The 80s was a decade filled with action movies, but the problem is that a lot of them were so far underrated that they didn’t get enough play until later on when we grew up and started recognizing them. The over-saturation of the market tended to make us forget about what else was out there, and thus some movies that are now considered classics, no matter how hokey or cheesy they are, got missed. You know several of them because they’ve either been pushed on TV as though to make up for the lack of exposure or have been subjected to remakes and reboots that didn’t fare all that well. Others however you might have let slip for the mere reason that they were good for their time but are badly in need of an update if anyone bothered to bring them out and try to remake them. Yet during their era they were great, despite being relegated to the metaphorical slush pile that the audience will gradually look through during the lulls when good movies are hard to find. These films were awesome at one point but their light shone and then dimmed not long after they were released, making it hard to really keep up with all of them once the spotlight was focused another, more enticing movie of the day.
Take a look at some of these however and you’ll see that they were in fact passed over without a good reason.
5. The Road Warrior
Mel Gibson’s career really started to take off after he signed as Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon movies, but in the Mad Max movies he was still rough, raw, and not at all polished. There were plenty of moments when the acting wasn’t that great and the scenes were overplayed, but the overall action was great and gritty enough that the viewer had to cringe on occasion just because the realism started to show through thanks to old school movie magic. The reason this film was so great however was that while there was a fairly happy ending, Max wasn’t one of those that escaped. He continued to wander the desert as he’d been doing, surviving the only way he knew how and becoming a legend to those he’d met.
First, if you’ve seen the remake then all apologies, it was supposed to be something great but it turned out to be an enormous flop that went nowhere. The original was cheesy, corny, whatever you want to call it, but back in its day it was one of the most awesome movies to hit the screen. Of course then it had to spawn two more sequels and create a lot of buzz that didn’t really go anywhere, but up until then this first movie was a lot of fun and it was something new enough that people hadn’t seen it more than once before, if that. Plus the intensity of the action was pretty hardcore and as down and dirty as it could get in some scenes.
3. Big Trouble in Little China
If you didn’t care for this movie then I’m at a loss of words for you largely because it was flat out awesome in the way that old martial arts flicks were awesome. But this one brought that feeling and the feeling of the modern era together in a flick that was kind of corny but still delivered on the laughs and the action since it was filled with both. West and East met in a big way in this film and despite the fact that East had a huge influence on it, West brought to bear the American attitude and bravado in one man that shone over all the rest, Jack Burton. “Have you paid your dues Jack? Yes sir the check is in the mail.” Just awesome.
To this day there are still a lot of disputes about the claims of the real Frank Dux and whether or not he really fought in the Kumite. Whether you want to believe him or not it doesn’t matter since the film was pretty great. How it gets looked over though is simple since out of all the martial arts movies that have been made in the last three to four decades this was just another in the mix, with a white man as the lead no less, that kind of played up the insane level of skill that Dux was supposed to have. Again, it doesn’t matter if you believe the guy’s story or not, the fact remains that this movie was done very well.
1. The Untouchables
Despite being past his 007 days Connery was not past the days of being a tough guy in this movie. As Malone he was undoubtedly the toughest of the bunch and the most experienced. Thanks to his inclusion The Untouchables became a classic that still isn’t as highly regarded as it should be, but at least gets noticed now and again for being one of the better movies of the 80’s.
Give a couple of these a look and you’ll see what I mean.