Ever since cinema was invented in 1895, it's interesting to note that action-laden movies have been in the minds of early filmmakers, even during the Silent Film Era.
Who could ever forget one of the very first successful narrative films, 1903's "The Great Train Robbery," directed by Edward S. Porter? By the title alone, you would know that this silent film classic belonged to the action genre. Plus it's a western to boot! Prior to this film, others made very short movies that showed "safe scenes" or those scenes that really didn't require much effort to put together, much less shoot. Imagine shooting an action film outdoors, with a huge camera that only exposes the film strip in merely seconds. And Porter was able to use editing techniques and shooting styles modern filmmakers still use today. That 12-minute film is short by today's standards, but it was a long and great feat that put this action film on the map of cinematic history.
Jumping back to the 1980s, do you think you can cite some of Porter's descendants here? We'll show you familiar scenes from the movies, and you guess what action flick it is! Go go go!
Director John McTiernan was behind the very first "Die Hard" movie, starring Bruce Willis in the role that made him a certified action star. Alan Rickman was also unforgettable here as his nemesis, Hans Gruber. "Shoot the glass!" was one of his classic villainous lines.
Action movies have many sub-genres within its umbrella category, and the buddy movie and/or the buddy cop tandem are but two of these subs. That's where "Lethal Weapon" belongs, since it's both a buddy film and a good cop/bad cop tandem film as well.
"Alien" was actually the first film to feature Sigourney Weaver in an action-packed sci-fi film, but that was released in 1979. We saw more action from her as she reprised her role in 1986's "Aliens" sequel. The first film was directed by Ridley Scott while the second was directed by James Cameron.
"The Terminator" sci-fi action franchise began with the first film in 1984, starring a villainous Arnold Schwarzenegger in the titular role. But in the later sequels, Arnie became a good android, starting with 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."
John Rambo is one of the most unforgettable action heroes to come out of the silver screen during the '80s, starting with the first film, "First Blood." This 1982 film was followed by a sequel in 1985, then the third was released in 1988. Rambo was played by none other than Sylvester Stallone.
The 1986 action film called "Big Trouble in Little China" actually featured a storyline set in the Chinatown area of San Francisco, California. It's also a comedy and it starred Kurt Russell and Kim Cattrall.
The 1988 film called "Bloodsport" featured a fighting Jean-Claude Van Damme, and he is one of the certified Hollywood action stars to have some martial arts background training in life. He was actually active in karate competitions in his native land of Belgium before giving acting a try.
Steven Spielberg's 1981 action comedy adventure film, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," was the first movie that introduced Harrison Ford in his now iconic role of Indiana Jones. Being an archaeology professor going on worldwide adventures never looked so attractive before this film came out.
Actor Mel Gibson was the original Max in the Australian-made "Mad Max" movies, one of the roles that made him a globally recognized action hero. "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" is the third film in this post-apocalyptic series, and Tina Turner co-starred with him.
Steven Seagal made a mark as an action hero who can also do martial arts moves. He showed his action prowess in films like "Fire Down Below (1997), "Exit Woulds" (2001), and "Kill Switch" (2008). He also demonstrated this extensively in "Above The Law" (1988).
The 1985 James Bond film, "A View to a Kill," featured Roger Moore in one of his James Bond duties. The iconic Grace Jones co-starred with him as May Day, a very powerful villain. '80s musical icon Duran Duran performed its catchy theme song.
The 1987 gangster film, "The Untouchables," featured the story of Elliot Ness and Al Capone that happened during the 1930s. Brian De Palma directed this one, with Kevin Costner essaying the role of Ness and Robert De Niro playing Capone.
The 1983 action film, "Lone Wolf McQuade," featured two action heroes who are also martial artists: Chuck Norris and David Carradine. Norris played the titular role who is a Texas Ranger.
The second film from the "Star Wars" saga came out in 1980. It was called "The Empire Strikes Back." Unlike the first film, director Irvin Kershner helmed this one while the script was written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. George Lucas previously handled those two jobs, but the story remains his.
The successful 1977 film, "Smokey and the Bandit," had an equally successful sequel called "Smokey and the Bandit 2" released in 1980. It still starred Burt Reynolds in the lead, and was an action comedy hit.
Action comedy films can also be star-studded, like the 1981 film, "The Cannonball Run." The famous faces in this film include Burt Reynolds, Farah Fawcett, Roger Moore, Dom DeLuise, Jackie Chan, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., to name a few.
Comedian Eddie Murphy became a certified global movie star with the release of the action-comedy film, "Beverly Hills Cop," in 1984. He essayed the role of Axel Foley here, and the film's instrumental soundtrack song was also called "Axel F."
"The Beastmaster" is about a boy who grew up to become a warrior, and he has the ability to communicate with animals. The 1982 fantasy action film starred famous actors of that era, such as Marc Singer and Tanya Roberts.
