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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone's Most Killer Roles
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25 Oct 2013 09:08 AM EST

-by Dave Morris, Staff Writer for

They just don’t make ‘em like they used to. Arnold “I’ll Be Back” Schwarzenegger and Sylvester “I’ve been nominated for two Oscars” Stallone: these two cinema titans owned the action genre in the 80s. In movies like Cliffhanger and Conan the Barbarian, these tough guys absolutely dominated the screen with their hulking muscles, chiseled abs, and—in the case of Schwarzenegger—international accent. With so many Channing Tatums out there today, it’s nice to see two of yesteryears’ biggest action heroes step back into the limelight in order to teach all these wannabe stars a thing or two about how to kick some ass. Escape Plan reunites Stallone and Schwarzenegger for the first time since last year’s The Expendables 2.

In honor of these bad to the bone bosses return to the silver screen, here are each their top five most killer roles.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

5. Hercules In New York (1969) - Hercules

Hercules—you know son of the most powerful Greek god ever Zeus—is played by Mr. Universe himself in this 1969 low budget fantasy film. It sees the title character sent to Earth where he finds true love and starts a promising career in the bodybuilder business. It’s pretty riveting stuff. A couple other gods get involved—Mercury, Pluto—and at the end of the day, Schwarzenegger is billed as “Arnold Strong Mr. Universe” because his name was too hard for the credit guy to spell. But in all seriousness, Hercules is a demi-god, and one of the most powerful at that. Even if he subjects his talents to the wresting ring, the half-man/half-god is 100 percent pure power.

4. The Running Man (1987) – Ben Richards

Loosely based on a Stephen King novel, The Running Man tells the story of a wrongly convicted gentleman that is punished in the most extreme way possible: a public execution gauntlet staged as a game show. Taking place in a dystopian future circa 2017, the film makes The Hunger Games look like a cakewalk. Battling super sized ice hockey players, chain saw wielding motorcyclists, and plenty of 80s style clothing, Schwarzenegger’s Ben Richards character is a resilient, lethal, and all-together relentless in his desire to survive.

3. The Terminator (1984) – Terminator

 The premise says it all: a robotic assassin from a post-apocalyptic future travels back in time to murder the mother of an unborn child that will eventually grow up to lead humanity in a war against machines. He may look like a human. He may talk kind of like one too. But Arnold’s break out role in this James Cameron directed film is far from true flesh and bone. The Terminator lives up to its name. It kills. It kills. And it kills some more.

2. Predator (1987) – Dutch

While questionable casting choices including Danny Glover and Topher Grace have derailed the Predator franchise as of late, the John McTiernan (Die Hard) original still stands as one of the most iconic sci-fi action films ever made.  When a team of commandos, on a mission in a Central American jungle, find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial warrior, none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch saves the day. A far cry from being cute and cuddly like E.T., the Predator hunts humans as if they were big game animals. The flick was nominated for a best special effects Oscar, so yeah, the alien is pretty frickin’ scary—unless you’re the former governor of California, that is.

1. End of Days (1999) – Jericho Cane

At the end of the century, Satan visits New York in search of a bride. It's up to an ex-cop who now runs an elite security outfit to stop him. You guessed it: Arnie plays the guy responsible for bringing down Satan. Let me repeat that a little differently. Arnold Schwarzenegger single handedly kicks the crap out of the Lord of the Underworld himself. No role gets more killer than that.

Sylvester Stallone

5. First Blood (1982) – John Rambo

Everyone—young or old, male or female—has seen First Blood. It’s the Bible of the action genre. But for those sacrilegious people, here’s the skinny: a Vietnam Veteran named Rambo uses his combat skills against the police chief of a small town after he arrests and abuses him. Hunted, trapped, and left for dead, Stallone’ John Rambo is the quintessential survivalist. He’s quick, cunning, smart, and above all deadly. He may not be a robot, from the future, or even a leader. He’s just one guy pushed way too far over the edge.

4. Death Race 2000 (1975) – Machine Gun Joe Viterbo

Besides having the nickname “Machine Gun,” what makes Stallone’s Joe Viterbo character so deadly is the fact that he is a not the film’s protagonist. He’s a genuinely bad guy that wants nothing more than to kill the film’s main character Mr. Frankenstein (David Carradine). Taking place in a dystopian future, a cross country automobile race requires contestants to run down innocent pedestrians to gain points that are tallied based on each murder’s brutality. Machine Gun ends the lives of a ton of innocent people over the course of the movie’s 80 minute run time. He also does it without even a hint of remorse.

3. Demolition Man (1993) – John Spartan


Demolition Man is about a cop that is brought out of suspended animation sleep in order to pursue an ultra-violent enemy loose in a nonviolent future society. Basically, it’s a more violent version of the first Austin Powers movie. Wesley Snipes plays psychopath Simon Phoenix, and for some reason Sandra Bullock and Denis Leary are both in it, too. Stallone’s John Spartan character, however, is not a force to be reckoned with. Even though he blasts from the year 1996 to 2032, the cop has no problem teaching Snipes just who is boss.

2. Judge Dredd (1995) – Judge Joseph Dredd

Keeping the dystopian future theme going, this comic book turned feature film tells the story of the most deadly police office ever brought into the world. Going by the name Dredd, the policeman is his own judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to criminals. After the man is convicted of a crime he did not commit, however, Dredd suddenly finds himself the target of punishment not the harbinger of it.  Stallone’s take on the executioner extraordinaire may not be his most emotional performance, but it sure is one of his most bloody. Oh yeah, and Adam Sandler’s BFF Rob Schneider is in it.

1. Cobra (1986) – Lieutenant Marion ‘Cobra’ Cobretti

Stallone writes and stars in this 1986 box office smash about a by the books street cop who is given the task of protecting the only surviving witness of a strange murderous cult. Playing officer Marion Cobretti, codenamed “Cobra,” of the LAPD’s “Zombie Squad” is an incredibly harrowing task, but nothing is as troubling as the amount of action hero tropes Stallone is able to pack into his script. And for that, I thank you!

(Originally posted on, a subsidiary of

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