Predator is a 1987 American science fiction action horror film directed by John McTiernan, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, and Kevin Peter Hall. It was distributed by 20th Century Fox. The story follows an elite special forces team, led by 'Dutch' (Arnold Schwarzenegger), on a mission to rescue hostages from guerrilla territory in Central America. Unbeknownst to the group, they are being stalked and hunted by a technologically advanced form of extraterrestrial life, the Predator. Predator was scripted by Jim and John Thomas in 1985, under the working title of Hunter. Filming began in April 1986 and creature effects were devised by Stan Winston.
An alien spacecraft enters the Earth's atmosphere and jettisons a pod, which descends into a Central American jungle. Later, Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) arrives in the same area with his elite team for an operation to rescue a presidential cabinet minister who had been abducted by guerrilla forces. The team consists of Mac Eliot (Bill Duke), Blain Cooper (Jesse Ventura), Billy Sole (Sonny Landham), Jorge "Poncho" Ramirez (Richard Chaves), and Rick Hawkins (Shane Black). Dutch's old military friend George Dillon (Carl Weathers), now working for the CIA, accompanies them as a liaison. The team is inserted into the jungle by helicopter and begins its hunt.
They soon find the wreckage of a downed helicopter and later, the remains of Army Special Forces, whose presence in the country puzzles Dutch. The group is horrified to find the bodies have been hung and have had their skin removed. They track the guerrillas to a heavily defended rebel encampment which they destroy, except for a woman named Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) whom they take prisoner. Dutch is enraged when Dillon confesses the rescue mission was just a ploy to get his group to attack the rebel camp, and that the men they had found in the downed helicopter had disappeared in a failed rescue of two CIA agents. As the team make their way to the extraction point, they are observed from afar by an unknown creature using thermal imaging.
Anna briefly escapes, but when Hawkins catches her, he is stabbed and dragged off. The nearly invisible creature spares the unarmed Anna. Moments later, while the team is looking for Hawkins' killer, Blain is killed. Mac physically sees the creature and opens fire on it, but it disappears into the jungle. Anna offers the team insight on the creature which has been something of a local legend for hundreds of years. The team sets a trap, but it avoids capture, severely wounding Poncho in the process. Mac and Dillon are killed in the ensuing chase, and Billy is slain making a stand. The Predator catches up to Dutch and engages in a short shootout during which Poncho is killed. Realizing the creature only attacks those possessing weapons, a wounded Dutch sends Anna unarmed to the extraction point. Jumping off a waterfall, he narrowly escapes the creature by inadvertently masking his body's heat signature with mud and witnesses the Predator's true form when its active camouflage fails in the water. Dutch applies more mud, improvises various weaponry and traps, then baits the Predator into coming out by starting a large fire, and yelling a loud, barbaric war cry.
Hearing Dutch's war-cry, the Predator arrives to investigate and eventually traps him. Discarding its electronic weaponry, the alien challenges Dutch to hand-to-hand combat. Battered and barely able to move, Dutch manages to drop the counterweight from one of his traps, which falls and crushes the creature. As Dutch asks the mortally wounded alien what it is, the creature mimics his question in garbled English and then activates a self-destruct mechanism on its wrist. Dutch barely escapes the nuclear explosion and is rescued by helicopter, along with Anna.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Major Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, a former Green Beret and team leader.
- Carl Weathers as George Dillon, a former teammate of Dutch and current CIA agent, sent along with Dutch's team.
- Elpidia Carrillo as Anna, a guerrilla, captured by Dutch's troops following a battle with the rebels.
- Richard Chaves as Jorge "Poncho" Ramirez, a Chicano fluent in Spanish who translates initially for Anna.
- Bill Duke as Mac Eliot, a close friend of Blain's who served with him in Vietnam.
- Jesse Ventura as Blain Cooper, who fought alongside Mac in the Vietnam War.
- Sonny Landham as Billy Sole, a Native American tracker.
- Shane Black as Rick Hawkins, the team's radio operator and technical expert.
- R. G. Armstrong as Major General Homer Phillips, the coordinator of the mission, who assigns the team based upon their reputation.
- Kevin Peter Hall as The Predator, a member of an alien race which travels the galaxy hunting aggressive members of other species for sport. It uses active camouflage, bladed weapons, a shoulder-mounted plasma weapon and can see the infrared spectrum via sensors built into its facemask. He reprised the role in Predator 2. Hall also plays the end scene helicopter pilot.
- Sven-Ole Thorsen has an uncredited cameo as a Russian military advisor.