Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. My name is Sam.
And today we’re asking what’s the craic about the best 80s and 90s action heroes. So we’re gonna look at what an action film is by our definition. When’s the last time we watched one and do we generally enjoy them.
And we’re gonna figure out and find out whether action heroes have been replaces in modern times with superheroes, Marvel’s popular, DC a little bit. And you’ve got the X-Men, all these different superheroes films, TV shows. Have we forgotten about out poor action heroes?
Then we’re gonna evaluate, quite scientifically, as best we can a list of 80s and 90s guys who were popular then, made lots of films and maybe still popular now, so Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Jackie Chan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Keanu Reeves, Curt Russel, Mel Gibson, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Wesley Snipes.
If we get time to go through all of them. And we’re gonna look quite different today, but we’re gonna rate them on the volume of work. We’re gonna think of the quality of that work, because quality isn’t quantity and all this. Quality’s maybe more important.
What about their personal charisma and style, we’ll figure out about that. And the range of their acting ability, I mean, can they just punch… Get that action figure lie. Can they give drama and suspense? And their own appeal.
We’re gonna think about are they still popular today? Are they still doing stuff? And are people interested in it? And then we’re gonna find out the definitive, best action hero from the 80s and 90s.
Not from the modern day, but from the 80s and 90s. So, and figure out what.. So, let’s begin! Michael, can you explain what an action film is?
Yeah, for me an action is… I mean, the name itself – action! So it’s where there are a lot of movements, a lot of activities and that is connected with…
Using of arms, guns, weapons…
Right, explosions, car chases.
Helicopters, planes. And it’s got fact pace, it’s fast-paced.
Exactly. I mean, the action continues in the air, in water.
You’ve got one hero, you’ve got one villain.
Sure sure sure definitely.
And it’s pretty clear cut.
Yeah yeah yeah. The bad guy, the good guy. And you always want the good guy to kill the bad guy.
But the good guy is almost always good even after killing. He finds the way…
That’s what I’m saying. Or fortunate, you know, it has to do with killing, you know. Probably we don’t need to kill.
But then they find the way, or the film finds a way to do it in a just way, in a fair way.
That’s what I’m saying, at the end he’s like…
Maybe the villain is pulling a gun on him or something and he shoots him dead, but it was self-defense.
Yeah, it was self-defense! Or probably the bad guy was torturing kids or women or giving people.
He really deserved it, yeah. It’s very clear cut.
And when was the last time you watched an action film?
Well, I mean, as you know…
Can you give me the date and time, exactly?
Yeah, just give me a sec, I’m gonna think and try to remember. Yeah I watch films only in summer, all June and July I was watching films, yeah, so I saw a lot of films. The last time I watched an action film was in July.
Okay. Do you remember which one?
Yeah, definitely. I watched a couple of films, and you wouldn’t believe me, I watched Terminator 1 and I rewatched Terminator 1 It is one of the…
I get the sense you generally enjoy action films.
Yeah yeah yeah. I like… I mean, action films are my kind of films.
And I do too. I don’t know, I watch films mainly at the weekend, so honestly, I have a terrible memory. I don’t remember what I… I mean, the last film that I watched was Spiderman. But we’re not gonna say it’s an action film. It is an action film.
I’ve watched a Spiderman too, and I watched the Spiderman comedy.
It’s a comedy about a Spiderman. T was Mr Bean I think. Who was a Spiderman.
So, I mean, mentioning and talking about action films and the last one I watched was a superhero film. Do you think the action heroes have been replaced by superheroes? Cause in the 80s and 90s it was Arnie and Sylvester Stallone and all these guys.
Now it’s your Robert Downey Jr, it’s your Tom Holland. Superheroes that are popular. Do you think we’ve forgotten about action heroes?
Yeah I think we’ve not forgotten about action heroes. The idea of the modern, you know, real human heroes are kind of like divide from the 80s. But you know, you still have options. You can go for the real humans and people still enjoy watching the superheroes, superman and all this.
So, action heroes are there. Well, Jerald Butler is trying to do some kind of action hero stuff and I guess, you know, Whitehouse Down?
London is Falling? Well, I think I’m getting mixed up. He’s got a few films like a trilogy, and I wouldn’t say they’re the best to be honest, but it is kinda like 90s style. And I mean, they’re okay. They’re watchable.
