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Arnold: From Barbarian to Governator

April 19, 2010

As a California resident, I’ve had since 2003 to come to terms with the fact that our governor is the man who was looking real hard for Sarah Connor. The fact that the Terminator is a Republican is kind of a buzzkill, and I roll my eyes or laugh hysterically every time he says something like “I believe gay marriage should be be between a man and a woman”. But I do admit, it is somewhat cool that our governor could kick your governor’s ass, especially if your governor is someone like, say, Rod Blagojevich.

Before Arnold was our venerable Governator, he was of course, an awesome action movie star. I say awesome not because he has amazing acting skills or because he starred in Jingle All The Way, but because he’s been in some of the most deliciously campy action flicks I’ve seen. I tried to find all my favorite Schwarzenegger movies on Netflix Instant View, but sadly, I only found two. So we’re going by memory here, but ah, what memories they are.

I was surprised you won, too.

Conan the Barbarian
This movie is full of so much win for me. There’s a whole lot of beheading going on. The action really starts after Conan is set free from his slave camp. The first woman he gets to bone, after a life with no ‘tang, ends up being some kind of crazy devil catwoman. How much of a bummer is that? But Conan soldiers on, eventually finding his soulmate, killing crazy huge snakes, and eventually cutting off James Earl Jones’ head and bouncing it down a flight of stairs. My absolute favorite part of this movie is the scene in which Conan is asked, “What is best in life?” and responds, “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women.” Lamentations of the women, people. Using “lamentations” in a non-biblical context scores big points for me, and the fact that it’s part of what’s best in life seals the deal. To the annoyance of those close to me, I respond to many pertinent questions with that quote. Conan is a man of few words and many awesomely brutal actions, which suits Arnold perfectly.

She just got that feathered.

The Terminator
If I have to tell you why this movie is awesome, there’s something wrong. Again, the Terminator is a machine of few words, basically only saying variations on “I’m looking for Sarah Connor” and then of course the legendary “I’ll be back”. So this role is like cake for Arnold. Come fire, machine gun, grenade or pipe bomb, he’s not going to stop until you crush him in some kind of industrial press.

No, this isn't 70s bondage porn.

Total gratuitous violence, served fresh with a tired plot. In other words, classic. Arnold is a highly skilled special forces type named Matrix who is done with that shit and trying to just live life with his daughter and not be bothered with all that killing. But one of his former enemies, a warlord type with a bunch of mercenaries under his control, done goes and kidnaps his daughter to make him do some killing for him. His arch enemy in this movie, besides the warlord, is this flabby muscle dude who always wears sleeveless chain mail, a dog choke chain and fingerless gloves with spikes. He also has a serious Freddy Mercury ‘stache. Apparently he’s got some beef with Matrix dating back to when they were in the special forces together, so he’s helping the warlord in exchange for getting to kill Matrix. This leads to an instructive end battle in which chain mail dude gets impaled by a giant pipe. I guess chain mail doesn’t hold up against that kind of thing. Anyway, Matrix is supposed to get on a plane to some foreign country with one of the henchmen, and if he’s not getting off the plane on time at the destination, they’re going to kill his daughter. So he gets on the plane, then quietly kills the dude he’s with and puts a pillow under his head like he’s just sleeping. Jumps off the plane as it’s taking off and goes to find his daughter on his own terms (of course). Along the way he picks up Rae Dawn Chong, and much violence ensues. Specifically, one of the most awesome acts of violence I’ve seen: pitchfork to the head, ax to the crotch. The rest of the movie pretty much goes as you’d expect: he kills a bunch of bad guys including the warlord, gets his daughter back, gets asked to come back to the special forces but refuses, and rides off into the sunset with Rae Dawn in tow.

Liquid metal is bright.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
I’ve seen this movie so many times I can’t count. Arnold is a good Terminator this time, albeit an inferior model to the evil liquid metal T2000 trying to kill Edward Furlong’s John Connor. Liquid metal! It’s got Linda Hamilton’s amazing arms, a Guns ‘N’ Roses song I played over and over (I was a huge GnR fan in junior high), and lots of shooting and explosions and special effects. A factoid about me involving this film: I cried at the end, when the Terminator self-terminates and goes down into the molten metal giving the thumbs-up. How sad is that. But it’s really poignant! You’ve got the future of humanity at stake, John Connor’s need for a father figure coming into play, admiration for the Terminator’s selflessness and loyalty… Seriously, this is a quality film and I’m actually not joking this time. I think this is Arnold’s best movie.

There’s other favorite Arnold movies of mine, like Predator and Total Recall, but I won’t go into those since this is long enough already. This is Schwarzenegger’s last year in office, so here’s hoping he gets back into good movies, like maybe another Terminator movie where he goes toe-to-toe with an irrationally screaming Christian Bale.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2010 11:07 am

    I’ll kill you last! I love Commando! My sister and I would watch this movie over and over – or any Arnold movie, save Red Heat. We took my niece (who was like baby at the time) to many many viewings of T2: Judgment Day. We also watched its box office numbers and were thrilled when it cracked 100mil mark in less than a month.

    Of all Arnold’s movies, T2:JD is definitely the runaway favorite. It has a surprisingly great script, considering it’s a J-Cam film.

    It still seems so surreal that Arnold is the gov of CA. I guess I got out of there just in time. Apparently, nobody told him the gov doesn’t actually run CA and that CA is kind of ungovernable.

  2. evmaroon permalink
    April 19, 2010 11:48 am

    Noooooooo! I want to read the Total Recall recap! Don’t deny me! Bwaaaaaah!

