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Best Instrumental Tunes from 80s Action Movies

Updated on September 1, 2019

Those people like me who grew up in the 90s watching movies from the previous decade will remember some of the great tunes heard in 80s action movies. These tunes represented a particular style that was prevalent throughout the 80s often involving synthesizers, electronica, guitars, big hair and funky melodies.

Axel F Theme by Harold Faltermeyer
Axel F Theme by Harold Faltermeyer | Source

"Axel F (Theme)" (From Beverly Hills Cop) by Harold Faltermeyer

The theme from Beverly Hills Cop is probably the most popular and well-known instrumental tune from 80s action movies. It was released as a single and appeared as the final track on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack album.

Eddie Murphy & Judge Reinhold in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Eddie Murphy & Judge Reinhold in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) | Source

"Shootout" (7'' Single B Side) by Harold Faltermeyer

Less popular than Axel F but equally as catchy, "Shootout" plays whenever Axel finds himself in the action. The tune was released as a B Side to Harold Faltermeyer's "Axel F" and Glenn Frey's "The Heat Is On" on vinyl, although it has never been released in an album.

"The Discovery" (7" Single B Side) by Harold Faltermeyer

Like "Shootout", "The Discovery" is a lesser known instrumental piece from Beverly Hills Cop. It notably plays when Axel discovers Victor Maitland's stash of drugs.

Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun (1986)
Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun (1986) | Source

"Top Gun Anthem" by Harold Faltermeyer & Steve Stevens

Even if you don't like Tom Cruise, beach volleyball or jet pilots, you can't go passed this track as one of the great anthems of the decade, it's rousing, patriotic and quintessentially American.

Sylvester Stallone & Kurt Russell as Tango & Cash (1989)
Sylvester Stallone & Kurt Russell as Tango & Cash (1989) | Source

"Main Theme" & "Hi Five/Owen's Toy" (From Tango & Cash) by Harold Faltermeyer

Back when buddy cop films were popular and main characters had funky theme tunes to accompany them, this is what Harold Faltermeyer created.

Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child (1986)
Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child (1986) | Source

"The Chosen One (End Titles)" aka The Golden Child Theme by Michel Columbier

This phenomenal piece of music by French composer Michel Columbier is almost too good for the movie in which it appears. The Golden Child utilises all of Eddie Murphy's charms to carry the movie while the inventive original score is one of the main reasons to check it out. This tune in particular represents the 80s style perfectly.

Charles Grodin & Robert De Niro in "Midnight Run (1988)"
Charles Grodin & Robert De Niro in "Midnight Run (1988)" | Source

"Main Titles" (From Midnight Run) by Danny Elfman

Among 80s action comedies, Midnight Run is one of my personal favourites. Danny Elfman provides a great soundtrack and a catchy main title theme tune.

Schwarzenegger Themes

"Main Theme" (From The Running Man) by Harold Faltermeyer

Classic 80s action movie themes. Enough said.

Van Damme Themes

"Triumph" (From Bloodsport) by Paul Hertzog

Miami Vice Theme by Jan Hammer
Miami Vice Theme by Jan Hammer | Source

"Crockett's Theme" & "Miami Vice Title Theme" from Miami Vice by Jan Hammer

While these tunes appeared in the television show Miami Vice, they deserve a spot on this list as great 80s action themes.

Favourite instrumental tune from 80s action movies/series?

See results

Honourable Mentions

Hill Street Blues Theme

St Elmo's Fire Love Theme

Chariots of Fire Theme

Thanks for reading

Feel free to suggest any 80s tunes I missed

Arnold & Danny De Vito in Twins (1988)
Arnold & Danny De Vito in Twins (1988) | Source



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    • charliecrews38 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      @Aenigmatista I was primarily looking at 80s action movies so therefore I didn't include Crockett's theme in the main list, as for bloodsport thanks for the suggestions, i re-listened to those tunes, pretty awesome, its strange that paul hertzog the composer only did two van damme movies and then retired

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Miami Vice: Crockett's theme and Bloodsport: Preperation/Triumph deserve to be in the top 3 if you ask me.

    • charliecrews38 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      i agree with your top three, there's a lot of great tunes from the 80s which i may not have covered, i love the beverly hills cop soundtracks, the track from the golden child and most harold faltermeyer tracks, he is basically the essence of 80s music

    • Hackslap profile image


      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      My favorite instrumentals from the 80's action movies would be the Top Gun Theme (Steve Stevens and Harold Faltermeyer) ...Terminator (Brad Fidel) and Beverley Hills Cop (Axel Foley's theme by Harold Faltermeyer) .... pretty sure there're some more which I'm not remembering as of this moment ...but really nothing can beat the music which came out of the 80's synth-wave era ...


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