What was it about the 1980s that made for such over-the-top action movies?
Was it the surge in the video rental market that lowered everyone's expectations? Was it something to do with Ronald Reagan, perhaps? Maybe it was all the hairspray everyone was using. Who knows.
In any case, Jameson Cult Film Club have recognised the sheer awesomeness of this time and have decided to acknowledge it with a double screening of one of the best action movies of the eighties, Lethal Weapon. (You can sign up here to apply for tickets.)
Now we here are massive fans of the buddy cop duo that were Riggs and Murtaugh, but here are the other movies that could easily make any short list for the best action movies of the 1980s. Load up and get the pumping hard rock / synth soundtrack ready.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to feature at least twice on this list. And with good reason. The man defined the 1980s Action Movie and ostensibly became the one-man army trope. Playing Col. John Matrix, a hulking former commmando who's blackmailed into assassinating and deposing the current president of a South American country known as Val Verde. Useless trivia - the fictional country of Val Verde was used again in Die Hard II.
How unbelievably violent was the first Robocop? Paul Verhoeven's razor-sharp satire of American politics and violence has become a cult hit and is fondly remembered those of a generation who saw it way too young. Endlessly quotable and gloriously grotesque, Robocop had everything you could want from an 80s action movie.
Blending sci-fi, horror, action and black comedy, Terminator helped to launch the career of one James Cameron and former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger. It also introduced us to the idea that computers and technology wasn't necessarily an enriching experience for humanity. Up until this point, most sci-fi that dealt with a far-off future suggested that it would be either wondrous and utopian or it would be a man-made disaster. Terminator changed that slightly, making it into a creation of man turning on itself. Never mention Terminator: Rise of the Machines.
2. RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD, PART II
"Do we get to win this time?" The bafflingly stupid title aside, Rambo: First Blood, Part II, was the flag-waving, jingoistic actioner that Ronald Reagan would have starred in if he was of the age. It's quite intriguing to see the seismic shift between the first Rambo movie - which was a soulful thriller about a husk of a man trying to readjust to life - and the follow-up, which was a full-blown fantasy movie about American triumphalism.
1. LETHAL WEAPON
Mel Gibson, up until the release of Lethal Weapon, was a virtual unknown to mainstream Western audiences. The few that did know him recognised him as Mad Max from the films of the same name and, quite possibly, The Year of Living Dangerously or The Bounty. Here, Gibson was in full flight as Martin Riggs, an unhinged Vietnam vet turned LAPD detective who had a death wish. Teamed up with desk jockey Roger Murtaugh, the two became the pinnacle of what a buddy cop movie could be and reinvigorated the genre itself. Any film that's followed - Bad Boys, Hot Fuzz, Tango & Cash - owes a debt of gratitude to Riggs and Murtaugh.
If you want a chance to relive the magic of that first Lethal Weapon movie, head along to the Jameson Cult Film Club screening on either Wednesday 20th or Thursday 21st May in a secret city centre location. Head here for your chance to be there on the night, but remember to register before May 15th!