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The Good, The Bad and the Badass: Sylvester Stallone

Oct. 14, 2013by: Chris Bumbray
Last week, to celebrate the release of CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, we took a look at the career of actor-extraordinaire Tom Hanks. This week, another icon's got a big movie coming out..two actually, with Arnold Schwarzenegger (a future Good Bad Badass inductee) and this week's subject...

Sylvester Stallone

To be sure, Sylvester Stallone's had his share of career ups and downs over his forty year career. From his early days doing movies like THE PARTY AT KITTY AND STUD's and DEATH RACE 2000, to his breakthrough with ROCKY, his career has been downright incredible. It reached dizzying heights, with his attaining superstar status in the eighties and early nineties thanks to the ongoing popularity of the ROCKY series and RAMBO, only to suffer a couple of setbacks when his career cooled in the nineties.

Rather than throw in the towel, Sly took a page out of his own Rocky underdog book, and reestablished his rep as an actor with COPLAND, and then engineered a comeback with new, gritty, contemporary installments of his biggest franchises, with ROCKY BALBOA and RAMBO. Shorty after, he started yet another franchise, with THE EXPENDABLES, which is still going strong, and has allowed him to share the screen with many of his action contemporaries, including Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Mel Gibson, and his long-time friendly rival Arnold Schwarzenegger. At sixty-seven, Sly is still built like an action hero, and always brings passion and enthusiasm to each project he undertakes, which can't be said for a lot of actors his age.

His Best Role

This is a tough one. I've been going back and forth between choosing Rocky or Rambo, and while I'm attached to both characters, I gotta give John Rambo the edge. It's just a fascinating character. A product of war, Sly still manages to convey the character's humanity throughout the series. He's capable of incredible ultra-violence, but also compassion, nicely illustrated by his refusal to take any lives in FIRST BLOOD , and his relationships with his fellow P.O.W's in RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II, and an Afghan war orphan in RAMBO III. To me, Sly will always be Rambo, and while I'd still love one last entry into the saga, I think the last film, RAMBO, ended the character's journey on a nice note.

His Most Overrated Film

I wouldn't say Sly's done a lot of movies that are overrated. He's a guy that's perennially underrated, although he's made his share of stinkers, none of which are diamonds in the rough. Movies like RHINESTONE, STOP OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT and others are absolutely abysmal, but to me, one of the worst movies Sly's been involved with recently is BULLET TO THE HEAD. While certainly not as bad as those other films I listed, it was a major disappointment, especially having been directed by the great Walter Hill. Everyone involved is just capable of so-much more.

His Most Underrated Film

Now here's one that should intrigue all but the most devoted fans. While I was tempted to choose COBRA or DEMOLITION MAN, I think NIGHTHAWKS is a truly underrated choice. Released to very little fanfare in 1981, the year before his super-stardom peaked with FIRST BLOOD and ROCKY III, NIGHTHAWKS is a gritty thriller that cast Sly as a Serpico-like bearded NYC cop on the track of a cold-blooded international terrorist, played brilliantly by a terrifying Rutger Hauer. If it's sounds action-y, it's actually not, with this being more of a thriller, that according to the IMDB, actually began life as a script for a FRENCH CONNECTION sequel. It's violent and disturbing, with very little in the way of big-screen heroics from Stallone, but it's a hidden gem.

His Most Memorable Scene

People love picking on Stallone for his heart-wrenching breakdown scene in FIRST BLOOD, and that's always bothered me. I think Sly's bloody brilliant here, and to think that people think this scene is somehow funny drives me nuts. It's a wonderful scene, and Sly's performance packs a wallop.

His Top 5 Films

1. FIRST BLOOD
2. ROCKY
3. RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II
4. DEMOLITION MAN
5. TANGO & CASH

Up Next

Sly's not slowing down, with ESCAPE PLAN this Friday, GRUDGE MATCH with Robert De Niro in December, and THE EXPENDABLES 3 next summer. Keep em' coming Sly!

Source: JoBlo.com

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6:49PM on 10/15/2013

Ummm...

Is Bullet to the Head highly regarded by some? Not so sure you get the concept of over rated after reading that portion of your article. His most over rated film has got to be Rocky 4. People love the shit out of that movie but I swear it's like 80% montage. His worst movie might be Rocky 5... Shit, that movie is so uninteresting and unnecessary.
Is Bullet to the Head highly regarded by some? Not so sure you get the concept of over rated after reading that portion of your article. His most over rated film has got to be Rocky 4. People love the shit out of that movie but I swear it's like 80% montage. His worst movie might be Rocky 5... Shit, that movie is so uninteresting and unnecessary.
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6:10PM on 10/14/2013

Sly is awesome

Great choices and it's good to see love for Sly. He is underrated all around. He writes, directs and acts in his own films. Nighthawks is great pick for underrated, but I would've picked Paradise Alley.
Great choices and it's good to see love for Sly. He is underrated all around. He writes, directs and acts in his own films. Nighthawks is great pick for underrated, but I would've picked Paradise Alley.
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+7
12:18PM on 10/14/2013

Yo Adrian, I did it!!

