Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been one to take home too many awards come Oscar season, but this has not stopped the Austrian Oak from becoming one of the most popular and beloved actors in the world.
Born in 1947, Arnold has known his fair share of praise and admiration throughout his long and multifaceted career. The man has triumphed as a Mr. Olympia, a businessman, a politician, and, of course, as an actor.
With more than 50 movies under his belt, Arnold Schwarzenegger has given us more than a few of Hollywood’s most memorable characters and his movies have become ingrained in the collective mind of the world as some of the best of all time.
There is no doubt that out of the plethora of action stars that Hollywood spewed out during the 80s, Arnold was the most versatile. While the likes of Stallone, Van Damme, Norris, and other contemporaries concentrated on being the biggest and baddest action stars, Arnold did all of that AND mastered the art of comedy as well.
Arnold has hit home run after home run, but in our humble opinion, all of his best movies were made in the 80s. In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that the 80s Hollywood Action Cinema was defined by Arnold Schwarzenegger movies.
In a career, as filled with highlights as Arnie’s, which movies are truly worth your time?
Here is our list of the top 5 Arnold Schwarzenegger movies from the 80s
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alyssa Milano, Rae Dawn Chong, and Vernon Wells.
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the role of John Matrix, a former colonel in the United States Army Special Forces. John is a single father now and has retired to live in an isolated mountain cabin with his daughter Jenny, played by a young Alyssa Milano.
When his former team members begin to get murdered one by one, John is thrust back into the fray. And when the bad guys take his daughter, John becomes a veritable one-man army and unstoppable killing machine.
Throughout the film, John Matrix kills nearly one hundred and forty-six henchmen. Of these, one hundred and thirty-eight deaths occur over the span of four of the bloodiest minutes in the history of cinema.
In one of Arnold’s most memorable scenes of his entire career, which lasts only 20 seconds, he dispatches one foe after the next while cycling through such unconventional weapons as a pitchfork, a pickaxe, a machete, and even a circular saw!
Considered a capstone of the genre, Commando has only gained more fans as the years go by.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny Devito, Kelly Preston, and David Caruso.
Twins was one of the year’s biggest hits and one of the 80’s last greatest movies.
Arnold plays Julius, a sweet outsider and the result of a series of genetic experiments that gave him impressive physical and intellectual traits. The genius of the movie is the twist that as an adult Julius is confronted with the surprising news that he has a twin brother played by Danny Devito.
Directed by Ivan Reitman, of Ghostbusters fame, this comedy works because of the sheer absurdity of its premise. The physical differences between its leading actors plus the bizarre premise resulted in a major box office success.
Thanks to the confidence earned through Twins’ success, Arnold would go on to pepper his successful action hero career with numerous comedies throughout the years.
Without Twins, we would likely never have seen Kindergarten Cop, Jingle All The Way or the classic 90s hit, True Lies.
The Running Man (1987)
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Jesse Ventura, Jim Brown, annd Richard Dawnson.
It is the year 2017 and the world economy has collapsed. Food, natural resources, and oil are scarce. A police state, divided into paramilitary zones imposes its law with an iron hand. Television is controlled by the state and a sadistic television program has become the most popular in all of history.
Arnold plays Ben Richards, a military helicopter pilot who disobeys a superior’s order to shoot into a civilian crowd. As a result, he gets sent to a maximum-security prison where the inmates are summarily offered to participate in The Running Man tv show, where he must survive being murdered by professional killers on live television.
The Running Man feels like Arnold’s most prescient movie, and its themes of despotism, morally corrupt consumerism and vapid ratings-first mentality are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago.
It’s truly fascinating to see genre movies like The Running Man become incredibly prophetic as time goes by. What seemed a little silly at the time doesn’t feel like that all these decades later.
If the uber-brutal and fatalistic eponymous show of the movie were to be released today, it would probably be a hit as well.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and heavy hitters Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, Kevin Peter Hall, Bill Duke, Shane Black, Richard Chaves y Sonny Landham.
1987’s Predator was Arnie’s second foray into the world of science fiction and tells the story of an elite military force that undertakes a rescue mission deep in a Central American jungle, all the while being stalked and hunted by a deadly alien creature.
From the opening scenes where an Alien spaceship approaches earth to the closing confrontation between a beaten, bloodied Arnie and the eponymous creature, Predator is a film that thrived on its ability to blend cutting-edge special effects with a steamy, grimy, and wild jungle setting.
Originally derided by critics, Predator, like many other movies of the 80s, gained in popularity as the years went by. Presently, it is considered a classic of Science Fiction cinema. It is definitely one of my favorite movies of all time.
Predator went on to spawn a multimedia franchise that includes several feature films, video games, comics, and more.
Here is some interesting trivia: The Predator was originally supposed to be played by none other than Jean Claude Vandamme, but was instead played by the same guy who donned the BigFoot suit in Harry and the Hendersons.
Conan The Barbarian (1982)
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max Von Sydow, and Sandahl Bergman.
The premise of the movie is as simple as they come: Conan, the small son of a blacksmith, born in the inhospitable kingdom of Cimmeria, sees his parents die and becomes a slave.
Years later, turned into a powerful warrior, he regains his freedom and seeks revenge against the sorcerer who murdered his family and ruined his childhood.
Conan The Barbarian is the first feature film adaptation of the sword and sorcery adventures written by famed fantasy writer Robbert E. Howard. The film was a massive success and gave Arnie his first taste of stardom.
Conan The Barbarian is perfect Fantasy, and it was elevated by its cast, white-knuckle choreography, fantastic costume and set design, and its near-perfect pacing.
Without Conan The Barbarian, my childhood would have been completely different. Without Conan, the world may never have gotten to see Arnold grow into one of Hollywood’s living legends.