In 1987, Arnold Schwarzenegger was solidifying his position as an action superstar with the releases of the epic Conan, the influential Terminator and the somewhat mediocre Commando that was still fun to watch anyway. However, that position wouldn't be fully cemented until the arrival of Terminator 2 in 1991 which forever raised the bar for the action genre.
But plain and simple, "Predator" is a staple for Schwarzenegger's profile. It introduced the ultra cool "Predator" to the world and changed the popular culture's perspectives on alien movies. But the movie itself isn't just known for the central character, like the crappy Friday the 13th movies that are only known for the murderous Jason Voorhees and his stupid hockey mask. But "Predator" is known for the movie as a whole, with a great simplistic plot, awesome characters and great action that will make people want to see this again and again.
The movie is a about a former soldier/mercenary named Dutch (Arnie) who has been involved in a lot of conflict and has since decided to settle down and be the leader of a rescue team. He goes to a South American country to participate in a mission that would supposedly rescue a Cabinet Minister and a few other hostages, but later on he finds out that he's been set up and it was actually a mission to destroy a rebel base that would've invaded sooner or later. And Dutch gets ticked off and he and his team try to escape the jungle, but they're then being pursued by an alien who "hunts" rather than kills. As the situation escalates, Dutch starts to lose his sanity and that's totally evident in the final showdown with the creature.
Like James Cameron's "Aliens" that came out the year before, "Predator" is shaped by it's excellent characters, Dutch is the great, silent leader who is somewhat broken inside from all the combat that he went through in the past and his quote "If it bleeds, we can kill it" is among the greatest. Blain is the totally cool tobacco-chewing, mini-gun-totting guy who spewed out 2 of the movie's best lines: "I ain't got time to bleed", and "This stuff'll make you a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus, just like me". Mac is pretty much Blain's best bud and frequently shaves with his razor and without the shaving cream to show his manliness. Hawkins is the super-nerd of the group who reads comic books and occasionally makes some sick jokes about his girlfriend. Billy is the silent, no-nonsense spiritual dude. Dillon is the dirty CIA agent who was best pals with Dutch a few years back and then sets up Dutch and his team, which leads to their demise and his, as well. And finally, Poncho is the sympathetic, yet sarcastic soldier who connects with Anna, their hostage, during the course of the film. And these guys are great characters; and they each have their own personalities, which makes you want to see more out of each guy.
And of course, I can't forget about the "Predator". The high-tech alien that hunts other creatures for sport was a very creative and original idea. It also held a very intimidating presence and the special effects were very well done, especially the camouflage. And I'm still wondering how that managed to do that in 1987.
And last, but not the least, the action really stands out thanks to the direction of John McTiernan, who directed this right before he made "Die Hard". The scene when the team attacks the rebel camp is, without a doubt one of the best in cinema, since it shows each team member providing something in the attack, and it's not just one guy who acts like a one-man army and destroys everything in his path all by himself. Also, Dutch's confrontation with the predator at the end, which displays more prehistoric styles of combat with the setting of the boulder and spike traps. And this movie makes up the modern warfare action and the caveman action so well.
Any action/sci-fi junkie should watch this, and they will be HOOKED. And you will want to see this again and again.