(1984, 108 minutes)
"It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. "
Schwarzenegger had appeared in several movies before The Terminator — including the really, really bad 1969 ultra-low budgeted fantasy movie Hercules in New York, in which Arnold's entire dialogue was overdubbed because his Austrian accent was too thick — but it wasn't until he teamed up with a then-unknown young filmmaker from Canada by the name of James Cameron that he became a star. Cameron had come up with the idea about a killer robot from the future shortly after his first movie, Piranha II: The Spawning, was released (that's right, the director of Titanic and Avatar directed a forgettable sequel about killer fish).
Schwarzenegger was mesmerizing and terrifying as the Cyberdyne Systems Series 800 Model 101, more commonly known as the "Terminator," an assassin cyborg sent to the past to kill waitress Sarah Connor (Cameron's future ex-wife Linda Hamilton) so that she won't give birth to humanity's savior from the dreaded machines. The movie was an instant hit, taking the top spot at the box office for two weeks in a row. Schwarzenegger became a household name and "I'll be back" quickly entered the culturual lexicon. Schwarzenegger's reprisal of the role in Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the highlight of his movie career, taking the top spot at the box office in 1991. He would reprise the role again in Rise of the Machines and his likeness was used in Terminator Salvation. Schwarz may yet come "back" as the Terminator if the long-talked-about Terminator 5 movie ever gets the greenlight.
Stan Winston | The Terminator | Jurassic Park | Hollywood Dailies | Movie Trailer | Review
(1987, 107 minutes)
"If it bleeds, we can kill it."
Following the success of The Terminator, Schwarzenegger appeared in a string of successful action movies, but it wouldn't be until he played Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer in director John McTiernan's (Die Hard) sci-fi action movie about an alien trophy hunter that he played a character as memorable as the Terminator. Alongside a cast of premium all-beef actors like wrestler-turned-actor-turned-Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Carl Weathers and Sonny Landham, Schwarz's tremendous physique felt somewhat more acceptable for a former Green Beret. But, Dutch isn't the unstoppable terminating force in this movie — that honor belongs to the 7-foot-tall, crab-faced space Predator (Kevin Peter Hall) that hunts Dutch and his men.
Audiences loved the intense action and eerie, horror vibe of Predator, — enhanced greatly by the oppressive Mexican jungles where the movie was shot — and it finally gave everyone a chance to root for Schwarz as an underdog. The movie debuted at #1 the weekend of June 12, 1987, and only lost out as highest grossing movie of the year to Beverly Hills Cop II. Subsequent movies starring the Predator have been less well received by fans and critics alike, highlighting the importance of McTiernan's direction and Schwarz's charisma, but the character is nevertheless considered a movie icon.
Predator is laced with awesome quotes, though Schwarz only gets a few of the best ones, with the majority of great lines belonging to Ventura's Blain Cooper. Still, if you're going to get into a conversation about Schwarzenegger and the topic turns to Predator you had better know who says, "I ain't got time to bleed."
Predator | Arnold Schwarzenegger | Carl Weathers | John McTiernan | Movie Trailer | Review
We would have given the next spot to Terminator 2: Judgment Day because it is Schwarz's most successful movie and contains some of his best lines, but since we're going for compression, we think that watching one Terminator movie will be sufficient to get you up to speed. The only thing you really need to know about T2 is that Schwarz plays a (relatively) good Terminator in this movie, one reprogrammed by future freedom fighter John Connor to protect his younger self (Edward Furlong) from the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), a deadly new liquid metal Terminator sent back to the past. Instead, we'll direct you to watch another Schwarzenegger-Cameron collaboration...
(1994, 141 minutes)
"I married Rambo!"
Less epic than Terminator, but a lot more fun, the third collaboration between Schwarzenegger and future "king of the world" James Cameron sees Arnold playing Harry Tasker, a super-spy who is so good at his job that his own wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) is completly unaware of what he really does for a living. The problem? His Clark Kent-ish cover identity as a computer salesman is so humdrum that she is taken in by a sleazy car salesman named Simon (Bill Paxton) who claims to be a secret agent. When Harry finds out about the affair, he misappropriates government resources to scare the pants off of Simon and find out why his wife would cheat on him. On top of that, he and his partner (Tom Arnold) must hunt down a militant Islamist group known as the Crimson Jihad who are intent on detonating a nuclear weapon on U.S. soil.
True Lies was a much-needed hit for Schwarzenegger following the disastrous Last Action Hero the year before. It didn't rival the success of his previous collaboration with Cameron, but True Lies more than doubled its $120 million budget in ticket sales. The over-the-top spy intrigue action of the main plot, coupled with the hilarious infidelity sub-plot, combine to deliver a roller-coaster of a movie in which Arnold gets to put his body to the test — he performed most of his own stunts — and do it with a wink and a smile. This is the most accessible of his action movies for those unfamiliar with Schwarz's legacy.
True Lies | Arnold Schwarzenegger | James Cameron | Jamie Lee Curtis | Movie Trailer | Review
(1977, 85 minutes)
So far, we've covered the movies that are essential to understanding Arnold Schwarzenegger, action hero, but this movie will help you understand the man behind the characters, a ruthless, often arrogant, competitor whose personality and drive took him from a tiny town in Austria to the pinnacle of professional bodybuilding, the top of the box office and into the highest office in the State of California.
Filmed in 1975, the documentary chronicles the 1975 IFBB Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia competitions and primarily focues on Schwarzenegger, at the time a five-time Mr. Olympia champion, and his chief competitor, Lou Ferrigno. Arnold is raw and vital in this documentary, at times magnificant and at other times cruel, such as when he mercilessly intimidates and belittles Ferrigno, nearly crushing the soft-spoken future Hulk's spirit before the competition even begins.
This movie offers a candid look behind the scenes at the making of a cult of personality and is a must-see for any current or future Schwarzenegger fan.