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Decade of

Action! Maybe it was the crime wave in America... Maybe it was the next logical thing after the gritty movies of the Seventies... Maybe Hollywood just had a glut of explosions experts and needed to give them some work...

Whatever the reason, if there ever was a golden age for the action movies, it was the Eighties. Big men, heavy weapons, massive explosions and body counts to match. And the stars of the day were as big (and at least looked as mean) as their characters...

Arnold Schwarzenegger

You can start fistfights over who was the king of 80s action, but we’ll side with Arnie. Why? Sly Stallone did just as much, but a lot of his work was in Rocky or Rambo. Arnie, on the other hand, only starred in one sequel during the decade: the second Conan movie. So why is Arnie the lord of action? First, you just don’t get a better action surname than ‘Schwarzenegger’. Seriously, just the word sounds like it wants to beat you up. Then there up alien hunters (Predator), beating re: repertoi great Arnie’s is Mafia (Raw Deal), dictators the ), Heat Red ( s mobster Russian (Conan), reality TV hosts cults g orshipin snake-w ), do (Comman on Danny Devito (Twins). He picking people and ) Man Running The ( robot (Terminator) and a ing man-kill velling, time-tra a even was ). The 90s weren’t too Sonja Red ( sidekick warrior’s female buxom one-liners in cinema: best the forget not let’s And either. him to bad tired”, “I hope DEAD he’s – friend my disturb “Don’t back”, be “I’ll can KILL it” we .. BLEEDS. it “If child”, only mother’s your not your from Total was one last that wait, Ah, . divorce” a this r “Conside and use. to not e awesom too it’s But . Recall Must see: Terminator, Commando

26 aug 2010

Action in the 80s was too big for just one man to run the show, so for the strange-sounding, one-lining Arnie there was the cold-as-steel Sly. Like Arnie he also had the most awesome name an action star could want. Someone called Stallone does not do paperwork. Sly actually got a early start to true glory, getting two Oscar nominations for actor and screenplay in Rocky. This franchise would carry him into the 80s, where he delivered two more tales of pugilism. He also got to play the cop you don’t want to mess with, Cobra, turned arm wrestling into an action sport with Over The Top, cleaned up a prison in Lock Up and became Kurt Russel’s buddy cop in Tango & Cash. But we all know why Sly is here. If you do a search, you ‘google’ something. If you have vacuum a mess, you ‘hoover’ it. And if someone’s a tough guy? Just call him Rambo. Yes, there is no single action character that is more bad ass, better known and truly an army of one. Across his second to fourth movies Rambo has killed more people than any other character (210) – something parodied by Hot Shots Part Deux, where Charlie Sheen’s Rambo double, Topper Harley, wraps up 103 kills. Stallone IS Rambo and Rambo IS 80s action. Any questions? Go ask Sly... Must see: Rambo, Cobra,

Sylvester Stallone

aug 2010


Kurt Russell

Eddie Murphy

Mel might seem a bit bat, er, guano these days, but not before he built quite a legacy in decent thrillers, dramas, historic yarns and a few successful stabs at directing. But we have him listed here because he is, after all, also in the action royal family. The Mad Max series is an oddity: the first movie feels pretty toned back these days and the third one was just dreadful, but Mad Max 2? Now there’s a classic. When Mel wasn’t cruising for a bruising in the desert, he was practicing future mental problems in the best buddy cop movies ever made, Lethal Weapon 1 & 2

Snake, the hard-talking, grim protagonist of the Metal Gear games, was modelled on Snake Pliskin, the hard-talking, grim protagonist of the Escape From movies.

pretending to have kids and try to play every role in his movies, he was an action icon. Not that comedy is far from his stomping ground: Murphy started as a stand-up comedian and later joined the illustrious ranks of Saturday Night Live actors, then pretty much the place where great comedy stars would appear from. Instead Eddie went the other way and debuted his big screen career in the great buddy film 48 Hours, chewing the scenery with Nick Nolte in his “sky-blue piece of sh** Cadillac”. After that? The notorious Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop!

Must See: Mad Max 2, Lethal Weapon

Must See: Tango & Cash, Escape From New York

Must See: 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop

Mel Gibson

A rogue scavenger, a shotgun a dog and an army of savage marauders sporting mohawks and hockey masks between him and a tanker of fuel?

