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Face-Off: Jason Statham vs. The Rock

Jan. 24, 2013by: Paul Huffman
Inlast weeks Face-Off, we covered the theme of search-and-destroy war films in a match up between Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty and Francis Ford Coppola classic Apocalypse Now. Apocalypse Now took the final verdict, and when our readers chimed in with their votes they echoed that opinion by a landslide.

For this week, we're in that action hero mode and given the upcoming release of Parker we've decided on a match between the films star Jason Statham and another man who can "rock" it when he steps into the action role in Dwayne Johnson. Both have that undeniable presence when they are at their best, and both have had genuinely entertaining roles. I've had a blast with both these guys and will watch anything that either of them are in, and I'm actually at a loss for who I think is better right now. Let's discuss anyway.
Roles
Perhaps best known for his franchise roles with the Transporter, Crank, and recently the Expendables films...I admire Statham mostly for his start. Jason came right out of the gate with two great films in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Another one of my favorite Statham role is his turn in beginning these new slew of Death Race films, a genuinely entertaining performance from him and an entertaining film. He's kept us entertained with his recent work like The Mechanic, Blitz, Killer Elite and Safe. Keep bringing it Jason.
The Rock hit the scene with what was essentially a cameo in The Mummy Returns, but in that opening scene alone he showed his promise and his charisma. From there he gave us one of the best action comedies of all time with the Rundown, an intense performance in Walking Tall and an interesting choice in Doom. After years of comedies and family films, some entertaining, some not he returned with action with Faster and Fast Five (where he played a complete bad ass). He has the upcoming G.I Joe Retaliation which looks like an improved version of the first film and Pain & Gain. Rock has a penchant for not turning his back on the family films, but when he brings it he brings it and he will always be welcome as an action hero.
Combat Skills
Jason Statham was trained in Martial Arts by Corey Yuen (who trained in the same school as Jackie Chan). He has mostly been influenced mostly by kickboxing, Win Chun, and Karate. I am pleased to say, that training has shown in his films and has been entertaining the hell out of me for years. The man is just out of control, a great contrast to action icons with subdued styles like that of Steven Segal. The edge has to be given to Statham for his years of dedication to these studies that have resulted in the genuine article.
My favorite fight scenes from The Rock I would have to say came out of Walking Tall, just something about what he did in that film was all kinds of awesome. He had great if not over the top action scenes to work with in the Rundown (including a modified version of his wrestling finisher Rock Bottom) and he had his shining Fast Five moment in his powerhouse battle with Vin Diesel. I can't wait to see if he brings more of the badassery to Pain & Gain and Fast Six. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is no martial arts master...but he's got it where it counts when he sees fit to show us.
Acting Chops
These days, it seems we get the typical Jason Statham performance you walk in knowing what you're getting...but he does that because it works. His charisma can't be denied and there is more there then we give him credit for methinks. I'd like to share a snippet of a review by Peter Travers of Rolling Stone for the film Safe, "Between the fists, kicks, bullets, car chases and broken trachea, the movie could have milked the sentiment of that relationship until you puked. But Statham and the scrappy Chan play it hard. The restraint becomes them. Statham is still playing it safe in Safe, but vulnerability is showing through the cracks." That last bit sums up my feelings towards Statham, there is more there waiting to bubble to the surface...hopefully one day we get to see it just attack us.
The Rock's nickname in professional wrestling was the most electrifying man...he carried that over into his acting career no doubt. He showed the right amount of menace in Scorpion King and the recent Fast Five, the brilliant comedic timing we knew he was capable of in The Rundown, and even touching dramatic moments in films like Gridiron Gang and one scene in The Game Plan that sort of got to me (yes, The Game Plan). The Rock is sort of the complete package that is why I wish he would do more action films that could showcase BOTH those talents. Give the man a shot at another revenge flick that pulls out all the stops.
Overall
Jason Statham has been a mainstay in the action genre since 98 and has been going strong since. He has had some misses as far as material goes, but who doesn't? He always brings exactly what we expect from him...that being amazing martial arts madness, an aura of being a pure badass, and the promise of his best work having not even hit us yet. When I think of the action films that appeal more to my sensibility in terms of the stories they present, I think of the action brought forth by Jason Statham. Statham has less blockbusters, but his fans know he's kept the genre alive.
I have been a huge pro wrestling fan for 17 years, The Rock being one of my favorite performers. When his film career got rolling I was all for it, I marked out like crazy when he hit the screen in Mummy Returns. He showed great promise as the next great action hero, but strayed away from that for a while for family oriented films. Something I can't count him out for because I've enjoyed a few of those shamelessly. He shows signs of going back to those action roles in the future and I personally can't wait for more from Dwayne Johnson, he's not the end all be all of action heroes we thought he might become...but he's a reliable option.
Jason Statham
There it goes folks, I feel like Jason Statham deserves the win here for one reason that I find important. While not a world renowned superstar like The Rock is, in staying with the action genre he's managed to stay a relevant recognized star who hasn't been doomed to the straight to DVD shelves. He doesn't have as many blockbuster action films to his name, but he's just as charismatic as The Rock is in my eyes. So where do you lot stand? Let us know.

