turning his reasonably capable scientist into an heroic Mad Maxesque god figure and superhero.
On Deadly Ground (1994)
Egosploitationist: Steven Seagal
Perhaps surprisingly, given his extraordinary ego, On Deadly Ground marks the only occasion Steven Seagal has stepped behind the camera to direct. On a technical level this pseudo-ecological claptrap is far superior to anything else on the list, but it more than makes up for it by being so stupid, cupcake.
Video uploaded by Pro Movie Kino
Empire of the Dark (1990)
Egosploitationist: Steve Barkett
Steve Barkett is like the embarrassing uncle of egosploitation. In both his movies (he debuted with 1982's The Aftermath) he plays the sort of gruff, man's man who can fix spaceships, beat up zombies, build shelters and outwit satanic cults with one arm tied behind his denim-clad back. You just know he wanted to be in the army.
Twin Dragon Encounter (1986)
Egosploitationists: The McNamara Twins
Although ostensibly directed by Paul Dunlop, there's evidence to suggest the brothers themselves called the shots (or even that Dunlop is just a pseudonym). I don't care enough to dig further. Either way the brothers wrote this ridiculous thing, giving themselves gorgeous girlfriends and superhuman capabilities in the process. Dragon Hunt, a 1990 sequel/remake is just as dumb.
Video uploaded by Michael McNamara
Fatal Deviation (1998)
Egosploitationist: James P. Bennett
Now we're getting to the special stuff. Jimmy Bennett was just another wannabe action star when he decided to write and produce a movie starring himself as a Jean-Claude Van Damme inspired vigilante. It was the first Irish martial arts film and needs to be seen to be believed. In its own way this is just as derivative of Van Damme's early 90s movies as Den D is of Commando.
GetEven aka Road to Revenge (1993)
Egosploitationist: John De Hart
If Steve Barkett is the embarrassing uncle of egosploitation, John De Hart is the creepy next-door neighbour. He has the air of a man who, although seemingly perfectly nice, owns far too much pornography. And he probably tells women who don't care that he's a kung fu expert.
The Room (2003)
Egosploitationist: Tommy Wiseau
I'm guessing you know this one.
Video uploaded by Poptarded Nintendo
Double Down (2003)
Egosploitationist: Neil Breen
The first of Neil's masterpieces is also the Breeniest, brimming as it is with broken laptops, stock footage, mobile phones and corporate and political evildoers. When you've seen a movie at least half a dozen times and still don't know whether the main/only character is hero or villain... you have to be on to a winner.
Video uses footage from all of Neil's works