If you grew up in the 80’s or the 90’s, like I did, then you probably saw your fair share of Arnold action movies. When you think about Arnold Schwarzenegger, you likely think about the huge dude with absurd muscles and heavy Austrian accent and awesome action movies with cheesy one liners. You younger folks maybe think of the governor of California and The Expendables…how unfortunate for you.
Listen to Arnold’s accent get gradually less thick as we take a look at three great 80s Arnold action movies, starting with The Terminator (1984), then Commando (1985), and finally Predator (1988).
The Terminator (1984)
A cyborg assassin is sent back through time to 1984 Los Angeles to assassinate a woman who will eventually give birth to the leader of the resistance army fighting against the machines who sent the cyborg. A human soldier in the resistance is sent back through time to protect the woman and stop the cyborg terminator from killing her. Let’s look at three great scenes from The Terminator.
Arrival Through Time
In the opening scene of the movie, its night, there is a disturbance, a flash of light sustained for a few seconds, and then, Arnold the cyborg, naked and in the “thinking man” crouched over position, rises up and looks around. Reese, the human soldier sent from the future to stop the cyborg terminator, arrives in the same manner a few minutes later. He emerges into our world, naked and in pain.
This set up is a microcosm of the future that the film depicts. They both arrive in this world with nothing–on even ground–and the ensuing battle will determine who wins the future. The machine is physically strong, has endurance, isn’t encumbered by needing to eat or sleep, doesn’t feel fear or remorse, and seems to be unstoppable. The human is physically much weaker than the machine, is burdened by his physical needs, needs to suppress his fear and remorse, and seems to have no chance against the powerful machines. But the human is crafty, and he knows how to outsmart the machines. Reese tells Sarah that the machines “aren’t that smart”, and that her son John teaches them how to fight the machines.
Sarah is in a restaurant when she hears on the news that a second woman named Sarah Conner has been killed today. She leaves the restaurant and is followed by Reese. She sees Reese following her and thinks he is the killer so she goes into a busy nightclub and calls the police. Reese follows her into the club and watches her.
The terminator enters the club and scans the room for Sarah. When he finds her he points this handgun at her head and is about to kill her when Reese blasts him with his shotgun several times, knocking the terminator out the front window of the club. “Come with me if you want to live!” he tells Sarah
“I’ll be back.”
Sarah and Reese have been taken to a police station. Reese is being questioned and Sarah is given a bullet proof vest and told to get some rest on the couch. The terminator arrives in a truck and walks into the police station reception claiming to be a friend of Sarah Conner’s. The clueless cop at the desk rebuffs him. The terminator looks around at the structure of the reception area before delivering that famous Arnold line, “I’ll be back”, and then exiting the police station. Seconds later his truck smashes through the reception area giving him access to the inside of the police station. He gets out of the truck and begins walking through the station killing cops and looking for Sarah.
This film has aged really well. Check out The Terminator on Amazon.com
Shopping from Canada, like me? Check out The Terminator on Amazon.ca
Commando (1985) is 90 minutes long and it doesn’t waste a single minute. We first see Arnold with bulging muscles, carrying what must be a 400 lbs log down the side of a mountain with a chainsaw in his other hand and a steel drum soundtrack. Soon the opening credits roll over a warm and fuzzy, father-daughter, family montage scene, where John Matrix, Arnold, and his daughter Jenny, Alyssa Milano with Marcy Darcy hair, are depicted doing those everyday activities that all fathers and daughters have been doing since civilization began. Eating each other’s ice cream cones, practicing martial arts, feeding a fawn and fishing in a idyllic stream. Then, as they share a heartfelt moment–and a sandwich–over the “I love you dad” valentine on the fridge, an army helicopter arrives, and the action, and intentional humour, begins.
Now, let’s look at three great scenes from Commando.
“I’ll be back, Bennett!”