    Agreed that Kaleefornya is ungovernable. I’m glad Arnold is there to make Jesse Ventura seem like less of an aberration in the governor corps. Ventura was only a one-term gov anyway. Please, that’s like losing to TL Hopper.

  3. April 19, 2010 11:51 am

    Consider this a divorce.

  4. evmaroon permalink
    April 19, 2010 12:03 pm

    Damn, now you’ve lost me. I hate when I don’t get the reference. Ha.

  5. msjacks permalink
    April 19, 2010 12:06 pm

    But I do admit, it is somewhat cool that our governor could kick your governor’s ass, especially if your governor is someone like, say, Rod Blagojevich.


    Looks like Snarky’s has lamentations.

  6. April 19, 2010 12:25 pm

    Ev, Arnold said that to Sharon Stone in “Total Recall”. Right after he shot her.

  7. evmaroon permalink
    April 19, 2010 12:27 pm

    OMG can I just go shoot myself now? I had a long night, folks. Awesome scene, ridiculous movie. I remember being literally amazed at the special effects, but then again I watched a lot of Doctor Who back in the day, and it was not known for its special effects.

    Thanks, Snarky, for being patient with my dumb ass.

  8. IrishUp permalink
    April 19, 2010 12:28 pm

    “You shouldn’t drink and bake.”

    You know what else is great about Arnold’s action movies, lots of them have lady ass-kickers in them . Serious badazz ladies. I mean the list includes Linda Hamilton, Grace Jones, Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin, Brigitte Neilson, just off the top of my head.

    When T2 came out, Arnold was on The Tonight Show. He talked about how Linda showed up on the set and she was all pumped up – she had undertaken that on her own. You could see how enthusiastic and stoked he was about it. I also remember hime talking about that “bear baiting” scene from Conan the Destroyer: apparently Grace Jones broke a few bones of some poor stunt guys in one of the takes in that scene. Arnold was genuinely admiring when he talked of her athletic ability.

  9. April 19, 2010 12:42 pm

    I just watched Total Recall, too, Ev. I love that line! Snarky do you remember in Commando when the dude was tied up in the chair at Arnold’s house and Arnold was getting info out of him, and then the dude was like “Well since you know all this you can let me go right?” And then Arnold’s all “WRONG” and shoots him in the head. Classic.

    IrishUp I just watched the Conan movie Grace Jones was in and she was so amazing. I just adore her. I love how she just jumps on Wilt Chamberlain and starts beating the crap out of him when he won’t let her follow Conan.

  10. April 19, 2010 12:48 pm

    You know what else is great about Arnold’s action movies, lots of them have lady ass-kickers in them . Serious badazz ladies. I mean the list includes Linda Hamilton, Grace Jones, Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin, Brigitte Neilson, just off the top of my head.

    Red Sonja was the shit!!!

    Thanks, Snarky, for being patient with my dumb ass.

    You know, that line is often overshadowed by “It’s not a tumor”, “I’ll be back” and “Hasta La Vista, baby” among any list of great Arnold quotes. No worries.

  11. April 19, 2010 12:49 pm

    Heck even Rae Dawn was able to fire a machine gun once she got her head on straight. Ooh boy, now there’s a stinky actress. Pee Uwe. When they said, “talent skips a generation.” they were not lying in this case.

  12. IrishUp permalink
    April 19, 2010 1:30 pm

    @Tasha – The only reason I don’t watch that one more often is because I can’t stand the chicky in it.
    I keep hoping the next time I watch it, Grace will jump on HER back and rip out her tounge, or that this time they’ll just throw her off the horese and leave her, or something. I agree, Grace Jones is one of those people who is truly amazing on so many levels. I always wish she had done/would do more movies, because she is so much fun to watch.

    Red Sonja’s like my giant red-haired horse riding ass-kicking alter ego.

    Re the Ahnold One Liners – I’ve always wondered how much these are A) written for him B) things he does himself or C) arise after the fact, just because of that particular dead-pan-yet-somehow-wry delivery he manages.

  13. renniejoy permalink
    April 19, 2010 1:42 pm

    I have heard the “lamentations of their women” line attributed to Genghis Khan.

    Also, there’s a Facebook page:

    Love your site(s)! 🙂

  14. hsofia permalink
    April 19, 2010 9:23 pm

    My SO watched Terminator 2 last night (he is love with Instant Streaming now), so I saw it in the background. I was amazed at how much I remembered from that flick – like exact lines and facial expressions – very unusual for me. When that movie came out I remember thinking it was the BEST action film EVER and no action film could EVER top it. I must have been at an impressionable age, although it still holds up and is very good. Oh, the final scene with The Brotha from another planet. *sniffle* It still makes me feel sad.

    But besides T2, my favorite Arnold movie is Predator, which I have seen more than any other film (including The Thin Red Line). I just think Predator is the quintessential surviving-the-monster movie.

  15. Claire permalink
    April 20, 2010 3:41 am

    My favourite bit in Conan is when wolves show up to menance Conan and he just gives them this real appraising look…cut to next scene and Conan has a new fur coat.

  16. badhedgehog permalink
    April 20, 2010 8:08 am

    @IrishUp you are so right about the badass ladies in Arnie’s films. I hadn’t really noticed the pattern til you said.

  17. April 21, 2010 1:01 am

    Well Maria Shriver (wifey) is a pretty strong woman, and Ahnold got in some hot water for commenting on his boner for a fiery Latina assemblywoman here in CA, so I think he’s got something going there.


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