5 Phenomenal Arnold Schwarzenegger Films


Anyone who grew up during the 1980’s remembers how big the action movie genre was. Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the headliners of the era and his movies were often big budget events. I was a huge fan of those old-school action pictures so naturally Arnie was a mainstay at my house. So why not tip the hat to the Austrian bodybuilder turned movie star by listing my five favorite Schwarzenegger movies. With such a heavy filmography I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But still I have no trouble calling these movies phenomenal.

#5 – “Total Recall” (1990)


In the 1990 science-fiction action film “Total Recall” Arnie goes to Mars…or does he? Paul Verhoeven’s wacky and sometimes metaphoric futuristic world is filled with corporate politics, social injustice, and various other milder commentaries. But what makes the film great is Schwarzenegger’s Douglas Quaid and the jam he gets into. While simply yearning for a better and more exciting life, Quaid finds himself caught between militaristic assassins and an underground rebel movement. It’s crazy, filled with big action, and it features some really cool special effects. “Recall, Recall, Recall”.

#4 – “Raw Deal” (1986)


Of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s early movies “Raw Deal” is one that may have gone unnoticed by many. Personally I think it is one of the actor’s best films. Sure it contains his signature wooden line reading, but I think it is the film that first showed Arnie trying to expand himself as an actor. He plays a small town sheriff who returns to the FBI in order to infiltrate and take down a Chicago mob boss. Great supporting work from Darren McGavin, Robert Davi, Sam Wanamaker, and Kathryn Harrold is just icing on the cake. “Raw Deal” has its share of action, but it is also a cool crime thriller that many may have missed.

#3 – “Commando” (1985)


In many ways “Commando” helped launch the one-man-army action films that were so prevalent during the 1980’s. It was the first to really accentuate the cheesy one-liners (that were actually considered cool at the time) and massive body counts. But hey, what do you expect when you kidnap the daughter of ex-military commando Arnie? This was also the first film that put Schwarzenegger as the starring lead in a modern day action setting. There are so many quotable lines, memorable moments, and of course the bullet-ridden finale. I still love “Commando”. Yes it feels almost like a time capsule movie today but is that a bad thing?

#2 – The Terminator Franchise


Instead of taking up multiple spots on this list I thought I would just put Schwarzenegger’s most memorable character in one place. The Terminator movies not only feature Arnie in his most recognized role, but they are also his biggest moneymakers. Everyone loved the Terminator films starting with the first film in 1984. There Arnold was a supporting player but he gained a lot of attention. In 1991 “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” came out and it blew up the box office. With James Cameron at the helm, T2 proved to be one of the best sequels ever made. Arnie was the star, the action was intense, and the special effects where groundbreaking. More movies would follow but the first two stand of huge cinematic accomplishments in my book.

#1 – “Predator” (1987)


Is it blasphemous to put anything about “The Terminator” when mentioning Arnie’s best movies? Not in my book. “Predator” is hands-down my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. The film pulls from all sorts of genres including science fiction, military action, survival, and thrillers. Schwarzenegger is larger than life leading his band of special operations buttkickers on a mission into a Central American jungle. But they soon encounter something far more deadly than rebel forces. “Predator” works on every level. Arnie and company are great, the setting is perfect, Alan Silvestri’s score is fabulous, and the action is some of Arnie’s best. I never get tired of it.

So there are five phenomenal movies from Schwarzenegger himself. What do you think of my list. Which of his movies would have made your list. Please hit the comments and let me know.

40 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Arnold Schwarzenegger Films

  1. Can’t beat a bit of Arnie! I love how he’s forged a career doing either macho action films or weird comedy films! Terminator 2 is my favourite thing he’s done, although Hercules in New York has a special place in my heart for being the worst film ever made 🙂

    • It’s really hard to argue with T2 isn’t it? I remember when it came out in the theaters. The buzz was insane. We stood in line for an hour and a half waiting for the theater to empty. It was worth the wait.

    • Fantastic! Then you definitely remember how much fun this action genre was back then. I guess I’ll always have a soft spot for those films, cheese and all!

  2. Solid picks, Keith. I think a friend of mine has convinced me his work in End of Days (not as good a film as these you have) may have been his best, acting-wise.

    • Hmmm. It’s been a while since I’ve seen End of Days so I honestly don’t remember his performance in it. In fact I don’t even remember much about that film.

  3. The only one I haven’t seen is Raw Deal. I actually like Arnie’s lesser-known film ERASER, not sure why but I dug that one. He’s funny in comedies too, Kindergarten Cop is a hoot!

    • Eraser was with Vanessa Williams right? I did have fun with that one too. You do need to see Raw Deal. It’s definitely a movie of its time but it is a hoot.

      • Yeah I might give Raw Deal a shot when I’m in the mood, I quite enjoy Arnie’s movies despite y’know, his lack of range 😉 Did I ever tell you I once had an obsession w/ Conan The Destroyer when I was in Jr High? I might’ve watched it over a dozen times! Not sure why, I don’t think I can watch it again now, ha..ha..

        Yes Eraser is the one w/ Vanessa Williams, for some reason that combo worked, go figure!

      • Oh I was crazy about Conan too, at least for a while. I remember being a young guy who loved those mystical fantasy type pictures. There were so many that came out during that time.

        As for Vanessa, I’ve always thought she was one of the prettiest ladies EVER. Maybe that is why I remember liking it so much! 😉

  4. Nice post Keith! I’m in agreement with 4 out of your 5, but I’d probably have The Running Man in there instead of Raw Deal!! An Ah-nold classic!

  5. Great pick for number one. My personal favorite is, predictably, The Terminator but I love Predator and would rank it at number two. I suppose the biggest thing that shocks some people is that I prefer T1 over T2.

  6. This is a fantastic list! This would have taken me weeks to compile because I don’t think I could have ever arrived at a favorite. So instead of giving myself the best headache ever, I’m going to fully subscribe to your list.

    Though….I don’t remember ANYTHING about Raw Deal…so I might substitute The Running Man.

    WAIT! CONAN! (sorry…I just remembered)

    • I love Conan and “Barbarian” almost made the list. “Raw Deal” is a hoot and it is definitely worth looking up. He had so many other goodies. “The Running Man”, “Red Heat”, “True Lies”…

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