This is a very progressive time to live in. People are (for the most part) more open-minded and there's much more equality between genders. But every once in while — not often — but every once in while, you just want to sit back and celebrate being an alpha male.
And no, I don't mean doing anything as aggressive as attacking someone or as sexist as patting a woman on behind for a job well done. Like I said, we've moved well beyond that. At least I'd like to think we have. What I'm talking about are the three things that make a man feel like a man no matter what the occasion:
1. Grilling red meat
2. Drinking an ice cold beer
3. Watching Arnold Schwarzenegger movies
Personally, I love Arnold Schwarzenegger. I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of celebrities through conventions, but if there were just one more I could add to the list it would be Schwarzenegger. I have fond memories of watching his movies as a kid and I still watch them today...as frequently as possible. In fact, as I sit here typing this, I am watching The Terminator. There's just something about a Schwarzenegger movie that brings out all of the testosterone and makes you feel like an absolute bad-ass.
Funny story, when my friends and I went to see The Expendables in theaters, we were having a pre-movie drink at the Ruby Tuesday bar and the bartender asked if we were all there to see "that man movie."
Now, I didn't exactly just walk in from cutting down a tree or branding cattle. In fact, I'm a family man these days so I don't get to express my caveman tendencies as much. So if you're like me and desperately need a day to just fire up the grill, break into a case of beer and enjoy some cheesy one-liners for roughly ten hours...then prepare to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women...because here's the top five movies for an Arnold Schwarzenegger MAN-a-thon!
5. CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982)
Speaking of crushing one's enemies...Conan the Barbarian was not only one of the world's first exposures to Arnold Schwarzenegger but it's also one of the first great — if not THE first great — "Arnold" movies. That is to say, it features Arnold just being a completely badass and instinct-driven alpha male with a lot of fun, cheesy lines, intense action sequences, the decapitating of giant snakes, and the punching of camels. But not only does it have all of that, it also manages to just be an incredibly well-made sword and sorcery movie with one of the greatest villains in all of fantasy-action, in form of Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones). The 2011 remake with Jason Momoa was okay...not great but enjoyable for the most part. However, there's just something about this 1982 classic that can never be tarnished (not even by its less than stellar sequel, Conan the Destroyer). All I can say is that if and when they finally get around to the long-gestating King Conan movie, I hope it's at least half as good as this one.
Another fun thing to point out is that if you listen to the famous audio commentary between Arnold and director John Milius, you can easily picture them sitting around a TV with copious amounts of alcohol and cigars....and possibly even a Malaysian stripper on each of their laps...
4. TOTAL RECALL (1990)
This is the 80s sci-fi/action epic that just narrowly missed being released in the 80s with all the cheesy dialogue, bad hair, and completely ridiculous action one would have come to expect. It's also one of the most fun Schwarzenegger movies out there. In this movie we learned that Arnold likes his women "sleazy and demure" and you really, really don't want to blow his cover! Paul Verhoeven (who also directed the original RoboCop and Starship Troopers) took a novel about a memory-wiped government agent and said, "Screw it! I'm going to have this take place on Mars!" And it was all just great fun from there. From Johnny Cab to three-breasted prostitutes to a subplot about an alien society's secret machine to give the red planet some oxygen...there's just no end to how awesome Total Recall is. So if you've got "five kids to feed" then you have "two weeks" to "get your ass to mars"...oh...and "see you at the party, Richter!"
3. PREDATOR (1987)
Predator is hands-down one of the best sci-fi/action movies ever made and Dutch is one of Arnold's manliest characters to date. ("What's the matter, Dillon? The CIA got you pushing too many pencils?" / "If it bleeds...we can kill it.") And hell, for added measure you also get Jesse "The Body" Ventura in this flick and he "ain't got time to bleed". Predator isn't quite as much of an "Arnold" movie as some of his others but you still get the ridiculously over-poweredness of his character and a lot of fun death puns, like "stick around" (after having pinned a guy to the wall with a combat knife). Predator 2 was an okay movie and Predators was a lot of fun...but no film in the franchise will ever be able to top Dutch and his one-on-one battle with that "one, ugly, mother _________." So finish off that beer and "get to da choppa" because we're powering through to the next film on the list...
2. THE RUNNING MAN (1987)
Schwarzenegger was a busy man in 1987, what with having released two of the best sci-fi films out there! The Running Man is probably...almost...one of the absolute best Arnold Schwarzenegger movies there is. It has everything. An awesome future setting with a social commentary on how television and media control people's lives and persuasion. Some of the best and most intense action sequences of any film from the 80s. A motley crew of memorable villains. Richard ("Family Feud") Dawson as one of the best villains ever recorded to film and probably the most quotable one-liners and bits of dialogue from any Arnold film: "Killian, here's your Subzero. Now...plain zero!"
"Remember...I can break your neck like a chicken's."
"Uplink underground. Uplink underground. If you say that one more time, I'll uplink your ass...and you'll be underground."
And my personal favorite, "I live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist. Because I'm going to ram it into your stomach and break your god-damn spine!" You even had the bad guy retort with Arnold's signature catch phrase, "Killian, I'll be back." / "Only in a rerun." Putting this one at number two was a really tough call and it's only just narrowly beaten out by...
1. COMMANDO (1985)
The stereotypes that truly make up an "Arnold" movie are things like an over-simplified plot, one-liners, crazy over-the-top and completely unrealistic action, things blowing up for essentially no reason and Arnold being a one-man, needs to help from anyone killing machine. The only film in his vast arsenal that truly sums this up to a T is Commando. It is not only the quintessential "Arnold" movie but probably the quintessential 80s action movie to boot. It's also probably one of the most testosterone-driven flicks ever created.
The film kicks off with a series of pretty ballsy daytime assassinations and then jump cuts to a montage of Arnold cutting down a tree and carrying the trunk of said tree over his shoulder. The film has everything from killing a guy on a plane with nobody noticing till it lands at its final destination, jumping from a plane's landing gear, robbing a surplus store, Tarzan swinging across a mall, ripping a phone booth out of the ground, dropping a man off a cliff and watching him die, smelling people downwind, oddly staged motel sex (seriously...go back and watch it), a self-healing Porsche, a machine gun that generates its own belt of ammunition so that Arnold doesn't have to stop shooting, a lookout nest exploding even though the explosives were set at the base of the tower, arms getting cut off, balls being axed....phew...there's just so. much. testosterone. YEAH!!! So "let off some steam, Bennett." Commando is by far the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movie out there and is easily the most enjoyable film to cap off the 10-Hour Schwarzenegger MAN-a-thon!
And before anyone says it, yes, I know that I didn't put any of the Terminator movies up here. But the objective was to throw out the five best movies for brining out the inner Man in all of us (well...mostly in all of us men...but also for any women who just enjoy a fun, manly experience, I guess).
And even though The Terminator is the signature franchise that really made Arnold Schwarzenegger who he is, they aren't really signature "Arnold" movies. That is, they aren't solely defined by the presence and personality of Arnold Schwarzenegger. They are great movies for their own, well-derived reasons and, in fact, the first movie is more about Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese's relationship than it is Arnold's menacing T-800.
Side note: I will say that "in the few hours we had together, we loved a lifetime's worth" is the most romantic line ever uttered in an action movie.
So relax, finish off your beers, spend the rest of your life digesting about half of all that red meat and cool off for a bit. Because you just got Schwarzeneggered!
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