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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8:41AM on 01/27/2013

Statham 'Rock's

Love them both.would like to see them in a kick-ass action movie,they make a wonderful combo.when it comes to who is better,i give my vote to Statham because he is the best in ass-kicking.Rock is also good in his own way.he is trying to be Arnold of our generation by doing both action and family comedy movies.would like to see both of them in an action-comedy film
Love them both.would like to see them in a kick-ass action movie,they make a wonderful combo.when it comes to who is better,i give my vote to Statham because he is the best in ass-kicking.Rock is also good in his own way.he is trying to be Arnold of our generation by doing both action and family comedy movies.would like to see both of them in an action-comedy film
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5:01AM on 01/25/2013

Jason all the way!

What i like about Jason Statham is his no nonsense approach to all roles and really knows how to make them work whether its gun fights, ass-kicking or behind the wheel of a fast car. What he lacks he lacks in charisma he makes up with intensity.

True, his acting range is limited and haters will say he plays the same guy again and again but hey, so was Arnie and people still liked him. Also, he doesnt take himself too seriously otherwise he'd end up sucking like Steven Seagal and he's not an
What i like about Jason Statham is his no nonsense approach to all roles and really knows how to make them work whether its gun fights, ass-kicking or behind the wheel of a fast car. What he lacks he lacks in charisma he makes up with intensity.

True, his acting range is limited and haters will say he plays the same guy again and again but hey, so was Arnie and people still liked him. Also, he doesnt take himself too seriously otherwise he'd end up sucking like Steven Seagal and he's not an egomaniac like JCVD.

Jason embraces his weaknesses and thats he is not a bore to watch unlike The Rock who sometimes tries way too hard and becomes distracting to enjoy (I've got nothing against him btw).

I'm still waiting for his epic showdown with Michael Jai White :D
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12:13AM on 01/25/2013

Do you smell what The Rock is cooking?!

