Horror Ten Spot: My Favorite Genre Tough Guys!
With a relatively quiet week of genre releases, all eyes are now locked on THE EXPENDABLES 2. The epically dressed action bash kicks off August 17th, with not only the whole gang returning, but doing so with the addition of even more action icons of yore. Sly, Schwarz, Willis, Norris, Van Damme, just to name the upperclassman, headline what is probably - outside of a few war movies from the 60s and 70s - the most star studded event movie to ever be assembled. And that got us to thinking...what are some of the best, most memorable onscreen genre tough guys? Heroes, villains, it doesn't really matter...just all round tough? Peruse through this week's Horror Ten Spot to find out! Note, to avoid redundancy, I've omitted characters from our recent Vampire Hunters and Ghost Hunters lists. Enjoy!
The smoldering cigar, the unimpressed furrow, the stinging one-liners, the muttons...it's not even that I'm a very big fan of the HELLBOY movies themselves, it's simply that a bow-down to Ron Perlman's well traveled feet need be assumed. Dude's the man, never mind a boy! And while I'm not sure if a third cinematic iteration of the character will be realized, I recently heard the comic series has ended, only to give rise to a new chapter called HELLBOY IN HELL. How f*ckin' rad will that be?! If there is a 3rd film, that's the angle that need be taken!
Three words: Mickey Fucking Rourke! Molded after one of the true archetypes of old style, 1940s noir-ish brutes...a real man's man...Rourke's Marv in SIN CITY is one chiseled lunk-head never to be trifled with. Yet, even with the brooding bravura, Marv's soft spot for the dames adds a vulnerable dimension to an otherwise brutish hulk. It's these multi-facets I believe makes the character so likeable, so memorable. Of course, Rourke's a real life tough guy, having spent many a hour in the boxing ring. You couple that with his indelibly brick-jawed appearance in SIN CITY and I'm not sure there's another on this list you'd try to avoid more.
I feel like the preeminent action mantle has been gladly relayed to Jason Statham...clearly the go-to tough guy de jure. As such, I could have easily cited shite like BLITZ, SAFE, DEATH RACE, or even the TRANSPORTER pictures...but in the end I thought the name Chev Chelios from the CRANK series might ring the loudest bell. No matter, even as Lee Christmas in THE EXPENDABLES, Statham distinguishes himself as a key player on a deep roster of all time action greats...a mere microcosm of his role in Hollywood as well. In his prime, Statham currently has a trio of thrillers in the works all flirting with AITH relevance.
One can't conscionably conduct a hardened tough guy list without mentioning the Dolph! F*ckin' blasphemy. And while I'll spare you my Ivan Drago love-letter, I will cast heartfelt props to the recurring badass known as Andrew Scott from the UNIVERSAL SOLDIER pictures. The reasons should be self-evident. The size, the stature, the blond locks, the tight lip, the take no shit comportment, and of course, the fact he's a zombie robot killing machine (GR13) with the prowess of 10 soldiers. You ever see Dolph run though? Ouch...not a pretty sight. At all.
Although steeled through a reinforced metal bodysuit, essentially morphing into a new age technological Frankenstein, it's the hardened pre-op spirit of Alex Murphy shining through that elevates RoboCop up the pantheon of onscreen toughies. Of course, Peter Weller's menacing presence has a lot do with that, as does the verve of director Paul Verhoeven. I do wonder how the remake will fare with Joel Kinnaman donning the armor...he can't be worse than Robert John Burke (ROBOCOP 3) or Page Fletcher ("RoboCop Meltdown") though, can he?
Dredd, JUDGE DREDD! Sly is the ultimate screen toughie, we all know that, but moving beyond his signature RAMBO and ROCKY characters, it's how he fares in the cinematic future that cements his status in this conversation. DEMOLITION MAN is one thing, JUDGE DREDD is another! Powerless most of the latter film, it's as much about the mental guile as it is the physical force he demonstrates to usurp the power back into his own control. Dude's a dual threat! I just hope the namesake isn't sullied by the remake with Karl Urban dropping the gavel. Urban's cool and all, but Sly's boots? Sizable!
Pushing badass to the max...MAD MAX! In what all but launched Mel Gibson's 2-decade action career, Max Rockatansky's intolerant cop of a futuristic wasteland is one for the damn books. Dude's calm, cool, collected...yet'll use excessive force if you so much as step out of line. A pro wheelman to boot, Max handily quashes whatever greasy bikers, looters, rape artists and any other foul brand of hooligan that dare run roughshod on his stretch of highway. I'm a big Tom Hardy fan, but I don't envy his FURY ROAD task of trying to one up Mel and Miller back in 79-81. Good luck bro!
I'd be remiss if I didn't include the macho star power of Harrison Ford. And while I almost cited Han Solo instead, I not only find the INDIANA JONES movies vastly more entertaining than the STAR WARS movies, I contend there's enough genuine genre conventions to warrant the inclusion. Giant boulders, snakes, spiders, monkey brains, ripped out hearts...and of course, in the unnecessary final chapter, the whole extraterrestrial subplot. Plenty of harry situations for Harry to conquer, which he more often than not does with a wry smirk and zinger. Oh, and a trail of bodies he leaves in his wake!
Charlatans take note, an eye patch equals instant toughness! Seriously, as if Kurt Russell couldn't be more of a badass, in ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (and LA), John Carpenter names the gruff antihero Snake Plissken, SNAKE PLISSKEN...and turns him into the world's coolest, most feared ass-kicking pirate-eyed Cyclops. Let's be honest though, it's the man behind the patch that evokes such unbridled testosterone. I could have just as easily cited Russell in THE THING, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, hell even DEATH PROOF (until the finale), and the point is still nailed deep.
GET TO THE CHOPPA!!! Mangled English aside, the sheer physical specimen that is Arnold Schwarzenegger knows no equal. Maybe not anymore, but certainly in 1987. And while I could have easily cited the brute force of his impenetrable metal endoskeleton in THE TERMINATOR films, it's Dutch from PREDATOR that exhibits ultimate tough guy brawn and bravado. After-all, he kicks more alien ass as a human than he does human ass as a cyborg. Granted, he doesn't go John Matrix nutso, COMMANDO style, but as far as genre flavor goes, Arnie churns the most of his "meat grinda" situation as humanly possible.