The late 80's and early 90's provided us with the most entertaining and ridiculously plotted action movies in all of mankind's history.
American Gladiators? Childish. Fear Factor? Yawn. Survivor? Might as well be a game of Candyland. Give me a gameshow where the contestants go full contact with a slew of insane "stalkers" to try and win their freedom. Set in the all-so-popular "world economy has crashed and the remnants of society now exist only to be oppressed by a totalitarian government" backdrop, The Running Man gives us a not too unrealistic picture of what mankind might resort to given enough poverty and boredom. This one does carry with it a smudge of thought provoking plot, but that's only because its based on a Stephen King novel.
Why not make a movie about a truck-driver with aspirations of being a world champion arm wrestler? The selling job that the scriptwriter of this gem pulled had to include at least one horse head in at least one bed to reach fruition. Notable scenes include a contestant chugging a quart of motor oil right before a match, Stallone gaining super-human strength and resolve from a one-hundred and eighty degree rotation of a baseball cap, and several of the most barf-inducing father-son scenes in cinematic history.
8 or 9 years ago this might have been closer to the #1 spot but the Tom Cruise factor has since kicked in and I challenge anyone to watch Top Gun now without having at least one thought about what a couch jumping space cadet Maverick would end up becoming. Besides making every male between the ages of 12 and 57 want to drop whatever they were doing to become an F-14 fighter pilot, Ray-Ban sunglasses also reported a 40% sales increase. Seriously though, the "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" routine is classic. I'm surprised more idiots haven't tried to duplicate it more often in their never-ending quest for skanks. Maybe they did back in 1986 but I was more interested in Optimus Prime than picking up chicks so I never noticed.
Our second post-apocalyptic flick was also the beginning and end of Tina Turner's acting career. Not sure why, as Aunty Entity, she did a jam-up job. Thunderdome threw out pesky things like lawyers, juries, jails, and judges, utilizing the much more efficient and cost effective steel dome filled with chainsaws, spears, and spikes. Slightly barbaric approach to simplifying the justice system. Anyways, whoever came out alive was awarded the coveted prize of continuing life in the slumdog world of Bartartown. Mad Max continues to be paid homage by a number of films that take one or more of its original aspects or attempt to re-invent it entirely (think Book of Eli, Waterworld).
Sure Arnold is already on our list but a film that includes not one but two meathead-turned governors certainly warrants a spot. The special effects were one-of-a-kind at the time and the film's perfectly choreographed soundtrack served up just the right amount of menace while we waited on the edge of our seats for Arnold's team of commandoes to flex their collective muscle against the dreadlocked Predator. Although the sequel wasn't half bad, the original still manages to cease our channel surfing each and every time it comes on network television, regardless of how many times we've seen it or whether we come in at the beginning or the final showdown. I've seen this at least 800 times and own the DVD, but still am rendered powerless whenever I stumble on it while scrolling through the guide. I simply cannot NOT watch it if its on. Like trying to NOT pop bubble wrap, it is simply a scientific tendency as ingrained as gravity on Earthly matter.
Before we had Kimbo Slice, the octagon, or the UFC, we had Jean Claude's all time best full-contact martial arts showdown: Bloodsport. With the somewhat based-on a semi-true story backdrop of a secret underground ass-kicking contest, Bloodsport was filled with memorable fighters and fight scenes. Watching Van Damage drop into a split and uppercut a giant sumo wrestler right in the twig and berries ranks pretty high on the awesome scale. Other moments worth noting: Jean Claude's pal Jackson delivering an overhanded knockout blow in his first fight, the Congo-island guy getting bear-hugged into submission by the sumo wrestler, the ring janitor snagging the gold tooth left on the mat after Van Damage's first fight, and the brick-smashing initiation routine where JCVD demolishes a brick at the bottom of a stack without scratching the one on top. Every time I watch that scene I always wish Youtube had been around when this thing was in its heyday. How many glorious videos of redneck-retards and tough-guy wannabies breaking hands and fingers would we have gotten to enjoy?
Leaving this one of the list would be right up there with committing treason against the motherland, resulting in death by Drago fist-pummeling. Arguably the best of the series, IV gave us a sample of what true Spartan training is all about. Log lunges in four feet of snow, tricep extensions with a bag of rocks, and situps in a barn all made us re-examine our current workout environments. This movie also claims to have ended the Cold War. If that is really the case, why hasn't Stallone been made a national hero? I know Philly has the statue and all but seriously, if an actor was truly responsible for all of us not becoming nuclear compost, shouldn't he at least be on a five-dollar bill or something?
How many All-American linebackers can you name that starred in an action flick about drug-running biker gangs? Didn't think so. Look no further than Brian Bosworth's debut in Stone Cold. Surprisingly, Bosworth does a pretty decent job in this one and it's a little surprising we didn't see anything post-Stone Cold. Maybe he exhibited too much Roid Rage on set. Maybe he form-tackled a member of the production crew. Maybe the mullet severely limited his versatility. All we can do is speculate. This one is pretty high on the list because its fairly obsure compared with the others. I honestly wanted to join a motor cycle gang after watching this. All they do is party with chicks, ride around looking all badass, and sell a rock or three when cash is running low.
Okay so undoubtedly the same guy who sold "Over the Top" pimped this one out. Selling a script about a bouncer who's reputation for cleaning up small town bars was so renowned that it managed to cross state lines could not have been an easy task. Throw in the premise that this bouncer actually "apprenticed" under an even more infamous bouncer and it's nothing short of a miracle this gem even made it to the big screen. This movie is also responsible for my creation of the aptly named "Roadhouse Theory". The premise is that at any given moment, on some channel, on some continent, Roadhouse is broadcasting in its entirety. I think AMC has a contract provision that requires them to show it at least 6 times a day. USA got theirs negotiated down to 4 and TBS here in Georgia refuses to broadcast anything other than Braves baseball and Roadhouse all day long.
Though claiming the lowest body count of the series, Rambo delivers arguably the most conceivable plot hands down. A special forces soldier just back from Vietnam finds it impossible to re-acclimate himself to civilian life. Not much of a stretch right? Every man can relate to feeling like he doesn't fit in or isn't adequate enough for what society requires of him at some point in time. Misunderstood and angry, Rambo heads into the wilderness and proceeds to covertly take out anyone that dares pursue him. If you haven't ever wanted to do something like this at one point or another in your life then your probably the jackass that sold the Roundhouse and Over the Top scripts.