Matrix has been taken to the airport so that he and Jackson can board a plane destined for the small country where Matrix is to perform his assassination. As he is let out of the car, he shakes loose of Jackson and rushes back to the window and, in a shout-out to The Terminator, warns Bennett, “I’ll be back, Bennett!” Bennett’s reply is one of the most memorable in all of the Arnold movies, “John, I’ll be ready John.”
John and Cindy have followed Sully to a mall. John forces Cindy to go into the bar where Sully is so she can flirt with him and find out information about where Jenny is being held. In the restaurant, Cindy tells mall security about John. A huge fight breaks out between John and security and Sully sees it. He grabs Cindy’s purse frantically looking for change for a payphone so that he can call in that John did not get on the plane. He gets in a phone booth and starts the call when John grabs the booth, rocks it back and forth and rips it out of the wall and body slams it on the mall floor.
Let’s Go Shopping
You can’t kill hundreds of people effortlessly in the act three showdown if you don’t have a ridiculous arsenal of military weapons, but where will you get them?
Matrix figures the best place to look for them is in an army surplus store, so he hijacks a nearby bulldozer and drives it through the storefront of an army surplus. Inside, he feels under the counter for the button to open the hidden gun room and presto…hundreds of lethal and highly illegal military weapons–including a rocket launcher–at your disposal.
Unfortunately, while Cindy is loading the groceries into the car, Matrix is arrested, and Cindy has to put that rocket launcher to use sooner than you think in order to rescue John.
Wonderful film. Check out Commando on Amazon.com
Shopping from Canada, like me? Check out Commando on Amazon.ca
A group of elite commandos is sent into the South American jungle on a rescue mission but end up being hunted for sport by an extra-terrestrial with dreadlocks, absurd teeth, and really sharp Lee Press-On nails.
Dylan, you sonofabitch
Dutch and his elite team of commandos arrive at an army facility near a jungle. After unloading their bags and looking really bad ass and tough, general Phillips briefs Dutch on his team’s mission.
When Dutch asks Phillips why his team was chosen, the answer comes from the back of the room. Drinking a bottle of beer under a ceiling fan is Dillon, Carl Weathers (Arrested Development’s “Now you got yourself a stew” guy) bellows out, “’cause some damn fool accused you of being the best!”
Dutch sees Dillon, who is apparently an old soldier buddy and they meet with a–now notorious–mid-air arm wrestling hand-shake that awkwardly hangs for what must be twelve seconds, with sweating muscles bulging out of tight short sleeve shirts.
Through the predator’s eyes
The team has just destroyed a guerrilla village with bravado, weapons, and Dutch “one-liners”, and they are planning their next move. The camera shot changes to the infrared view that we know to be what the predator sees. He is watching the team and listening. Sound clips get repeated, sped up, and certain sounds are keyed on.
This scene does well to convince that you are “seeing” the world through the eyes and ears of an alien that doesn’t see the world the same way that we do, and doesn’t understand the language or the actions of the prey his is hunting.
“If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
Blain has just been shot with the lasor and is lying dead. Mac rushes to his fallen friend and sees the green glowing eyes of the predator disappear as he tries to flee. Screaming, Mac picks up Blain’s awesome gun and begins sweeping it left to right as he fires it, hoping to hit the escaping predator. Dutch falls in beside him and begins firing indiscriminately into the same area of the jungle. Everyone else falls in beside them and begins desperately firing into the same area as Anna crouches down covering her ears from the deafening roar of the guns in what has become the greatest ten-year old boy wet dream scene in the history of action movies.
After the wild melee, Poncho reports that they hit nothing, so they are worried and disheartened, but soon afterwards, Anna reveals to Dutch that she saw it’s blood, and Dutch so aptly sums up where they are at, “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”
So they set to work creating a trap using the trees and natural environment. Everybody has their short sleeve shirts and muscles bulging while they yank down on ropes to build the trap.
What a film! Check out Predator on Amazon.com
Shopping from Canada, like me? Check out Predator on Amazon.ca