Why do you watch action films? What do you like about them?
I think it’s the fast pace, it’s the heroes. You root for the hero you hate the villain. There’s drama to it. But maybe not too much drama. You don’t have to think too hard, and you can chill out and just watch it.
Switch off for a while I think.
For me, I like the toughness of the superheroes usually. If we should compare between the 90s where we have the comical heroes, superheroes and, you know, real human heroes like Jason Statham and all that, I think I prefer the human one because he looks human to me.
He’s got body, the legs and stuff like that, like me. And this tough guy goes kicking everybody and so, after watching this film I feel like I’m him, you know, And I probably, I mean, from the psychological point of view, I think about I use the mirror, the picture of this guy and I could use it to combat some of my issues.
Well let’s get into… Well, let’s see if we can evaluate some of these guys. I’ve put them in alphabetical order, using their first name, not their surnames, because a lot of them are kind of similar. So, first names. So, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Maybe you know. So what about the volume of work? And I’m counting… Roughly I counted using the website called Letterbox, and I roughly counted, very roughly counted the amount of films in the 80s and 90s, and he’s got about 36. And so… So, pretty big volume of work.
We’re talking about Hollywood films, not a Nigerian film. Do you know anything about Nigerian films?
I’ve never watched one, but I know that it’s like… They produce a lot of films.
Nigerian is one of the biggest film industry in the whole world. Yeah, the film is not anything near quality, so if Arnold did more than 36 films, they are about in Hollywood, I think it’s a hard work. And by the way, I took part in 4 Nigerian films before.
Wow! Guys! We’re privileged!
I had a minor role, very very minor role with some Nigerian superstars, we would be together. I have photos with them and we chatted with them and, you know. Yeah.
I mean, we’ve been together with them on the same set.
So well, what about quality of work? Arnie has done Terminator 1 and 2, Predator and Total Recall among other things.
I think these are the biggest ones.
I would say they are definitely some of my most favorite films. And generally… I mean, generally speaking, there are guys’ films, right, but generally speaking, people love these films.
I’m thinking, talking about Arnold, he is, you know, we shouldn’t forget the fact that this guy’s not only a film star, he was the… He won the…
Not only, even that! It’s still counting, yeah, he’s an achiever, a great achiever.
The bodybuilding competition and whatever.
So he’s got charisma, he’s got style.
Do you think he can do drama though? Can he act? I mean, he’s got that range..
I mean, even in his films you can see him smile and all that, I think he can do drama, especially nowadays of age, so a lot of experience with politics and all that. I think he’s got a mix.
Do you think he’s got that ongoing appeal?
Yeah. Do people still love him now?
I think people still do respect him, yeah, for sure, definitely.
Yeah, I think so. I think he’s probably still… I don’t know if he’s had as much success, I mean, now, as he did in the 80s and 90s, but still his films are watched by people. Maybe not so much.
I mean why people gonna respect people like this, because they’ve been there for a long time and he’s been from one sphere to another one. First sports, then films, then politics and all that, and it continues. I think we dig deep into him, I think he’s into a lot of things people enjoy even now.
Bruce Willis is the next one. And we reckon about 42 films. Die Hard, Sixth Sense, Armageddon, 5th Element. I’ve watched it and enjoyed it. I haven’t seen the Sixth Sense actually. I don’t know, I felt like it was probably not that interesting, and I found out a spoiler.
Which maybe why I not care about watching it. But I mean, Die Hard I watched. I liked the first, second, and third. And anything after that is not… But a good solid trilogy I think. I think the third one is really good actually. It’s got Samuel L Jackson.
I don’t know, Bruce Willis has got moments in his career, so when he started I was really down to earth with him, I was cool with him. And later on there were some kind of films that were really…
I can’t remember any of them right now, they were not really appealing to me, it was a lot of talking and so on. I wanna see action! Yeah, that point…
Not so much quality. Not as much as Arnie.
What about his charisma? And style?
I mean, we gotta give it to him, it’s a top guy in the industry. Cool personality I think.
I think… We’re not really talking about any scandals, I don’t know much about scandals.
We’re not gonna discuss them really…
Yeah, sure, but career-wise…
Does he have a good range do you think? Can he do drama? And thrillers and….?
