Ahhhh, we’re back in the 80’s again. A great decade for awesome movies. This time we focus on those amazing bad-ass cool characters from a selection of our favourite 1980s movies.
From one-man army, gun-toting action heroes. To those evil villains who have a plan of world domination. They make those movies great. They are over the top. They are crazy. They take no shit. They are total bad-asses and they are cool. Some of these characters are so cool, in fact, I had to wear thermal gloves while typing that last paragraph!
Movie: Commando (1985)
Actor: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnie is literally a one man army who sets out to stop the terrorists who murdered his old team and rescue his kidnapped daughter in this action-packed 80’s OTT thrill-fest.
Arnie is an absolute legend in this movie. This movie has probably got the most Arnie one-liners out of all his movies. He’s so bad-ass in this motion picture that he can carry a tree log over one shoulder. Drive his tampered truck down a mountain. Flip a telephone box over with a guy in it. Dangle a guy over a cliff with one hand. Man handle a team of shopping mall security guards. He kills all the bad guys and their army all by himself, and usually with a great line to boot, such as [Dangling Sully over the cliff] “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last. I lied”. Speaking to the air hostess after killing the a bad guy on the plane “do me a favor – don’t disturb my friend. He’s dead tired”. Classic!
- “I eat green berets for breakfast and right now, I’m very hungry!”
- “You’re a funny guy, Sully. I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last”
- [After throwing a pipe through Bennett with steam coming out of it] “Let off some steam, Bennett.”
Movie: Rocky IV (1985)
Actor: Dolph Lundgren
Not much of a talker, Ivan Drago aka the ‘Death from Above’ aka ‘The Siberian Express’, is a pure Soviet powerhouse in the fourth installment of the Rocky series. He’s like a towering fighting machine. He’s almost robotic with his cold emotions and he also kills our beloved Apollo Creed in the ring with no remorse. Rocky vows revenge and predictably wins over Drago. Rocky also manages to win over the Russian crowd, who also turn on Drago, which in reality would be bullshit!
- [after fighting Apollo Creed] “If he dies, he dies”
Movie/s: Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi & Attack of the Clones (1980 – 2002)
Actor: Jeremy Bulloch in suite (80s)
Another awesome bad-ass who doesn’t really say much. He only mutters a few lines in all the Star Wars saga, but he’s such a cult stand out character in the whole franchise and is also one of the most popular Star Wars characters. In the Empire Strikes back he is the “next major villain” behind Darth Vader. He’s also the coolest bounty hunter in the galaxy and is hired by Vader and Jabba the Hutt. He works together with the empire and in turn captures Han Solo, but then ends up being eaten by the Sarlaac in Return of the Jedi, which is a real disappointment.
- “He’s no good to me dead!”
Movie: The Breakfast Club (1985)
Actor: Judd Nelson
He’s not a kick-ass, bad guy killing action hero. He’s not a drug baron, terrorist or bounty hunter. He’s just your average high school misunderstood bad boy, who’s in for detention on Saturday for setting off the fire alarm!
He’s also been a major influence on the creator of the Simpsons. Nelson the bully is named after the actor Judd Nelson. Bender from Futurama also shares the characters name and John Bender also utters the famous Bart Simpson phrase “eat my shorts!” to the teacher in the movie.
- [to Claire] “Remember how you said your parents use you to get back at each other? Wouldn’t I be outstanding in that capacity?”
- “My family? Oh, that’s easy. “Stupid, worthless, no good, goddamned, free loading son-of-a-bitch! Retarded, big mouth, know-it-all asshole jerk!” “You forgot ugly, lazy, and disrespectful!” “Shut up, bitch! Go fix me a turkey pot pie!” “What about you, Dad?” “F**k you!” “No, Dad, what about you?” “F**k you!” “No, Dad, what about you?!” “F**k you!” [mimes punching]
- “Eat my shorts.
Movie: Predator (1987)
Actor: Kevin Peter Hall in the suit. Peter Cullen as voice.
He’s the ultimate hunter and can take out the best trained soldiers from any army, but then picks a fight with Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer (Arnie) who eventually manages to kick his ass. The Predator feeling a bit pissed off and a bit of a sore loser activates a self-destruct device which Dutch narrowly avoids!
