Ranking the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger – Part 2


On with the list, here’s part 2…  (Part 1 can be found here)

13. ‘Twins’ (1988)


Schwarzenegger’s first attempt at (intentional) comedy since becoming a box-office champ, Twins teamed him up with Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman and accomplished comedy actor Danny DeVito for the unlikely story two fraternal twins who, as a result of a genetic experiment, are completely different and were separated at birth. Arnie subverts his established image by playing an intelligent but naive character. A massive box-office hit, Twins proved audiences were more than happy to accept Schwarzenegger as a comedy lead.

Quote: “I did nothing. The pavement was his enemy.”


12. ‘Stay Hungry’ (1976)

stay hungry

The film that feels like Arnie’s proper debut (it even bares an ‘introducing’ credit for him), surprises in retrospect by not being an action film at all, more of a low-key drama. Jeff Bridges takes the lead as rich young man trying to buy a gym as part of a dodgy real estate deal. Arnie plays an Austrian bodybuilding champion training in America (must have been a stretch). Still though, there’s nothing wrong with his performance and he doesn’t feel out of place alongside acclaimed Oscar winners Bridges and Sally Field, and won a Golden Globe award for his work.


11. ‘Pumping Iron’ (1977)


Following Stay Hungry, Arnie’s next appearance was in this documentary about the world of bodybuilding (shot beforehand), focusing on the 1975 Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions. Arnie let’s his natural charisma do the work and demonstrates his potential star power. It’s emerged that some parts of the film were staged but it doesn’t really matter as it improves the films dramatic value, making it more entertaining to those with no interest in bodybuilding.

Quote: “It’s as satisfying to me as, uh, coming is, you know? As, ah, having sex with a woman and coming. And so can you believe how much I am in heaven? I am like, uh, getting the feeling of coming in a gym, I’m getting the feeling of coming at home, I’m getting the feeling of coming backstage when I pump up, when I pose in front of 5,000 people, I get the same feeling, so I am coming day and night. I mean, it’s terrific. Right? So you know, I am in heaven.”


10. ‘Kindergarten Cop’ (1990)


After the success of Twins, Arnie re-teamed with director Ivan Reitman for another comedy, this time that managed to blend his action and comic personae. He plays a police detective who has to pose undercover as a kindergarten teacher. It’s a premise that sounds pretty awful and feels like it really shouldn’t work but somehow does, and it’s probably the best of Schwarzenegger’s comedies. See Vin Diesel in The Pacifier for evidence of what this premise would have been in less capable hands.

Quote: “It’s not a tumor!”


09. ‘Commando’ (1985)


Commando is certainly not the best Schwarzenegger film, but it’s probably the quintessential one, laying down the groundwork for the style and persona he would adopt for many future titles. He plays John Matrix, a retired military colonel whose daughter is kidnapped by mercenaries. Needless to say, he goes after them, killing all the bad guys in a series of explosive set pieces while making humorous one-liners.

Quote: “Let off some steam, Bennett.”


08. ‘The 6th Day’ (2000)


Possibly his most underrated film, this mostly forgotten Sci-Fi effort from 2000 failed to make much of an impact. While some of the dialogue isn’t too sharp, the film had some interesting ideas about cloning and the prospects of its future legality contained within its decent storyline.

Quote: “Well then God shouldn’t have killed my dog”.


07.  ‘Last Action Hero’ (1993)


Last Action Hero is mostly remembered for being a colossal flop that made the mistake of going up against Jurassic Park in 1993. It’s a shame really as this is a very inventive film that effectively satirises many aspects of the action genre, as a Schwarzenegger character from a fictional film-within-the-film is transported to the ‘real’ world. True the kid is rather annoying but Arnie shows a great deal of self-awareness and isn’t afraid to humorously send himself up.

Quote: “To be or not to be? Not to be!”


06.  ‘The Last Stand’ (2013)


Arnie’s first starring role in a decade was in this hugely entertaining film from Korean director Kim Ji-woon, in which he takes the role of an ageing sheriff forced to defend his town. See my full review here.

Quote: “My honor is not for sale.”


05. ‘True Lies’ (1994)

true lies

Schwarzenegger collaborated with James Cameron for a third time in this massive action comedy, a loose remake of a French film. He plays a secret agent whose wife thinks he’s a salesman (it appeared during the Bond film drought before GondenEye, and has many tonal similarities to that series without ever feeling like a rip-off). Its comedy terrorist villains and iffy gender politics date the film a little but can mostly be looked past, and unsurprisingly Cameron creates some momentous set-pieces.

Quote: “You’re fired!”


04. ‘Total Recall’ (1990)

totall recall

Paul Verhoeven’s deliriously inventive film adapts a story from sci-fi master Philip K. Dick, transforming it into a giant, effects and action filled futuristic extravaganza while still retaining the source’s intriguing premise. Arnie plays a construction worker who longs to visit Mars, unable to do so, he decides to get the memory of a trip implanted, only to find that he may be a secret agent, and (possibly) embarks on an adventure packed with bizarre and memorable scenes, quotes and characters.

Quote: [killing Benny with a large drill] SCREW YOU!


03. ‘Predator’ (1987)


One of the most absurdly macho films ever, this iconic monster film from Die Hard director John McTiernan combines elements of Sci-Fi, War, Action, and Horror cinema into one totally awesome whole. Arnie leads a team of elite commandos heading into the jungle only to find themselves being hunted by a mysterious alien creature. Initially poorly received, the film’s reputation has grown substantially since and is now rightfully regarded as an indispensable genre entry.

Quote: “If it bleeds, we can kill it.”


02. ‘The Terminator’ (1984)


Schwarzenegger was originally up for the role of hero Kyle Reese in the film that cemented his status as a movie star. After initial meetings with a then-unknown James Cameron, he switched to the role of an emotionless killing machine and a cinematic icon was born. A low budget production, The Terminator was a big critical and commercial success in 1984, and has proved to be a highly influential science-fiction film in the years since.

Quote: “I’ll be back”


01. ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991)


By the time a sequel was made to The Terminator, Schwarzenegger was comfortably one of the biggest movie stars in the world. It seems odd to say so now, but turning him into the good guy for this monster of a sequel could have been a terrible idea. Instead, working from a considerably larger budget, James Cameron managed utilise the same basic story premise to create one of the best action blockbusters of modern times. Upping the scale in every possible way, yet never losing focus on what made the original special, this ground-breaking film is the example of how to do a sequel right that today’s franchise directors should look back to. Essential viewing in any regard.

Quote: “Come with me if you want to live!”


So there we go…he’s got 2 films due for release in 2014, first up is Sabotage, from End of Watch director David Ayer, then support in The Expendables 3, which if it is as much of an improvement on 2 as 2 was on 1, could actually be pretty decent! You never know. Anyway, let’s finish with this fantastic video:


2 thoughts on “Ranking the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger – Part 2

  1. Very disappointed with the ranking on this list, The Last Stand better than Conan The Barbarian? The 6th Day better than Commando? Ugh.

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