I think he can. I would say more so than Arnold.
I think he can do really good range.
Definitely. I mean he’s not as well built, you know, physically, as Arnold, but…
But then, that doesn’t… It’s not necessarily a bad thing, cause he can appeal more to people.
He’s got that different style.
And he jokes in his films! Arnold doesn’t really joke that much. He doesn’t crack a smile.
I think accent does it all for him though.
I’ll be back! I think it’s very dry humor without…
After we talked about young Arnold and rather… Kind of like two different people, yeah.
Does Bruce Willis still have an ongoing appeal do you think? People still wanna watch his films?
Yeah, well, you know like I told you, I prefer the beginning of his career. So, personally for me, I wouldn’t… I would go turn on the film rather than…
Yeah, Sylvester Stallone.
About 32 films I counted. Rocky, and there’s like a series of those, Rambo, another series. And the new coming out. And Demolisher Man with Wesley Snipes, I really like that one.
Rambo I’m gonna root for Rambo. I mean, I heard the stunts he did in Rambo, jumping form the helicopter is real.
Yeah yeah yeah, I mean, after the stunts the production of the film was suspended for I don’t now how long before… So this was a real stunt. Because what I heard it wasn’t much afterwards it could be wrong, so you guys can just, you know… Don’t believe me.
Has he got charisma? Has he got style?
Yeah, well, I think not individually. If he’s gonna be collectively with all these old stars like Arnold and all these guys I think yeah, he could still, you know, feel himself quite well.
As a team, yeah, definitely. Individually I think no.
Wat about his range? Acting range?
I think he is solely an action, mostly.
Yeah, I think it’s not always easy to understand what he’s saying.
Yeah yeah yeah, he just wanna destroy. A bad guy!
He’s better… There’s a new Rambo film coming out.
Would you wanna watch it?
I think I’m definitely gonna see it.
He’s got an appeal even today.
Yeah I’m gonna see it. We discussed it at the beginning of the podcast that we like the, you know, tough guys.
Yeah, he definitely has that. Now, Jackie Chan.
Jackie Chan is actually on the top of my list.
He’s got a huge amount of films. I counted about 70 form 80s and 90s. Rush Hour, there was two or three of those I think. Rumble in the Bronx, and Supercop. I mean lots and lots of films.
I don’t know, if I’m honest, for me, I don’t if it’s much quality there. I don’t think… I mean, he personally has bags of charisma and style, and he does all his own stunt, most of them at least. And he’s fighting styles and talent, I mean, he’s got bags of talent. But I don’t know if the films… I mean, compare them to Terminator 1 or Predator or even Rambo, I don’t think they’re just as good.
I think they’re a little bit different from each other, you know. Where Rambo is using some kind of fictional weapons, you know, that look like the face of iPhone 11. I’ve seen that meme on the Internet.
There’s a meme that a new iPhone 11 looks like, the weapon Rambo used, sorry, Sylvester Stallone used in one of the films. Yeah, has like four faces and, like a bazooka, but bigger, it has four faces.
He’s a little bit different, he is…
Yeah, he’s a superhero. I mean, he’s on my list, the top of my list, and this summer I saw like three of his films. And these films have got basically not even action. The other film I watched WITH Jackie Chan was Shinjuku Incident, it was something historical where he moved from Hong Kong to China and all that.
You can imagine Jackie being a gangster and an isolate. Yeah he was an isolate in the films.
Maybe… Not so much maybe as Wesley Snipes, but certainly, yeah.
Then the other one I saw looking for Jackie was a Little Boy who went to see Jackie Chan. It’s not even action, but just because it’s got Jackie Chan so I saw it.
Maybe he’s not so much… I wanna say that maybe he’s not so much an action hero, though he has action.
Maybe he’s just an all round good actor from the 80s and 90s. Jean-Claude van Damme.
Yeah, he’s my number two.
Not as many films, about 31. I think not as good quality for the films anyway. Street Fighter, Time Cop, Hard Target. None of the films that I would really… I would watch them, but, I mean, not so good I think.
I love every bit of this guy. Every bit of him.
He’s got… For me, I think he hasn’t got the range, but he’s definitely got talent in fighting, fighting style.