For a few months, following the release of Rocky IV, a joke was making rounds in Hollywood. Since Rocky Balboa had run out of earthly opponents, he would have to fight an alien if a fifth installment of his boxing series were to be made. Screenwriters Jim and John Thomas took the inspiration from the joke and wrote a screenplay based on it.
If they’d have gone with the originally cast Jean-Claude Van Damme playing the part of the predator I really don’t think he’d feature on this list. I don’t think he’d be as cool if he was doing karate kicks with rubber feet!
- [Mimicking Arnie] “What the hell are YOU?”
Movie: Evil Dead 2 (1987)
Actor: Bruce Campbell
He’s just a common guy who travels to the cabin in the woods to spend the weekend with his girlfriend Linda. As the story follows, he must defeat the evil powers around him that keep growing pretty much on his own as the other people in the movie are pretty useless. After enough attacks, he decides to take the evil head-on equipped with a shotgun and a chainsaw as a replacement for his hand and sets out to face the enemy.
- [Ash’s hand gains a life of it’s own.] “You bastards. You dirty bastards. [sobs] Gimme back my hand… GIMME BACK MY HAND!”
- [upon gaining the chain saw in place of his lost right hand] “Groovy”
- “Then let’s head on down into that cellar and carve ourselves a witch.”
Movie: Scarface (1983)
Actor: Al Pacino
Probably the most quotable character in the list. The film ‘Scarface’ tells the story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana (Al Pacino) who arrives in 1980s Miami with absolutely nothing and rises to become a powerful drug kingpin, which untimely leads to his downfall. He doesn’t go out without a fight though .He does manage to take out a lot of henchmen with a bazooka and machine gun while being repeatedly shot before being fatally blasted in the back with a shotgun!
Although he’s a drug kingpin he does actually have some morals, when he refuses to bomb a journalists car when he notices the journalists wife and family are with him.
- “What I try to tell you? This country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the woman. That’s why you gotta make your own moves.”
- “I’m Tony Montana! You f**k with me, you f**kin’ with the best!”
- “Say hello to my little friend!”
“Mad Max” Rockatansky
Movie: Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2 – The Road Warrior (1981) & Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Actor: Mel Gibson
Yet another character who doesn’t need to say much. Max is a former member of the Australian highway patrol called the Main Force Patrol (MFP). However, after a biker gang kills his family, he leaves the force and hunts down and kills all of the gang members. The trauma transforms him into the embittered, “burnt out…shell of a man”. The narration describes him as The Road Warrior, who despite his acerbic nature, elects to assist the settlers in their plan. However once his part is complete, he becomes a drifter once again, choosing not to follow them North.
- “The arrangement was I wouldn’t kill you. I reckon you got a bargain.”
- “Two days ago, I saw a vehicle that would haul that tanker. You want to get out of here? You talk to me.”
- “If it’s all the same to you I’ll drive that tanker.”
Movie: The Terminator (1984)
Actor: Arnold Swarzenegger
He’s a total bad-ass. He’s got one job to do and he’s damn sure he’s going to complete it. The T-101 is sent back in time to 1984 to terminate a single target, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), which will prevent the birth of her son, John, the future leader of the Human Resistance. He doesn’t let anybody get in his way, but in the end the T-101 after surviving being caught in a truck explosion, his flesh cover burns off and he is fully revealed as a machine. The Terminator is finally crushed in a hydraulic press by Sarah after a lengthy chase.
- “I’ll be back”
Gunnery Sergeant Hartman
Movie: Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Actor: R. Lee Ermey
Unlike the above Drago, Max, Fett, Predator and Terminator. This guy has a lot to say. He’s probably the most outspoken out of all the bad-ass characters in this list and he sure knows how to dish out the insults. He delivers some of the best lines in movie history and at the time he wasn’t even an actor until he made this film. Hartman is a drill instructor who trains his recruits to transform them into Marines and takes no shit from anyone even when they are pointing a loaded rifle at him!
The actor Ermey actually served as a U.S. Marine drill instructor during the Vietnam War. Based on this experience, he ad libbed much of his dialogue in the film.
- “What have we got here, a fucking comedian? Private Joker, I admire your honesty. Hell, I like you. You can come over to my house and f**k my sister. [he socks Joker in the gut] You little scumbag! I got your name! I got your ass! You will not laugh! You will not cry! You will learn by the numbers! I will teach you! Now get up! Get on your feet! You had best unf**k yourself, or I will unscrew your head and shit down your neck!”
