#935 Blue Thunder (1983)

When starting to watch this movie I was expecting an Airwolf like experience with a super technical armed helicopter as the centrepiece of the movie and all of the action revolving around the helicopter acrobatics. I was positively surprised to find out that Blue Thunder is actually a pretty decent action thriller on its own right, and that the helicopter action is just another layer on top of that cake.

Roy Scheider fares well as the seasoned, wry humoured cop leading the show. I never was a huge fan of Malcolm McDowell outside his work in A Clockwork Orange, and here as well he doesn’t either convince as the rivalling antagonist helicopter pilot, no matter how nasty he tries to be on the screen. Daniel Stern’s performance as the likeable rookie pilot feels so natural that you’d be hard pressed to find a replacement for him.

No review of Blue Thunder would be complete without mentioning how it inspired the similarly named Sega’s 1987 arcade super hit Thunder Blade, which famously went as far in its admiration to using a scan from the movie as its title screen. Blue Thunder also spawned a short-lived TV show that ran for 11 episodes.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 82%

#934 North Shore (1987)

North Shore is a surfing movie that at first seems like the most douche 80s piece of cinema: There’s surfer dudes, bikini girls and, like, totally groovy look and feel to it all. It was only after the actual surfing started that the movie seemed to find a tone of its own.

Don’t get me wrong. The depth of the movie is still on par with an average episode of Beverly Hills, 90210: The baddies are comical, there’s an idiotic subplot about a forbidden love and as it is a sports movie you pretty know how it is going to turn out in the end. Nevertheless, it has to be said that there’s a certain kind of undeniable enjoyment to watching the stunning Hawaiian setting coupled with some nice surfing action by the top surfers of the 80s.

North Shore is fluffy, insignificant movie that takes itself serious in a most adorable fashion. But it is also a decent escape if you need some surfing, ocean, endless summer mixed in with a dose of innocence of the youth.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 58%

#933 Certain Fury (1985)

Certain Fury certainly starts strong with one of the most violent courthouse shootout scenes I’ve seen. And the following sewage fleeing scene doesn’t fall far behind, keeping me on the very edge of my seat.

But it’s soon afterwards that it turns out all the action has been just some bells and whistles to disguise the fact that Certain Fury is nothing but a hollow shell of a movie. This comes more apparent as the movie reaches the one hour mark without anything of interest taking place. In the following last action scene of the movie it becomes quite clear that the lead actress Tatum O’Neal is no Sigourney Weaver what it comes to being an action star.

Certain Fury misses its chance of becoming Thelma & Louise before Thelma and Louise by failing to connect with the viewers between the action scenes. The ending scene furthermore underlines the essence the movie: Going fast, totally without aim.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 52%

#932 Trading Places (1983)

While Eddie Murphy’s 80s comedies were mostly all successes, Dan Aykroid’s movies of the same era were much more a hit and miss. Luckily for Murphy, Trading Places is definitely much more of a hit.

The story here is about two old rich geezers making a wager that leads to Louis Winthorpe III and Billy Ray Valentine, two men out of the opposite ends of the social class spectrum having to exchange their lives. Directed by John Landis, the movie offers some clever moments, but could’ve used some trimming here and there to keep up the pace.

I can’t say Trading Places was such a riot I’d remembered it to be, but definitely offers some good laugh out moments, and the fans of either Murphy or Aykroid will be very much at home here.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 79%

#931 Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Directed with mastery by Stanley Kubrick Full Metal Jacket is a different kind of war movie consisting of individual segments all of which have been designed to stick. The barbershop opening scene, training bit, helicopter flight, tv interviews, getting pinned by the sniper all have became a part of pop culture imagery we now associate with Vietnam war.

As with any Vietnam War movie, the contemporary music plays a big part here as well, with tracks like The Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black and The Trashmen’s Surfin’ Bird. The ending scene as the soldiers march through the flaming ruins at the end, and join together in singing the Mickey Mouse club march, reminding us of the chilling of the end of an innocence.

A perfect movie in its own right, Full Metal Jacket is a flawless exercise in dark humour and sheer madness that is war.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 100%

#930 The Principal (1987)

Oh no. Not another inspirational teacher in a skid row school making a change and turning them all into nice grade A students.

Well, not exactly. The Principal is a bit of that too, but it’s much more about Jim Belushi as the principal getting pushed beyond the point of no return to ensure a work peace to protect students getting terrorised by a juvenile gang led by Michael Wright. And although you know it’s a showdown waiting to happen, it’s this buildup of tension that makes The Principal worth your while.

Made in the vein of Class of 1984, The Principal is in its way the very best Belushi movie of the era and the role of the unconventional principle fits well with both his appearance and his trademark onscreen character.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 76%

#929 Triumph of the Spirit (1989)

Based on a true story of a Greek olympic boxer surviving Auschwitz by taking part in boxing matches arranged by the nazi officers, Triumph of the Spirit tells another morbid view to the madness that took place during the german occupation.