Probably I like this guy cause he’s very very physical. I think I’m gonna remember to discover myself, very physical to do where… I mean, look at the way he punches, look at the way he stretches his leg. This is crazy!
If you’ve tried sport before, you’re gonna appreciate that. He’s amazing! And the way he punches and his legs. Even in some of his films they are really very cool! Was it Lion heart?
Yeah, he melted my heart. I think I cried, really. And I’ve seen that film probably like 10 or a hundred times, I don’t know. I’ve seen it a lot of times. Lion heart. It’s unbelievable. Not so quality, like you said, but, I mean, the storyline, you know. And you know, the way he fights.
Definitely a contender. Maybe he’s not gonna get first place. Keanu Reeves.
Yeah, Keanu Reeves, yeah.
About 39 films, which is quite a bit. I mean, he’s still going strong today. Speed, Dracula, although his accent was terrible. And the Matrix.
Matrix is the bomb, Matrix is the bomb, yeah.
I remember watching that trailer as a young teen. And wow! It just blew me away! I just kept watching it.
It was a new range of film.
Completely new ideas, new technology.
After that sounds adopted it, a lot of stuff adopted it, but Matrix was out of this world, yeah.
I think he’s got huge charisma, and even as a person, not just an actor. I mean, not just as the character if you like. I think he’s got a huge amount of charisma and style, bags of style. I don’t know about range, I think he’s got his own unique style of acting – he can play lots of roles, but he’s not very emotional.
He’s not into the heart of everybody like the other guys we mentioned before him.
I think he’s not very emotional in any of his roles, but he can do lots of roles, so I think… Personally, I like him, he’s one of my favorite. And he’s still got an ongoing appeal, because John Wick.
I guess he’s younger than the other guys.
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.
And he’s doing John Wick, he’s done a third one. I think they’re gonna do a fourth one. So, still pretty popular. Curt Russel. Love Curt Russel, he’s done about 26 in the 80s and 90s. And some of them – Tango and Cash, which was with Sylvester Stallone. The Thing which was a horror actually, not really an action.
Big trouble in Little China.
Big Trouble in Little China – that’s what I remember.
It’s good craic. It’s great fun. I think he’s got some good quality films, but not just as many like quantity-wise. I think he’s got good range, but I don’t know. Not always good films and… I think, for me I think he’s got an ongoing appeal.
I think he’s got his ongoing appeal as a speaker, you know, in some functions and all that. I think he can really function in that a lot.
Maybe not so much as an action hero.
That’s what I’m saying! Definitely not.
Not not not, in the past. Cool, but no.
I love that Big Trouble in Little China, I rewatch it.
That’s what I’m saying, that was a bomb!
He’s an action hero, but he’s got lots of comedies.
I mean, I would pay to listen to this guy on some kind of conference, you know, speaking about whatever. I think he’s a very smart individual.
Yeah, I think so. I watched recently though, there’s The Chronicles of Santa Claus or something. It’s a Christmas film and I was really looking forward to it cause he was in it, but… And he looks like kind of Santa Claus, you know, the beard and all that.
But I was pretty disappointed in the film though, unfortunately. Didn’t think it was an interesting film. But he’s a great actor. Mel Gibson. About 29 films. Braveheart. They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!
I think that’s your favorite quote from the film.
Mad Max, where it all started, and Lethal Weapon. Love the Lethal Weapon films. I think he’s a great… I don’t know what he’s like as a person, I think he’s got some real controversion in life, but as his acting, as an actor I think he’s playing fantastic. Lots of range, lots of charisma, lots of style. Good quality films. Lethal Weapon, I mean, there are four of those!
I mean, yeah, that’s why there are not so many films like that. Because the films are of really really good quality.
Good quality, and with Danny Glover – perfect. I mean, best body cop films. What do you think of?
Ongoing appeal… Has he been in anything? He’s still doing stuff, yeah.
Not as popular, but for most of these guys it’s just not as popular as it used to be.
Mostly underground. I think he’s still in the movie world.
He’s still doing stuff. Nicolas Cage. It’s a wacky guy. He’s a strange guy.
I think a lot of his films are hidden mess, so I have about 34 here. The Rock, Con Air, and Face Off. I think they are the best.