He's just a good actor. He puts himself out for all his roles. I like him better than Schwarzenegger. My favorite Rocky movie is Rocky III. Stallone is just so good in it. Cobra is criminally underrated. Just a really talented actor.
He's just a good actor. He puts himself out for all his roles. I like him better than Schwarzenegger. My favorite Rocky movie is Rocky III. Stallone is just so good in it. Cobra is criminally underrated. Just a really talented actor.
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11:07AM on 10/14/2013
He also had a small role in a film called Shade, about 10 years ago, and he was very good in it.

Apparently though its full of plot holes regarding poker, Im not a player so I wouldn't know
He also had a small role in a film called Shade, about 10 years ago, and he was very good in it.

Apparently though its full of plot holes regarding poker, Im not a player so I wouldn't know
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9:33AM on 10/14/2013
...you don't know how to use the 3 seashells?
...you don't know how to use the 3 seashells?
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+8
9:28AM on 10/14/2013

THE CLIFFHANGER

The best Sly's movie is The Cliffhanger. It's the best fucking awesome action movie of the nineties and one of the best of history.
The best Sly's movie is The Cliffhanger. It's the best fucking awesome action movie of the nineties and one of the best of history.
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9:29AM on 10/14/2013
I love that "You're real piece of work" and "You're real piece of sh*t" line. Classic!
I love that "You're real piece of work" and "You're real piece of sh*t" line. Classic!
+12
8:38AM on 10/14/2013

Agree with this.

However, Copland deserves a mention.
However, Copland deserves a mention.
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+4
8:28AM on 10/14/2013
To me his most underrated movie will always be OSCAR..

His Snaps Provolone always cracks me up, it is such a fun light-hearted movie with him playing a Godfather type of role in a comedy that plays almost as a "british murder mystery comedy" (with quirky twists and turns every 5 mins)

Love this film!
To me his most underrated movie will always be OSCAR..

His Snaps Provolone always cracks me up, it is such a fun light-hearted movie with him playing a Godfather type of role in a comedy that plays almost as a "british murder mystery comedy" (with quirky twists and turns every 5 mins)

Love this film!
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8:29AM on 10/14/2013
Wow... just, yeah...
Wow... just, yeah...
8:11AM on 10/14/2013
His most underrated role, in my opinion, is his restrained yet great performance in Copland.
I've always hoped that as he got older he would take on more of those types of roles, but sadly he's spending his twilight years trying to rekindle his action hero image in subpar throwbacks to 80's style action flicks.
His most underrated role, in my opinion, is his restrained yet great performance in Copland.
I've always hoped that as he got older he would take on more of those types of roles, but sadly he's spending his twilight years trying to rekindle his action hero image in subpar throwbacks to 80's style action flicks.
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8:19AM on 10/14/2013
Totally agree, he was amazing in Copland. Not playing the bulging muscles, but instead the ageing overweight local sheriff with hearing problems. Totally out of his normal character, it was brilliant. He should do more roles that show his acting skills like that, I don't need to see the veins in his biceps any more.
Totally agree, he was amazing in Copland. Not playing the bulging muscles, but instead the ageing overweight local sheriff with hearing problems. Totally out of his normal character, it was brilliant. He should do more roles that show his acting skills like that, I don't need to see the veins in his biceps any more.
8:35AM on 10/14/2013
Haha, well said. His veinniness and droopy, beat-up face was what bothered me most about Expendables 2.
Haha, well said. His veinniness and droopy, beat-up face was what bothered me most about Expendables 2.
8:52AM on 10/14/2013
Ya but that performance really wasn't overrated. Before it came out it was really hyped and I remember them throwing the word Oscar around about his performance.
Ya but that performance really wasn't overrated. Before it came out it was really hyped and I remember them throwing the word Oscar around about his performance.
9:11AM on 10/14/2013
There's a movie called Avenging Angelo starring Sly, Madeline Stowe and Anthony Quinn. It's about a hitman who must protect a woman. I can't remember the whole plot but it's something like that. However, Sly's role is not just about a hitman but a hitman with a heart which was nice to see him play such a role.
There's a movie called Avenging Angelo starring Sly, Madeline Stowe and Anthony Quinn. It's about a hitman who must protect a woman. I can't remember the whole plot but it's something like that. However, Sly's role is not just about a hitman but a hitman with a heart which was nice to see him play such a role.
4:25AM on 10/15/2013
Bealzf: A few dozen critics/reporters buzzing about his performance for a few weeks/months around the release of the film doesn't necessarily mean his performance is now no longer underrated. The thing is, I have barely heard a single soul say anything about it for over a decade now, even though he's been in the media's quite a bit again in the last few years.

