Collectively, the ’80s and ’90s can be defined as the golden age of action movies as the era is packed with hundreds of entertaining flicks, ranging from the neatly done blockbusters to the cheesy, trope-filled offerings. The ’80s decade specifically presents some badass action heroes that remain in conversations to this day.
While it’s the fight sequences that have mostly made these characters to be revered, the dialogue has played a part too. Each of the celebrated ’80s action blockbusters has a memorable one-liner or two and these not only sum up the personalities of the hero but also the specific scene as a whole.
10 “I’ve Come To Kick A** & Chew Bubble Gum & I’m All Out Of Bubblegum.” – Nada
John Carpenter’s They Live can be counted among movies that wasted good premises but the protagonist, Nada, is quite the badass character. Late in the first act of the movie, he kicks off his hunt for aliens by uttering words that have become pop culture gold.
There is a good reason why Nada is very confident in the specific scene. He is not only holding a weapon in a room full of unarmed people, but he also happens to have acquired special sunglasses that enable him to spot aliens that are disguising themselves as humans. Through his words, he promises extreme punishment and he more than delivers.
9 “They Drew First Blood.” – Rambo
In the first installment of the Rambo franchise, the protagonist proves to be too good for the police officers that are hunting him down so his old commanding officer, Colonel Sam Trautman, is brought in to try and reason with him. Well, Rambo insists he didn’t start it.
The war veteran is right since he was only a drifter minding his business when the town’s police decided to harass him. To him, turning the other cheek is not an option and that’s the reason he goes on to brutally injure most of them.
8 “I Eat Green Berets For Breakfast & Right Now, I’m Very Hungry!” – John Matrix
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s spot among the greatest action stars of all time is a permanent one and the ’80s movie that truly cements his legacy is Commando. Among the numerous incredible fight scenes in the movie is one where he faces Cooke.
Though the “eat for breakfast” line has been used many times in pop culture, Matrix sounds more badass while saying it because of the extra words he adds to it. Given Cooke’s combat breakfast as a Green Berret, he assumes that Matrix will be no match to him, but he ends up getting impaled rather quickly.
7 “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherf****.” – John McClane
Hans Gruber’s terrifying voice is a major reason he is considered one of the best action movie villains but not everyone cowers when they hear him speak. During a conversation with the villain via radio in Die Hard, John McClane lets him know just how much he is enjoying the experience by using the iconic line.
The quote points to McClane’s bravery as well as his childish excitement. The hostage situation is a serious one but as a police officer who is reputed for being a daredevil, such moments are what he lives for. He, therefore, cannot wait to finally get his hands on the terrorist.
6 “I Don’t Step On Toes… I Step On Necks.” – James Braddock
Missing In Action III
Years after he quit acting, Chuck Norris remains relevant through hilarious internet memes, and he has his streak of badass movie moments to thank for that. One such moment comes in the third Mission In Action installment where a CIA contact informs his character, Braddock, that his wife is alive and begs him to not step on any toes while trying to save her.
“Stepping on necks” is accurate for Braddock since he knows for hurting rather than offending. Overall, it’s also a memorable line since Chuck Norris isn’t known as a master of dialogue. His characters tend to be known for their quotes but for their fight sequences, so a rare great line comes off as very refreshing.
5 “I Don’t Make Things Complicated. That’s The Way They Get, All By Themselves.” – Martin Riggs
Most action heroes are known to be unreasonable people. It’s all part of their appeal and the same applies to one of the toughest action movie cops, Martin Riggs, in Lethal Weapon. However, when he is accused by his partner, Murtagh, of making everything hard, he denies it.
Murtagh has a point because Riggs’ enthusiasm always gets the both of them in trouble that could be avoided. Still, the hot-headed cop doesn’t see it that way, According to him, he only reacts to situations as they come hence he shouldn’t be blamed.
4 “How Do You Like Your Ribs?” – Sgt. Jericho “Action” Jackson
A common action movie trope involves a hero in captivity quickly making light work of the henchman that has been given the task of torturing them. That’s how events play out in Action Jackson, where a henchman prepares to burn the protagonist with a flamethrower, boasting: “we are gonna have a little barbecue.”
Jackson escapes, and keeping up with the “barbecue” tone set by the henchman, he makes a rib joke before burning him. It’s as cheesy as action movie lines come, but it remains a golden one given how creative it is and how well it fits in the context.
3 “They Can Bill Me.” – Ellen Ripley
Ellen Ripley sure does come up with many ways of making the aliens pay in the second installment of the Aliens franchise and among her suggestions involves blowing up an entire site. It’s something her colleague, Burke, doesn’t agree with because of the high cost of setting up space stations, so she gives yet another solution for that problem.
To Ellen, there is no time to think about government costs because their lives are in danger. If anyone back on Earth will complain about the damage done, she will be more than happy to pay, so long as she stays alive. Her perspective makes so much sense that a couple of her other colleagues back it up too in the scene.
2 “Dead Or Alive, You’re Coming With Me.” – Alex Murphy
Most of Alex Murphy’s best moments come when he gets transformed into the cyborg law enforcement officer known as Robocop, but his line comes way before that. Afraid that the villain, Emil, will blow up a gas station, Murphy vows to kill him if he has to.
The quote is even more powerful because Murphy says it right before he dies and doesn’t actually get to keep his promise of bringing Emil in. Luckily, he gets the chance of redemption in Robocop‘s climax where he has the upper hand, thanks to his new robotic body that can withstand all kinds of attacks.
1 “I Heard The Price Of Eggs Was Going Up, But, Isn’t That A Little High?” – James Bond
In Octopussy, Bond finds it amusing when he learns that an exiled Afghan prince has an offer for the Fabergé egg that’s in his position. The offer is that Bond’s life will be spared if he hands it over but the MI6 agent feels the value of his life far exceeds that of the egg.
Obviously, the egg in question is more valuable, but Bond still finds it fitting to employ sarcasm as a way to express his views about the whole situation. His remarks also show how highly he thinks of himself. In his opinion, the prince will have to come up with a better offer for the egg.
NEXT: 10 Best Action Films Of The 2010s, According To Letterboxd
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