I saw one of these films this summer. City of Angels, is it?
It’s a romantic one I think.
Yeah yeah, exactly, sure.
He plays like a fallen angel and he chooses to kinda get involved with a woman romantically. And has to give up being an angel. I think he’s got… He’s not just an action hero, but I think some of his most popular ones have been action.
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying, very unpredicted and stuff like that.
I think for a lot of people he’s a bit what we call Marmite. And it’s like you either love it or hate it. Marmite’s very salty, it’s like a very salty paste that you put on your bread. And people either love it or hate it. He’s that kind of guy – you either love him or hate him. I like him in some things, I think he can be quite good.
I mean, not like an action packed film.
But he has done some good stuff. Tom Cruise?
You got the Mission Impossible, Top Gun, Interview with the Vampire. I think Mission Impossible is really really popular.
Mission Impossible was a bomb, yeah, sure.
About 24 films in the 80s and 90s, not so many.
Quantitatively, but I think quality… There were Mission Impossible films. I think they’re getting better every time, so it’s definitely ongoing with him.
I mean I like him too because he’s a very very physical guy. Tom Cruise.
Doing a lot of his own stunts.
Yeah, definitely. And there’s a myth actually, I don’t know if you’ve heard about that that he actually came to Novosibirsk once.
Yeah. So in Novosibirsk in the year of 2007 or 8, probably 8. There was an eclipse of the sun, and I mean it was more visible here in Novosibirsk, so there’s a myth that he came. He was at the airport, came out of the plane, saw it, and flew back.
There are myths about this guy. Wow. So I think he’s got a charisma, he’s definitely got charisma and style.
Now, he’s not done so many, I think he’s done about 11 films in the 80s and 90s. So not so many.
But I mean you would think he’s done more than a 100.
You would think he has, but… Men in Black, definitely really popular, I really liked the first one. Independence Day, one of my favorite films as a boy. Bad Boys.
Bad Bad Bad Boys, you make me feel so good!
Exactly. Bad Boys Bad Boys, what you gonna do when we come for you.
Yeah these are the songs from the 80s or the 90s, sure.
But I don’t know why, I don’t like Bad Boys. I think they’re too….
Because they’re silly. I really liked the Independence Day and Men in Black, even though they are kind silly too, but I don’t know. Something about Bad Boys that I don’t find them entertaining. Wesley Snipes is the last one.
No, let me talk about Will Smith. Will Smith I think I like him a lot because of his sons.
Full of charisma, full of charisma.
Yeah, I think I like Will Smith because I think he’s very very close to Jackie Chan because he’s a combination of comedy and action.
Yeah, he looks like a top top blockbuster and he’s gonna kick everybody in the city. There’s this film, what is it called? The one where he could fly everywhere and jump everywhere. Jumpo? Jungo?
What is that called? I forgot, I know what you mean.
There is this very sweet film I saw this summer, he was like connecting people together. If the girl and the guy want to get along, he just kinda get them together.
No no no no, he set up everything and then fortunately…
It’s a very very sweet film.
I think he’s got a lot of range, so he’s not just an action hero, but for me some of the films he’s been in recently is bad choices I think. And I think he’s done a lot of good films, but I think he’s been involved in a lot of mediocre films. Not terrible, mediocre. And I mean he’s always made them better, but I just don’t think that they’re that great.
I mean a lot of people are just into commercial films right now. Don’t be surprised, come on! Give it to him, he’s a top guy.
Last but not least, Wesley Snipes. 33 films. Played, and there was a trilogy of those. Demolition Man, which I mentioned with Sylvester Stallone. US Marshalls. I think he’s done quite a few good films, but maybe not such good quality as compared to others. I like the Blade films, but I don’t think they were generally very popular.
No, Blade was really cool. The first one, I don’t know about the second one, but the first one at that time it came, it was something new.
But I mean, this is kinda superheroes, cause he’s kinda more of antihero actually.
Well actually my favorite film is not even on the list here, you wouldn’t believe. It’s Liberty Stands Still. It was…
Yeah yeah yeah. The film, it was an event that happened in a day. Everything that happened…
Is it like based on a true story?
Actually I don’t know. He was a sniper, or somebody was a sniper in the film, and they were trying to hit somebody and all that. Yeah the film was cool.
