Home Entertainment Friday Debate: Who was the greatest action star of the 1980s and 90s, Stallone or Schwarzenegger?

Friday Debate: Who was the greatest action star of the 1980s and 90s, Stallone or Schwarzenegger?

1 min read

Picture the scene: You’re at your local DVD (Or VHS if you’re older than original sin) rental shop, and you’re in the mood for some good ol’ skop skiet en donner. You’ve got a hankering for cheesy one-liners, gratuitous yet strangely not that bloody violence, and enough firepower to make Stalingrad relive its World War 2 siege PTSD.

The choice is obvious: Go with a classic, grab some popcorn, and chill out to the best of classic action cinema. In the 1980s and 90s, that landscape was ruled by two titans: Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris may have been around at the time, but they couldn’t hold a candle to Stallone and Schwarzenegger, who were churning out hit movie after hit movie. Even if said flick was a dud with critics, they still raked in cash by the millions and added to a library of explosions.

So who was the better action movie star then? Schwarzenegger was muscles and mayhem, cheesy one-liners delivered via an inimitable accent while Stallone was no slouch either. Here was Rocky Balboa, drawing second blood and punching communism into an early grave while subtly using his underrated talent for subtle comedy to spout off a few memorable movie quotes of his own.

Between the two giants, they made blockbuster history. Just look at their filmography, which includes Rambo, Terminator, Assassins, Commando, Judge Dredd, True Lies, and…erm…Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

Oh Arnie, you loveable rogue you. Anyway, in those two actors, you have the best of the best in action cinema. Two heavyweights of their genre who were always gunning for the top spot and pushed each other to feature the most ludicrous of bodycounts in all their feature films. There can only be one best though, so who’s it going to be?

Ding ding, that’s the sound of the bell being rung. Fight!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: October 16, 2020


  1. Jackie Chan o__O

    Think Arnie did it for me, maybe cos of Predator
    Adriaaan not so much.


  2. Insomnia is fun

    October 16, 2020 at 10:35

    A pink site like this, I would’ve thought Sigourney Weaver would be in the mix.

    Arnold all the way though.


  3. Alien Emperor Trevor

    October 16, 2020 at 10:35

    I’d go with Arnie.

    But how can you forget JCVD or this fine gentleman:


  4. For the Emperor!

    October 16, 2020 at 10:55

    I don’t think I would be able to choose honestly. I think Sly did some of the more dramatic things better than Arny, but some of the comedy Arny was better. Both had some stinkers as well. I don’t know, I will abstain from this “vote”.


  5. MechMachine

    October 16, 2020 at 11:40

    Schwarzenegger………How dare you even ask this question……..Predator, the score of that film, the one liners, the whole third act, Alabama Tick, Sexual Tyrannosaurus, Stick Around, Get to da Choppa. Come on. No one came close to that movie. Maybe Die Hard, Now I know what a TV dinner feels like or F*cking California !. Hell, even Rambo was pretty cool. But Arnie WAS the man. Speaking of Action classics in the 80’s, accents weren’t a high priority were they ? Well, In Stallone’s case, he just couldn’t speak properly and Van Damme was or is….where does he come from ?


    • Mark Treloar

      October 16, 2020 at 13:10

      One liners for the win


  6. D4m@E

    October 16, 2020 at 12:00

    Well played sir. These are the questions that matter ;-P
    Honestly though? In the 80’s and 90’s no-one could touch either of these guys. When it came to action star status they were as evenly matched as it came. Today though, I think Sly inched ahead. He can at least still pull of action. Arnie, unfortunately, not so much. And the Stallion’s a year older as well.

    The documentary, “In search of the last action heroes” is well worth a watch if you liked these guys.


  7. HvR

    October 16, 2020 at 12:38

  8. BradeLunner

    October 16, 2020 at 12:39

    Stallone man! Rambo, Rocky, Cobra, demolition man, over the top.


  9. Banana Jim

    October 16, 2020 at 16:26

    Bruce Wills! Although, I’d even throw in Mel Gibson as well.


  10. Tbone187

    October 19, 2020 at 09:25

    Arnie edges it but Stallone and Snipes in Demolition man was a scifi epic. I can still hear Snipes laughing while offloading his guns.

    Seagull’s early one’s were pretty good actually imo, I don’t care what anyone else says.

    Under siege,Hard to Kill, Out for Justice, Marked for death..It all went downhill from Glimmer man I reckon.

    Out for Justice in particular, well beyond it’s time in terms of hard hitting violence.The main antagonist in the movie was a real, remorseless bastard!


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