It's not that I dislike Statham but he's just boring. As for The Rock, it's hard to name an actor more charasmatic as him. But I guess if you're basing it solely on 'Action' movies, okay, go with Statham... Now. But as an overall actor, The Rock can cover it all and do a 'good' job and personally, it's not close. The Rock > Jason Statham.
It's not that I dislike Statham but he's just boring. As for The Rock, it's hard to name an actor more charasmatic as him. But I guess if you're basing it solely on 'Action' movies, okay, go with Statham... Now. But as an overall actor, The Rock can cover it all and do a 'good' job and personally, it's not close. The Rock > Jason Statham.
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4:27PM on 01/24/2013
The Rock is what happens when Rob Schneider turns into the Hulk.
The Rock is what happens when Rob Schneider turns into the Hulk.
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4:26PM on 01/24/2013
This is tough. I personally think Statham has the better filmography, but Rock has the better presence. It's a tie in my world.
This is tough. I personally think Statham has the better filmography, but Rock has the better presence. It's a tie in my world.
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+1
3:55PM on 01/24/2013
The Stath all the way, he has single handily carried the action genre for quite a number of years now, however I do think "The Stath" may need to change it around a bit, I have very high hopes for Hummingbird.
The Stath all the way, he has single handily carried the action genre for quite a number of years now, however I do think "The Stath" may need to change it around a bit, I have very high hopes for Hummingbird.
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12:57PM on 01/24/2013
I like both guys tbh but I disagree about acting. Neither are Oscar winners but I think Statham is a little better at least.
I like both guys tbh but I disagree about acting. Neither are Oscar winners but I think Statham is a little better at least.
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-16
12:34PM on 01/24/2013
They both suck.
They both suck.
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12:04PM on 01/24/2013
My first reaction was The Rock all the way but when I started thinking about it, Statham has a better film reportoire overall. I'm not down with his straight action flicks, but films like Snatch, Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrel, Killer Elite and Blitz are quality flicks that show his acting chops more-so than his ability to kick ass.
My first reaction was The Rock all the way but when I started thinking about it, Statham has a better film reportoire overall. I'm not down with his straight action flicks, but films like Snatch, Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrel, Killer Elite and Blitz are quality flicks that show his acting chops more-so than his ability to kick ass.
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-2
11:55AM on 01/24/2013

I disagree

The Rock is a total package of entertainment where as Statham is a one trick pony. I do like both but if I had to choose to only be able to watch one of their film libraries for the rest of my life - I would take The Rock - yes even with his Tooth Fairy movie. He is just more entertaining and more natural and his good films far outweigh Statham's. The Rock would also own him in a fight - no doubt.
The Rock is a total package of entertainment where as Statham is a one trick pony. I do like both but if I had to choose to only be able to watch one of their film libraries for the rest of my life - I would take The Rock - yes even with his Tooth Fairy movie. He is just more entertaining and more natural and his good films far outweigh Statham's. The Rock would also own him in a fight - no doubt.
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11:39AM on 01/24/2013

Good for u Joblo!

I came into this post expecting an obvious "The Rock is the best". Im surprised, and happy! Statham is the best action star of the decade, even when most of his movies are not good. I love him in both Expendables movies (but I think EX2 its a stupid joke), Transporter is a decent flick, and Transporter 3 a guilty pleasure (T2 is awful). But I really enjoyed THE BANK JOB, and I think KILLER ELITE is a pretty decent thriller. He should be more selective, and stop making 3 or 4 movies per year.
I came into this post expecting an obvious "The Rock is the best". Im surprised, and happy! Statham is the best action star of the decade, even when most of his movies are not good. I love him in both Expendables movies (but I think EX2 its a stupid joke), Transporter is a decent flick, and Transporter 3 a guilty pleasure (T2 is awful). But I really enjoyed THE BANK JOB, and I think KILLER ELITE is a pretty decent thriller. He should be more selective, and stop making 3 or 4 movies per year. And make better ones. But he's the man! The Rock is a bad clon of Arnold, I dont know what the hell do you see in him. I dindt like a single action flick starring The Rock (FAST 5 was ok, but its not his movie). So, Im with you Huffman!
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11:35AM on 01/24/2013

I agree

The one thing greatly holding back The Rock in this debate is that he really hasn't carried a solo movie into a movie series as well as Statham (action-wise). Rock is usually injected into already established franchises.
The one thing greatly holding back The Rock in this debate is that he really hasn't carried a solo movie into a movie series as well as Statham (action-wise). Rock is usually injected into already established franchises.
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10:22AM on 01/24/2013

I completely...

