Action films

The 10 Best Action Movies That Defined The 80s

The 80s were a big decade in entertainment. From music to movies, this decade has had actors at their peak in their acting careers. The majority of action movies that fans have praised for years came out of this decade.

Related: Most Referenced ’80s Movies That Still Hold Up Today

Big names like Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stalloneand Bruce Willis it all became massive in that decade because of the movies they chose to work on. It’s fun for fans to look back on a decade that featured many iconic films that ended up becoming classics for decades to come.


Superior gun

There is always a need for speed in the 80s and Superior gun is probably the most surprising action movie to take hold. A film about navy pilots now has an entire day dedicated to it due to the quality of the film.

Related Link: Best Tom Cruise Stunts, Ranked

Of course action movie star Tom Cruise was not well known during this period, but he made a name for himself after that. The soundtrack was also the engine of this film and the bromance between Maverick and Goose (Anthony Edwards) made it even better.


Michael Keatonit is Batman was the first to head to the big screen, and it set the tone for the other iterations that followed. At the time, Superman That’s all fans had, so finally getting the caped crusader out of obscurity and screen grace was a big deal.

Related Link: Michael Keaton’s Best Performances, Ranked

The magic of Tim Burtoncombined with Keatonsarcasm, and of course the iconic Jack NicholsonThe Joker’s vision made it one of the biggest films of the decade. That’s why fans call it Batman ’89 in one breath, so that they can distinguish it from the others.


In the 80s james cameron became a prolific director because of what he did for the action genre. When aliens came out – which is a sequel to Ridley Scottit is ExtraterrestrialCameron took Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) to new heights. Weaver had a great run in the 80s and released a lot of movies that drove fans to the movies because of his character in Extraterrestrial.

Weaver was untouchable in the 80s because of Ripley and the character has become a staple of the sci-fi/horror genre. For fans of the genre, Ripley was beloved by many as one of the strongest female characters of the decade. For the time, it was refreshing to see a woman at the center of an action movie and that’s why it worked well.

Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy is one of the funniest comedians around and when he got into filmmaking he owned the 80s. Beverly Hills Cop made him a Hollywood star and changed the face of comedians breaking into the film industry. Axel Foley will always be a piece of the 80s, even down to the suit he wore. People have been quoting the movie for years because of how funny the majority of its lines are.

For a while, everyone was talking about this movie, which later resulted in his trilogy. The 80s put him at the top of the A list due to the number of people who also wanted to work with him. Murphy grabbed so many fans with this buddy cop action flick and made it a memorable piece of the decade.

The Raiders of the Lost Ark

Steven Spielberg is a director who established himself in the 80s. He worked on more than 22 projects as a producer and 7 of which he directed. Even though he didn’t stop producing films, The Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first of several of his films that spanned the entire decade.

Every fan of Harrison Ford showed up forIndianaJonesand made the archaeologist a household name. Decades later, a fifth installment is in the works and fans are just as excited about it.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Perhaps the greatest sci-fi action franchise in history saw its trilogy come to an end (or so fans thought) in the early ’80s. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was an event film like no other in this decade. No matter when you first watched this third episode, it still had one of the best reveals ever. Even if you already knew what it was, that moment made the original trilogy so worth the ’80s hype.

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It was the culmination of Luke Skywalker (Marc Hamil) storyline at the time, which shocked everyone with a famous line from Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) itself. This film defined sci-fi/fantasy action films in the 80s due to the long-lasting impact it had on the crossover of genres. It was a phenomenon that carried so much weight decades later. It looks like an outdated trilogy when you watch it now, but george lucas did something amazing for fans in this decade that changed the course of it all.

blade runner

Harrison Ford had a great run in the 80s and is one of the most notable action stars. blade runner was a sleeper hit and even got a revamped sequel directed by Dennis Villeneuve. Blade Runner 2049 was a good sequel to the original because of Deckard’s story arc, but it didn’t quite hit the mark like the first film.

Deckard’s world-leading technology created such great action scenes in both films. Every movie Ford was in, in the 80s became an action movie classic and added a lot to his filmography. Again, director Ridley Scott made a classic of an 80s sci-fi action movie because it’s the perfect blend of genres.

die hard

die hard was a huge movie for Bruce Willis in the 80s, which also catapulted him into stardom. It was supposed to be a one-off action movie, but John McClane was too good a character to say goodbye so soon. It’s one of those action movies that will be on TV and a true fan will watch it no matter what it does.

Apart from being an action movie, it is also considered a tradition to watch it during the holidays as it is technically classified as a Christmas movie. Willis became an action star overnight die hard an instant classic with four additional installments. Although the sequels could have ended after the third, live free die hard was a pretty good update to the original movie.

first blood

After Rocky released in 1976, Sylvester Stallone didn’t stop at just one franchise. Instead, he took a run with Rambo. In the same year, he would have Rocky suites and Rambo sequels come out together. stallion was able to be part of two different franchises that were made for decades after the first installment, which is pretty impressive.

Related: How To Watch Every ‘Rambo’ Movie In Order

stallion was and still is known as the definitive action star of the 80s. John Rambo became a rogue army veteran who was being prosecuted by the military for his actions. He was one man against many, and that’s what made him so interesting to watch. The action in the film was also quite graphic for the 80s, and they made it so authentic for the era.

The Terminator

The 80s aren’t complete without The Terminator. Not only was the first episode a success, but the sequel T2: Day of Judgment is considered better than the first. Another action star who defined the 80s is Arnold Schwarzenegger, he owned that decade and made a name for himself.

Even though he was the name that made him great, Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor is also another female character who has become a staple of the sci-fi action genre like Ellen Ripley. The 80s were filled with iconic action stars and action movies that became instant classics for years to come.

Next: ’80s Action Movies That Still Give You A Hard Time