What’s worse is I remember watching them at the time of their release which makes me feel even older. *sighs theatrically*
So let’s take a trip down memory lane and see some of the action greats that surfaced 30 years ago in a galaxy not so far away…
One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finest hours, Commando remains a classic of the action genre with John Matrix (Arnie) instantly becoming an icon. When his daughter is kidnapped by his former colleague Bennett, he will stop at nothing to get her back. Somewhere, somehow, someone’s going to pay. The only problem with this movie was Rae Dawn Chong’s annoying sidekick who takes a little away from it with her constant screaming. Bennett (Vernon Wells) always looked like Freddie Mercury but that was always his intent and he’s one of the most fun villains of the action genre. After 30 years I still watch this every few months and just enjoy the massive bodycount.
Rambo: First Blood Part II
My personal favourite of the series has Rambo becoming an invincible one man army; sure it maybe makes the character more of an superhero but that’s why it’s awesome. Jerry Goldsmith’s score is rousing and the action is plentiful with the final half hour turning into action nirvana. “Murdock… I’m coming to get you!”
Missing in Action 2
This is widely regarded as the best of the Missing in Action Trilogy; Chuck Norris returns as James Braddock and this is actually a prequel to the original classic. It tells the tale of Braddock’s capture during the Vietnam War and his internment in the POW camp. It’s surprisingly harrowing in parts but still manages to have plenty of Chuck flavoured action with his satisfying fight with the sadistic Vietnamese villain at the end.
Death Wish 3
So many people dump on this film because of its drastic change in tone from the first two Death Wish movies. It might actually be my personal favourite as it doesn’t have any harrowing rape scenes and focusses more on being a straight up actioner. The final 20 minutes has Charlie Bronson becoming a one many army as he helps to clean up the city streets.
Back to the Future
It’s hard to believe that July 3rd marks the official 30th anniversary of Back to the Future; it’s one of the best films of all-time with a perfect cast, original story, fantastic music score and plenty of laughs too. Michael J. Fox was born to play Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd made Doc Brown a loveable nut. The sequels were also great fun but it’s this first film which remains the best of the series.
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
If ever there was perfect timing for the release of Mad Max: Fury Road it’s this year; the 30th anniversary of the last mad Max film Beyond Thunderdome. There are some entertaining moments in this one but I have to admit I’ve never truly loved it. It’s quite slow in parts and the kids were kind of annoying too.
The Last Dragon
“When I say Who’s the Master?!? You say SHO’NUFF!!!!” The Last Dragon embodies everything that was great about 80’s action movies. This has such a sense of fun and Taimak’s Bruce Leroy is one of the most likeable protagonists of the genre. Sure it is a little dated by now but the music and memorable characters make it stand up as a classic.
The movie that made Michael Dudikoff a star is pure Cannon greatness with a supporting cast that includes the late Steve James. There is a new Blu-ray box set out in the UK which has the first 4 films and I want it, sadly it isn’t region free so I’ll have to stick to my trusty DVDs.
One of Jackie Chan’s most beloved films, Police Story introduced us to Chan Ka Kui who is one of the most iconic action heroes of all time. The stunts are still incredible with the action all done practically which is why this after 30 years we all still go back to it. It spawned several sequels and became one of Chan’s biggest franchises.
Code of Silence
This is an underrated gem from Chuck Norris with some fun action scenes and genuinely spectacular stunts. The story had a few interesting twists and turns but most importantly there are plenty of awesome moments of Chuck beating the crap out of bad guys.
This might be the most popular of the Rocky sequels as it’s the one referenced the most throughout pop culture. It gave us Dolph Lundgren as the nearly unstoppable Ivan Drago and it takes Rocky Balboa to run up a mountain and shout “Drago!” before he can truly beat this opponent. It’s pure 80’s cheese at its finest and will always be a hugely entertaining movie.
Several other movies celebrate their 30th anniversary this year including The Protector, Runaway Train, Silverado, The Goonies, A View to a Kill, Pale Rider, Fletch, Remo Williams and Enemy Mine.
So a big Happy 30th Birthday to some truly entertaining action movies which are essential for any genre fan.