Over the decades of its existence, the action movie has continued to evolve and change. In today’s blockbuster landscape, action movies are almost relentless, but that wasn’t always the case. The modern action movie first emerged in full force in the 1980s, when everything was bigger, including both the car chases and the explosions. We all know that Netflix has an excellent selection of action movies that span decades throughout the genre’s long history.
When it comes to the 1980s, though, what kind of movies does Netflix have available? There are a number of great 1980s action movies that you can watch on Netflix, including the titles below. Across these six titles, we have a wide array of different types of action movies to choose from. Some are much more political and historical, while others are based purely in fantasy or in some heightened version of reality. We also have an excellent combination of fun, light movies and heavier, darker material. Whatever type of ’80s action movie you’re looking for, though, you’re almost guaranteed to find it among these selections. These are the best ’80s action movies that Netflix has to offer:
The same year as his breakout in Terminator, Arnold also starred in Conan the Destroyer, a sequel to Conan the Barbarian. The movie itself is fairly paint by numbers, but Conan the Destroyer is an excellent opportunity to dive into what Arnold’s screen persona was like when he was still in the midst of forming it. He looks absolutely ripped here as Conan is duped into going on a mysterious quest on behalf of an evil witch. Arnold didn’t do much outright fantasy later on in his career, which feels like something of a shame. He’s one of the great muscle-bound men in the history of cinema, and he could have made an ideal character in almost any fantasy landscape.
A movie that is both ridiculous and kind of beautiful, Rocky III follows Rocky after he’s beaten in the ring, and ultimately turns to his former rival Apollo Creed in order to return to his life as a champion. In addition to giving us “Eye of the Tiger,” Rocky III is also the movie that really perfected what a Rocky sequel should be. The movie’s not good, but it’s a lot better than it needs to be, and the fights are genuinely thrilling. If the first Rocky is justly revered by film lovers everywhere, Rocky III is the kind of Rocky movie that even casual fans of the franchise can enjoy, and a truly great fighting movie more generally. It’s silly, frothy, and has stakes that feel exactly the right size. Rocky’s not beating communism here, he’s just taking on another fighter. As an additional note of interest, Rocky III is also a pretty solid template for Creed III, which just hit theaters earlier in 2023.
Another movie that birthed an entire franchise, The Karate Kid tells the story of a teenage boy who moves across the country and finds himself the subject of bullying. When he befriends an unassuming repairman named Mr. Miyagi who is actually a martial arts master, the two of them go on a journey together that ultimately culminates in a karate tournament. Here, the action is largely confined to the final third of the movie, but there are plenty of great training sequences ahead of that that helped define an entire genre. After The Karate Kid hit theaters, everyone wanted to learn the sport so that they too could take down their high school bullies.
- Ranked: The 11 best Tom Hanks movies ever
- These are the 13 best Brad Pitt movies, ranked
- The 10 best time travel movies, ranked
- The best movies to watch on Peacock right now
- The 11 best movies on Max available to stream now