Dolph Lundgren

Bodybuilder, karate expert, chemical engineer, ladies man. What else can we add to Dolph Lundgren’s resume? How about Bond villain, Rocky opponent, Marvel vigilante and Master Of The Universe? At six foot five inches he was the tallest of the 80s action stars and he was bigger too – yup, even trumping Arnie and Sly. This means he easily landed roles as the villain, getting him the spot as Rocky’s Russian nemesis Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Christopher Walken’s muscle in A View To A Kill and later (post 80s) as JCVD’s big problem in Universal Soldier. He also did some iffy b-movies, but there are two lead roles worth seeing him in. First is the original Punisher movie (1989) – even though it is

Jean Claude Van Damme JCVD did a bunch of notable stuff in the 90s, but he also managed to land two of the most important Western martial arts movies, both in the previous decade. Bloodsport, the unofficial and most likely highly exaggerated story of martial arts legend Frank Dux taking part in the underground Kumetei tournament in Hong Kong, is a cult classic. Any true martial arts movie fan knows Bloodsport, for both its shin-

snapping array of different fighting styles and the neat coin trick (slow the scene down and see what we mean). After fighting his nemesis, the intimidating Bolo Leung (Fun fact: a close friend of Bruce Lee), Van Damme opted to beat up a Western guy made up as an Asian, fighting close friend Michel Qissi aka. Tong Po in Kickboxer. Why was this cool? Hand wraps covered in shards of glass. ‘nuff said. He would go on to have a few more hits in the Nineties, but this was Van Damme’s golden age. generally thought of as not very good, it did have a huge body count. And then there was Lundgren as the ultimate 80s cartoon icon – He-Man! It ways something that nobody can remember who player Skeletor, even though he was the coolest cartoon villain of the decade. Must see: The Punisher, Masters Of The Universe

28 sept 2010

Must see: Bloodsport, Kickboxer

It might surprise you that Russell is probably the third-most prolific 80s action star on this list, at least as far as hits go. A lot of that has to do with his work with John Carpenter: that delivers iconic hits like The Thing, Escape From New York and the brilliant Big Trouble In Little China. He also spent some time next to Mel Gibson in Tequila Sunrise... well, that wasn’t an action movie. But Tango & Cash, co-starring Sly Stallone, was. Still need something more for Russell’s credentials? Solid

What? This family comedy guy used to be an action star? Yes, can you believe it. Before Eddie started dressing up in fat suits,

Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris is a bit like Jackie Chan – he has made a LOT of stuff and most of it is only worth seeing once.

In fact, being a fan is probably required. But he made his mark. Getting kicked and shot by Norris was the destiny of every bad guy, especially if they were some kind of pinkocommunist-Vietcong-leftist-narco-terroristmobster scum. Everyone else on this list have have a different niche: total badass, ultimate underdog, martial arts machine, crazy guy, anti hero, etc. Chuck was the All American action hero. If Uncle Sam had a problem, there was only one man who could sort it out, even if Uncle Sam didn’t want himto help out. Norris’ best roles usually involved special forces/ military type stuff. But what made him even more iconic was that he truly is a badass: he is incredibly highly ranked in both karate and TaeKwondo, plus for a while he was certified for having the hardest kick in martial arts. And he once fought Bruce Lee (in Way Of The Dragon). Must see: Missing In Action, Delta Force

Honorable Mention Patrick Swayze Swayze doesn’t come to mind when you talk action, but we have to tip our action hats to his bouncer magnum opus, the roundhouse-kicking Roadhouse. Always remember to be nice.

Clint Eastwood Eastwood was moving out of action and into steady directing work by the 80s, but he still managed two more Dirty Harry movies and a stint as Death in Pale Rider.

Michael Dudikoff Dudikoff hasn’t done much else to make anyone remember him, but we believe that these two words should explain his place on this list: American Ninja.

Charles Bronson Bronson was bigger in the 70s, but the 80s hold three of his five Death Wish movies. And Death Wish is the holy grail of all vendetta action movies.

Bruce Willis Bruce is a badass, but he’s a 90s badass. Still, he cut his teeth in the one-man-vs-well-armed-crooks when he threw Alan Rickman off a building in 1988’s Die Hard.

Jackie Chan Chan was a bigger name in late-70s kung-fu, but he did have schlock-action classic like Meals On Wheels and Armour of God in the 80s. And then there was the stuntinsanity of Police Story.

Steven Seagal Alright, we’re cheating. All Seagal’s good stuff was in the 90s, but his action debut was in 1989’s Above The Law. All his bad stuff was made in the last decade.

Bruce Lee Bruce died in 1973, well before the 80s, but it’s hard to argue that he was not the prototype for so many of the action movies released in the decade.

sept 2010


Action Heroes | Feature | Charged  

A feature I wrote and produced about 1980s action heroes.

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