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Any action fan worth their salt can tell you that the eighties was the decade when the genre really came into its own. The years between ’81 and ’90 were filled with a vast array of action hero archetypes, from the raided out man’s man to the everyday guy in a bad situation. What united each of these stars, though, was a swagger and skill that has since been abandoned in favor of a choice between realistic brutality and cartoonish hijinks. They really just don’t make them like they used to. Most of these heroes of yesteryear aren’t completely gone, though. Here’s an update on 15 action heroes from a bygone decade.

1. Bruce Willis

Things keep chugging along for the star of 1988’s Die Hard (aka, the best action movie ever freaking made). And while things keep getting hairier (and more far-fetched) in John McClane’s fictional slice of the planet, things have been slowing down for Willis in the fame department. Ever since the actor dropped out of a small part in Expendables 3 — for which he was set to be paid $3 million for four days work — following an on-set tiff with Sly Stallone over an extra million Willis claimed he was due, his roles have been more in the direct-to-DVD realm.

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Us Actor Bruce Willis
PAN Photo Agency / shutterstock.com

2. Kurt Russell

Beginning with the immortal Snake Plissken in 1981’s Escape From New York, Kurt Russell embodied some of the decade’s coolest action heroes. Whether he was playing things straight, like in The Thing, or playing it for laughs, like in Big Trouble In Little China, Russell always seemed to be enjoying himself as much as the audience was. Today, the charming actor is still together with long time love Goldie Hawn who he met in 1983. He also just completed a high profile role in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.

Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell
Helga Esteb / shutterstock.com

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