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5 Flexeriffic (and super-awesome) Muscle Movies

Bodybuilders and action heroes. Who can stand against their bulging biceps, veined quads, and dominating vascularity? Especially when they’re equipped with a million machine guns, camouflage, and the perfect script. You? Please. Me? Please.

Well, as these fellows proved, no amount of aliens, South American thugs, or dashes-of-lye-in-the-eye can hold a candle to the no nonsense muscle building and butt-kicking sensibilities of the following muscle movies:

1. Pumping Iron

Pumping Iron traces the clash between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno during their race to a bodybuilding championship. Viewers are taken into their gyms and into their heads–sometimes far more than we might like. This movie is an absolute treasure for me. Whether it’s Arnold talking about how lifting is better than sex, the unsavory tricks competitors might play on each other, or the shot of the skinny guy with the afro doing lightweight curls when Arnold walks by, there’s something for everyone here.

I’m serious. This is one of the most entertaining muscle films in existence.There was a sequel about women, but I haven’t seen it. I’m just not as interesting in the shenanigans of women building muscle for some reason. Sorry ladies.

2. Blood And Guts

Dorian Yates was the untouchable Mr. Olympia for quite a while. One look at his muscular back was enough to send most competitors into tears. How did he do it? Well, a large part of it was training like that featured in his documentary Blood And Guts. The film is in black and white and is nothing but Dorian Yates and his trainer lifting. You want to see the effort these guys use to build muscle up? (Just because steroids are involved doesn’t lessen the effort). Take a look at Blood and Guts and see how you measure up, assuming you’re of the “No pain no gain” bodybuilding mindset. (I’m not).

3. Predator

bigger bicep musclesAre you kidding me? Take a look at this picture. This is how people shake hands in Predator. If you want bigger biceps, if you want to know the best way to build muscle, this is the secret–every time you’re getting your reunion on with your old muscle buddies, shake hands like you mean it. Then go fight an alien with a bunch of other bodybuilders.

Predator pretty much sets the standard for awesome, excessive, hyoooooge action.

4. Commando

I know, I know, lots of Arnold here. But for good reason. If you ever watched Commando, you were no doubt hypnotized by the lingering shots of Arnie rowing that raft with every fiber flexing. And he chops a lot of wood. And then he carries a lot over his shoulder which results in some bicep shots nearly as gratuitous as the Predator handshake.

PS: I interviewed John Matrix.

5. Bloodsport

You might think that if you’ve seen Van Damme’s back flexing while he’s doing the splits, you’ve seen it enough. I disagree. Whatever you want to say about JCVD, the man in his prime was an absolutely incredible physical specimen. Rippling muscles, body control, crazy crescent kicks, Bolo Yeung, that biker guy, and some giant aviator shades…Bloodsport delivers on every conceivable level. Well, no it doesn’t, but it’s pretty great.

If you’re a Van Damme fan and you have not yet seen JCVD, I urge you to watch it. It is wonderful. Not a joke.

All right, I don’t want to have all the fun. What am I leaving out? Let’s drag the waters and see what other movies full of testosterone and muscles float to the surface. Also, who is coming to The Expendables with me?


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • albert camus August 1, 2010, 1:33 pm

    How can you have missed Sly!
    – Every Rocky movie (especially 3 and 4)
    – Rambo (especially 3 – “John, what are we going to do John?” says the Commanding Officer to Sly, muscles oiled and glinting in the sun as he loads a single shot gun to face half the Russian army…)
    – The Specialist – that shower scene with Sharon Stone

    • Josh Hanagarne August 1, 2010, 3:03 pm

      I didn’t miss him, I just left him out so some genius could have the thrill of paying tribute to grandmaster Stallone!

  • David Cain August 1, 2010, 7:03 pm

    I must suggest one of my favorite movies here which happens to have briefly held the title of Worst Movie of All Time on IMDB.com:

    Santa With Muscles

    I can’t explain how bad it is, you really have to see it. But I think you would appreciate it.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 3, 2010, 10:48 am

      I’ve seen it Davey boy. You’re right and then some. Did you ever watch No Holds Barred?

      • David Cain August 4, 2010, 6:27 am

        No I haven’t seen No Holds Barred yet. I’d forgotten about it. I remember seeing the trailers on TV when I was a kid.

  • Todd August 2, 2010, 6:36 am

    I’ve always loved Pumping Iron. I was a little let down listening to an interview on Pro Bodybuilding Weekly with the producer of the movie. Turns out, other than the contest, it was a mockumentary.

  • Ben (From TIC) August 2, 2010, 6:43 am

    Love Predator–the governors in action!

    Josh, have you seen Bigger, Stronger, Faster? Anyone have any thoughts on that movie? It’s in my netflix instant queue but I haven’t watched it yet.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 3, 2010, 10:46 am

      It’s a fantastic documentary Ben. Perfect storytelling, and some very moving and provocative footage.

  • Heather August 2, 2010, 9:29 am

    Terminator 2, with Linda Hamilton. She still has the most beautiful arms I’ve ever seen on a woman, and her body was HARD! She totally kicked a$$, too! Now THAT is some SERIOUS GIRL POWER! 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne August 3, 2010, 10:45 am

      You got that right. I remember how many fitness articles popped up about her that year.

  • Demond Thompson August 2, 2010, 9:57 am

    Bigger, Stronger, Faster is an interesting movie about steroids, and our drug culture in America. I really liked it. Of course, since I’ve met both of Chris Bell’s brothers prior to the movie being made put it into a different perspective for me.

    My birthday is August 10th, so, hell yeah, I’m going to see The Expendables!!

  • Bill Jones August 11, 2010, 10:31 am

    Excellent choices. Brings back a lot of memories as I was competing way back when Pumping Iron came out (teenage division). To see it in a theater we had to drive a couple of hours out of town.

    The DVD is fun because it has some “extras”…some of the guys talking about it more recently.

    I got a chance to meet some of the guys at the Arnold one year…Arnold (himself!), Frank Zane, Franco, and Ed Corney…weird how meeting these guys at such a later date was still a kind of a thrill. (Actually got the same thrill meeting the guys from Grand Funk Railroad as well.)

    Damn…now I feel “old”…better bust my ass in the gym tonight doing things younger folks can’t just to get my head back on straight!

  • Zach August 22, 2010, 3:53 pm

    I think you got it wrong, the skinny guy with the afro was doing lightweight curls as Louie Ferrigno walked by, not Arnold

    also, I’d definitely add the movie “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” to this list, it’s a really phenomenal documentary

    • Josh Hanagarne August 22, 2010, 6:18 pm

      CRAP. I think you’re right. It’s been a while. I loved Bigger, Faster, Stronger. Perfect storytelling and a fascinating subject.