First, hide the kids. This week we look at three of Hollywood's hottest stars: Sylvester Stallone in "First Blood" (precursor to the wildly successful "Rambo: First Blood II"), Arnold Schwarzenegger in "The Terminator," and Chuck Norris in "Missing in Action" and the oddly titled "Missing in Action 2: The Beginning."
Both Schwarzenegger and Norris reached the pinnacle of other pursuits before lauching successful movie careers. Schwarzenegger won the bodybuilding crown of Mr. Universe and Norris was a world-champion karate champion. Their movies, like Stallone's, are crammed full of action, killing and great stunts.
Which is all you ask for.
FIRST BLOOD (Thorn/EMI, 1982)
A decorated Vietnam veteran wreaks havoc on a small town after being hassled by the local sheriff. Stallone seems to fare better when he sticks to acting and leaves the directing to someone else, in this case Ted Kotcheff. Eliminate John Rambo's rambling monologue at film's end and what's left is Sly's best work since "Rocky." Brian Dennehy and Richard Crenna, two appealing character actors, provide considerable support.
THE TERMINATOR (Thorn/EMI, 1984)
An evil man/robot is sent back in time to alter history by killing the mother of the opposition leader. Schwarzenegger is great as the resilient terminator, who takes numerous lickings but keeps on ticking. Also starring Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton.
MISSING IN ACTION (MGM/UA, 1984)
An Army colonel returns to Vietnam seeking information on American soldiers missing in action. After learning the location of a camp, the colonel and an old Army friend embark on a mission to free the prisoners of war. Col. Braddock (Norris) has more lives than a cat. With warriors like him (and Rambo) you wonder how we ever lost the war. M. Emmet Walsh ("Blood Simple") as Tucker provides welcome moments of levity.
MISSING IN ACTION 2: THE BEGINNING (MGM/UA, 1985)
An Army colonel leads his men on an escape from a prisoner-of-war camp in Vietnam. Starring Soon-Teck Oh and produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Part of the Norris appeal, as further evidenced here, is the realism he brings to his characters. Watching him you get the feeling he's not really acting, that he's just being himself as the camera rolls.