At first they weren't terribly popular at the box office. The #1 movie of 1986 in the United States was Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Big Then, after slogging through Hoosiers, Pretty in Pink, The Hitcher, and Jean de Florette, you finally hit Cobra (with man-mountain Sylvester Stallone) at #63 and Delta Force (Chuck Norris) #77.
Arnold Schwarzenegger), Above the Law (Stephen Seagal), Missing in Action 3 (Chuck Norris), Mercenary Fighters (Reb Brown), World Gone Wild (Michael Pare), and Rambo III (Sylvester Stallone).
The titles were all about the same, two words suggesting hand-to-hand combat: Instant Justice, Hard Knox, Strike Commando, American Ninja (1,2,3,4,5), Kickboxer (1,2,3,4,), Bloodsport, Death Warrant, Forced Vengeance.
The plots were all about the same: the man-mountain, a good, patriotic white guy, travels deep into a jungle country occupied by amoral, barbaric Asians or Hispanics to: a) rescue a prisoner of war, former boss, buddy, or brother; b) keep drugs from hurting kids; c) get revenge on a warlord who killed his wife or girlfriend.
Oh, and he meets with a woman from the enemy country, usually a freedom fighter. They have sex -- usually after he's been beaten or tortured. She's always naked, and always on top. They fall in love.
See also: Gary Daniels; Stan Brock; Reb Brown.