Photo: TriStar Pictures
There. I said it. While Sylvester Stallone will always be known for Rocky, as that film and its main character has gone down as one of the most recognizable characters in film history, Cliffhanger has to be Stallone’s best film after the Rocky franchise. And yet, it’s criminally underrated.
Released in 1993, the Renny Harlin directed film went on to become a big success, as it reeled in $255 million worldwide and three Oscar nominations. And with its breathtaking stunts, incredible camerawork and awesome cast that includes John Lithgow and Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon from The Walking Dead), along with Stallone himself, Cliffhanger has to be given its due. And that’s what I’m about to do right now.
That Opening Scene
This has to be one of the greatest and one of the most exhilarating opening scenes in film history. And it doesn’t get enough credit. Just watching Michelle Joyner’s expression as she’s about to fall to her death is terrifying.
That Stunt Work
The stunt work in this film is amazing, and remember that this was released in 1993 — the same year that Jurassic Park was released. So clearly this was the year of incredible film work. And let’s not forget that stuntman Simon Crane made the record books as he was paid $1 million for climbing a rope between two planes without a safety harness at 15,000 feet. Badass.
John Lithgow As A Villain
That’s right. The dude that eventually went to star on 3rd Rock from the Sun made a terrifying villain — even making Sly’s character climb a snowy mountain without a jacket. That bastard!
Stallone Is Ripped. Obviously
When has Stallone not been ripped? Stallone was in tip-top shape at the age of 46 in this, as you can tell by the photo above. And hey, when while we can always expect shitty food from Stallone’s Planet Hollywood, at least we can always expect Stallone to look absolutely ripped in all his movies.
Michael Freaking Rooker
Before he was being a badass on The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy, Rooker was yelling at Stallone’s character in Cliffhanger, and being a complete dick to him. Although I guess you can’t blame him since he blamed Sly for killing his gal off. But hey, it happens.
Ralph Waite Laughs While A Character Dies
Was this a blooper? Did the director miss this? Was this just a bizarre performance from the late Ralph Waite? Who knows? All we know is that it made for a hilarious and awkward moment.
“Wrong Answer, Motherfu**er!”
Yes, that was a line uttered by actor Leon, who played Kynette in this film. Kynette also fought with Stallone’s character inside of cave in what turned out to be one bloody and violent fight. Oh, and Leon’s next film? Cool Runnings.
Those Movie Posters
Take a look at these awesome nostalgic movie posters, folks.
Pretty damn awesome. They just scream early ’90s! If I saw a movie poster like this I would want to see the movie even before seeing a trailer.
There’s Been Nothing Like Cliffhanger Since
Sure, Hollywood has tried with movies like Vertical Limit and countless others, but almost 25 years later and Cliffhanger hasn’t been eclipsed yet. So not only is this the greatest mountain climbing movie ever, it’s perhaps the most underrated movie of the ’90s. Correction: it is.
And don’t even get me started on an underrated movie from the ’80s… Over the Top.
We’ll save that discussion for another day.