When you’re listing the greatest action stars of all time, no list would be complete without the man, the myth, the legend that is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnie turns 74 years young today, so I thought I’d look back at some of his finest cinematic moments and adventures by counting down his top 5 movies.
Arnold’s portrayal of Robert E. Howard’s legendary pulp hero skyrocketed the Austrian bodybuilder to major movie stardom. He perfectly portrayed the muscle bound and stoic Barbarian setting out to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the evil Thulsa Doom (played by Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones). Arnold insisted on using a real sword in all of his scenes instead of the lighter prop one, proving his strength both on and off screen.
Arnold is not only an iconic action hero but a gifted comedic actor as well. This James Bond riff allows him to show off both skills as an international man of mystery trying to keep his secret identity from his none the wiser wife. The chemistry between Arnold and co-star Jamie Lee Curtis mixed with the special effects heavy action sequences from technical whiz Cameron made this a smash box office hit.
Putting Arnold Schwarzenegger into a mind bending sci-fi film allows him to play an emotion he excels at: confusion. Watching Arnold try to separate reality from fiction in this absolutely bonkers film is an immense amount of fun. Add in some seriously badass action scenes and a few patented one liners and this movie is a total blast. Verhoeven also crafts an absolutely unforgettable vision of the future for Arnold to run around and blow away the baddies.
When the deadliest being in the universe lands on Earth who else but Arnold can face off against it? This movie perfectly blends horror, sci-fi, and action as the vicious alien tears its way through Arnold’s commando team. The final showdown between Arnold and the creature is an all time classic as he’s forced to rely more on his thinking than brute strength. The movie also features the manliest handshake committed to film.
The first Terminator is an exciting science fiction twist on the monster movie, but it feels like a dry run for the far superior sequel. The movie not only features cutting edge special effects that still astound to this day but it perfectly shows off Arnold’s charm as his T-800 robot comes to care for future resistance leader John Connor. Badass but with a tender streak is a great mode to cast Arnold in. James Cameron has always excelled at writing roles for Arnold, and we can only hope we haven’t seen the last of their collaborations.