• Craig Hunter

80's Action Movies

80s action movies...need I say more.

Let's jump right in with Bloodsport (1988) with JCVD and then move into Die Hard (1988) with Bruce Willis and finally Invasion USA (1985) with the one and only Chuck Norris.


Bloodsport (1988)

An American with a Belgian accent travels to Hong Kong to fight in a full contact martial arts tournament.  With the help of Ogre from Alpha Beta House, he is able to elude two bumbling FBI agents and become the first Westerner to win the Kumite.


Musical Montages

"Steal The Night"

With stun guns in hand, the FBI guys are about to arrest Frank, played by Jean-Claude Van Damme when Ogre tackles them, allowing Frank to escape. Queue "Steal the night" performed by Michael Bishop as Frank leads the FBI guys on a mocking chase through several Chinese cliches including, a busy fruit market, and running over several boats creating a bridge across a narrow waterway.  The scene ends with the FBI guys slapstick falling backwards into the water with their suits on.

"On My Own--Alone"

After Ogre is injured during his fight with Chong Li, Frank goes out for some martial arts guy thinking time.  Queue "On my own--alone" performed by Stan Bush as Frank thinks deeply while riding the bus, meditating and stretching on a really tall building, and walking along the pier.

"Fight To Survive"

The final scene of the film.  Frank has just tricked the FBI guys again.  But it's cool, they're all friends now.  The hot reporter gets out of an airport shuttle to wave good-bye to Frank as he boards the plane.  They do the martial arts hand-cup bow to each other and "Fight to Survive" performed by Stan Bush rocks the end credits.


Cheesy One-Liners

Let's talk about some cheesy one-liners.  There is a difference between having a cheesy one-liner and bad dialogue.  Some of these scenes are crossing the line.  You be the judge.

Chong Li has just killed his opponent in the semi-final round and is going to inevitably face Frank Dux.  Walking off of the Kumite mat he turns to Frank, points awkwardly and says, in a what may or may not be a dubbed voice, "You are next."

Frank and Chong Li are about to fight in the final match.  Just before the match begins Chong Li does some trash talking, "You break my record.  Now I break you, like I broke your friend."  Good one.

This is the line that may cross over into bad dialogue territory.  Ogre is recovering in a hospital bed.  Frank has just defeated Chong Li.  With Ogre's bandanna in hand, Frank initiates the most cringe worthy conversation of the movie, and possibly 1988, "By the way, next time you fight...try to keep your clothes on."  Then Ogre, heartfelt, "Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, if you ever need me, I’ll be there."  Frank, earnestly, "I love you my friend."  Ogre, "Me too."  Me to? Bizarre


Three Snarky Observations

Get Vocal

Frank is not afraid to yell and scream in this movie.  From getting his junk uber-streached on a rope tree torcher contraption...which happens twice by the way.  To my favourite yelling scene, slow-mo open-hand punching the sumo guy in the stomach and then dropping to the splits and upper-cutting the sumo guy in the meat and two veg while letting out an appropriately long held yell.

Forrest Whitaker

I thought Forrest Whitaker was a serious actor.  What was he doing in this film? Did he lose a bet? This character he played--a bumbling FBI guy--was an embarrassment.  I know that there are no small roles, only small actors.  But this was a terrible role.  The most embarrassing scene was ineptly chasing JCVD through the streets of Hong Kong while a kick-ass 80s tune plays and ultimately falling into a river while wearing a suit.

80's Music

The music in this film was great.  Really good.  I think the three songs that have been discussed here were the only songs in the film...but they were good ones.

I know that I've been making fun of it but this film is actually really good.  Go pick it up.

Check out Bloodsport on Amazon


Die Hard (1988)


John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, is a New York cop--as he will tell you several times--who is visiting his estranged wife on the west coast to salvage their faltering marriage.  Unwittingly, he becomes a wrench in the works of a grand robbery attempt by a sophisticated criminal organization.

How Times Have Changed

In the first three minutes of the film you are smacked in the face with things that are no longer the way they used to be.  Let's start with Bruce Willis, he has a lot of hair.  I kind of forgot that he used to have hair.  I was never a Moonlighting guy so I wasn't used to a younger Bruce Willis. I'm used to the sullen, balding guy with the blood-stained wife-beater.

This is before 911, right?

Bruce is carrying a gun on the plane.  Was there ever a time when this was okay? Hard to believe.  I mean, he had it in a holster under his jacket.  He could have one too many airplane bottles of whisky, get belligerent, and pull out the gun and start waving it around at 30,000 feet.

