10 Brotacular 80’s Action Movies

Just plain fun 80’s action movies. Instead of filling the list with stuff you’ve likely seen, I tried to pick movies you might have missed. I used box office earnings: Anything under $100 million.

Tango & Cash

action movies tango & cash

Tango & Cash is the kind of movie that makes you want to give your bro a high five.

The movie begins with Tango (Sylvester Stallone), the self-proclaimed best cop in LA, chasing a tanker truck on an empty desert road. He passes the truck, drives further up the road, swerves his car into the middle road, steps out, faces the direction of the oncoming truck, and draws his revolver.

Cash (Kurt Russell) is the other self-proclaimed best cop in LA. We meet him driving a stolen car, smashing it into another car trying to catch a perp.

When Tango and Cash get too close to a crime lord, they get framed for murder and must prove their innocence with their trademark shotgun subtlety.

 

American Ninja

action movies american ninja

What if a movie could be about guns ‘and’ ninjas?

In American Ninja, Joe (Michael Dudikoff) is a newly enlisted solider who doesn’t remember who he is, or why he is trained in ninjutsu. But when a weapons smuggler and his army of armed rebels and ninjas threatens him and his girl, Joe unleashes his latent training to stop them.

It’s a movie where ninjas are more dangerous than guns. A movie that mixes the trumpet blaring, overconfident glory and power of America with Eastern fighting. A movie that suggests: “If an American soldier knew ninjutsu, no one could stop him.”

 

Over the Top

action movies over the top

Over the Top is why I made this list. It’s harmless fun and it has so much heart that anyone willing to meet it halfway will enjoy themselves.

The movie is about Hawk (Sylvester Stallone) a trucker and part time arm wrestler who is trying to rekindle his relationship with his estranged twelve year-old son, Mike, on the way to the arm wrestling world championship. Mike is a dick to his Father for awhile because Hawk abandoned him, but Mike warms up to him as Hawk teaches him about arm wrestling, trucking, and life.

The arm wrestling in the movie is arguably the most difficult aspect to embrace, but it’s so over the top I love it. Burly men in ripped tank tops slapping themselves in the face to psyche themselves up for a match, staring each other down with open, wild eyes, eating lit cigars, and howling mid match as the scene shifts to slow motion. Amazing.

 

Road House

action movies road house

I remember finding Road House amongst my movie collection and forgetting why I had it. I asked some friends, “why do I have this movie? Did you recommend it to me?” One replied: “Because you are a man and you’re required to have it.”

Dalton (Patrick Swayze) is a legendary bouncer. He killed a guy once. Ripped his throat right out. “Story is, you fuck with him and he’ll seal your fate.” And he’s only good at one thing: He never loses.

Dalton gets hired to look after bar so rotten, fights are a nightly occurrence and the band has to play behind a chain link fence. Soon Dalton learns the entire town in is controlled by a wealthy gangster of sorts who charges extortion on local businesses. Then the gangster tries to interfere with Dalton’s bar. But he made one mistake: Dalton never loses.

 

Kickboxer

action movies kickboxer

In Kickboxer, Kurt (Jean-Claude Van Damme), learns Muay Thai to get revenge on the fighter who paralyzed his brother.

It’s easy to confuse this movie with the other on this list, Bloodsport. Kickboxer is the one where, at the end of his training, Kurt’s master takes him to a gangster bar, gets him drunk, and Jean-Claude Van Damme starts dancing with women before fighting everyone in the bar. He’s all hips. It’s the best.

 

Raw Deal

action movies raw deal

Raw Deal starts with an FBI Chief’s son getting killed by a mob family. The FBI Chief sends Sheriff Mark Kaminsky (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to infiltrate and destroy the mob from within. Mark agrees because he sees it as a chance to get back into the FBI.

When we meet Mark he is retuning home to a wife who is drunk and making a chocolate cake for dinner. She complains about their town, the direction of their lives, and then she throws the cake at him. Arnold makes a smart ass remark. There are lot of better ways to give the audience the information from this scene, but I think the filmmakers did it this way because they thought it would be a chance to give Arnold a smart ass line. That’s the thing about Raw Deal; everyone is a smart ass. Nothing about the movie is serious, it’s just a lot of smart ass remarks and decent action.

 

Highlander

action movies highlander

Highlander introduces itself with the voice of Freddie Mercury. You would think Queen doing songs for a movie soundtrack might be too much, but that matches Highlander perfectly.

The film is about a select few individuals who are Immortals. They cannot die except by decapitation (so they are all expert swordsman) and they wait out the centuries for an event known as “the gathering” where the final few will assemble and fight until there is only one left.

We are introduced to one Immortal, Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), in “present day” 1985 fighting another Immortal. He is subsequently investigated by the police for murder when he beheads his opponent. We also see flashbacks to the 1500’s where MacLeod is trained by another Immortal, Ramírez (Sean Connery), who teaches MacLeod what Immortals are, and how to swordfight.

Highlander is one of those utterly fascinating mishmashes of wonderful and terrible ideas. There’s a genuine romanticism to the concept of the movie, the swordplay, the Queen song Who Wants to Live Forever, and the pursuit of love and friendship over an eternity. But there also bizarre moments, like when the movie’s villain is trying to demonstrate his insanity by licking people and playing chicken with oncoming traffic.

The blend of romanticism and horror is a bit unnerving, but it’s not a bad formula for a cult classic.

 

Bloodsport

action movies bloodsport

Many would say Bloodsport is Jean-Claude Van Damme’s best movie. Maybe that’s because it has the most round house kicks.

Bloodsport is about a violent, full contact tournament called The Kumite that invites fighters from all around the world. Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) enters it to honour his sensei, Tanaka.

There are a lot of outrageous moments in Bloodsport, like the one featured above. Does Van Damme really have to open his eyes so wide and scream in order to perform this technique? It’s a trick question. Of course he does.

 

Above the Law

action movies above the law

The beginning of Steven Seagal’s Above the Law almost feels like the writing of his own legend. In his narration he tells us he’s trained with masters of martial arts, is a former CIA special operative, and is a Chicago detective, all within the first 10 minutes of the film. Maybe that’s what qualifies him to stop those who think they are above the law. That’s why when Nico (Seagal) tracks drugs and C4 back to the CIA, he must dispense justice himself since no one else seems willing.

If you take one lesson from this movie it’s this one: “If I don’t cap him now he’s gonna do me later.” Remember that.

 

Armour of God

action movies armour of god

There’s a background story to Armour of God where Jackie and his friend Alan used to be band mates. I feel like this information was added so Alan (a professional singer) could sing a song for the movie. It’s hard to be upset with this marketing tactic when the song is so good it practically casts a pelvic spell on you.

Armour of God‘s plot is convoluted, but it doesn’t matter too much. Jackie is a treasure hunter who steals (and re-steals) the armour of god pieces, and saves his friends.

If Jackie Chan movies blur together for you, this is the one where he does the gum tricks and fights the four black women (and punches one of them in the boobs). It’s also the movie where he had one of his worst accidents; he fell fifteen feet from a tree and cracked his skull. But don’t worry — Jackie always OK.

This post was originally posted on imgur.

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