- “I bet you’re the kinda guy that would f**k a person in the ass, and not even have the god-damn common courtesy to give him a reach-around.”
- “Today, you people are no longer pukes. Today, you are Marines. You’re part of a brotherhood. From now on, until the day you die, wherever you are, every Marine is your brother. Most of you will go to Vietnam. Some of you will not come back. But always remember this: Marines die. That’s what we’re here for. But the Marine Corps lives forever, and that means you live forever.”
- [Pyle aiming the rifle at Hartman, who starts yelling.] “What is your major malfunction, numb-nuts? Didn’t Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?”
Movie: Scrooged (1988)
Actor: Bill Murray
Frank Cross is a ruthless and cynical executive with a black heart in the IBC television network headquarters. He makes life hell when he is preparing an live production of Dickens’s – A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, which forces the network’s staff, including his single mum assistant Grace Cooley (Alfre Woodard), to work on the holiday. Frank also fires Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait) for disagreeing with him. He only cares about himself, but after he’s visited by three ghosts who show him what a douche bag he is, Frank changes his way.
- “The bitch hit me with a toaster! I love a girl with spirit.”
- “No, you are a hallucination, brought on by alcohol. Russian Vodka, poisoned by Chernobyl.”
- “I’m not crazy. It’s Christmas Eve! It’s, it’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we, we, we smile a little easier, we, w-w-we, we, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be! It’s a miracle, it’s really, a sort of a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve. And if you waste that miracle, you’re gonna burn for it. I know what I’m talking about. You have to do something. You have to take a chance. You do have to get involved. There are people that are having, having trouble making their miracle happen. There are people that don’t have enough to eat, and there are people that are cold. You can go out and say ‘hello’ to these people. You can take an old blanket out of the closet and say, ‘here.’ You can make ’em a sandwich, and say ‘Oh, by the way, here!’ I get it now! And if you, if you give, then you, then it can happen. Then the miracle can happen to you. It’s not just the poor and the hungry, it’s, it’s everybody that’s gotta have this miracle! And it can happen tonight for all of you! If you believe in this pure thing, you’ll, the miracle will happen and then you’ll want it to happen again tomorrow! You won’t be one of these bastards who says, ‘Christmas is once a year and it’s a fraud.’ It’s not! It can happen every day! You’ve just got to want that feeling! And if you like it and you want it, you’ll get greedy for it. You’ll want it every day of your life, and it can happen to you! I believe in it now. I believe it’s gonna happen to me now. I’m ready for it! And it’s great. It’s a good feeling. It’s, it’s really better than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m, I’m, I’m ready. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody.”
Movie: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
Actor: Christopher Lloyd
Doom is the cold and power-hungry judge of Toontown District’s Superior Court who is also a crazy homicidal toon in disguise. He created a substance which is capable of killing a toon, a toxic chemical known as “The Dip ” which he cruelly demonstrates by killing a poor little clown shoe, which is totally unforgivable!
- “No toon can resist the old Shave-and-a-Haircut trick.” (taps “Shave and a Haircut” a few times)
- “Toontown will be legally mine–lock, stock, and barrel.”
- [after showing Eddie his true form: A toon; as his voice grows higher-pitched every second] “Remember me, Eddie?! When I killed your brother, I talked just… like… THIS!”
And of course the ultimate bad-ass…
Movie/s: The Star Wars Saga Episodes I – VI (1977 – 2005)
Actor: David Prowse in the suit, James Earl-Jones as the voice and Sebastian Shaw as unmasked Anakin (1980s)
Obviously Vader was going to feature on this list. He’s one of the most powerful and evillest guys in the galaxy. He is the most iconic villains in the movie world. He’s so bad-ass he blew up an entire planet that was home to his daughter (although he didn’t know that at the time!) He does manage save his son Luke and kill the evil Emperor in the end to redeem himself a bit!
- “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
- “There is no escape! Don’t make me destroy you. Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You’ve only begun to discover your power! Join me, and I will complete your training! With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict, and bring order to the galaxy.”
- “If only you knew the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.”
- “No, I am your father.”
- “Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them.”
- “Nothing can stop that now. Just for once, let me look on you with my own eyes.” [Luke carefully removes Vader’s mask to reveal Anakin’s disfigured face underneath.] “Now…go, my son. Leave me.”
- [smiles] “You already have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me… Tell your sister… you were right… ” [dies]