"The Godfather" novelist Mario Puzo was one of the co-writers of the "Superman II" film released in 1980, under the direction of Richard Lester. The iconic Christopher Reeve gave life to the titular role of Superman during those years, and his portrayal remains a classic one.
A young Alyssa Milano played the daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger's character in the 1985 film, "Commando." Canadian actor Rae Dawn Chong and Australian actor Vernon Wells also appeared here.
The 1981 film called "Escape From New York" featured a futuristic sci-fi action story that's set in 1997. Kurt Russell essayed the anti-hero role of Snake Plissken here, and he reprised this role in "Escape From L.A.," too.
One of Al Pacino's most unforgettable roles is that of Tony Montana, the Cuban immigrant who rose to the top of the Miami underworld and became a feared drug lord. His story was seen in the 1983 crime movie, "Scarface," directed by Brian De Palma. Michelle Pfeiffer co-starred with Pacino.
Another buddy cop action comedy film that came out of the '80s is the 1989 film called "Tango & Cash." The buddies featured in this film, Raymond Tango and Gabriel Cash, were played by Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell.
One of the action stars who actively made a lot of action movies during the '80s and '90s is Michael Dudikoff, who starred in the 1985 film, "American Ninja." Hollywood also had a fascination with ninjas back then. That's why the film had this theme and title.
The 1983 action film, "Sudden Impact," is the fourth time that Clint Eastwood portrayed the role of Inspector Harry Callahan, a.k.a. Dirty Harry. It was in this film that he uttered the iconic line, "Go ahead, make my day." He also directed and produced this film.
"Die Hard" director John McTiernan also directed action films that were sci-fi bent, and "Predator" was one of them. This 1987 film produced many sequels, making this into another film franchise. There was even a crossover series called "Alien vs. Predator" during the 2000s.
The 1983 James Bond film, "Never Say Never Again," was Sean Connery's last time playing 007. It was his seventh James Bond film. Some of his co-stars in the film include Kim Basinger, Max von Sydow, Barbara Carrera, and Rowan Atkinson.
War movies aren't automatically action movies, but 1987's "Hamburger Hill" was definitely an action-packed Vietnam War-set movie. It was based on real-life events that happened to an American battalion during that war.
The 1986 film, "Highlander," catapulted French actor Christopher Lambert into international stardom as he essayed the role of Scottish immortal swordsman Connor MacLeod. Scottish actor Sean Connery also co-starred in this film. The highly popular film was later made into a TV series.
The 1982,"Tron," starred Jeff Bridges. A sequel to this film in 2010, "Tron: Legacy," also had Jeff Bridges in it. In that film, he appeared as both his older self and his younger self, thanks to some sci-fi cinematic magic.
The 1983 film called "Blue Thunder" is an action thriller directed by John Badham who also directed other action thrillers, like "Point of No Return" and "Nick of Time." The film starred Roy Scheider, Daniel Stern, and Malcolm McDowell, to name a few.
Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin co-starred in the 1986 action-packed film, "The Delta Force." It turned out to be Marvin's last film role, since he died a year after its release. Both Norris and Marvin served in the military in real life.
Charles Bronson made many action movies since the '50s, such as "Death Wish" (1974), "The Magnificent Seven" (1960), and "The Dirty Dozen" (1967), to name a few. He was also active in the '80s, with this 1983 film called "10 to Midnight" as one of the films he made in that decade.
Perseus was the Greek mythological hero who took center stage in "Clash of the Titans." This 1981 version had "L.A. Law" TV star Harry Hamlin as Perseus, with Laurence Olivier in the role of Zeus and Ursula Andress as Aphrodite.
Marvel Comics has a fierce female warrior character in the form of Red Sonja, and her story got featured in the 1985 film version called "Red Sonja," starred Brigitte Nielsen in the titular role. Kiddie martial artist Ernie Reyes Jr. also co-starred, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The 1885 novel, "King Solomon's Mines," featured the life of adventurer Allan Quatermain. It was made into a movie many times, but the 1985 film version became something of a parody of the novel's story. This action adventure comedy version starred Richard Chamberlain in the titular role.
With so many Batman films made, Tim Burton's 1989 version simply called "Batman" stylized the comic book look of this superhero action film, jumpstarting renewed interest in the superhero genre. Michael Keaton was memorable as Batman, but Jack Nicholson stole the show with his Joker portrayal.
Timothy Dalton's last James Bond role was for the 1989 film, "Licence to Kill." Pierce Brosnan took over that role during the '90s, starting with 1995's "GoldenEye" and ending his turn with 2002's "Die Another Day."
Louis Gossett Jr. and Jason Gedrick starred in the 1986 military-themed action film, "Iron Eagle." They played the role of pilots, but Gossett's role was the one who had military training in the story. This film produced three more sequels.
Hong Kong cinema is known for producing iconic martial arts films, or what the west called kung-fu films. One of this genre's known directors, Corey Yuen, tried crossing over to Hollywood by directing "No Retreat, No Surrender" in 1986. It starred real-life martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme.