#10 - Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
A masterpiece of cheesy writing, martial arts, American flair, and of course John Carpenter’s favorite actor, Kurt Russell. Jack Burton, a wisecracking truck driver gets mixed up in an ancient Chinese gang war, complete with Kung-Fu grip and magic powers. The spotlight is pretty much on Russell for the entire film as he blunders his way through the gang’s minions in order to throw a knife into the big boss’s head and save two green-eyed girls, one being the very young Kim Kattrall.
#9 - Side Out (1990)
C. Thomas Howell plays a law student trying to impress his big-time attorney uncle, played by the very much alive, Terry Kiser. He gets involved with a washed up volleyball player and soon begins to realize that there is more to life than law school.
After the Karate Kid was released in 1984, most movies were pitched to Hollywood studios in this exact fashion, “You see, it’s Karate Kid with (insert sport here).”
#8 - Loverboy (1989)
Dempsey is back again, this time he’s shed his nerdiness and donned the persona of a gigolo. College Student Randy Bodek works at Senior Pizza to help pay his tuition. When he realizes that minimum wage isn’t going to cut it, he tries a new endeavor with his “special” customers including Kirstie Alley and Princess Lea herself, Carrie Fisher.
Extra anchovies anyone? No thanks.
#7 - Tango & Cash (1989)
Start with two 80’s action stars in their prime, add in villains Jack Palance and that Chinese dude that’s always the Chinese bad guy (James Hong), Teri Hatcher semi-naked and banging drums in front of a huge fan, the stereotypical frame-job plot and one of the greatest acronyms of all time. The result . . . Tango & Cash. Overloaded with cliché dialogue and ridiculous action scenes, Sly and Russell put together nothing less than a symphony of awful. So awful you can't help but watch it every single time it's on.
#6 - Mannequin (1987)
Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy) struggles to find work as a serious artist. Then one day an ancient Egyptian transports herself into the body of a mannequin Switcher built and helps inspire his creative side. Not to mention giving false hope to desperate and lonely people everywhere.
As the members of the brat pack tried to branch out on their own, some timeless gems were accidentally created. Mannequin being one of them, most people have lost count of the amount of times they've viewed this film. There might be some kind of subliminal hypnotism involved in watching Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall create those cool window displays over and over and over again. Even with her success in the Sex and the City franchise, Cattrall is still very well known for this part. And as a bonus, it stars G.W. Bailey as an even dumber Captain Harris, Meshach Taylor as the unforgettable character Hollywood, and an almost unrecognizable James Spader as the painfully squirming Mr. Richards.
#5 - License to Drive (1988)
A list of this nature would not be complete if it did not contain at least one “Corey’s” movie. And even though License to Drive is not exactly The Sting, it's still Haim and Feldman's masterpiece.
Les (Corey Haim) fails his written driving exam but decides to hide it from his parents. His best friend Dean (Corey Feldman) talks him into stealing his grandpa’s Cadillac so he doesn't miss his once-in-a-lifetime date with a dream girl named Mercedes (Heather Graham). Shockingly, things do not go according to plan and chaos ensues.
Let's see Redford and Newman pull off that one!
#4 - Bloodsport (1988)
All the way to #4 and still no JCVD? Well here it is, the movie Van Damme made in 1988 and just kept on making for the rest of his career.
Actually based on the real-life experiences of martial artist Frank Dux, Van Damme takes part in the Mortal Kombatesque and underground tournament known as the Kumite. There are no holds barred and participants are sometimes killed.
The film staggers along in between the tournament scenes. Two FBI agents who are terrible at their jobs try to bring Dux back to America, but for the most part everyone watches this one for the karate alone.
Donald Gibb, who plays the wrestling Ray Jackson, adds a pure street-fighting element to the tournament, not to mention one of the most frustrating fight scenes of all time. In his match with antagonist Chong Li, Jackson has him all but defeated but then parades around the ring in a victory dance instead of finishing him. Oh well, now you’re in intensive care, happy now?
And speaking of Chong Li, the presence of one of the greatest martial arts actors ever, Bolo Yeung can't be ignored. Yeung actually starred in Bruce Lee films and could have taken out Van Damme with a single thought. But instead he was kind enough to let the director dub him with a synthesized voice that makes Schwarzenegger in Hercules in New York sound natural.
#3 - Over the Top (1987)
Proof that any activity even vaguely resembling a sport can be turned into a feature length film, Over the Top attempted to remake Rocky, but with arm wrestling. And to some extent, it actually worked. Trying to flip by this movie without stopping can be very challenging, especially if it's near the end of the film.
This film was also revolutionary, as it forever changed the way drunk people arm-wrestled. Everyone has tried the "grip switch" made famous by Stallone's character at least once. But besides almost ensuring a broken wrist, the real-world applications seemed to be limited.
#2 - The Last Dragon (1985)
The Wu Tang Clan's favorite movie and a consummate cult classic, The Last Dragon is the "The Starry Night" of urban cinema. Forget Dolemite and tell Shaft to beat it. All hail Bruce Leroy.
Teenager Leroy Green lives in the ghetto and is a disciplined student of the martial arts. He is obsessed with finding “The Master” who will show young Leroy how to obtain “The Glow” which is the final stage of martial arts mastery. But Leroy isn’t the only one after “The Glow,” his high-top sporting arch nemesis Sho Nuff wants it for his own evil purposes.
As many films did in the mid 1980's, The Last Dragon tried to ride the coattails off the success of The Karate Kid, but also tried targeting a more African American demographic. It was actually a success at the box office considering the limited amount of screens it opened on and the low production budget. However, like most cult films, its popularity did not explode until it hit cable television where it was placed on very high rotation, exposing the awful choreography, ludicrous plot holes and extremely quotable dialogue to millions of subscribers.
#1 - Road House (1989)
There can be no surprise. Road House is by far the best, bad, awful, great, terrible, fantastic, all-time complete catastrophe of a movie that's ever been filmed.
When you need to clean up your roadhouse bar, look no further than James Dalton played by the late Patrick Swayze. Hired to "clean up" the Double Deuce (Why isn’t every bar named that?), Dalton gets more than he bargained for when he learns that a corrupt business man named Brad Wesley has the entire town in his pocket and urges Dalton to "play ball" as well. Dalton calls in his mentor Wade Garrett, played by Sam Elliott, to help Dalton resurrect not only the bar, but the town as well.
Road House leaves nothing wanting. It contains a rogue’s gallery of bad action dialogue like, “Pain don’t hurt.” Swayze wears a tucked-into-jeans karate gui as his shirt for most of the film. There's also a gratuitous sex scene with the hot town doctor, some slow motion tai chi, and Swayze ripping out a martial arts master’s throat but then having trouble beating up old man Wesley at the end. And of course bar fights, lots and lots of bar fights. It’s the ultimate testosterone laced awesomely bad movie experience. And it’s magnificent.