Top 10 Action Movies of the 1980s

Script written by Richard Bush. This is the era where guns never seemed to run out of bullets, bad guys never ran out of henchmen, and action stars never ran out of cheesy sendoff lines. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 action movies of the 1980s. These are the films from the 1980s that delivered particularly memorable and iconic thrills when it came to action sequences. And just to be clear, we’ve taken all genres into consideration for this list. Special thanks to our users BDWJ1986, CallumB123 and Andrew A. Dennison for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Richard Bush.

Top 10 Action Movies of the 1980s


This is the era where guns never seemed to run out of bullets. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 action movies of the 1980s.

These are the films from the ‘80s that delivered particularly memorable and iconic thrills when it came to action sequences. And just to be clear, we’ve taken all genres into consideration for this list.

#10: “Commando” (1985)

This one’s got Arnold Schwarzenegger, a whole lotta war paint and huge rocket launchers. “Commando” follows retired Delta Force strongman John Matrix on his search for mercenary blood after the kidnap of his daughter. Arnie takes on hordes of bad-guys in unstoppable style – seriously, no matter how many guys shoot at him, he just doesn’t get hit. And, what is an ‘80s action flick without cheesy sendoff lines?

#9: “Above the Law” (1988)

Steven Seagal plays yet another martial-arts expert, but this one’s attempting to lead a quieter life as a Chicago cop after his grizzly past in Vietnam. But when some arrests go sour and his beloved church falls victim to a bombing, Seagal seeks revenge. The result is non-stop action with Seagal’s hands as deadly weapons: at one point he even strangles a guy while riding on the roof of a car. Hells yes.

#8: “First Blood” (1982)

When Vietnam vet John Rambo is left angry and confused by a disgruntled sheriff’s department, he takes shelter in a nearby forest. This makes way for a battle royal as the officers attempt to force Rambo out of the woods – but with his expert survival skills, it ain’t easy. Makeshift booby traps, improvised weaponry and a hefty dosage of Stallone groaning all make this movie an action-packed classic.

#7: “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” (1981)

A post-apocalyptic wasteland, combatant vehicles and a healthy portion of ‘80s cheese are served up in this Mel Gibson vehicle. “Mad Max 2” follows Australian road-warrior Max, who becomes the hero of a group of survivors when he defeats a herd of gasoline bandits. Thanks to plenty of desolate desert, the flick hosts numerous high-speed chases featuring some of the most unusual vehicles – kinda different from the down-and-out shoot-‘em-ups of the same era.

#6: “Predator” (1987)

If it bleeds, they can kill it. When a rescue mission takes a strange turn, a group of special force operatives, headlined by Schwarzenegger yet again, finds themselves the prey of an extraterrestrial super-soldier. Whether by ripping out their spines or blowing off their limbs; this Predator picks them off one-by-one. But let’s remember: this is Ahnold we’re talking about, so you can expect one helluvan arm wrestle.

#5: “RoboCop” (1987)

This ‘80s action flick brought mainstream violence to a whole new level. When good cop Alex J. Murphy is left fighting for his life after a gruesome attempted execution, he’s selected to become a cyborg super-cop, otherwise known as RoboCop, to bring order to the dystopian streets of Detroit. With superhuman strength, disturbing acid baths and blood-splattering gun battles, “RoboCop” will surprise even the most seasoned action fan.

#4: “Lethal Weapon” (1987)

This is Mel Gibson at his crazy best. When seasoned cop Murtaugh is paired with Gibson’s suicidal cop Riggs to stop some drug smugglers, their personalities clash, big time. But with Riggs’ hands-on approach to crime solving – whether by throwing himself off a rooftop or going deep undercover – we get some high-octane thrills. But don’t get us wrong, Murtaugh can kick some ass when he has to.

#3: “The Terminator” (1984)

This James Cameron movie gave the words “I’ll be back” the real power they deserve. When a killer cyborg is sent back to kill Sarah Connor in order to put a stop to the future human resistance, we get ultra-violence, time travel and bloody scenes of… well, bloodiness. Between Schwarzenegger’s persona as an eerie-killer-mean-machine and his nonstop assault and destructiveness, anyone will be put on edge.

#2: “Aliens” (1986)

Here’s yet another James Cameron blend of intense action and original sci-fi flare. When Nostromo survivor Ellen Ripley returns to the now-colonized alien planet on a search-and-destroy mission with an elite group of soldiers, it’s guns versus space invaders. Unlike the original “Alien” film, “Aliens” has way more of the evil blighters to blow away. This means there’s more gore, more nervous dispositions and of course, more battles.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are some of our honorable mentions:
- “A Better Tomorrow” (1986)
- “Police Story” (1985)
- “Tango & Cash” (1989)

#1: “Die Hard” (1988)

New York cop John McClane finds himself in Nakatomi Plaza as German criminals seize control. We watch as he covertly takes out each of the acting terrorists one-by-one in an attempt to rescue hostages, violently executing them, slithering through vents and even teasing the bad guys with some festive cheer. This tense shooter set the foundations for numerous sequels and gave us one of the most memorable sendoff lines ever…

Do you agree with our list? What is your favorite action packed 80’s flick? For more lock and loaded Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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