...disagree. Jason Statham is great but what movies really stand out besides Transporter 1 and maybe 2, along with the first Crank and The Bank Job. The Expendables is awesome too but he had a small role in both films. The Rock has been doing great movies throughout his acting career and he has branched out to the younger audience as well and made them love him too. Shit...I watched The Tooth Fairy and The Game Plan...I thought those were great movies, especially for the kids to watch. I give
...disagree. Jason Statham is great but what movies really stand out besides Transporter 1 and maybe 2, along with the first Crank and The Bank Job. The Expendables is awesome too but he had a small role in both films. The Rock has been doing great movies throughout his acting career and he has branched out to the younger audience as well and made them love him too. Shit...I watched The Tooth Fairy and The Game Plan...I thought those were great movies, especially for the kids to watch. I give the win to The Rock.
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9:49AM on 01/24/2013

The Rock

I would actually argue Statham has been a "mainstay of the action genre" since 2003, when he debuted as The Transporter. Imagine my surprise when I saw that movie and realized "Holy shit, that's Turkish!" Maybe it wasn't his first action movie, but it was the first starring vehicle to showcase his action chops.

Still, I prefer him in Guy Ritchie movies, and "The Bank Job." For my part I've always preferred actors who could make me laugh while still being badass. So my vote goes to Dwayne
I would actually argue Statham has been a "mainstay of the action genre" since 2003, when he debuted as The Transporter. Imagine my surprise when I saw that movie and realized "Holy shit, that's Turkish!" Maybe it wasn't his first action movie, but it was the first starring vehicle to showcase his action chops.

Still, I prefer him in Guy Ritchie movies, and "The Bank Job." For my part I've always preferred actors who could make me laugh while still being badass. So my vote goes to Dwayne Johnson because he can do both.
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8:14AM on 01/24/2013
They're both likeable guys - seems like Johnson might have a slightly larger range, but that might just be down to the more varied roles he accepts.
Also, I don't usually grammar-nazi on here but you'd have a "penchant" for something, not a "pension".
They're both likeable guys - seems like Johnson might have a slightly larger range, but that might just be down to the more varied roles he accepts.
Also, I don't usually grammar-nazi on here but you'd have a "penchant" for something, not a "pension".
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3:34AM on 01/24/2013

The Rock

I think The Rock has a way better screen presence and is usually pretty entertaining to watch. I never got the love for Statham, I've seen trees that are more interesting to watch than him.
I think The Rock has a way better screen presence and is usually pretty entertaining to watch. I never got the love for Statham, I've seen trees that are more interesting to watch than him.
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2:08AM on 01/24/2013

Statham.

I'm voting for The Transporter.
I'm voting for The Transporter.
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1:50AM on 01/24/2013
Hard to pick as I like both actors. But in terms of versatility, I'd go with Jason Statham. Love him in Ghost of Mars, The Bank Job, and Safe.
Hard to pick as I like both actors. But in terms of versatility, I'd go with Jason Statham. Love him in Ghost of Mars, The Bank Job, and Safe.
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+7
1:27AM on 01/24/2013

Agreed down the line

Jason Statham is really the only true action star the 2000's gave us. The 70's were ruled by Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson. The 80's topped that with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Van Damme. The action genre suffered in the 90's when all the major roles started going to Nicolas Cage (oi!). I feel like Statham rescued things when he finally got noticed in The Transporter. (Who knew an Englishman could kick-ass like Jackie Chan?) Folks like Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel are action
Jason Statham is really the only true action star the 2000's gave us. The 70's were ruled by Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson. The 80's topped that with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Van Damme. The action genre suffered in the 90's when all the major roles started going to Nicolas Cage (oi!). I feel like Statham rescued things when he finally got noticed in The Transporter. (Who knew an Englishman could kick-ass like Jackie Chan?) Folks like Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel are action stars too, but I don't feel like they've committed to the genre in the same way Statham has.
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5:17AM on 01/25/2013
An Englishman kicking ass like Jackie Chan? There was this one guy who ruled the early 90s B-movie action scene by the name of Gary Daniels but since he keeps getting overlooked i wouldnt blame you if don't him.
An Englishman kicking ass like Jackie Chan? There was this one guy who ruled the early 90s B-movie action scene by the name of Gary Daniels but since he keeps getting overlooked i wouldnt blame you if don't him.
3:35PM on 01/24/2013
Actually it is vital to the point you were making because Willis was more of an action guy than Cage.
Actually it is vital to the point you were making because Willis was more of an action guy than Cage.
9:06AM on 01/24/2013
Who??? =P

