The 15 Best Movies Featuring Sylvester Stallone

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Sylvester Stallone has made his mark in Hollywood as an iconic action star with a decades-long career. He is known for his tough-guy persona and memorable performances, having starred in several movies that left a lasting impact on the film industry and fans alike.

Rocky (1976)

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His breakout role as Rocky Balboa, an underdog boxer, remains his most outstanding achievement. He wrote the 1976 film himself, portraying the classic underdog tale with so much heart. It is now regarded as one of the most beloved sports flicks ever.

Rambo: First Blood (1982)

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If Rocky brought Sylvester Stallone to stardom, then playing John Rambo made him an action hero. He captivated the audience with an exceptional performance as a traumatized Vietnam War veteran revolting against unjust treatment by a corrupt police force. “First Blood” was based on David Morrell’s book, highlighting veterans’ struggles.

Rocky IV (1985)

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This sequel stands out among others in the franchise for its dramatic elements, training montages, boxing scenes, and great storytelling. It’s a top-rated classic because Rocky’s fight against Russian boxer Ivan Drago was a fitting metaphor for the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Escape to Victory (1981)

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John Huston’s “Escape to Victory” was set during World War II, succesfully using football as a metaphor. The plot revolves around Allied prisoners forming a team to play against their German captors while planning their getaway. His portrayal of Captain Robert Hatch stands out among the star-studded cast, including late footballing legend PelĂ©.

Cliffhanger (1993)

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“Cliffhanger” was directed by Renny Harlin, the brain behind “Die Hard.” It had such resounding success that it grossed $255 million to become the seventh-highest worldwide. He stars as mountain climber Gabe Walker, haunted by memories of a failed rescue attempt, and tries to rescue recent plane crash survivors while fighting off bad guys.

Demolition Man (1993)

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As Sergeant John Spartan, his job was to stop the dangerous Simon Phoenix, played by Wesley Snipes. After they were cryogenically frozen in a utopian society, Spartan is reactivated to stop Phoenix’s crime spree in a world unprepared for violence. The futuristic film effectively blends science fiction and crime.

Cop Land (1997)

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In “Cop Land,” he leads several impressive actors, including Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Ray Liotta. He stars as Freddy Heflin, a small-town sheriff fighting corruption within law enforcement and bad cops from New York City.

The Expendables 2 (2012)

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In the Expendables series, he leads a team of mercenaries on various missions. The second installment is the highest-grossing because of its intense fighting and humor. Moreover, while the plot is simple, it is filled with iconic stars, including Jean-Claude Van Damme, who make it one of the best.

Creed (2015)

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Here, Balboa mentors Adonis Johnson as he enters the boxing world. “Creed” is a successful spin-off of the series. It marked his second Oscar nomination for playing the charismatic, never-give-up sports legend, and Michael B. Jordan also delivered a standout performance as his pupil.

Escape Plan (2013)

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In 2013’s “Escape Plan,” he teamed up with Arnold Schwarzenegger to break out of jail. His character here, Ray Breslin, tests the security by becoming an inmate and attempting to run off. When placed in a secret, high-tech prison, he must rely on his skills to break out and uncover who betrayed him.

The Specialist (1994)

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Sylvester Stallone plays a bomb expert hired by a woman to take down the mobsters who killed her parents. His character discovers that his former CIA colleague works for the same villain. “The Specialist” unfolds with suspense and action as he tries to get revenge amidst dangerous alliances and betrayals.

Tango & Cash (1989)

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This thriller-comedy features him and Kurt Russell as rival cops framed for murder by a crime lord. Forced to team up, they must overcome their differences to clear their names and take down the real culprit. “Tango & Cash” has entertaining clashes and camaraderie between its two lead artists amidst explosive moments and witty banter.

Death Race 2000 (1975)

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His first significant acting role was as Joe Viterbo in Roger Corman’s “Death Race 2000.” In this dystopian thriller set in a futuristic world, the fastest racer who claims the most victims is given points and rewarded. This thriller has elements of dark comedy as it was created to make a stinging satire of televised violence.

The Suicide Squad (2021)

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Between directing the second and third “Guardians of the Galaxy” series, James Gunn also directed a reboot/sequel for DC with 2021’s “The Suicide Squad.” It improves on the 2016 version by adding humor, consistency, and graphic scenes. He voices King Shark, who is similar to Groot in Guardians but eats people.

Cobra (1986)

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Somewhere around the mid-80s, this superstar features in yet another iconic, tough-guy role where he’s called upon to handle an extreme situation with force and determination. He plays a tough Los Angeles cop who confronts violent criminals, and when a young model witnesses a murder by a group of psychopaths, he is tasked with protecting her from harm.

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