If you have watched your fair share of WWII movies, you know what to expect here, and although some of the variables are different, the movie only a little new to the table to make it stand out of various similar movies. The biggest asset here is the setting. Shot on location in Auschwitz, Triumph of the Spirit absolutely manages to capture the grim and hopeless essence of the concentration camp during the gloomy and muddy winter months.

Triumph of the Spirit can’t hold up against the best of the genre, but anyone interested in the subject will likely find it an interesting watch.

80s-o-meter: 42%

Total: 71%

#928 No Man’s Land (1987)

As Benjy, an undercover cop inadvertently gets involved with a criminal in a much deeper level than he originally bargained for, it’s clear that No Man’s Land is going to be the kind of a thriller that’s going to be asking some profound questions about morals.

What makes it all much more interesting is that it isn’t the lavish lifestyle that ends up seducing Benjy, but the bromance with the charismatic ringleader that soon turns into a full fledged friendship.

Lastly, it’s the performances of both D.B. Sweeney and Charlie Sheen that really make the movie click, with Sweeney playing the rookie cop way out of his head to an absolute perfection and Sheen crafting a very believable enigma wrapped in a riddle character accustomed to relying on his natural charm.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 86%

#927 Sweet Dreams (1985)

It would be difficult to do a justified review of Sweet Dreams without mentioning the wonderful Coal Miner’s Daughter. In fact, it would be almost impossible as that particular movie is actually mentioned by name on the Sweet Dreams’ official poster.

To recap, Coal Miner’s Daughter was a triumph of a movie that got me emotionally involved in the career and the life of a country star Loretta Lynn, a singer previously totally unknown to me. She later became friends with Patsy Cline, another young star on the rise and Sweet Dreams sets out to tell her story from a young housewife to the stardom, eventually leading to her untimely death.

But, Sweet Dreams isn’t the masterpiece that Coal Miner managed to be. This is a very different movie that somehow presents its characters and the events in a way that failed to get me hooked on, feeling much more like a Reader’s Digest’s abridged summary than a full fledged biographical movie. A lot of drama is thrown on the screen with the passionate love / hate relationship of Cline and her husband, but like the ultimate tragic events, none of the drama here is built in a way that it would really stir me.

80s-o-meter: 48%

Total: 38%

#926 The Ambassador (1984)

The Ambassador is an old school triller fare starring Robert Mitchum and Rock Hudson.

Many superior thrillers taking place in the middle east have been made since and The Ambassador is pretty tame by today’s standards. There are some assassinations, a subplot of a love triangle and a resulting black mailing. The movie gets pretty tedious fast and it’s because of this that the bloody showdown at the end feels very powerful, and an image straight out of terrorist news of today.

The Ambassador remained Hudson’s final feature film before his untimely death in the following year at the age of 59.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 59%

#925 Red Heat (1988)

Towards the end of the eighties the Hollywood movies started to reach out to gap the bridge torn between the two nations by the Cold War. Red Heat joins up two sides of the same coin kind of detectives from the rivalling nations together in a buddy cop movie that gets some extra mileage out of its nonconventional setup.

Ivan Danko, the CCCP detective played by Schwarzenegger draws a strong resemblance with Ivan Drago, a big framed antagonist from Rocky IV that famously muttered out only 9 lines of dialogue during the whole movie that he starred in. Both of the characters’ emotionless, powerful and almost non human qualities seem to meet very well the movie going publics’ expectations of the Russians – personally I’ve yet to meet anyone from behind the iron curtain even closely resembling either one.

At the top of his career in 1988 Schwarzenegger could very well pick the movies he wanted to be in, and in that light Red Heat is a somewhat weird choice since the wooden acting style is a step back from his earlier movies towards, on par what’s seen in 1984 Terminator. The character Schwarzenegger plays is also atypical for him as it has many comical sidekick qualities to it and keeps on making one bad decision after another throughout the movie, getting beaten up, shot and getting multiple people killed along the way.

Guess the Hollywood wasn’t ready to for an actual Russian hero just quite yet.

The fish out of water backstory provides a good base to this action comedy but if this wasn’t a Schwarzenegger movie, Red Heat would be average at best.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 77%

#924 Cherry 2000 (1987)

A white collar worker’s last of its line fembot – a Cherry 2000 – short circuits and ends up beyond repair. To find a replacement, he sets out to find a tracker to bring him one from the forbidden Zone 7, and soon unwillingly finds himself in the midst of an adventure.

Mixing various genres is always a huge gamble, but in Cherry 2000’s case the inventive forces behind it seemingly have a good time borrowing elements from sci-fi, cyberpunk, western and road movies and mixing them with elements of dystopian deserted world, 1950s and even some maniac campers. Unfortunately this lead to the movie ending hard to explain to the movie going masses and was deemed a straight to video instead of a theatrical release.

After its release the movie started gaining a cult following and has since inspired various movie and video game makers alike.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 81%