8 Best Action Movies Of The 1980s

"If it bleeds, we can kill it!"

If you€™re watching a movie with a scene where the indestructible cop hero clings to the roof of a speeding vehicle, it was probably made in the 1980s. In a lot of these films, the driver doesn€™t attempt to swerve or hit the brakes, he just holds his hands in front of his face before crashing through a plate glass window. At Cannon Films, the home of Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson, B-grade action films seemed to roll off the conveyor belt every week as founders Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus sought to fashion new stars in the mould of Arnold Schwarzenegger. These cheapies were cranked out by no-name filmmakers, scored by musically ungifted composers who owned an inordinate number of synthesizers and invariably concluded with freeze-frame endings following the climactic rooftop confrontation. Elsewhere, Sylvester Stallone was setting the standard for over the top, wildly jingoistic action films with Rambo: First Blood Part II, which together with Rocky IV dominated the box office in 1985. The film remains Stallone€™s biggest commercial success, the movie that made him the World€™s biggest action star (Arnie had just done Red Sonya €“ oops) and gave him enough clout to make Rambo III for a then unheard of $58m. Incredibly, the decade also produced some films that weren€™t just good, they were solid gold 5-star classics. Eschewing the camp (and the politics) of their competitors, each one initiated (or contributed to) a long-running franchise, and are still being imitated to this day. If any of the following are missing from your collection, you need to fix that immediately.

Ian Watson is the author of 'Midnight Movie Madness', a 600+ page guide to "bad" movies from 'Reefer Madness' to 'Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.'