By contemporary norms, tentpole properties dominate the action genre. However, the 1980s originated such franchises that shaped the pop culture lexicon we still know today. The budgets on those films weren’t as big as their eventual sequels, but what they may have lacked in grand spectacle, they made up for in concept.
1984’s “The Terminator” is a fine example of such a juggernaut. Budgeted at $6.4 million, “The Terminator” had a simple story involving a waitress named Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) on the run from the titular cyborg. Its success solidified Arnold Schwarzenegger as action hero and the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2008, solidifying its pop culture dominance.
Along with the Terminator, Indiana Jones became an instant icon during this decade. 1981’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was released and achieved financial success along with awards prestige. At the 54th Academy Awards, it was nominated for nine Oscars including Best Picture. The film managed to win five including Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects. Lead actor Harrison Ford received no Best Actor love, but his performance as the titular hero remains a stronghold in film history. In addition, he’ll be back for another adventure in a couple years.
Speaking of Oscar nominated action films, “Beverly Hills Cop” is another example. Since the film is an action comedy, its genre would be a double strike against its Oscar hopes if it came out today. Yet, it managed to achieve a nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Not to mention, it solidified Eddie Murphy’s status as a bankable film star of the decade.
Now, we’ll toss things off to you. Be sure to sound off on what you think are some of the best action films from the 1980s.