Action movies about heists, capers, police detectives and traditional human teams have become a thing of the past. Mainstream movies of the genre today are more often about robots, AI, and massive superhero battles in big cities. Every now and then we always get a great action movie that stays grounded and realistic, but if you really want to get a taste of the genre’s original style, you’ll have to look back to the 1980s, when the genre was in its prime. apogee.
There were tons of fantastic action movies and franchises born in the 1980s, such as The Terminator, Robocop, Die hard, and Indiana Jones. There are so many action movies that people have forgotten or never seen; we focus on those on this list.
ten The Untouchables (1987)
The Untouchables is a classic gangster movie. According to a book of the same name, The Untouchables boasts an astonishing cast of talent in Robert de Niro, Andy Garcia, Sean Connery and Kevin Costner. Although he’s been nominated for multiple Oscars (Connery even won the award for Best Supporting Actor), The Untouchables has been largely forgotten.
The story of the film is that of your standard agent trying to defeat a slippery mafia boss. The Untouchables excels at taking a basic plot and developing it into an intense, compelling story driven by great performances from the entire cast.
9 Bloodsport (1988)
Since the rise of Rocky, we’ve seen our fair share of boring movies about the rise of boxers and fighters. The vast majority of these Rocky scams are tediously cliché. Bloodsport falls into a similar trap, with plenty of familiar tropes to wade through. Critics were not fans of the film. That said, he had a better reception with the public.
Many consider Blood sport to be one of the finest works of Jean-Claude Van Damme. His character Frank Dux moves into the hyper-violent world of Hong Kong martial arts competitions. Blood sport is full of all the bone crunches and spurts of blood you could possibly want while maintaining a dark sense of humor throughout.
8 Commando (1985)
The 1980s were the heyday of Arnold Schwarzenegger. After rising to fame and becoming an acclaimed action superstar in films like Conan the Barbarian and Terminator, Schwarzenegger continued his winning streak with films like Commando. It’s easy for this action flick to be overlooked in favor of Schwarzenegger’s more notable roles.
The plot might not be the strongest or the best written, but where this film excels is in its non-stop action and flawless one-liners. Commando take everything you loved about the 80s and crank it up to ten. Granted, it’s a bit cartoonish at times, but it’s sure to put a smile on your face.
7 Kickboxer (1989)
Jean-Claude van Damme starred in another martial arts action film in the late 80s with Kickboxer. It’s no different from Blood sport with Van Damme character Kurt Sloane entering a Thai league this time around. His motivations are also different in Kickboxer as Sloane sets out to avenge his fallen brother.
You’ll probably understand precisely what kind of movie you’re getting yourself into if you watch even one trailer. This is not a bad thing! Sometimes a silly popcorn action flick is what you need, and Kickboxer provides it in spades. And hey, that was popular enough to spawn four sequels so that must mean something, right?
6 Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
Mad Max, as a franchise, can hardly be considered underestimated. The series comes up frequently in every conversation about action movies of the past decades. However, in general, people like to rave about the original. Mad Max and the most recent Mad Max: Fury Road. Mad Max 2 is paid dust compared to his siblings.
Director George Miller somehow manages to improve on the already excellent Mad Max. The sequel features bigger stunts, bolder action sequences, and an intriguing storyline, but it doesn’t fall into the common potholes of many sequels in the past. It’s an exhilarating and well-designed action feature that action fans shouldn’t miss.
5 Watchful (1983)
As the title of this movie suggests, Vigilant is all about vigilantes. Robert Forster stars as Eddie Marino. A somewhat predictable plot follows from a father enraged by the death of his son and the lack of justice served to his killers. He decides to take matters into his own hands.
It’s a typical B-movie, and while critics didn’t like it, many moviegoers were won over by the movie’s cheese. The best way to describe Vigilant that’s to say it’s fun. While this may seem like too simple an explanation, it is the most accurate sum in the movie. What’s the point of watching an action movie anyway if it doesn’t keep you entertained?
4 Cobra (1986)
Cobra is another critical film on this list. That said, unlike some of the other entries, Cobra is now considered a cult classic. Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nelson and Reni Santoni lead the cast of this Beverly Hills cop rework. Yes, you read that right.
If you didn’t know, Stallone worked on Eddie Murphy’s screenplay Beverly Hills cop. He used several of his pre-production ideas to design a new film that ultimately became Cobra. Stallone plays a badass cop with the fitting nickname, Cobra, and sets out to find and destroy a cult of aspiring serial killers.
3 Police history (1985)
Police Story stands out on this list both because of Jackie Chan’s involvement in writing and directing the film and because of its critical acclaim. Police Story helped establish Chan as one of the best of the genre. It was this film that launched Chan’s career in Hollywood outside of Hong Kong.
Chan plays an honest cop who wants to hunt down a drug lord. He must then protect the woman who will testify against him. Critics praised Chan’s performance and excellent fight choreography. It might surprise you how Police Story holds up all those years after its initial release.
2 A Better Future (1986)
A better tomorrow is another ’80s action film originally released in Hong Kong. He had a great influence on the Hong Kong film industry and in Hollywood. John Woo directed the film with Leslie Cheung, Chow Yun-fat and Ti Lung. It’s ultra-violent and the thrilling fight sequences have made it an action classic.
But despite his solid reputation, he’s largely ignored in modern cinematic conversations. Critics praised A better tomorrow to be opera-scale and to redefine the genre tropes we knew when it debuted in theaters.
1 Number One with a Ball (1987)
Robert Carradine, Billy Dee Williams and Valerie Bertinelli lead the cast of this old-school crime film from 1987. Carradine and Williams play partners in the police force tasked with hunting down a drug lord. The two detectives are very different in their manners and their approach.
When their lead leads to a respected member of the community, the two must decide how to proceed and whether the evidence is true or false. Not only is Number one with a ball a great action movie, but it also offers elements of mystery and suspense.
NEXT: 10 Best Female Action Movies Of The Last Decade
Harry Potter: Dobby’s 10 Best Quotes
About the Author