The greatest action hero and one of the greatest movie stars of all-time is Sylvester Stallone. This, much like death & taxes, cannot be argued. It is a fact of the universe. The man practically invented the genre as we know it today. He has tackled a wide variety of roles in the action genre, too, such as: young deathrace car driver, aging race car driver, underdog boxer, aging underdog boxer, troubled Vietnam vet, aging troubled Vietnam vet, rogue cop, future cop, and a rogue cop unthawed in the future.
Now, I could easily fill this list with nothing but Rambo & Rocky movies, but what fun would that be? Sure, all of those movies are nine kinds of awesome (yes, Rocky V and Rambo III included), but it just wouldn’t be a fair contest. As much as Stallone’s filmography is full of amazing cinematic adventures, what can compare to freakin’ Rambo & Rocky ?! Nothing. So I’m cutting it down to only 1 Rambo and 1 Rocky movie in the interest of fairness.
First Blood (1982)
The mother of all action movies and Stallone’s finest moment. Sure, action movies came before this (Remember all those westerns and war movies that your grandpa watched?) but First Blood set the standard for the 80s and beyond. Schwarzeneggar movies may have popularized the one-liners (another 80s action necessity), but Stallone’s John J. Rambo gave us the strong silent type that was used ever so often during the 80s. While there was only 1 kill (and it was by way of the cop’s own incompetence), this was the template for the unstoppable one-man war machine.
This is the movie that launched the world into the Stallone Zone and paved to way for his excellent work in the action genre. Previous to this, Stallone was a struggling actor and insisted on starring in this movie, which he also wrote. Had the movie studio not agreed to his starring role or had the movie flopped, Stallone may have become a footnote in cinematic history, and that my friends, is a world I dare not dream of.
Lock Up (1989)
Truly, an underrated gem! I love this movie. Well, I love all of Stallone’s movies, but this one is up near the top. The bad guys? Absolutely dispicable. Stallone? A good guy done wrong. Classic formula!
Demolition Man (1995)
This movie is just fun. A cop and a criminal cryogenically frozen and then they get thawed out in the future. Snipes’ performance is over the top, and in a good way. Plus… A young Sandra Bullock. Mmm… Sandra Bullock.
Over the Top (1987)
Judging by the packaging for the home video release, this was supposed to be the next action franchise for Stallone: “Rocky, Rambo, Cobra and now Hawk, in the biggest fight of his life”. There was even a short-lived toyline based on the movie. This movie was pretty much the arm-wrestling version of Rocky, except there’s an annoying kid thrown in. He’s such a whiner, but it’s Stallone doing what he does best– the underdog.
Tango & Cash (1989)
Now THIS I would’ve loved to have seen become a franchise. They were obviously trying to cash-in on the buddy cop genre that Lethal Weapon did so well and for the most part it worked. Kurt Russell really shines in this movie. Plus… A young Teri Hatcher. Mmm… Teri Hatcher.
Judge Dredd (1995)
I don’t care what you say, this is a good movie. I’m sure it made fans of the comic book really mad, but hey, I’m a Stallone fan first and formost, so I liked it. I do think the addition of Rob Schneider was a bit much, there was no need to turn this movie into an action/comedy when he was around, but other than that, it’s solid and Stallone was a great choice for Dredd, I think. Plus… A young Diane Lane. Mmm… Diane Lane.