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80's Action Films: My Ten Favorite

Updated on June 12, 2017

Who does like a good action film? I know that I love them. Nothing better than to relax and watch gun battles, special effects and huge explosions. Chase scenes, hand to hand combat and much more are some of the ingredients to make a great action flick. Growing up in the 80's and 90's I had the privilege to be introduced to some of the decades best action films. I love action films from these two decades because CGI was not yet a huge play in the films. Explosions were real and authentic. I miss the days when action movies were not just mostly filmed in front of a green screen.

Here is a list of ten action films from the 80's that I think are the best from that decade.

10: Bloodsport (1988)

Jean-Claude Van Damme kicked his away through this action classic. He plays Frank Dux, a man who is in the Military, but is also into Martial Arts. He leaves the army and goes to Hong Kong. He joins a martial arts tournament where he will fight some of the best martial arts fighters in the region. The only thing about many of these fights, is some of them are a fight to the death.

You can expect a lot of great martial arts type action in this film. Though the acting is not the best, this film is still pretty entertaining and a guilty pleasure for action junkies out there.

9. Roadhouse (1989)

Coming in at number nine is the late Patrick Swayze's Roadhouse. Swayze plays a tough as nails bouncer who is hired to watch over a rough and out of control bar where he heads the rest of the bouncers. Dalton, played by Swayze begins to make waves after he has tamed the uncontrollable bar with the town bully who is a rich and powerful man. A lot of kicks and punches makes this movie another great action film that seems to be on everyone's list of action flicks.

To me, Roadhouse is the "mans" movie. Most of the movie takes place in a bar, where many bar fights break out and a lot of fighting occurs. This film is definitely a movie that sticks out for me because it transformed Swayze into a great action hero.


8: Escape From New York (1981)

Kurt Russell becomes an instant anti-hero in this action classic. He plays Snake Plissken, a prisoner who has been given a second chance to become a hero instead of living the rest of his life as a criminal. It is 1997, Manhattan is not a city anymore, it has become a large prison with top of the line security. Some of the countries deadliest scum reside here. The president of the US has become a temporary hostage after his plane crashes in the prison. Snake is sent in to rescue the President and get him out alive. If Plissken succeeds, he will become a free man.

To me, this film is an 80's classic. It launched Kurt Russell's career and made him a pretty famous action hero. This movie is one of my favorites from this decade and I do enjoy it still. The special effects are a little out of date, but this film is still very much a great action film.

7: Rambo: First Blood Part 2 (1985)

It wouldn't be an action film list without one of the more iconic action stars Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo. After the highly successful first Rambo film, Stallone is back and headed for the jungles of Vietnam. Rambo is given new orders after being released from prison to return to a place where he would rather not go. He must carry out this top-secret mission that he has been given, or die trying. This movie is loaded with action. From multiple machine battles, to big explosions, Rambo: First Blood part 2 is a great film to satisfy even the biggest action junkies.

This movie has it all for action movie lovers. This is a great film and even though the first film is a classic, this one if my favorite in the Rambo series.

6. The Terminator (1984)

James Cameron is no slouch when it comes to making great Science Fiction action films. He turned a body builder into a mega superstar who specializes in action films. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a human-like cyborg who is sent from the future to terminate Sarah Connor. Although Connor has no idea, she is to give birth to a child who will become the leader of the resistance against the machines known as the terminators. A soldier from the future is also sent to protect Connor at all costs.

Great special effects for its time, creative storyline and a whole lot of action makes this film stand out above many science fiction and action films from this decade.

5: Big Trouble In Little China (1986)

Another guilty pleasure action film that many will say they enjoy is Big Trouble in Little China. This film is more like an action comedy. Kurt Russell plays a truck driver who gets involved with a historic reoccurring mystical battles that take place in Chinatown in the city of San Francisco. Jack Burton, played by Russell decides to help his friend who's fiancé is captured and taken hostage and will become an ancient sorcerer's next victim is they do not act fast. Loaded with monsters, martial arts, gun battles and humor, this action film is a great addition to the list and is often referred to when talking about films from the 80's.

I love this film. I never saw this film until a few years ago. I have always heard about this movie, but never really took the time to see it. When I finally did, I instantly loved it. It is definitely a crowd pleaser.

4. Aliens (1986)

James Cameron takes over the Alien franchise after the first film was a huge success. Once again Cameron proves he has what it takes to make a great sci/fi action film. Ripley is back and ready to prove she is the best female action star who doesn't take crap from no one, even if they are not humans. Sigourney Weaver plays Ellen Ripley who was a survivor of the first Alien attacks. She helps lead a rescue team which members seem to be carrying a lot more fire power than last time. The war between humans and aliens is one with tons of action like you've never seen before.

Aliens is my favorite in the series and is one of the best action films ever. This is a great action flick with everything you could want from both a science fiction movie and an action film. It also has a great cast.

3. Top Gun (1986)

It wouldn't be an action film list unless Top Gun made it in the top five. At number three, this ultimate classic is still a favorite for many film lovers. Tom Cruise plays Maverick, a young and cocky fighter pilot who joins other students to participate in the Navy's school program for talented pilots with an elite enlisting. Maverick must prove he has what it takes to become the best fighter pilot the program has ever seen, but also he must learn to grow up and swallow his pride for the greater good of the US Navy. If he does not, he will just become another wingman.

This movie speaks for itself. I think many people would agree that this film is a classic among the rest. It has everything you could want in a film. Action, romance, drama and move action.

2. Predator (1987)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in another classic action movie from the 80's. This time he is the prey and must out duel an alien from another planet who seems to have advanced weapons that humans have never seen. Schwarzenegger plays Dutch, who leads a team into the jungles of Central America to rescue hostages. Little do Dutch and the team of armed commandos know, they are being hunted by an alien who loves the thrill of the chase.

Loaded, and I do mean loaded, with action. This movie has a ton of fire power. This film is a great action flick that does not seem to slow down with the action. From start to finish, this film is loaded with great all around action.

1. Die Hard (1988)

Last, but certainly not least is what I feel is the greatest action film from the 80's. Die Hard is an action classic which launched the career of Bruce Willis. John McClane, played by Willis is a man who realizes that he is always at the wrong place at the wrong time. Die Hard, this first in the action series takes place in a skyscraper where an office Christmas party becomes the place where terrorists have taken the workers hostage. McClane is a New York cop who is vising his wife Holly in Los Angeles. When a group of terrorists seize the building, McClane must battle wits with a dangerous terrorists by the name of Hans Grubber. Running around barefoot and taking out bad guys, Die Hard is the best example of a great action film.

This is not only my favorite action film of this decade, but is still on my top ten favorite films as of now. This movie introduces Bruce Willis who will become one of the greatest action heroes for many years later. This film is loaded with great action and some of the best one-liners you will ever have in a film.

Are any of these films your favorite action films of the 80's?

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In Closing

As we have come to the end of this hub, again I want to say that these action films are terrific examples of classic action movies. I know there are a few that just missed the list. I know that some people would agree that some others should have made the list. It was a bit of challenge to put this list together. Overall, I am pretty confident that action junkies like myself could agree that many of these films should have made this list. If you haven't seen these films, give them a try. If you would change the list, what would you add or subtract?

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