The other day I compiled a list of the top 80’s Horror Films. Today I am going to be doing the same, but with action films. The 80’s was a magical time for action films. Movie back then were like events. The new Stallone or Schwarzenegger films always packed the house. From big budget classics like Lethal Weapon to straight to video smaller films like Bloodfist there sure was something for everyone. Now before I get into this list I have to state a few things first. For starters I did not count films like Terminator and Robocop because I feel those, just like Predator are much more sci-fi than action. Not saying there not action packed, but they, to me definitely fall into the sci fi category. Films like Beverly Hills Cop fall into a comedy category. My list is your standard 80’s troupe. Cops, ninjas, soldiers, the usual suspects of 80’s action films. Now also, like I always like to state this is my opinion and my opinion only. So here in my opinion are the Top 10 Action Films of the 80’s
10) First Blood: Based on the book, but with a changed ending this is the film that started the Rambo franchise, a franchise still going strong today. Because if you think Last Blood was the last one I think your wrong. Vietnam veteran and drifter John J. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) wanders into a small Washington town in search of an old friend, but is met with intolerance and brutality by the local sheriff, Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy). When Teasle and his deputies restrain and shave Rambo, he flashes back to his time as a prisoner of war and unleashes his fury on the officers. He narrowly escapes the manhunt, but it will take his former commander (Richard Crenna) to save the hunters from the hunted.
9) Raiders of the Lost Ark: To say this film was groundbreaking is an understanding. Combining cliff hanger style action with humor and heart Raiders is a timeless classic. I remember seeing it with my uncle at a late night show in one of my favorite old time theaters I had no idea what I was going to see, but I fell in love with the film during the opening act. Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), a renowned archeologist and expert in the occult, is hired by the U.S. Government to find the ark of the covenant, which is believed to still hold the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, Hitler's agents are also after the ark. Indy and his ex-flame Marion escape from various close scrapes in a quest that takes them from Nepal to Cairo.
8) Action Jackson: Carl Weather aka Apollo Creed from Rocky fame starred in this outstanding action film, that to this day I wonder why it did not have any follow up films. A great blend of fist fights, chases, explosions, and classic one liners this film had everything and should have started a franchise. Due to the use of excessive force in arresting a sexual predator, Detective Lt. Jericho "Action" Jackson (Carl Weathers) is demoted to police sergeant. What's worse, the father of the man he roughed up, Detroit industrialist Peter Dellaplane (Craig T. Nelson), declares war on Jackson, framing him for the murder of his own wife, Patrice (Sharon Stone). But Jericho manages to elude arrest and, with the help of a drug-addicted singer named Sydney (Vanity), goes after Dellaplane
7) Lethal Weapon II: I wont lie, the first Lethal Weapon was just ok to me at best. The second one however took it to another level. One of, if not the best buddy cop films ever made. Upping the action and tripling the humor from the first one, Lethal Weapon II fires on all cylinders. From the opening Loney Toons music before the WB logo to the classic line “Its just been revoked” this is a slam bang good time, and the best of the series. South African smugglers find themselves being hounded and harassed by Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtaugh (Danny Glover), two mismatched Los Angeles police officers. However, the South Africans are protected by diplomatic immunity, and so the two are assigned to witness-protection duty in an attempt by their captain to keep his job. It is only when this witness reveals to them that he has already dealt with the smugglers that the trouble really starts.
6) The Punisher: With the exception of the Netflix series this is without a doubt the best version of the title character so far. Definitely the best of all the film. If you overlook the fact that the Punisher didn’t wear his skull shirt, which is sadly the only part of the costume you need to get right, this was a faithful adaptation that will please comic book fans, and actions fans alike. Based on the popular Marvel comic book, this film begins with Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren) as a respected police officer dedicated to eradicating the Mafia's influence -- that is, until the mob responds with a lethal car bomb that decimates Castle's family. Now, filled with rage and presumed dead from the horrific explosion, Castle takes to the city's underground sewer tunnels to bring his own brutal brand of vigilante justice to the streets and wreak vengeance on those who killed his family.
5) Road House: The best worse film ever made. A philosophy quoting bouncer, an evil town owner, lines like “I used to F**K Guy Like You In Prison”, throats getting ripped out, and more. This is what an 80’s action film is all about. The Double Deuce is the meanest, loudest and rowdiest bar south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and Dalton (Patrick Swayze) has been hired to clean it up. He might not look like much, but the Ph.D.-educated bouncer proves he's more than capable -- busting the heads of troublemakers and turning the roadhouse into a jumping hot-spot. But Dalton's romance with the gorgeous Dr. Clay (Kelly Lynch) puts him on the bad side of cutthroat local big shot Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara).
4) Revenge of the Ninja: The greatest Ninja film ever made, and that’s saying something. A simple revenge plot, hence the title, hard core violent ninja action and amazing weapons like the throwing star belt buckle, the staff that becomes a bow, and the fact two ninjas fight on a roof top at the end make this an all time classic. After ninjas killed his family, Cho (Sho Kosugi) and his son Kane (Kane Kosugi) come to America to start a new life. He opens a doll shop but is unwittingly importing heroin in the dolls. When his friend betrays him, Cho must prepare for the ultimate battle. Its ninja vs the mob and ninja vs ninja in a battle you’ll never forget.
3) Bloodsport: The film that made JCVD a star. Bloodsport is just a fantastic martial arts action film. Low on plot, low on character development, but high on action. If you’re a martial arts fan you will love seeing all the different styles on display in this classic. U.S. soldier Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) has come to Hong Kong to be accepted into the Kumite, a highly secret and extremely violent martial-arts competition. While trying to gain access into the underground world of clandestine fighters, he also has to avoid military officers who consider him to be AWOL. After enduring a difficult training and beginning a romance with journalist Janice Kent (Leah Ayres), Frank is given the opportunity to fight. But can he survive?
2) Commando: The ultimate Arnold Schwarzenegger film. Classic one liners that will never get old. An over the top villain, a simple plot, and Arnold killing hundreds of people on his quest to save his daughter. The 80’s were all about excess and this film exemplifies that. Retired Special Forces soldier John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lives with daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) in isolation, but his privacy is disturbed by former commander Franklin Kirby (James Olson), who warns him that his fellow soldiers are getting killed one by one. After Kirby leaves, Jenny is kidnapped by former Latin American dictator Arius (Dan Hedaya), who wants Matrix to restore him to power. Instead, Matrix sets out to take down the rogue leader and rescue his daughter
1) Cobra: My favorite Stallone film without a doubt. Its Stallone vs a serial killer and his army. The line “You’re the disease, I’m the cure” came from this amazing film. Shootouts, massive car chases, an amazing final fight between Stallone and the Night Slasher, its all here. Without a doubt my favorite action film of all time, and it just so happens to have been made in the 80’s. Los Angeles policeman Lt. Marion "Cobra" Cobretti (Sylvester Stallone) finds himself at the center of a spate of murders carried out by a secret society called New Order: killers who select "weak" members of society for extermination. As the murder rate rises, Cobra takes model Ingrid (Brigitte Nielsen) into protective custody after she witnesses New Order's leader in action. As Cobra falls for Ingrid, they find shelter in a small town, but must soon fight for survival.