Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Above: Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV". Sorry, dude. No dice.
Here's the follow up to yesterday's post about the Top 10 Action Movie Protagonists of the 1980's. The first post covered numbers 10 through 6. Today we'll cover number 5 all the way up to NUMBER ONE. You PUMPED!?!? Alright! Let's DO THIS!!!
5) ELLEN RIPLEY (SIGOURNEY WEAVER): ALIENS (1986)
I'll probably get all kinds of shit for saying this, but Ripley did more for the Feminist movement in 2 hours and 15 minutes of screen time than anyone else had in the preceding 20 years. She kicked some ass in the original "Alien", but in "Aliens" the gloves truly came off, and she was out for another taste of the deadly alien acid-blood.
Ripley was the epitome of bad-ass in this film, proving she could handle heavy artillery or an exo-skeletal power loader with equal ease. Following in the footsteps of Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor from "Terminator" (who would have also totally made this list if "T2" would have come out 2 years earlier), Sigourney Weaver ran circles around her male counterparts when it came to killing bugs and surviving their brutal onslaughts. Speaking of the aliens, has anyone but Ripley ever battled a more terrifying foe than these H.R. Giger-designed monstrosities and lived to tell the tale? I think not.
Ripley went on to star in further "Alien" films, but this, the second in the series, is by far the most brutal, the scariest, and the best example of Ripley's tough-as-nails attitude. Fuck yeah, Ripley. Fuck yeah.
4) "DUTCH" SCHAEFFER - PREDATOR (1987) & JOHN MATRIX - COMMANDO (1985): ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
I figured I could call it a tie and sandwich these two ass-kicking classics in the #4 slot, since "Dutch" Schaeffer and John Matrix are basically the exact same character. "Commando" strapped a bunch of grenades and machine guns to our old pal Arnie, pitting him against the scumbags who kidnapped his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) in an all-out, tongue-in-cheek extravaganza of blood, bullets, and big-ass explosions. "Predator" basically took the same dude, changed his name, gave him a bigger budget, and put him in the middle of the jungle with an invisible alien adversary. Schwarzenegger encompassed the insane-o military death-monger role with ease, much as he did with Conan the Barbarian years earlier. Here was a man with no qualms about killing some dudes, the more bullets used and the bigger the explosions the better.
Below: I can't fully substantiate this claim, but I'm pretty sure "Predator" was the only action movie ever in which two of the stars became United States governors (Arnie (California) and Jesse "The Body" Ventura (Minnesota)).
John Matrix, especially, had some of the most amazing and corny one-liners ever committed to celluloid, such as "Stick around" after chucking a knife through a guy, and "Let off some steam" after throwing a pipe through a guy's chest, which in turn begins billowing steam. "Commando" walked the line of spoofing the action movie genre, a film that, much like the "Evil Dead" movies, was so over-the-top and in-your-face that it had to inspire some chuckles from its audience. Arnold doesn't hold the #1 spot on his list, but he does have the most characters on it, making him the quintessential action star of the 1980's and beyond.
3) MARION "COBRA" COBRETTI (SYLVESTER STALLONE): COBRA (1986)
Marion Fucking Cobretti. AKA "Cobra". Probably the toughest cop to ever grace the silver screen. Cobra didn't play by the rules. He made his own. Squad car? Ha! How about a modified 1950 Mercury with a license plate reading "AWSOM 50"? Uniform? Nice try. Cobra rocked a T-shirt and jeans with his custom .45 tucked under his belt. Hot pizza? Hell no. Cobra ate that shit straight out of the freezer, gnashing it to bits with teeth made of steel.
Laying waste to an evil crime syndicate single-handedly, he still had time to blow dudes away in grocery stores in hostage situations, drive in reverse on busy freeways, and romance future Flavor Flav plaything Bridgette Nielsen. Between the "Rocky" and "Rambo" franchises, plus THIS amazing role, Stallone is really the only one anywhere near Arnold in the competition for "Biggest 80's Action Legacy". He also wrote the "Cobra" screenplay.
2) SNAKE PLISSKEN (KURT RUSSELL): ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)
John Carpenter and Kurt Russell teamed up on three of the best action/horror/sci-fi/comedies of the 1980's: 1986's "Big Trouble In Little China" (Russell's wise-cracking truck driver Jack Burton came THIS CLOSE to the Top 10), 1982's "The Thing", and this awesome piece of cinematic rulingness, a tale that saddled one-eyed criminal Snake Plissken with a task no smaller than saving the entire world. When the President's plane crashes in the middle of New York City (recently walled in and turned into a giant prison), the U.S. government has no choice but to send in the most dangerous man they have, a nihilistic, gravelly-voiced madman by the name of Snake Plissken.
Snake is a guy who doesn't give the slightest shit about anyone but himself, and only takes on the mission after being injected with a deadly poison that will kill him within 24 hours unless he completes it and receives the antidote. I'll let the script break down Plissken's past exploits: "S.D. Plissken... American, Lieutenant: Special Forces Unit "Black Light". Two Purple Hearts, Leningrad and Siberia. Youngest man to be decorated by the President. Then you robbed the Federal Reserve Depository... life sentence, New York maximum security penitentary..."
Snake was once a top soldier, a benefit to his country. But somewhere in his mysterious, murky past, he turned against his government, and became a dark, venomous anti-hero, an ass-kicking warrior whose worldview is summed up in this unforgettable line: "I don't give a fuck about your war...or your president."
Best lines: Some guy: "Snake Plissken! I thought you were dead!"
Snake: "I am dead."
1) DALTON (PATRICK SWAYZE): ROAD HOUSE (1989)
No big surprise here. Dalton lives at the top of this list for a myriad of reasons, but most importantly, he's a bro that could handle all the other 9 people on this list simultaneously in hand-to-hand combat. The hardest bouncer/cooler the world has ever known (despite his claims that "Wade Garrett's the best"), Dalton was a level-headed martial arts master with a degree in Philosophy from NYU, a thinking-man's brawler pushed to his breaking point by the murder of his best friend and brutal injustices perpetrated against innocent townsfolk.
Swayze's Dalton needed no gun or knife when confronting hordes of rowdy drunks or Brad Wesley's henchmen. He spoke most eloquently with his fists and his feet, doling out beatings only to those who deserved it most. Invincible in a bare-knuckle fight, Dalton took his lumps with dignity and grace, living by three cryptic words: "Pain don't hurt".
Dalton was a lover AND a fighter, a heartthrob with impeccable hair who could also rip a man's throat out with his bare hands (see example). He was the toughest of all time, not only the best protagonist in an 80's action movie, but the greatest hero in ANY movie, EVER: an icon to the weary and the downtrodden, a beacon of hope and justice in a world gone bad.
Above: Chuck Norris, disqualified for 3 reasons -
a) Wasn't in any good movies in the 80's besides "Delta Force" and its sequels.
b) Gets WAY too much internet idolatry already.
c) "Sidekicks" with Jonathan Brandis, 1992.
Posted by Shelby Cobras at 10:47 AM