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Top 10 Sylvester Stallone Action Roles!

Even at 73 years young, Sly Stallone is still one badass motherf*cker! Don't believe us? Simply look no further than the chiseled action icon blowing lowly bastards away in RAMBO: LAST BLOOD, which bombards theaters this Friday. No doubt, Sly’s still got it in spades!

Of course, we all know RAMBO and ROCKY are Stallone’s most legendary roles to date. Not just in terms of quality, but in terms of quantity as well, with both featured across multi-decade franchises that have become synonymous with Stallone himself. But what about his other action roles? Don’t many of them deserve just as much love? You’re damn right they do! Peep our Top 10 Favorite Sylvester Stallone Action Roles below!

#10. FRANK LEONE (LOCK UP)

With due deference to the honorable Ray Tango of TANGO & CASH fame, which just narrowly missed the cut, we swapped that solid comedic action turn for an underrated movie and character we think you should seek out ASAP. That's right, released the same year as TANGO, LOCK UP features Sly as Frank Leone, a mild-mannered mechanic sent to prison for 6 months. When a wicked warden (Don Sutherland) arrives and transports Leone to a grueling new holding max-security prison, ferocious fisticuffs ensue. The story may suffer, but Stallone breaks bones with the best of them, showcasing raw physicality mixed with a staid personality. See this movie if you haven't already! GET HERE

#9. JOSEPH DREDD (JUDGE DREDD)

Yup, we went there! And did so without a morsel of remorse. Oh come on now, the film itself may play as one big, dumb, silly action cartoon, but so what, Sly as Judge Dredd is too damn memorable to omit. Besides, look at the roster of action baddies the Judge, Jury, and Executioner has to punish amid the futuristic ruins. We're talking about Armand Assante, Jurgen Prochnow, Max von Sydow, and a whole international terror squad. Shite's insane! Even John Wagner, the creator of the comic, said he thought Stallone was "perfect for the part." You're goddamn right he was! As for the action, JUDGE DREDD might rank higher if the ultra-violence of the original cut, rated NC-17, was kept intact. GET HERE

#8. MACHINE GUN JOE VITERBO (DEATH RACE 2000)

Please tell us you've seen Sly burning up the pavement in Paul Bartel's DEATH RACE 2000. If not, you're missing out on one of Sly's best pre-ROCKY roles. No bullshite! Remade as DEATH RACE by Paul W.S. Anderson, the premise alone is worthy of inclusion. In a dystopian future, a crazy-ass cross-country driving race meant as a form of entertainment stipulates the following: the more people you gorily run down with your vehicle, the more you will be rewarded! While isn't the heroic leading man we've come to know and love, Sly plays Machine Gun Joe, a cocky challenger who speeds around and commits brutal vehicular manslaughter with agog. One year later, Sly goes from Machine Gun Joe to the Italian Stallion! GET HERE

#7. JOHN SPARTAN (DEMOLITION MAN)

I suppose there's a valid argument to be made in favoring smaller Sly joints like DRIVEN, ANGENGING ANGELO, SHADE, DAYLIGHT and others, but come on, no one's forgetting John motherf*cking Spartan, the beret-donning Adonis who does repeated battle with a peroxide pre-BLADE Snipes in DEMO MAN. Dude's a boss! The fun mostly resides in the savage showdowns between two action stars in their prime, sure, but it's the sheer absurdity of the plot that ups the overall entertainment level. I mean, Sly cryogenically frozen and thawed in the future to hunt the barbarous slaughterer he arrested in the century before? Dumbo! GET HERE

#6. DEKE DASILVA (NIGHTHAWKS)

First off, I think I like Sly better with a beard. Who's with me? Anyway, one of Sly's earlier roles that brilliantly blends hardcore action with terrific acting is that of Deke DaSilva in NIGHTHAWKS. Sly plays an ultra-buttoned-up, traditional New York cop assigned the task of hunting an international terrorist (played by the equally badass, late great Rutger Hauer). Sly gets to show off his brawn and his brain here as a man fighting against his will to do the right thing, to honor the codes, but who ultimately does whatever it takes to survive. The internal struggle Deke faces, set against his physically dominant capabilities, shade the character in a more detailed way than most action flicks. GET HERE

#5. BARNEY ROSS (THE EXPENDABLES)

Surely a conscious self-parody, and maybe even an effete regret in some ways, but so what, Sly as the laconic Barney Ross has too much of a nostalgic sense of coolness to leave out. It's one of Sly's latterday long-form action roles, spread over three movies, as he plays a commanding ringleader of an all-star assemblage of aged action stars. Sly gets extra credit for the role due to his part in spearheading the franchise, to begin with, and for proving there's still a market for the AARP A-Team comprised of our favorite action stars of yore. No matter how big the ensemble though, no matter how outlandish the characters, nobody steals Sly's thunder as Ross, who upstages everyone as he doles out perilous military missions. GET HERE

#4. GABE WALKER (CLIFFHANGER)

Sly f*cking owns the slope as Gabe Walker in CLIFFHANGER, a movie that succeeds in the most important areas for an action flick: adrenaline! Renny Harlin was in his prime right around the same time as Sly was, and this union is a perfect one for two men interested in making audiences shit their trousers in suspense. Bold, really, for the cinematic term "cliffhanger" promises so much, and has going back to the dawn of the form, but to actually succeed more often than not in creating a character whose physical challenges are so visceral, extra kudos are deserved. Look, a hero is only as good as its villain is bad, and with John Lithgow as Walker's main foe, shite gets hectic! GET HERE

#3. MARION COBRETTI (COBRA)

Fun fact: I once gave my sister a pristine COBRA poster I copped from my cousin. You know the poster I'm talking about: Crime is a Disease. Meet the Cure. Frame it already Stacey! Another fun fact: Sly turned down BEVERLY HILLS COP to do make COBRA, a passion project he worked on for several years. And you know what, we wholeheartedly support the decision! You know what a goddamn blast it was to watch COBRA growing up as a kid? We're talking ROAD HOUSE glory! Marion Cobretti is a cold-blooded workhorse vigilante who rids the streets of criminal scum with a high-powered arsenal a small country would be jealous of. You already know, Cobra is King! GET HERE

#2. ROCKY BALBOA (ROCKY)

It truly is a toss-up between Rocky and Rambo as Sly's #1 career-defining action character. So consider this a tie of sorts. And while ROCKY was Sly's baby, the Best Picture winner that he wrote, the sequels may wear just a bit thinner than those in the RAMBO franchise. In a five-decade arc that continues to find new life in the CREED movies, Rocky Balboa is the ultimate underdog that every audience member can relate to, root for, and time and time again will care to see him succeed. He's both a sensitive lover and a lethal fighter, and now a wise old sage as imparts the tricks of the trade to Adonis Johnson. All-time legend! 

#1. JOHN RAMBO (RAMBO SERIES)

Like we said, these two are interchangeable. One day you may pick ROCKY, the next you might choose RAMBO. But hey, this list is meant to pump RAMBO: LAST BLOOD, so it's only right he clutches the gold for the time being. Besides, of all Sly's action heroes, who come even close to slaying more baddies, bullies and terrorists than John J. Rambo, a PTSD-ridden Vietnam killing machine trained to dismantle any threatening force that comes his way? Yeah, nobody! Early word is LAST BLOOD is an insane concoction of old-school and newfangled violence that, while not quite up to the original, is too gnarly to ignore. If it isn't Rocky, Rambo is clearly the best action role Sly has ever taken on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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