The ’80s were a golden era for action films. Gone were the cynical elder leads of the ’70s, making way for the musclebound, one-liner spouting, next generation of larger-than-life heroes. With outrageous action, massive explosions, and pumping soundtracks, these movies had everything that an action movie junkie craved. Here are our Top 5 ’80s action films that you need to watch.
5. Commando (1985)
‘Commando’ follows the stunningly named Delta Force operator John Matrix, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, as he sets out to rescue his daughter who has been kidnapped by a group of mercenaries lead by a plus sized Freddy Mercury look-a-like.
The film is packed with non-stop action, explosions, and Schwarzenegger’s signature one-liners. While it may not have the depth of other films on this list, the film’s insanity holds it together. From start to finish, ‘Commando’ delivers pure entertainment and solidifies Schwarzenegger’s place as an action cinema legend.
4. Robocop (1987)
Set in a dystopian Detroit, Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-violent, dick shooting satire follows a police officer who is rebuilt as a cyborg after being brutally injured in the line of duty. With a unique blend of action, social commentary, and Christlike imagery, ‘Robocop’ stands out now just as much as it did when it was released and is still just as politically misunderstood.
3. Lethal Weapon (1987)
Starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover from a script by Shane Black and with direction from Richard Donner, ‘Lethal Weapon’ follows a pair of mismatched detectives as get sucked into the deadly world of drug trafficking.
With witty banter and gritty action, this redefined the buddy-cop films, relying on the chemistry between the two leads as much as the plot. As well as having three sequels, it lead to numerous knock-offs that tried to copy the magic but nothing could top the original, so much so that there is still talk of a fifth film thirty six years later.
2. Predator (1987)
‘Predator’ follows a team of elite commandos on a mission in the jungle become prey to an extraterrestrial hunter in this action classic directed by John McTiernan. Featuring an iconic performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger with ample support of an oddball cast of characters, the film uses the same trick as ‘Jaws’ by keeping the camera off its Stan Winston designed monster to create impact when he strikes.
With heart-pumping action and intense suspense, it’s the simplicity of the film’s structure that has given it longevity and spawned its own franchise as well as being pulled into the world of ‘Alien’.
1. Die Hard (1988)
Starring Bruce Willis, ‘Die Hard’ is widely considered one of the best action films of all time. It follows the story of off-duty cop John McClane, an everyman just trying to meet up with his family for Christmas, as he battles a group of terrorists who have taken hostages in a Los Angeles high-rise.
‘Die Hard’ ticks all the action boxes but also has a massive heart and one-liners that land. Not only was it a career defining role for Willis, the film introduced the world to Alan Rickman and cemented McTiernan’s place as one of the directors of the decade.
These movies defined the genre and are a testament to the creativity and talent of the filmmakers of the ’80s. So, if you’re a fan of explosive action, memorable one-liners, and iconic characters, give these movies a watch. You won’t be disappointed.
What are your favourite action films of the ’80s? Comment below.