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The Best ’80s Action Movies You Can Stream Online

When it comes to ’80s movies, there’s always a level of unbridled epic-ness that you just don’t see in modern film. Action movies from the 1980s are filled with innovative new ideas, big hair, and tastefully placed laser sounds that leave you feeling satisfied.

As a kid, these were the kinds of movies that filled my summers. Watching over-the-top fights, car chases, and betrayals was the best thing to do inside on a hot day. So now that it’s officially summer, here are some of the best ’80s action movies to stream online in 2020.

Escape from New York (1981)

Escape from New York
Science Fiction, Action
Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine
Directed by
John Carpenter
Watch on Amazon
This dystopian thriller is one of the most iconic action movies on Amazon Prime right now. The story is set in a future where crime is out of control and Manhattan has become a maximum-security prison just to deal with all of the criminals. In an attempt to escape, convicts bring down the president’s plane over the island to use as a bargaining chip. In this difficult situation, only a one-eyed warrior named Snake (Kurt Russell) is capable of saving the president from this predicament.

Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark
Adventure, Action
Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman
Directed by
Steven Spielberg
Watch on Amazon
The Indiana Jones franchise is great as a whole, but the original film still holds up as the best movies on Netflix. The story follows archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) after he’s hired by the U.S. government. Jones must track down the legendary Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s are able to seize its awesome power.
INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK | Official Trailer | Paramount Movies

Road House (1989)

Road House
Action, Thriller
Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott
Directed by
Rowdy Herrington
Watch on Amazon
Dalton (Patrick Swayze) is an expert martial artist who just so happens to be the best professional bouncer you’ll find. When he’s hired to help clean up a bar called The Double Deuce, he quickly finds out he’s in for more than he bargained for. After a few brush-ups with a villainous entrepreneur, Dalton has to choose to fight a war or walk away from the town.
Road House Official Trailer #1 - Patrick Swayze Movie HD

Akira (1988)

Animation, Science Fiction, Action
Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama
Directed by
Katsuhiro Otomo
Watch on Hulu
Arguably one of the best anime movies of all time, Akira is a crazy sci-fi adventure with beautiful animation. The story begins in Neo-Tokyo 31 years after being destroyed during World War 3. Though the city has become a thriving metropolis, a secret military project has transformed a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath that threatens to destroy Neo-Tokyo once more. Unless two teenagers and a group of psychics can stop him, of course. If you’re looking for more like this, we’ve also found the best anime on Hulu and anime series on Netflix.

Bloodsport (1988)

Action, Drama
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bolo Yeung, Donald Gibb
Directed by
Newt Arnold
Watch on hb0-max
If you’re someone who loves old Bruce Lee movies and need a similar fighting fix, Bloodsport may just be what you’re looking for. Army Captain Frank Dux goes completely AWOL and travels to Hong Kong to become the champion of a secret martial arts contest. The fights are brutal and there’s no guarantee of survival within any of these fights. As Jean-Claude Van Damme’s breakout role, this movie is a great way to dig into the action star’s roots. If you want more like this, take a look at our list of the best fighting movies of all time.
Bloodsport Official Trailer #1 - Forest Whitaker Movie (1988) HD

The Terminator (1984)

The Terminator
Action, Thriller, Science Fiction
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn
Directed by
James Cameron
Watch on Amazon
The Terminator is one of the most successful action movies to come out of the ’80s, and it’s not hard to see why. With a war raging between humans and machines of the future, an indestructible cyborg killing machine (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent to the past to kill a young woman who’s unborn child holds the key to humanity’s future.
The Terminator (1984) Official Trailer - Arnold Schwarzenegge Movie

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Big Trouble in Little China
Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Kurt Russell, Kim Cattrall, Dennis Dun
Directed by
John Carpenter
Watch on Starz
Whenever I think about movies from the 1980s, Big Trouble in Little China is usually the first thing that comes to mind. The plot follows a truck driver named Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) as he arrives in Chinatown, San Fransisco to meet his friend Wang Chi. Long story short, a Wang Chi’s fiancée gets kidnapped by a Chinese street gang and the duo ends up facing the supernatural up close and personal. All in all, it’s a ridiculous movie the whole way through and you won’t regret choosing to watch it in all its glory.

The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead
Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on HBO Max
The Evil Dead is one of those classic horror films that has helped shape the entire genre. The story follows 5 college students heading out to a peaceful and remote cabin for a little rest and relaxation. But when an audio tape is discovered, an evil power gets released and begins to take them out one by one.
Evil Dead Official Full-Length Red Band Trailer #1 (2013) - Horror Movie HD
Movie images and data from:
Jacob Kienlen
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jacob Kienlen was a culture writer for The Manual. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, he has considered the Northwest his…
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