In honour of The Expendables 2...
Alex Winehouse

13:55 14th September 2011

In the 1980's, nothing defined Hollywood more than action movies. John Hughes's teen films could be beaten to a pulp by the Rambo's of this world. Nightmare on Elm Street? Chuck Norris stalks Freddie Kreuger's nightmares. Star Wars? Surely that was just an Arnie movie set in a galaxy far, far away...

If the 1970's were all about gritty, realistic movies led by cinematic auteurs, the screen heroes of the following decade were undoubtedly the holy trinity of Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis. Whereas in years gone by, the villain would have been some kind of cowboy with a massive chip on his shoulder, now it was South African terrorists, Russian secret agents and aliens hunting us for sport.

This was a decade where a movie studio would buy the rights to a Phillip K Dick novel and turn it into an excuse for Schwarzenegger to blow things up. An era where environmentalists were bad, and fuel-sapping morons were the heroes (although why I've wandered into the subplot of Ghostbusters I'm not sure).

Forget the horror movies, teen romps and capitalist satires, for if you want to know where the world stood in the 1980's, it was in the world of the Action Hero. Sure, they're still around now, your Jason Statham's and Jason Momoa's, but - and let's not kid ourselves here - they're just not as good as the icons of thirty years ago. Which is why the last Rambo was treated with such exultant expectation, why Arnie can still come back, and, sadly, is the reason why we're all deeply disturbed and upset that Mel Gibson has turned out to be a booze-swigging, sociopathic, anti-semitic bigot.

Again I'm rambling. Anyway, here is our selection of the ten finest action movies the 1980's had to offer. They're in chronological order, rather than being rated by quality, but we think Commando was the greatest action movie ever made. As ever, disagreements, comments, and wild ramblings - as exhibited here - are always welcome...

Mindless destruction this way...


  • Missing In Action - Chuck Norris (1984)

  • Rambo: First Blood Part II - Sylvester Stallone (1985)

  • Commando - Arnold Schwarzenegger (1985)

  • Death Wish 3 - Charles Bronson (1985)

  • Lethal Weapon - Mel Gibson, Danny Glover (1987)

  • Predator - Arnold Schwarzenegger (1987)

  • RoboCop - Peter Weller (1987)

  • The Running Man - Arnold Schwarzenegger (1987)

  • Bloodsport - Jean Claude Van Damme (1988)

  • Die Hard - Bruce Willis (1988)