Luggage please, and an ashtray

Bruce is picking up his luggage and smoking a cigarette.  Smoking in public always reminds me of the 80s.  Everybody smoking their asses off in airports, restaurants, hospitals, food prep areas, surgically sterilized areas.

Fish out of water

Bruce is a New York cop.  He tells the guy on the plane three minutes into the film.  Later when he is in the limo with Argyle he tells Argyle, "I'm a New York cop".

In the airport, a girl jumps on her guy and kisses him and Bruce shakes his head and says to himself, "California".  At the party, a drunk guy kisses Bruce and slurs "Merry Christmas" and Bruce shakes his head and mutters, "California".

All right, all right.  We get it, you're a fish out of water.  But where's the payoff later in the film.  Sure it helps lend credence to the notion that he stayed in New York while his wife and family moved to California for her career.  But then what? I felt like they referenced it so many times because there was going to be something later in the film...something big, and you would say, "of course, he's from New York".   But nothing.

I was actually pretty disappointed with Die Hard revisiting it again after so many years.  I loved this movie when I was younger.  I think watching it next to classics like Bloodsport and Invasion USA was a death sentence for it.  It's also too long.  An 80s action movie should be 90 minutes not 125 minutes.  This feels more like a 90s action film than an 80s action film.

Hey, if you're a big Bruce Willis fan than you should have Die Hard.

Check out Die Hard on Amazon


Invasion USA (1985)


A retired elite army commando guy is forced back into action when a ruthless and evil terrorist bad-ass and a bunch of foreign dudes invade Florida and start doing bad stuff.


Chuck Norris is a super bad-ass

Air Boat Cowboy

Hunter, played by Chuck Norris, is a super bad-ass and they want to establish it straight from the beginning.  In his opening scene, he is riding an air boat through a marsh, jean vest open and chest hair and beard blowing in the breeze.

"Tell Rostov it's time to die"

Chuck busts into a bedroom at a hotel bar, kicks some dude's ass and tells the chick to get out.  He sticks a knife through the dude's hand sticking him to a table and puts a grenade into the dude's other hand and pulls the pin, "If you live through this, tell Rostov, 'it's time to die'"

Sci-fi rocks

Chuck is reclined on a bed in a hotel, shirt off or open chested or something, and he's watching a sci-fi film on tv...looks like a good one.  He is chuckling to himself and he hears a noise outside. He knows the SWAT guys are about to break into his hotel and seems unconcerned.  He casually takes his gum out of his mouth and pins it on the painting on the wall above him.  The SWAT guys come crashing through the door and windows, and he just sits there.


Rostov the super bad-ass

The Apartment Building

Rostov enters an apartment building. He gets frisked and goes into a room with a guy behind a desk and a chick with a switch blade. They are supposed to be tough and the dude tries to intimidate Rostov by staring at him. Rostov hands over the drugs and the guy gives some to the chic to sample. Rostov slams her head into the table, sending the snorting spout up into her brain and then shoots the two guys in the hall through the door before shooting the dude in the crotch. Rostov then throws the girl out of the window and she plummets several stories to her death before he calmly leaves the building.

The Refugees

Opening scene, there is a boat of refugees trying to cross from Cuba to Florida.  They are greeted by a boat that is posing as the US coast guard but it's really Rostov and his gang.  They savagely kill everyone on the boat except for one guy so that he can spread the terror and fear.

Bazooka's and Houses

Rostov and his cronies drive into a suburban neighbourhood to spread terror.  Children are playing in the street and a little girl runs into a house.  Rostov stands up in a vehicle with a bazooka and begins blowing up houses indiscriminately.  Why? Because he's a super bad-ass.

Oh boy!

These are 80s movies, you have to expect at least a couple of "oh boy" scenes.  The scene after the attempted mall bombing where they kidnap a young woman and she is hanging on the the outside of the truck by her hair.  Look at her outfit.  She's wearing pink overalls with flowers on them.  She's dressed like a giant little girl.

Terrified locals are shipping their kids to safety on a school bus out of town.  A family is tearfully saying goodbye to their little girl who is crying about leaving her mommy behind when suddenly, pushing through the grieving family, a determined little girl fights her way onto the bus.  You can almost hear the director saying, "we don't have time for another take.  No one will notice."


Fantastic film.  One of my favourite films from the 80s. Definitely add this one to your collection.

Check out Invasion U.S.A. on Amazon

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