80s Action Stars’ Weird Japanese TV Commercials

Let’s be honest, we had real action heroes back in the 80s.

I mean, who could forget classic movie scenes like:

Jean-Claude Van Damme taking out Tong Po in Kickboxer

Sylvester Stallone defeating Ivan Drago in Rocky IV

Bruce Willis unfastening his wrist watch, causing evil terrorist, Hans Gruber, to fall from the Nakatomi building in Die Hard

Then there was Arnold.

He was out there kicking everything’s ass: from psychopathic aliens in Predator, to egotistical gameshow hosts in The Running Man.

But while they dominated the silver screen, they quietly appeared on TV screens throughout homes here in Japan.

And it wasn’t always pretty.

Here’s Arnold advertising the Alinamin V energy drink:

Not to be outdone, archrival Sylvester Stallone appeared as a sausage-loving golfer in this commercial for Ito Ham.

(the noise when the fork hits the sausage is kind of revolting, and notice how Sly never actually eats one)

Even Han Solo (the coolest man in the galaxy to my 8 year-old self) headed out East to advertise Kirin beer.

And Bruce Willis? He got pumped up advertising Eneos gasoline.

(does anybody else get a 12 Monkeys vibe from this?)

Let’s not forget Jean-Claude Van Damme. Here he is in a commercial for caffeinated chewing gum, Black Black.

And it isn’t just action heroes from the 80s.

I can remember seeing Brad Pitt in commercials for Edwin jeans when I first came to Japan way back in 2001.

Even Jack Bauer manages to make an appearance, pushing his way through a subway train filled with Japanese schoolgirls.

Because CalorieMate.

Finally, master of deadpan Tommy Lee Jones has been advertising canned Boss coffee since 2006.

He plays an alien that comes to Earth in human form to learn about human culture.

In this commercial he appears as a Japanese high-school teacher with superhuman powers.

My personal favorite? Well, that has to be Sylvester Stallone’s sausage-loving golfer.

The whole thing is just so weird it’s almost a parody of itself, but it always makes me smile.

How about you?

– Tim

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