Arnold Schwarzenegger was definitely one of the biggest movie stars of the 80s. His early films are synonymous with awesome 80s action-fests including 6 great films in only 4 years between 1984 and 1988 including The Terminator, Predator, Commando and Running Man. Below is my Top Ten list of his movies, all taken from the 80s or early 90s. This is purely my personal opinion at this moment in time of course. I would love to see your thoughts and your own lists in the comments below. I’ve written the list in descending order so that you aren’t spoiled as you read down the blog post. To see all the Top Ten lists in ascending order just go to the Top Tens page. All images in this blog post are from IMDB.
10. Kindergarten Cop
This film is actually really well done. It looks like it’s going to be a rubbish comedy but there are some good action sequences and some quite touching moments too. I certainly wanted to include it in the Top Ten as it shows Arnie at his genre-flexing best but I can’t put it any higher than 10.
Well, obviously this is a classic and it’s the film that really put Arnie on the map. Lots of classic moments in the film and some classic actors too alongside Arnie. I wouldn’t say it’s one that I go back to watch again and again though, so whilst I need to have it on my list it was never going to be too high.
8. Red Heat
Arnie playing a Russian cop. That was always going to work well. I always think of this film as being one of Arnie’s best acting roles. But actually when I come to think of it I don’t think he really had to say much or do much apart from look coldly at James Belushi. So perhaps he was just really well cast! Good solid film though. James Belushi’s quipping plays off pretty well most of the time against Arnie’s stoic reactions.
7. True Lies
A great all round movie. Funny bits, cool bits, incredible action bits. For some reason I always think of this film as a bit of a comedy but whenever I see it I realise it is so much more. In some ways it’s Arnie’s Bond film. With James Cameron at the helm it was always going to work.
6. The Running Man
Such a great story, based on the book by Stephen King. I just think there’s something really cool about this film, whether it’s the 80s futuristic sci-fi or the sadistic reality TV show. Not sure about the full length skin tight outfits though. A great 80s sci-fi action movie.
5. Total Recall
I love so many things about this film. The mind-twisting plot… the effects… Michael Ironside. Seriously, any film that stars Michael Ironside is going to be cool in my book. The effects were very impressive back in the day and there are some really cool moments, with the Johnny Cab, or the lady with 3 breasts or when Arnie’s eyes nearly pop out of his head on the Mars atmosphere.
Awesomeness just oozes out of this film. Jesse Ventura in the jungle with a machine gun? Yes please. Arnie is great as Dutch and almost seems to be reprising his role from Commando. And then the real star of the show perhaps is the Predator itself. So cool and original and spawned a whole franchise of movies and games and crossovers as a result of this movie. And some classic quotes too of course. “Get to da chopper!!”.
3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
This really was a ground-breaking film. Amazing effects but also it is one of those examples of a sequel that is nearly better than the original. Many people will have this higher than the original in their own rankings. It’s clever, well made and has a great track by Guns n’ Roses, and I love the ambiguity over Arnie’s role in the first part of the film. It’s such a shame that the third film didn’t live up to the first two.
2. The Terminator
I’ve put the original Terminator movie above it’s sequel because I think it’s got real heart. It’s more of a horror in some ways whereas the sequel is more of an action film. I also prefer the innocent version of Sarah Connor in this film before she gets all battle hardened. But Arnie himself is just incredible as the killer robot. Perfect role for him at that time and of course it’s the first time he said his iconic line, “I’ll be back”.
There was no doubt at all in my mind that I would put Commando at the no.1 spot in my list of Arnie films. It’s just a classic, classic 80s action film. Arnie was born to play John Matrix. I think it’s the first 18 Rated movie that I watched (when I was about 11). The violence is so over the top (supposedly 81 killings by Matrix) and the one-liners are great “Let off some steam, Bennett”. It’s got deers, ice cream, circular saws in people’s scalps and an Aussie in a dodgy chain-mail leather outfit. If you want more than that you’re asking for too much.