Netforce: Thanks for the recommendation, but that film has an utterly poor rating, both on IMDb and RT. I think I'd have a hard time
Bealzf: A few dozen critics/reporters buzzing about his performance for a few weeks/months around the release of the film doesn't necessarily mean his performance is now no longer underrated. The thing is, I have barely heard a single soul say anything about it for over a decade now, even though he's been in the media's quite a bit again in the last few years.

Netforce: Thanks for the recommendation, but that film has an utterly poor rating, both on IMDb and RT. I think I'd have a hard time watching purely for Stallone's acting.
7:32AM on 10/14/2013
My personal favorite of Slys is Rocky IV. I mean that montage scene is fantastic!
My personal favorite of Slys is Rocky IV. I mean that montage scene is fantastic!
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7:54AM on 10/14/2013
That montage is perfect - both sight and sound.
That montage is perfect - both sight and sound.
7:28AM on 10/14/2013
The man shouldve been the subject of the first article
The man shouldve been the subject of the first article
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5:59AM on 10/14/2013
Oh, Man! I'm so glad you mentioned NIghthawks. It was a very good movie and Rutger Hauer was a scary villain too. Sly is a real badass. I really like him. I'd also add Cobra as one of his underrated movies. Cobra is one heck of a cop. Think of Dirty Harry who goes over the edge - that's Cobra. Sly is also great in a WW2 movie "Victory" along with Pele.
Oh, Man! I'm so glad you mentioned NIghthawks. It was a very good movie and Rutger Hauer was a scary villain too. Sly is a real badass. I really like him. I'd also add Cobra as one of his underrated movies. Cobra is one heck of a cop. Think of Dirty Harry who goes over the edge - that's Cobra. Sly is also great in a WW2 movie "Victory" along with Pele.
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5:41AM on 10/14/2013
It's interesting to think people considered him "the next Marlon Brando" at the time Rocky came out. He certainly is very talented and nobody can blame him for falling into a cycle of more pedestrian action hero roles. But of his contemporaries, particularly when compared to Arnold, Stallone didn't have to bank as much on "Adam West-ing" and was able to play a serious part when needed; not to mention being a competent writer and director. I liked the interplay between him and Antonio Banderas
It's interesting to think people considered him "the next Marlon Brando" at the time Rocky came out. He certainly is very talented and nobody can blame him for falling into a cycle of more pedestrian action hero roles. But of his contemporaries, particularly when compared to Arnold, Stallone didn't have to bank as much on "Adam West-ing" and was able to play a serious part when needed; not to mention being a competent writer and director. I liked the interplay between him and Antonio Banderas in "Assassins", even if that was pretty much a very conventional thriller.
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4:47AM on 10/14/2013
Such a hard working man. Stallone never ceases to entertain and is just an all-round nice guy. Growing up, I'd always lean towards being more of an Arnold fan, but have been slowly converted to Sly as my favorite action hero.
Such a hard working man. Stallone never ceases to entertain and is just an all-round nice guy. Growing up, I'd always lean towards being more of an Arnold fan, but have been slowly converted to Sly as my favorite action hero.
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+6
4:35AM on 10/14/2013
Love Sly in all that he's done, and will do!!

His dedication to a part, and a film is unreal, if anyone hasn't seen the special features to first blood, you defiantly check it out, just that stunt where he jumps from the cliff to the tree alone is proof of his commitment level cause its light!!
Love Sly in all that he's done, and will do!!

His dedication to a part, and a film is unreal, if anyone hasn't seen the special features to first blood, you defiantly check it out, just that stunt where he jumps from the cliff to the tree alone is proof of his commitment level cause its light!!
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+11
4:16AM on 10/14/2013
another very underrated film of his is FIST, he gives a fantastic performance in it.
another very underrated film of his is FIST, he gives a fantastic performance in it.
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2:44AM on 10/14/2013

director/writer/actor

one of the hardest working entertainers out there. would of said that cop land is his most underrated performance. still feel like that movie doesn't get the attention it deserves.
one of the hardest working entertainers out there. would of said that cop land is his most underrated performance. still feel like that movie doesn't get the attention it deserves.
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2:11AM on 10/14/2013
Bullet to the Head could have been so much better. For instance, they lost me when they decided to get rid of Thomas Jane. Would have loved to have seen those two star in a movie with one another.
Bullet to the Head could have been so much better. For instance, they lost me when they decided to get rid of Thomas Jane. Would have loved to have seen those two star in a movie with one another.
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5:42AM on 10/14/2013
Totally agree. Bullet to the Head was alright but it really felt like a direct to DVD movie at times. The presence of Christian Slater probably didn't help matters.
Totally agree. Bullet to the Head was alright but it really felt like a direct to DVD movie at times. The presence of Christian Slater probably didn't help matters.
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