Top 10 Best Sylvester Stallone Movies Of All Time

Last Updated on April 19, 2022

best sylvester stallone movies

With this weekend seeing the debut of RAMBO: LAST BLOOD, the legendary Sylvester Stallone is back on the big screen with a vengeance. Over the course of his 50 years, Stallone’s career has had ups and downs, but in recent years he has had a resurgence thanks to quality sequels to his most storied franchises. But, no matter what movies he makes from here on out, Stallone will forever be a Hollywood legend. To commemorate his latest big-screen outing, we decided to rank the very best of Sylvester Stallone’s movies.

If you think we missed one or disagree with our picks, let us know in the comments below.

RAMBO: LAST BLOOD is now playing in theaters.


Originally envisioned as THE FRENCH CONNECTION III, NIGHTHAWKS was plagued with production problems including a change in director a week into filming. It also marks the American debut of the late Rutger Hauer and features the brilliant pairing of Stallone and Billy Dee Williams. Despite troubles, the brilliant stunts, which Stallone performed himself, and the great villain turn by Hauer make NIGHTHAWKS one of the best of Sylvester Stallone’s movies, and even if it’s one of his most underseen, it’s also one of his most distinct.


Envisioned as a more serious action film than BEVERLY HILLS COP, which Stallone rewrote and almost starred in, COBRA could have easily kicked off a new franchise featuring Marion Cobretti. Directed by RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II helmer George P Cosmatos, COBRA is a badass movie despite being a commercial failure. Despite being nominated for multiple Razzie Awards, COBRA has served as inspiraton for many filmmakers, especially Nicolas Winding Refn who pays homage to the film in his own DRIVE. Stallone has said a reboot may be coming in the form of a TV series. I just hope it has a killer soundtrack and an 80s vibe.

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While the early 2000s saw Stallone revisit his franchise work with ROCKY BALBOA and RAMBO as well as his nostalgiac EXPENDABLES films, it was BLACK PANTHER helmer Ryan Coogler who gave Stallone an Oscar-nominated supporting role in CREED. Spinning off from the ROCKY franchise, CREED is Michael B. Jordan’s film, but Stallone shines in one of the most heartbreaking performances of his career and one that brings his character full circle three decades after he debuted. He is just as good in CREED II, but it is this film that seems Stallone do his best acting in the franchise.

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When you make a movie that features Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert Patrick, and Robert De Niro and the best performance comes from Sylvester Stallone, you have one hell of a movie. LOGAN director James Mangold’s neo-noir is one of Stallone’s most understated roles and one that should have garnered him an Academy Award. Playing a cop investigating corrupt cops, Stallone’s Freddy Heflin is a great character and one I could envision being played by anyone but Stallone.

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One of the two final films released in the 1980s (released December 22, 1989, alongside ALWAYS), TANGO & CASH showcases the chemistry between Stallone and Kurt Russell. Rumors have begun popping up of a potential sequel and even if it is the two actors talking at a coffee table for two hours, I would watch it. This movie is not exactly groundbreaking, but it has solid action, some great prison scenes, Kurt Russell in drag, and a great buddy cop vibe. They truly don’t make movies like this anymore and I would love to a sequel to what is no doubt one of Sylvester Stallone’s best movies.

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1993 was the year of Stallone. While DEMOLITION MAN would be the lighter film, Renny Harlin’s CLIFFHANGER was the more intense. Stunningly filmed with some of the most breathtaking sequences in any movie, this film only happened because a planned John Hughes comedy starring Stallone and John Candy fell apart at the last minute (check out BARTHOLOMEW VS NEFF for more info). We then almost got GALE FORCE, a DIE HARD rip-off set in a hurricane that was rewritten as an erotic thriller by Joe Eszterhas. Thankfully, Stallone and Harlin moved onto CLIFFHANGER and the rest is history. Nothing can beat that opening sequence. Still gives me chills.


While FIRST BLOOD may have been a more nuanced action film with dramatic elements, RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II is the template on which countless action films have been based. A massive blockbuster, RAMBO has insanely over the top action and violence that would become synonymous with Stallone and 80s action stars in general. Co-written by Stallone and James Cameron, RAMBO is to FIRST BLOOD what ALIENS was to ALIEN. Almost as if it exists in a totally different franchise, this is an action movie for aficionados and paved the pay with the next decade of Stallone’s career.


After the box office failures of OSCAR and STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT, Stallone began a resurgence in the early 1990s including this, his first science fiction film. With a great villain played by Wesley Snipes, DEMOLITION MAN was over the top action with a great sense of humor (the three seashells!) and features an early role from Sandra Bullock. The action is good, but this fish out of water tale showed that despite those earlier flops, Sylvester Stallone still had some great comedic timing and was still able to churn out entries to rank among his best movies.


Six years after ROCKY, Stallone co-wrote an adaptation of a novel about a Vietnam veteran who must use his combat skills against local police who have it out to get him. While critics did not initially warm to FIRST BLOOD, it is a very different type of action film than we had seen before. By showing us a war hero suffering from PTSD, we saw a character that would not be as well-realized for years to come. Not just action, FIRST BLOOD is a damn good thriller and drama as well.


Never forget that Sylvester Stallone was nominated for an Academy Award for writing ROCKY which went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. A brilliant and perfect film, ROCKY spawned seven sequels of which Stallone wrote six and directed four. Such an iconic film, ROCKY has a statue in Philadelphia which has become part of American pop culture. It is also the film that cemented Stallone’s stature in Hollywood and without this movie we would not have any of his movies that came after. ROCKY is a perfect movie in every way and you don’t have to be a sports fan to embrace it.


About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.