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Face-Off: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson vs. Vin Diesel

03.28.2013by: Paul Huffman
In last weeks Face-Off, we were all about Dreamworks Animated films in a match between Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon. Shrek won the official verdict, with our readers speaking the contrary in thinking a bit more fondly of 2010's How to Train Your Dragon. A well deserved victory.

These men have carved great careers for themselves before finally crossing action filled paths in Fast Five, and most recently re-uniting for the follow up to that pairing in Fast and Furious 6. In the former, we got to see the physical showdown between the two (a dream match we didn't know how much we wanted to see until it happened) and now we will take a look at their respective careers. Both men, like any actor have their own strengths and weaknesses, hits and misses...who do you prefer? Let's discuss. If you haven't caught it, Dwayne Johnson has already went toe to toe with another action hero in this column against Jason Statham
Screen Presence
From the moment The Rock commanded the screen in the beginning of The Mummy Returns, we knew he had something. From then on, even in his family fare he "electrified" like only Dwayne Johnson knows how. He brought his intensity and his moments of menace he adopted during his wrestling years to the land of Hollywood and has (for the most part most recently) carved out his niche as THE action star of this era. I have yet to see a few of his latest outings including Snitch, which I hear showed us a hint of a flare for dramatic range from the man, and I can't wait to see him breathe life into the GI Joe franchise as Roadblock. Due to his natural charisma, and being back in the genre that was tailor made for him, Dwayne Johnson is once again in demand.
Richard B. Riddick, stands today as one of my favorite characters. It is the role Vin Diesel has stayed in love with throughout his whole career and the character is obviously the one he has the most fun with. Riddick just epitomizes badass, another character of Vin's that earned that distinction is Dominic Toretto. Me and my brother frequently make inside jokes about Toretto's superiority over seemingly everyone that ever breathed, his calm cool demeanor and his magic behind the wheel, I am as big a fan of Dom as I am of Riddick quite honestly. Although Diesel has not shown his considerable acting ability as often as Dwayne has, his charisma of a different ilk can't be denied. Just like The Rock, when Vin Diesel is on screen...you pay the f*ck attention.
Build
One word comes to mind when I think of Dwayne The Rock Johnson's frame and that is, defined. One thing you can count in every film of The Rock's, family or action is to marvel at his...well...The Rock-ness. Seeing the behind the scenes photos of G.I Joe featuring Dwayne have blown a lot of people away, and outside the realm of Hollywood Johnson has posted photos of his preparation for his return to the WWE in which his arms threaten to jump out of the picture and attack you right then and there. Ten extra points for his body being the subject of parody in Journey 2, that berry launching pec pop isn't something I'll soon forget.
I'll say this, as built as Vin Diesel is realistically I would expect Luke Hobbs to ultimately best Dominic Toretto in a fight. Vin Diesel has the muscle mass, but The Rock has always been more in your face about it. I'll say this, it was interesting to see a more lean frame from Vin for Chronicles of Riddick, and even more interesting seeing his lack of frame for Find Me Guilty. Bottom line, Vin Diesel is impressive...Dwayne Johnson a little more so.
Memorable Roles
Dwayne Johnson will forever be known as The Scorpion King, people are aching for a follow up to The Rundown (that's including me, make this your franchise man), a lot of people would rather forget a lot of the mans family oriented films, and more of Dwayne's filmography consists of cameos than I originally realized. I feel with how much Dwayne is working these days, the role that will define him in a way no film has before has yet to hit the scene...whether it's a long awaited sequel to The Rundown or whether it comes out of left field. Lately it seems Dwayne's MO is to come in and help breathe new life into already existing franchises, first with Fast and Furious now with GI Joe.
In contrast to Dwayne's career, most of Vin Diesel's filmography has been dedicated to the franchises that put him on the map. With the Riddick series and as Dominic Toretto, these have become his babies and he's treated them well. Now what I previously said about Rock coming and saving franchises, on the flip side to that I'd probably be just as excited for Fast and Furious 6 if Johnson wasn't involved. Rock was great, but I watch the franchise for Dominic and his band of tight knit merry outlaws. I'll just say I have to give this category to Vin, and to perfectly capture why is the fond memory of the verbal cue of f*ck yeah from me and the rest of the audience when Diesel hit the screen at the end of Tokyo Drift.
Overall
Dwayne had me pumped for his career for his first few films, and lost me somewhere in the middle. I didn't hate his various cameos and most of his family films, but it's not where I wanted him. He won me back in a big way starting with Faster and hasn't let up since then and shows no signs of doing so. His well earned nickname in the pro wrestling business as "Most Electrifying Man in Entertainment" wasn't a mistake, he's lived up to that in his movie career and is red hot, we're just seeing the start of it.
Vin Diesel, he's carved out a nice piece of land as an action hero out for himself hasn't he? His Riddick series is loved by its fanbase, but doesn't get the commercial love it deserves. The Fast and Furious franchise has entertained me from the get go, primarily the ones he's been involved in. I also love his other gems like Boiler Room, Find Me Guilty (in which he showed quite a bit of dramatic range), and A Man Apart. XXX was entertaining enough as well. Keep doing what you do best Vin, and you'll keep getting my money.
Dwayne Johnson
Sorry Mr. Diesel, you won the fisticuffs against Johnson in Fast Five, but ultimately this had to go to Dwayne Johnson. He's gotten a strong foothold in the action genre once again and it appears he won't be giving that up anytime soon and at this point the man is so damn awesome I'll go see whatever he's in. Dwayne Johnson has been thoroughly entertaining in WHATEVER he's decided to be in, and yes I'll freely admit that applies to some of his movies I'm less inclined to revisit. But that is just one persons opinion, what say you? Is Diesel's return to Riddick leaving you excited enough to give him the edge here? Strike back!

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which action star is your favorite?
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