Top 10 Movie Badasses
You can wear the leather. You can chain the cigarettes. You can even attempt the sunglasses. But badass (or, if you insist, bad/arse/) is an essence, not a wardrobe requirement, and a quality owned by a chest-beating elite. Just ask Jean-Claude Van Damme, who seems to think the height of toughness is an ability to "do" the splits. That's way too try-hard. Badasses don't "try". They simply are. Impervious to pain, short on words, fiercely solitary and fabulously uncomplicated, the movie badass is two megatons heavier than your average anti-hero. In fact, he's the leathery personification of alpha male wish-fulfillment - the man's man with the vocal cords of a sideboard motor, impenetrable enigma and Castrol GTX for blood. All action, mucho macho attitude and minimal dialogue; the point, really, is that, drilled deep down in any male's throbbing X-chromosones, you ever-so-secretly want to be them. Our selection process? Simple. We hired out Belgium, converted it into a giant Ultimate Fighting dome, threw in the contenders and waited to see who came out with their faces still on. Those who (choke) didn't make it: Maximus (too thuggy), Riggs (too mulletty), Arnie (too camp), Jason Statham (too sweaty), and Snake Plissken (last gay in the post-apocalyptic village). And if all this rippling manliness is all too much? Well, it bloody well should be considering we've published this on a scratch-and-sniff monitor loaded with tiger shark pheramones. Nostrils flaring? Armpits flexing? Release the badass!
Patrick Swayze, Roadhouse (1989) (this is where I would have John McClane)
What with all the dirty pouncing nonsense, it's easy to forget that Swayze could break necks with his eyelid. Exhibit One: Dalton, head bouncer in the bar from hell. Don't be fooled by the Tai Chi displays and (permission to laugh) "philosophy degree at NYU" - he's a Nietzschean superdude who speaks like a Doom sample ("Pain don't hurt") and rips out jugulars with his bare, veiny hands. Why such a supreme being should be wasting his time crushing rednecks like beer cans, as opposed to, say, ruling over some vast dominion, is a mystery. Hail the Swayze!
Vin Diesel, Pitch Black (2000)
Would Vin Diesel be quite so hard if he was called Vin Petrol? Or, better still, Vin Gas? Mind you, if you ever find yourself trapped on a godforsaken planet surrounded by alien pteradactyls, Vin's your man. Before Ridicules of Chronic turned him into a Babylon 5 extra, Riddick was, let's remind ourselves, a serial-killing monster mofo. In a vest. Special bonus badass points for shaving his head with a machete. A lifetime badass award for taking off his sunglasses to reveal... night vision specs welded onto his eyes. Double shades - that's how badass.
Roddy Piper, They Live (1988) (fuck yeh!!!)
"I'm here to chew bugglegum and kick ass... And I'm all out of bubblegum." Roddy Piper was one of American wrestling's most enduring bastards - worldclass gobshite, judo black belt, the size of seven sheds... Mysteriously, Hollywood eluded him, but he did leave us this - a film so badass the entire plot revolves around sunglasses. Put them on, and they reveal the aliens living among us - a problem Piper eagerly attends to with tumble drying fists. Check out his legendary eight-minute punchfest with Keith David on YouTube. It's the height of fight.
Gerard Butler, 300 (2006)
The name means "lion-like". Although we'd also accept "Ancient Bluto", "Mr Nails Beard" and "John". The enormity of Leonidas' hardness is the stuff of legend: descendant of Hercules, leader of warriors, keeper of facial hair. So, naturally, here he gets played by growling Glaswegian Gerard Butler with a scowl so tight it looks like even his teeth have been at the gym. With one small, mad army, Mr Leonidis mashed the Persian troops into soup but the personal bodycount speaks for itself: 33 sliced and diced, one bloke booted down a bottomless pit, one wolf shish-kebabbed. You want chilli sauce with that?
Ving Rhames, Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
Ever since Pulp Fiction's rumbling, pipe-hitting Marsellus Wallace, his royal Rhames-ness has happily hefted his badass baggage around with him like a giant sack of hard. Here, Emperor Ving gives hope to Kenneths everywhere, getting medieval on the undead with such, well, Vingness, you forget anybody else is in the movie. When he's not filling the screen with his imposing barbell-built bodymass, his voice is booming with bass so superwoofer it could collapse a caravan. He also appears to be immortal - witness his resurrection in the crapola Day Of The Dead knockoff as - uh? - "Captain Rhodes".
(Anything with Bronson in it)
Under that inscrutable wrinklage beat the heart of a natural-born badass. Bronsan's tough guy cred was hard-earned: first in the Lithuanian mines, then as a WWII airgunner and, like lard-lined toilet paper, he didn't take shit from anyone. Dirty Dozener, Magnificent Sevener, Great Escaper: Brosnan ran the badass gamut, embracing his vigilantes, hitmen and gangsters with a glacial death-hug. His last appearance? Kill Bill 2, where Tarantino gave him an RIP end credit. Death wish indeedy...
Ray Winstone, Scum (1979) (only saw this recently and fully agree)
At a tender 21, little Ray Winstone's first film role, and already geezer armageddon is upon us. Admittedly, he's dressed in prison-issue Channel 4 lesbian '80s dungarees, but who's going to tell him? Winstone was a welterweight champ and his boxer's swagger is key to Carlin's iron armour - well, that and his talent for improvised weaponry (two snooker balls and a sock) and vein-popping warcries. Altogether: "Oimna Daddy naaah!"
Tony Jaa, Ong-Bak (2003)
No wirework. No doubles. No CGI. Just raw, roaring muscle. Even Bruce Lee, Tony Jaa's hero, would be KO'ed by his car-hurdling, double-knee kicking stuntage in Ong-Bak. Putting the assault into somersault, after shooting a scene in which he clobbers a guy with his trousers on fire, the Muay Thai superman got burns on his legs, nose and eyebrows - then politely asked for a second take. Jaa's family raised elephants for a living - which can only explain how Jaa survives getting a baby elephant thrown in his face in follow-up The Protector. Best not try that one at home.
Mickey Rourke, Sin City (2004)
Top of the Sin City foodchain by fluke rather than talent (he's indescrutabubble), cuddly Marv is a kill-first, ask-questions-later kinda guy with a voice like a cement mixer and a loyalty card at Badass R Us - buzzcut, leather coat, white vest, ciggies... In the eternal struggle against shortsighted vampirekind, Marv has no need for garlic and holy water - just a saw, tournaquets and a very hungry dog. The man behind the anvil face make-up job? Ex-boxer Mickey Rourke. At least, we hope it's a make-up job...
Lee Marvin, Point Blank (1967)
A brief history of Lee Marvin: born, schooled, expelled, marines, Saipan, Purple Heart, Bruce Lee, studies fighting, goes to LA, does acting. Somehow, the rom-coms eluded him. Here's Marvin at his most Marvin then, moving through John Boorman's thriller like a belt of bad weather and sticking it to The Man with a King Kongy did-you-steal-my-bananas glare. Want to know just how badass Marvin was? Just ask co-star John Vernon - during a fight scene rehearsal, Marvin hit him so hard he actually made him cry.
by Simon Crooke
There are a lot of characters that could make this list and several in there that shouldn't be there. So who should stay and who should go??