First Blood (1982)
Sylvester Stallone brings to life a new kind of action film, the shoot em up. Before this, we mostly had to rely on western films for a good shootout. Stallone becomes the first of the 80s action stars as John Rambo, his second best performance on film (the first being Rocky). This wasn't the Rambo that we know of today. This movie is an action that sends a few good messages:
1. How hard it is for a returning veteran to "turn it off"
2. How much violence police brutality can cause
Believe it or not, it was Stallone's decision to rewrite the story and make it less blood-soaked than David Morrell's novel. Out of all the wars our country has fought, the Vietnam war had the worst effect on the U.S. soldiers who survived. It gotten even worse for them when they returned home. There were stories about how they were protested and spit on at airports and were called "baby killers." Rambo talks about all this in his iconic speech in the final scene. It's hard to say if that really happened or not when the war ended, I wasn't there. One thing that did really happen for sure was that so many of them ended up homeless and without jobs. If you plan on watching action movies starring the best actions stars, I would start with this one.
"Nothing is over, nothing! You just don't turn it off. It wasn't my war. You asked me, I didn't ask you. I did what I had to do to win, but somebody wouldn't let us win." -John Rambo
The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
I would like to see who would disagree with me when I say that James Cameron is the master at sci-fi action. His first claim to fame was The Terminator (1984), then Aliens (1986), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), and finally Avatar (2009). "James Cameron can go to his grave knowing he directed two of the best movie sequels of all time" (James Rolfe, Terminator 2 review). Aliens just barely exceeds Terminator 2 and it's a little difficult to explain why. It's just the visual style and special effects of Aliens that make it my favorite science fiction film ever.
The first two Terminator movies is a perfect blend of action, sci-fi, time travel, and a pinch of film noir. The message that these films create is similar to the one brough out in the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still. If we don't stop our ways in destroying each other and ourselves, then we are doomed to a terrible fate. That's the key word that sums up Terminator 2: fate. "There's no fate than what we make" -Sarah Connor. Even though Cameron tried to make these films as serious as possible, Arnold's presence can't make that a guarantee with all his iconic one-liners such as "I'll be back" and "Hasta le vista, baby."