The Greatest Action Movies of The ’80s
The 80s were a great time for action movies. That was the decade when raw, gritty and explosive action sequences entered movies in a big way, giving rise to stars like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis with huge international followings. Read the article to find out the movies that made it to the top of the author’s list.
The Greatest Action Movies of the ’80s
The 80s were a great time for action movies. That was the decade when raw, gritty and explosive action sequences entered movies in a big way, giving rise to stars like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis with huge international followings. Before that, action sequences in movies were not much to talk about. Of course, there were war movies, Westerns, science fiction, James Bond and Dirty Harry, but they were all what we can call ’soft action’ now. No bulging muscles, no sweating brows, no bruised and bloodied faces, no death-defying stunts, and certainly no large scale damages and destructions that we see in today’s action movies. Granted there were fistfights, gunfights, cavalry charges and car chases even then, and people did get killed in scores, but there were no testosterone-filled aggressiveness, no blood and gore, no collateral damages, and certainly no wholesale destructions of infrastructures.
The 80s changed all that. Suddenly, the silver screen exploded with deafening sounds of firefights, car crashes, and explosions. Good and not-so-good tough guys with machine guns and shot guns in their muscle-bound arms were everywhere. Even the women fought side by side with their men. Gone were the days when they cried and screamed until they were rescued. The rise of the action films was a result of three factors: advancement in filming technology, emergence of computer graphics, growing competition from television, and the filmgoers’ hunger for hardcore action. The 80s were a time of innovation in electronics and computers. High-tech camera and filming equipment along with the emergence of computer graphics made it possible for filmmakers to shoot action sequences and add special effects that were hitherto not possible.
In 1982, Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo returned from the tunnel in the forest, where he had gone into hiding, to blow up the town and kill the sheriff who had tormented him for no good reason. That was ‘First Blood’, still considered by many to be one of the best action films ever. In the subsequent movie, ‘Rambo: First Blood Part 2′, released in 1985, this muscle-bound ex-Green Beret conquered the world by rescuing American POWs from the intractable jungles of Vietnam, slaughtering more than a hundred enemies in the process, and causing the kind of wholesale destruction never seen before. Rambo became a household name, not only in North America, but also in parts of the world where people knew only a few English words.
In 1984, a cybernetic organism with flesh tissue on metal endoskeleton, called the Terminator, came back from the future to prevent the birth of John Connor, the future leader of mankind, and put the silver screen on fire. This ruthless and emotionless killing machine put muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger firmly on the road to international stardom. Its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, released in 1987, gave a whole new meaning to the phrase ’sci-fi action’. The special effects and scenes of destruction were so mind-blowing that Terminator became the epitome of violence all over the world.
In 1988, an NYPD cop named John McClane inadvertently got stuck in a high-rise building occupied by a group of ruthless terrorists while visiting his wife in Los Angeles. Single-handedly, using both his brain and brawn, he managed to kill all the terrorists and rescue the hostages, including his wife, unharmed. This movie, called ‘Die Hard’, is considered by many to be the best action film ever made. It firmly established Bruce Willis, who started his acting career in romantic comedies, as one of the top action heroes of the century.