The silver screen is full of amazing dramatic performances like Tom Hanks in “Saving Mr. Banks” to historical films like “Casablanca”. There is one section of this medium that always draws crowds; action flicks. Here is a list of my top 25 movie badasses.
Ben Foster: Charlie Prince (3:10 to Yuma)
Ben Foster is one of those actors you don’t know what you’re going to get when you see him on screen, all you know is it’s going to be a phenomenal performance. His role as Charlie is no exception. From using subterfuge when leading law enforcement out of town so the members of his gang can simply have a drink to his crack shot accuracy with a six shooter, his cold demeanor is nothing to shake a stick at.
Ice-T: Jack Mason (Surviving the Game)
Multi-platinum recording artist Ice-T has a few key roles in film under his belt, and Surviving the Game is by far his best. A loose remake of “Most Dangerous Game” Mason is a homeless man that gets hired by a small society of rich people who, unbeknownst to him, plan on hunting his character for sport. The torture his character goes through of facing this fact and adapting to overcome it is remarkable to say the least.
Kurt Russell: Jack Burton (Big Trouble in Little China)
Russell plays Jack Burton, a chaotic neutral truck driver who’s only motivation is money. Once his rig gets taken he teams up with his friend Wang as they take on the evil Lo Pan. Although clumsy at times he reaches his full potential of awesomeness after drinking a magic potion to “see things no one else can see” and “do things no one else can do”. Even with these new abilities he still manages to knock himself out which answers the question; “What does happen if you fire up into the air in an enclosed place?”
Javier Bardem: Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men)
With a silenced shotgun and cattle gun in his arsenal, Anton Chigurh is definitely not somebody you want to mess with. Once given a job he doesn’t stop until it’s finished and you have to admire his dedication to the lengths he goes to complete his task. Similar to other performances in our list, his use of misdirection is excellent as he blows up a car just to get everybody to look away so he can steal supplies from a drug store. Also, I’ve never been so scared for a character than when witnessing a coin flip.
Iko Uwais: Jaka (The Raid: Redemption)
If you’ve never seen this movie, you need to go out and get it immediately. With an story progression extremely similar to “Dredd” (2012) that came out in the same year this follows 20 elite cops as they storm a drug den to take out the evil crime boss. Jaka, our main character, must face a gauntlet of thugs with weapons ranging from assault rifles, tonfa’s, knives and even fists he tears through each toady like an unrelenting force rarely seen.
George Clooney: Seth Gecko (From Dusk ’til Dawn)
What do you get when you combine the talents of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez? You get one of the most entertaining vampire movies of all time. Seth Gecko is a character on the run from the law and when he unknowingly stumbles across a vampire den he must survive the night with his newly met compadres as they fend off a hoard of blood sucking demons. Also, his tattoo is killer.
Woody Harrleson: Tallahassee (Zombieland)
In most zombie movies, even the tongue in cheek ones, you don’t really have anybody who embraces their situation with such fervor as Tallahassee. As the film states, he’s “in the zombie killing business, and business is good.” With his endless quest to find a delicious Twinkie he embraces his true nature in one of the greatest action sequences in horror movie history.
Daniel Day-Lewis: Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting (Gangs of New York)
It’s not surprising that Lewis pulls off an amazing performance with this no holds barred character. A “true American”, motivated by his core beliefs, he’s one tough bastard as he goes to great lengths even killing an elected official to keep his belief structure alive. Armed with an arsenal of blades and a fighting force at his side he is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Jeremy Renner: Jem (The Town)
A very underrated actor, Renner plays Jem, a Bostonian who will stop at nothing to complete any heist passed down from his employer, The Florist. His true loyalties lie in his friendship to Ben Afflecks’ character ‘Doug’, who asks him at one point to do something no questions asked. His only response is “Which car are we gonna take?”
Denzel Washington: Eli (Book of Eli)
It’s the future, you have to protect the bible and you’re blind. Not only does Denzel pull of an amazing performance, but the character is sound. From the location he chooses to sleep into the selection of environment he fights in he is able to find a handy, capable way of doing things. Always sticking to the road he truly is the wasteland traveler that defines the word badass.
Rutger Hauer: The Hobo (Hobo With a Shotgun)
Not being a mainstream film, this movie definitely has a feel similar to “The Toxic Avenger” with its use of special effects, violence and humor. When faced with the grime and destruction that has overrun his once peaceful town, The Hobo, armed with a shotgun no less, takes it upon himself to fight for all the innocents that face the horrors that effect them on a daily basis.
Tom Cruise: Vincent (Collateral)
Starring alongside Jamie Foxx, Cruise’s character Vincent is a man on a mission to assassinate 5 different targets. Stopping at nothing to complete his tasks, he is faced with injury and the morals of Foxx’s character Max who is driven with the desire to do the right thing. His cold, smooth demeanor is something to watch with wonder as he pulls off his jobs and still has the ability to maintain a calm demeanor through it all.
Al Pacino: Tony Montana (Scarface)
Born in Cuba and then migrating to Florida in the 70’s Pacino plays one of his most iconic roles as a character that will stop at nothing to grasp and hold on to as much power as he can attain. A man who sticks his guns, even faced with being cut to pieces with a chainsaw, his resolve is without measure. Even with the ending climax of the film we see him go down in a blaze of glory.
