Best movie: Rambo: First Blood (1982)
Being that this is an action film list, don’t expect any of the Rocky movies to be on here. That doesn’t mean Stallone has nothing going for him. His Rambo franchise is easily one of the most brutal and testosterone-packed sagas ever to be put on film, yet it’s the first installment that really sticks out for us. Rambo: First Blood outshines the sequels by actually attempting to tell a story while also satisfying our need for brutal fights at every turn.
Focusing on Rambo as a drifter in a small town, First Blood highlights the psychological issues that Vietnam vets had to deal with when attempting to assimilate back into society. But aside from all of that touchy-feely psychobabble, this movie is a tough-as-nails action piece with enough bicep-pumping fisticuffs to turn the most vehement pacifist into a bloodthirsty hooligan.
Runner-up: Cliffhanger (1993)
Although it might seem like an odd choice, we suggest you actually sit down and watch Cliffhanger again; it’s a genuinely intense thriller. In it, Stallone plays an experienced mountain climber and rescue ranger who gets caught up in a nefarious scheme by a traitorous member of the U.S. Government, played by John Lithgow.
No one will ever mistake this movie for The Seventh Seal, but in terms of being an out-and-out action flick, Cliffhanger offers up a bit more than the typical hackneyed quips and shirtless shootouts that polluted the genre at the time. Plus, the mountain setting offers up a platform for some pretty inventive fight scenes that work without the glut of CGI that we see today.