If you're a fan of action films, then chances are you're familiar with Arnold Schwarzenegger. This Austrian-born actor, bodybuilder, and politician is a multifaceted individual who first rose to fame by winning multiple Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia titles in the 1970s. Then in the 1980s he ascended to international super stardom with a string of Blockbuster films that established him as one of the biggest action heroes of all time.
Over the past weekend I took the opportunity to watch a number of Arnold's films from the 1980s. In this blog, I'll be recapping each film and sharing my thoughts on them, as well as discussing Arnold's impact on 1980s culture and the film industry. Finally, I'll be exploring how Arnold went on from being an action hero to become a successful politician. So let's dive in and take a look at some of Arnold's best films from the 1980s (and one from 1970)!
First up was Hercules in New York, which is a film that is largely forgotten today, but it is notable for being Arnold Schwarzenegger's first film and for introducing the world to his unique blend of charisma and muscle. The film was released in 1970, and it follows the titular character (Arnold) as he travels to New York City and tries to adjust to life in the modern world.
Despite its low budget and amateur special effects, Hercules in New York is a fun and campy film that is worth checking out for fans of Arnold or of the sword-and-sandal genre. The film's sense of humor is cheesy and over-the-top, and it is full of campy moments that will have you laughing out loud. Arnold's performance as Hercules is charming and likable, and he is able to convey the character's fish-out-of-water struggles with a sense of humor and charm.
Next up was Conan the Barbarian (1982), one of Arnold's most iconic and beloved films. Based on the pulp novels by Robert E. Howard, Conan the Barbarian follows the titular character on a quest for revenge and personal power. Arnold is perfectly cast as Conan, bringing both physicality and charm to the role. The film was a major box office success and spawned a sequel, Conan the Destroyer (1984).
Conan the Destroyer is not quite as good as the first film, but it is still an entertaining slice of 1980s sword-and-sandal fun. The plot is a bit thin and the action is certainly over-the-top, but Arnold's performance is still solid and there are some great moments of fun throughout. The film also features some impressive set pieces and a memorable performance by Grace Jones as the sorceress Zula.
The Terminator (1984) is perhaps Arnold's most iconic film, and with good reason. This science fiction action classic follows a cyborg assassin (Arnold) sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of a future resistance leader. The film is a perfect blend of action, suspense, and science fiction, and Arnold's performance as the T-800 is both chilling and unforgettable. The Terminator was a major hit and spawned a massive franchise that is still going strong today. It is also notable for launching the career of director James Cameron, who would go on to create other Blockbuster franchises like Aliens and Avatar.
Commando (1985) is another Arnold classic that is well worth checking out. This film follows a retired special forces soldier (Arnold) who is called back into action to rescue his daughter from a group of terrorists. The film is pure 1980s retro action, with Arnold dispatching wave after wave of bad guys with ease. It's a lot of fun and is one of Arnold's most entertaining films. The film also features a memorable performance by Rae Dawn Chong as Arnold's daughter, and the chemistry between the two actors is one of the highlights of the film.
Raw Deal (1986) is a bit of a departure for Arnold, as it is more of a crime drama than an action film. The plot follows a retired FBI agent (Arnold) who is drawn back into the world of crime when his old boss (Moses Gunn) asks him to take down a corrupt businessman. The film is a bit of a slow burn, but it is well acted and features some great action set pieces. Arnold's performance as the gruff and no-nonsense ex-FBI agent is one of the highlights of the film, and he is able to convincingly portray the character's inner turmoil as he is torn between his loyalty to his old boss and his sense of justice.
Predator (1987) is another classic of the 1980s action genre. This film follows a team of commandos (led by Arnold) who are sent into the Central American jungle to rescue a kidnapped diplomat. However, they soon find themselves being hunted by an alien predator. The film is a tense and suspenseful action thriller, and Arnold's performance as the tough-as-nails Dutch is one of his best. The film also features a great supporting cast, including Jesse Ventura and Bill Duke, and the special effects (which have held up remarkably well) are top-notch.
The Running Man (1987) is a fun and campy science fiction action film based on a novel by Stephen King, The Running Man follows a man (Arnold) who is falsely accused of a crime and is forced to compete in a deadly game show where he must fight for his life. The film is a bit over-the-top and cheesy, but it is a lot of fun and features some great action set pieces. Arnold's performance as Ben Richards, the falsely accused hero, is one of his most likable and charming, and the film's satirical take on reality TV is still relevant today.
Red Heat (1988) is a buddy cop film that pairs Arnold with James Belushi as two officers from different countries who must team up to take down a Russian drug lord. The film is a bit formulaic, but it is still a lot of fun and features some great action set pieces. Arnold's performance as the straight-laced Russian officer is one of his more subtle and understated, and he has great chemistry with Belushi's wisecracking detective.
It's been a wild and thrilling weekend of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, and it's clear that Arnold was one of the biggest action heroes of all time. From his early film debut in Hercules in New York to his iconic performances in The Terminator and Predator, Arnold brought charisma, muscle, and pure entertainment to the screen.
But it's not just his performances that made Arnold a cultural icon. His films were also major box office successes, and they helped to establish the 1980s as a golden age of action cinema. Whether he was fighting off hordes of barbarians in Conan the Barbarian or taking down terrorists in Commando, Arnold was always the ultimate hero, and his films have stood the test of time as some of the most entertaining and memorable of the era.
In addition to his impact on the film industry, Arnold Schwarzenegger also had a major impact on 1980s culture. His muscular physique and confident demeanor made him a role model for many young men. Arnold’s films were also popular with women, and he helped to pave the way for more strong and independent female characters in action films.
Arnold was a major celebrity and his image was used to sell everything from action figures to fitness equipment. His catchphrases and one-liners became a part of popular culture, and his name was/is synonymous with strength and success.
After his reign as one of the biggest action heroes of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger went on to have a successful career in politics. In 2003, he was elected Governor of California, a position he held until 2011. During his time as Governor, Arnold made headlines for his unorthodox approach to politics and his efforts to tackle issues like climate change and immigration reform.
While Arnold's political career was not without controversy, he was widely regarded as a successful and effective leader. He worked to bring business and environmental interests together, and he made a number of key decisions that had a positive impact on the state of California.
Overall, Arnold's rise to political office is a testament to his determination and his ability to adapt to new challenges. While he will always be remembered as one of the biggest action heroes of all time, his political career shows that he is much more than just a muscle-bound actor. He is a multifaceted and talented individual who has made a significant impact on both the film industry and the world of politics.
So, as I wrap up this weekend of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, I can't help but feel a sense of awe and admiration for this incredible actor. Arnold Schwarzenegger is truly one of the greatest and most iconic figures in the history of film and popular culture. From his early days as a bodybuilder and actor to his successful career in politics, Arnold has always been a force to be reckoned with. His films are still loved and enjoyed today, and his impact on the industry and culture will be felt for generations to come.
So here's to you, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thank you for all the thrills and entertainment you brought to the screen, and thank you for being a true icon of strength, courage, and greatness.
Your place in history is forever secure. You truly are one of the all-time greats!
About the Author: Frank Somma is an avid comic book fan and horror movie fiend. He is a community orginizer, event coordinator, and graphic designer/video editor. When he's not geeking out over comics and movies or staring at a computer screen you can find him diligently working on a 20 acre organic farm. Geek | Techie | Farmer
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