Emilio Estevez: William H. Bonney aka Billy the Kid (Young Guns)
Playing one of the most iconic characters in our American history, Estevez shows his acting chops in one of my favorite westerns of all time. After witnessing his mentor and father figure cut down by henchmen of a rival beef farmer, he gets deputized along with his fellow regulators and they tear through their opposition. Of course they face a large amount of obstacles along their journey but I think what really makes the character of Billy the Kid so awesome is the fact that he can switch between a kid just joking around to a stone cold killer in a heart beat.
Danny Trejo: Machete (Machete)
Trejo’s first appearance in the role was just a small one in a trailer before the Grindhouse movies. With such demand to see this Mexploitation film made, Trejo finally came into his own with his amazing performance. As a Federale he uses human intestines as rope, rides a motorcycle with a mini-gun mounted on it, and of course makes some sweet lovin’ in the process.
Viggo Mortensen: MCPO John James Urgayle (G.I. Jane)
Viggo puts master in the name “Master Chief”. Being tasked with the job of training new Navy Seals to come through his school he is faced with the job of training Jordan O’Neill, a woman, to become a member of one of the most elite fighting forces in the world. This movie about sexual equality in one of the most extreme work places on the planet is extremely well done as the inner struggle of the characters is what drives the picture.
John Malkovich: Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom (Con Air)
I can hear the pitch in my head. “Let’s have a movie where a prison plane gets taken over by its convicts lead by a criminal mastermind played by John Malkovich.” Now even though he is by far the least physical of all our badasses, he shows you that you don’t have to kick some ass to kick some ass. You can always have your psychopath friends do that for you because everybody needs a leader.
‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper: Nada (They Live)
In this sci-fi film directed by John Carpenter, Nada is a guy who’s down on his luck who just happens to come across a conspiracy of aliens trying take over our planet with the use of mind control. This flick not only features one of the most iconic knock-down, drag out fights of all time, but it also has the line “I’m here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
Jean Reno: Leon (The Professional)
A film about an assassin for the Italian Mafia who takes a young girl under his wing when her family gets slain by corrupt DEA agents, this heartwarming film has one of the most amazing stand offs of all time. When one man takes out an entire SWAT team by himself you know he’s not somebody to mess with.
Patrick Swayze: Dalton (Road House)
Ron White said it best, career bouncers love watching this movie. Patrick Swayze pulls off one of his most iconic roles in this movie with kicking butt the old-fashioned way. He’s nice until it’s time to not be nice. He takes on corruption with his two bare hands and even rips a man’s throat out in one of the most hardcore fights in film history with Marshall Teague.
Val Kilmer: Doc Holliday (Tombstone)
“I’m your Huckleberry.” One of the most iconic roles of all time, Val Kilmer not only pulls off the look of the famous gun fighter but plays a drunk to perfection. From simple little things as spinning his six guns in opposite directions to taunting his nemesis even after he defeated him, it’s something that you have to see every time it comes on the boob tube.
Sylvester Stallone: John Rambo (First Blood)
He doesn’t talk much, he has flashbacks to the Vietnam War that make him fly off the handle and he can adapt to any environment to take out any size force imaginable. John Rambo is one of the most iconic characters in action movies through today, and in my mind will stand the test of time. When you have to bring an entire military force to take down just one man, you know he’s a bad mama jama.
Bruce Willis: John McClane (Die Hard)
If I ever go to a holiday party in a tall building and Bruce Willis is there, I’m just gonna turn around and leave. He takes out an entire force of highly trained mercenaries single handed and barefoot. He does this with no help from the police force stationed outside, and he has to deal with marriage issues coming from his wife. Out matched, out gunned and out classed, he tears through these bad guys one by one primarily with supplies he forages along the way.
Clint Eastwood: Harry (Dirty Harry)
You knew this was gonna be on the list. Although the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns were strong candidates for this list, I had to go with the quintessential Dirty Harry. When people do Eastwood impressions they mainly quote these movies. In San Francisco you have a cop who gets all the “dirty” jobs and does them well. With five movies under this characters belt, people lined up again and again to see Clint Eastwood kick butt, and kick it well. I have no doubt the sales numbers for the .357 Magnum increased like no tomorrow after the first movie came out.
Charles Bronson: Paul Kersey (Death Wish)
With crime rising in the 1970’s it’s not surprising that the Death Wish movies came out around this time. After an assault on his daughter, Kersey takes it upon himself to get revenge and just goes on a spree of ass kicking that just makes you proud of this true badass. He, of course, gets the bad guys but finds a way to get pissed off in four more of these films. He kicks so much ass that he even goes to the extent of blowing a guy up with a grenade launcher in one of these amazing pieces of cinema gold.
Honorable Mentions: John Wayne, Lee Marvin, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
I would put these people in the list but they played so many badasses that it was just impossible to narrow it down to just one.
Of course some of you will disagree with my list due to personal preference and taste, and I completely respect your opinions. This is mainly just what I believe. Hopefully you comment below or on our Facebook page and you can tell me your opinion. By all means, respond to this article as I welcome your two cents with an open mind and arms.