The Most Underrated Action Movies of the 1980s

The 1980s was a seminal period in the development of what we now define as the action movie. This was the decade that cemented the statuses of both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the muscle-bound box office behemoths eating the competition for breakfast. Having emerged off the back of critically acclaimed efforts like Rocky […]

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The 1980s was a seminal period in the development of what we now define as the action movie. This was the decade that cemented the statuses of both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the muscle-bound box office behemoths eating the competition for breakfast. Having emerged off the back of critically acclaimed efforts like Rocky and The Terminator, the years that followed saw the pair hone their greased-up on-screen personas to fine effect.

It wasn’t all about the muscles though. The 1980s also ushered in the era of the everyman action star with Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop opting for brains over brawn and reaping the benefits in multiplexes far and wide as a result. While Hollywood basked in the glory of a new generation of leading men, in the Far East, Jackie Chan was taking action movie physicality to a whole new level with films like Police Story while John Woo laid the groundwork for John Wick with A Better Tomorrow and The Killer.

But even as the genre took off with the emergence of VHS, there are still plenty of action movies somehow went under the radar. Each of the entries on this list remain ripe for reappraisal despite taking different, less heralded paths than some of the decade’s major crowd pleasers.

Southern Comfort (1981)

Walter Hill embarked on a formidable run of movies during the 1980s, starting with this low-key action thriller about a squad of Louisiana Army National Guard who, after antagonizing the local Cajun population during a weekend of maneuvers in the Bayou, find thems

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