The eighties were definitely a good decade for action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal, and Jean Claude Van Damme, but the ultimate action star who rose to fame at this time was Arnold Schwarzenegger. From his humble beginnings as a body builder from Austria to becoming one of the most successful action stars in cinematic history, Schwarzenegger certainly stood out from his contemporaries. With an upcoming role in the highly anticipated The Expendables 2, here is a look back on Schwarzenegger’s most memorable roles.

Here are my top 5 Arnold Schwarzenegger films:

The Terminator

This 1984 classic was a pivotal film for both Schwarzenegger and the film’s director James Cameron and it essentially was the catalyst to making Schwarzenegger an in demand action star. Although the sequel was more of a commercial success, the original film is still thought of as a masterclass in science fiction film making. Set in the present day Los Angeles Linda Hamilton plays Sarah Connor who has been targeted for termination by artificially intelligent machines from the future. Although Schwarzenegger had limited dialogue, his performance as the unrelenting and unstoppable killing machine was a memorable role which helped the film become one of the most celebrated science fiction films of that generation.



Total Recall

Schwarzenegger’s films were often looked down upon as being pointless with overly gratuitous violence and for the majority of his film career he stuck to this as it was what he was good at. This 1990 film found him in another sci-fi action role set in 2084. Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid who has had memories implanted and as a result has trouble knowing what is real and what is not. The film follows him as he tries to find out the truth and why his memory was erased. This film is currently being remade with Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid, I just hope that the film does the original some justice.




Guns and muscles are what usually come to mind when Schwarzenegger’s name is mentioned and this film definitely has an abundance of both. Schwarzenegger stars as Dutch who goes along with his team of Special Force Ops on a rescue mission in a jungle. However the operation takes a bad turn when the group discovers that they are being hunted by an unknown enemy.  After copious amounts of ammunition wasted along with his whole team, Dutch goes head-to-head with the Predator, which of course sees Schwarzenegger come out on top.



True Lies

Schwarzenegger and Cameron work together for the second time in this 1994 action comedy which also stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold and Bill Paxton. Schwarzenegger plays Harry Tasker, a family man living a double life in which his wife thinks he is a car salesman, when he is actually a counter-terrorism agent for the US government. Schwarzenegger’s career was looking a little sketchy at the time with The Last Action Hero being a financial disappointment; however this film was a commercial and critical success which brought the aging action hero back on top.




There are only a few films throughout Schwarzenegger’s career where he tried more comedic roles; one of my favourites is Twins. Schwarzenegger stars along with Danny De Vito as twin brothers Julius and Vincent who were separated at birth. The brothers are a result of a genetic experiment, which Schwarzenegger’s character Julius is considered the ’better’ twin because he is more intelligent and physically superior to his twin brother Vincent, who seems to be the complete antithesis of his brother. Of course this film does not go down as one of the best comedies of all time, but the physical proportions alone of both Schwarzenegger and De Vito make for a humorous concept.



Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox


About The Author east Londoner who has an unhealthy long-standing love affair with films!

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