Yes, I realize I did not take the time to list every single actor who's ever done an action movie. Not really vital to the point I was making.
Who??? =P

Yes, I realize I did not take the time to list every single actor who's ever done an action movie. Not really vital to the point I was making.
2:37AM on 01/24/2013
Have you ever heard of Bruce Willis???
Have you ever heard of Bruce Willis???
+16
12:57AM on 01/24/2013

totally agreed on every category

I initially disagreed with acting chops but the more I thought about it the more I agree, though that's not saying Statham is a bad actor by any means, he just hasn't really taken many roles that requires him to stretch THAT much, but it would be cool to see.

Statham wins for sure, but Rock rules too. Hope to see Rock in an Ex movie someday -- as a bad guy would be awesome ala Doom! He was badass in that movie
I initially disagreed with acting chops but the more I thought about it the more I agree, though that's not saying Statham is a bad actor by any means, he just hasn't really taken many roles that requires him to stretch THAT much, but it would be cool to see.

Statham wins for sure, but Rock rules too. Hope to see Rock in an Ex movie someday -- as a bad guy would be awesome ala Doom! He was badass in that movie
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12:54AM on 01/24/2013
I'm completely with Rukas. Dwayne Johnson won me over as a wrestler who made a successful transition to acting, someone who was charismatic and athletic enough to be a bona fide modern day action hero, and someone who had a great sense of humour about himself and a larger-than-life quality akin to that of Schwarzenegger or Van Damme - albeit with a far better command of the English language. I have nothing against Jason Statham, but just as Rukas says, he essentially plays the same character in
I'm completely with Rukas. Dwayne Johnson won me over as a wrestler who made a successful transition to acting, someone who was charismatic and athletic enough to be a bona fide modern day action hero, and someone who had a great sense of humour about himself and a larger-than-life quality akin to that of Schwarzenegger or Van Damme - albeit with a far better command of the English language. I have nothing against Jason Statham, but just as Rukas says, he essentially plays the same character in every movie he's in, and it gets tired after a while.
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+2
12:43AM on 01/24/2013
No way.

I was never a wrestling fan, but Dwayne Johnson is by far the better action hero, actor and star, way more charisma and is cooler to his fans. Definitely The Rock > The Stath, who is cool too, but always the same in every film.

I don't think The Stath has made any film on his own as cool as Faster or the Rundown, nor played anyone as imposing or bad ass as Rock in Fast 5.

Rundown really is one of the most watched DVDs in our house.
No way.

I was never a wrestling fan, but Dwayne Johnson is by far the better action hero, actor and star, way more charisma and is cooler to his fans. Definitely The Rock > The Stath, who is cool too, but always the same in every film.

I don't think The Stath has made any film on his own as cool as Faster or the Rundown, nor played anyone as imposing or bad ass as Rock in Fast 5.

Rundown really is one of the most watched DVDs in our house.
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2:36AM on 01/24/2013
The Stath?....Wow, cool name. (Shakes Head)
The Stath?....Wow, cool name. (Shakes Head)
12:27AM on 01/24/2013

Best. Face. Off. EVER!

I feel like my twin wrote this article cause I feel the exact same way. A give the Stath a slight edge, but 2013 will be the year of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in terms of being the superior entertainer. We haven't seen the best out of both them yet either. Would be awesome to see these two really face off in a movie. Hope it comes to fruition sooner than later...great article!
I feel like my twin wrote this article cause I feel the exact same way. A give the Stath a slight edge, but 2013 will be the year of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in terms of being the superior entertainer. We haven't seen the best out of both them yet either. Would be awesome to see these two really face off in a movie. Hope it comes to fruition sooner than later...great article!
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