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Top 10 ’80s Action Movies

The ’80s is my personal favorite decade, probably because I was just old enough to notice it but too young to enjoy it, so I miss it. Here are my favorite action movies from the era, but in the interest of avoiding overlap from other lists, I have eliminated all the children’s movies (since Goonies and Labyrinth would otherwise belong here). I also eliminated Jackie Chan movies, so this is basically “Top 10 American ’80s Action Movies Not Centered Around Children.” Oh, and no James Bond movies either. And I left out the Star Wars movies too, since that trilogy began in the ’70s.

1) Indiana Jones trilogy

No point trying to separate these. They’re all good, even Temple of Doom. I personally love Last Crusade because of that particular mythology, the boat chase, tank scene and Sean Connery. But Raiders set a new precedent for action movies.

2) Die Hard

Talk about setting the precedent. How many “Die Hard in a…” movies have we been subjected to? Only The Rock ever did this plot justice. Anyway, the situation is exciting with McClane and the terrorists confined to one location, and it’s a location loaded with opportunities for action.

3) The Terminator

This was the beginning of Arnold, and it is truly a fine chase film. The effects are cheesy, but they work. When I was 8, I almost crapped myself when Arnold took out his eye!

4) The Road Warrior

The second Mad Max film has intense action scenes across the desert wasteland.

5) Lethal Weapon 2

The first Lethal sequel went so much further with the action and buddy-banter, it went down in history as one of the all-time great sequels. Remember the straight jacket stunt, the car-truck chase and the house on stilts.

6) Back to the Future 2

This may be a more controversial pick, but I truly felt the complexity of this sequel was so creative that it was awesome. They actually went back into the first movie and messed around with stuff! And hoverboards are cool. Remember when we thought they were real?

7) First Blood

The original Rambo movie is a powerful film. First, it’s a rousing adventure as he uses military techniques in a small town environment. It also dramatizes the plight of the Vietnam veteran in an entertaining way. In some ways, it’s a shame the sequels became such cartoons.

 8) Batman

Those toys really were cool. This is a great looking film with some high caliber actors giving their all in a comic book setting. I personally liked Batman Returns a little more, for the twisted love story involved, but that was in 1992.

 9) Top Gun

The quintessential early Tom Cruise movie, this has some neat flying but it’s mainly camp value. You’ve got the cocky young guy learning real responsibility and stepping up to the challenge while making out with his teacher.

10) The Running Man

I reserved a spot for my personal favorite ’80s Arnold movie. It’s really simple. They send guys after him, and he takes them out. Yay!

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