Would you still watch it?
I need to watch that film again, yeah, sure. The concentration and everything. I don’t like too much of speaking actually. And we talked about it.
Yeah but in that film it was very slow, you need to kinaa wait to the end.
Would you watch a modern film with Wesley Snipes?
Yeah yeah yeah, definitely. I guess I’m gonna watch it. You know I’m not into films a lot right now, but yeah, I’m gonna watch if I go to the cinema.
You’ll watch it. I would, you know, I would. I’d like to see him in something now. I think his fighting style is brilliant.
And if you look at Demolition Man you’ll see. Okay, so. Who do we think… So I think we kinda really know Jackie Chan and Will Smith.
I mean as being the best.
They’re fantastic in other ways, like overall.
Not in blockbusters. No no no, it’s true.
I think Curt Russel just hasn’t been in enough good ones. And Nicolas Cage too.
Will Smith is out of it too.
I think, I’m gonna say Tom Cruise and Wesley Snipes are out because they are just not the best. They’re very very good, but actually I think that Tom Cruise has still more to show maybe. He’s not just an action hero, I think there’s more to him.
In the Mission Impossible it’s more like spy. It’s not just action hero. So I’m gonna say… I think Wesley Snipes appeals to some people and not to others. Jean-Claude van Damme I think the quality of work.
You don’t like him that much, yeah?
I do really like him, but I just don’t think his films are amazing. But he is a person, and his style and everything is plus. So we’re left, so far we’re left with Mel Gibson, Keanu Reeves, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Arnie.
So, it’s Arnie, Bruce, Sylvester, Mel and Keanu. Oooh, Keanu is great, but actually I would say Keanu became more popular mid to late 90s and he’s still popular today. So I’m not gonna put him as the 80s and 90s.
He’s more modern. So Sylvester, Bruce, Arnold and Mel Gibson. Who could it be?
I think Gibson has a little least, because I don’t know… When was the last time he made a film?
Well, I know he’s done stuff recently, but it’s not been so big. Whereas I think Arnie has got more of a star appeal even today. And Bruce Willis has done stuff recently like Split I think it’s called. And other films like that which have been quite popular. Sylvester Stallone – is he still popular do you think?
I’m gonna give the award.
You’re gonna give him number one?
I’m gonna give him an award.
You’re gonna give Sylvester number one? I think… I think it’s tough. Out of all these guys I think Mel Gibson just loses out, would you agree? I think we can give him a third or second place. He’s definitely…
Because I mean, in the 80s and 90s yeah everybody just talked about either Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger. These two guys.
Could we give Arnie and Sylvester the first place?
I think we have to. Sure, they were really really on top of that.
One person you wouldn’t just believe, it’s someone like Jackie – a lot of people talked about Jackie too. Because of the hand fighting.
Bruce Willis, second place?
Yeah I mean for people who… I mean, he wasn’t really like everywhere, probably for adults.
Die Hard. So we’re gonna say Arnie and Sylvester for joint first place, Bruce Willis for second place. Should we have Jackie Chan joint with him?
I would’ve loved to have Jackie.
Maybe he’s more… He’s beyond that. And then third place Mel Gibson. So, does it surprise you? What you thought we were gonna pick?
Not all. I mean this list is really very wonderful. I mean, definitely. And the conclusion we have right now – it doesn’t…
Doesn’t shock you? I think they’ve got the charisma, you wanna watch them as action heroes more than as any other role. So they’re specific to action more than other guys. And when you’re watching them there’s gonna be some action, it’s gonna be good.
It’s gonna be entertaining. And I think, I’m gonna say especially Arnold, I wanna watch him again even today and see what he’s doing. And hope that he’s in good films. So guys we found out the definitive answer.
It’s Arnold and Stallone the number 1 action heroes from the 80s and 90s. That was the craic about the 80s and 90s best action heroes. We looked at our kind of history, or how we like to watch action films. We identified all the action heroes from the 80s and 90s.
And we decided, you found out, you got the answer. You can tell everyone, tell the world. So that was the craic about… Write your answers, comment your answers to the podcast if you want to disagree if you want, that’s okay. Or agree if you want. But guys, that was the craic about the best 80s and 90s action heroes.