Let me see if I can think of three from my favorite 80s action movies.
Predator: The predator rubs some medi-gel on his glowing wounds, screams loud enough to reverberate through the jungle, and that about does it. It’s the 80s!
The Terminator: Arnold disposes of his useless fleshy eye. The makeup and effects look godawful these days. On the flip side, it gives him an excuse to wear sunglasses at night.
First Blood: Google tells me Rambo also does the gunpowder cauterization trick in Rambo III, but I think I prefer him stitching his arm in the first movie. That’s after he falls through the tree. It’s slightly more believeable and survivalist as opposed to action-movie macho.
The Princess and the Warrior: The scene under the truck. The rest of movie is a little meandering and didn’t keep my attention so well, but if you can stream it at least get the truck scene. Completely arresting and claustrophobic.
Master and Commander, No Country for Old Men, and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were all on my list. Guess I’ll have to go to the runners-up:
3. Starship Troopers: “Medic!”
During basic training, Clancy Brown plays the drill sergeant as a hilarious spoof of R. Lee Ermy in Full Metal Jacket. In the very first scene, he fights hand-to-hand with some beefy redneck recruit and breaks the dude’s forearm. But that’s not the part I like. Later, in the chow line, we see that recruit wearing some sort of futuristic cast that’s like some sort of transparent cylinder with blue fluid sloshing around in it. I just loved that little detail thrown in that the Troopers use to manage broken bones in the future.
2. Rocky: “Cut me, Mick”
Remember when Stallone actually wrote award-winning movies? I loved this little detail in the final fight. His eye is so bruised and swollen that he can’t see, and the only thing he can do to manage the wound and continue fighting is to cut it to drain the blood out and reduce the swelling.
1. Chinatown: “I goddamn near lost my nose. And I like it. I like breathing through it.”
Like my #3, this is more about how the bandage looks than showing us the actual act of managing the wound, but I just love Jake Gittes’ nose wound in Chinatown. At first it’s a massive pile of gauze, then later just a thin strip bandage. It’s such an iconic image, and fits so well with the theme of the movie: the hero detective made vulnerable and humiliated.
And Tim James would pick as favorites the two classic examples of sterotypical old school wound management that I hate these days! Every movie and its uncle has some bad-ass grimly sewing up his own wound, 80s style. It’s why I loved the scenes in Bourne Supremacy and especially No Country for Old Men.
Does the adrenaline shot scene in Pulp Fiction count? Not really a wound, but an excellent piece of field doctoring! I saw this on its initial release in a packed theater, and the two seconds before Vince plunges the needle, you could’ve heard a tick fart. I’ve never again seen a packed house go so completely quiet in a movie.
Another not-technically-a-wound is Tom Hanks act of self-dentistry in Cast Away.
Also, Billy Bob treating the kid’s cut hand with booze. “I forgot to say that might sting a little!”