Top 10 Movie Badasses

Here is a Top 10 list of my favorite movie badass­es. These folks are hard­core invin­ci­ble types. No ani­mat­ed char­ac­ters and no super­heros. I have elim­i­nat­ed movies where folks are more than just badass. So if there is some­one miss­ing from the list that you think should be there, it is either because I haven’t seen the movie, had for­got­ten about it, or the char­ac­ter is a lot more com­pli­cat­ed than being just a badass [i.e. Kat­sumo­to [Ken Watan­abe] from The Last Samu­rai]

10. Tom Pow­ers [James Cagney]:The Pub­lic Ene­my

James Cagney was one of the first tough guys in film. This par­tic­u­lar film, deal­ing with the crim­i­nal mind in the basest of thugs, is still effec­tive in por­tray­ing the so-hard-he’ll-break-before-he-bends crim­i­nal arche­type. Cagney’s Tom Pow­ers is like an old, dry, mud-cov­ered boot.

9. Chin­gach­gook [Rus­sell Means]: Last of the Mohi­cans

Rus­sell Means has a minor role in this film, for all that he plays Chin­gach­gook, The Last of the Mohi­cans. Weary but endur­ing, Chin­gach­gook is like one of those real­ly old moun­tain pine trees. That is, until his son gets killed. Then he becomes smooth flow­ing death with­out bat­ting an eye­lash, shock­ing, bru­tal and strange­ly calm. Chin­gach­gook can with­stand the pain of being last of an entire nation.

8. Gré­goire de Fron­sac [Samuel Le Bihan]: Le Pacte des loups

Fron­sac, a Frog nat­u­ral­ist recent­ly returned from the Amer­i­c­as, has a bud­dy named Mani who is a badass him­self. But Mani gets wast­ed. So Fron­sac busts out his bowie knives, flam­ing arrows and mar­tial arts and beats the tar out of a bat­tal­ion of guys. Then he gets thrown in jail but is freed when he gets poi­soned, buried alive and then revived. Then he takes two short swords and fights the big bad evil guy. The wire-fu is awe­some and his rage rivals Chingachgook’s but is expressed much more force­ful­ly.

7. Rocky Bal­boa [Sylvester Stal­lone]: Rocky IV

Rocky IV is a badass movie. It doesn’t have much plot or char­ac­ter devel­op­ment. It is a clash of the titans movie. Rocky takes on Dra­go [Dolph Lund­gren] in one of the most pun­ish­ing fight scene of all time. Rocky, who has been train­ing in Siberia, haul­ing giant logs up moun­tains, doing upside-down sit-ups with a bag of rocks tied to his balls, you name it. Then he almost gets wailed on by the Ruskie any­way. He gets brain-dam­aged but Wins For Amer­i­ca™. Bad. Ass.

6. Lee [Bruce Lee]: Enter the Drag­on

Now we are in to ter­ri­to­ry where the names are cer­tain­ly to be expect­ed. Bruce Lee is still the gold stan­dard for mar­tial arts films. Enter the Drag­on is a clas­sic and we all know just how badass he is. Tast­ing his own blood, wig­ging out and wail­ing on his gui­tar. Yeah bud­dy.

5. San­juro Kuwa­batake [Toshi­ro Mifu­ne]: Yojim­bo

Toshi­ro Mifu­ne is prob­a­bly the most well-known for­eign badass. Yojim­bo was adapt­ed into Ser­gio Leone’s A Fist­ful of Dol­lars which spawned The Good The Bad and the Ugly tril­o­gy. Kuwabatake’s badass­ness comes pure­ly from self­ish­ness cou­pled with skill. He doesn’t give a shit about any­thing and is strong enough to deal with it. You can take noth­ing from a man who refus­es to acknowl­edge weak­ness.

4. The Stranger [Clint East­wood]: High Plains Drifter

Clint East­wood made his name in spaghet­ti West­erns. The char­ac­ters he plays aren’t exact­ly ground­break­ing, and in fact, he is best known for being a Yojim­bo clone. But no one ever said that being a badass is a dif­fer­ent thing. We all love to see ‘em. In High Plains Drifter, East­wood is such a badass that he doesn’t even have a name, like Kuwa­batake, he takes what he wants when he wants and no emo­tion is betrayed by his squin­ty eyes. He can shoot the whiskers off a coy­ote too.

3. The Ter­mi­na­tor [Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger]: The Ter­mi­na­tor

Hey look! Anoth­er stone-cold emo­tion­less killing machine! Well, if you are a badass, you can afford to be cliché. Espe­cial­ly if you are a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic cyborg with an explic­it knowl­edge of how to destroy any­thing that keeps you from your objec­tive.

2. John McClane [Bruce Willis]: Die Hard

I think every­one has seen this movie. Bruce Willis gets the tar beat­en out of him from begin­ning to end. Mem­o­rable moments include, bro­ken glass slashed feet, climb­ing down an ele­va­tor shaft and into a ven­ti­la­tion duct, duct-tap­ing a pis­tol to your back and mem­o­rable lines like “Ho Ho Ho, Now I’ve got a machine gun.” and “Yip­pie-kye-ay Moth­er­fuck­er.”

1. Robert Roy Mac­Gre­gor [Liam Nee­son]: Rob Roy

Why the hell does Liam Neeson’s Rob Roy sit in the top posi­tion? Well. If you effec­tive­ly faced down an entire ban­dit group while unarmed, bare­ly escaped hang­ing and then recap­ture by crawl­ing into a rot­ting cow, stopped your own death by seiz­ing and refus­ing to let go of the sharp blade [while some­one tries to tug it from your grasp] that Tim Roth is try­ing to stab you with, then you cleave Tim Roth in twain with one mighty blow, refuse med­ical treat­ment for your own wounds and then walk home. Well, you are one badass swash­buck­ling moth­er­fuck­er.

19 Replies

  • Try Creasy (Den­zel Wash­ing­ton) in Man on Fire or Scott Glenn in the orig­i­nal ver­sion. Of course, Joe Pesci in Casi­no is about as bad ass as it gets.

  • I think I’d add on Steve McQueen’s char­ac­ter in BULLIT as well as DIRTY HARRY.

    And maybe Al Pacino’s Ser­pi­co too.

    And maybe Leon from THE PROFESSIONAL as an hon­or­able men­tion for BADASS WITH A HEART OF GOLD.

  • OH! And also Samuel L. Jack­son in pret­ty much any­thing (but more specif­i­cal­ly in PULP FICTION). I mean, dude, the man has a wal­let that says BAD MOTHER FUCKER on it. How much more bad-ass can you get?

  • Haven’t seen Man on Fire, the orig­i­nal ver­sion or Casi­no. Haven’t seen Bul­lit either.

    oh yeah, Dirty Har­ry would’ve been a bet­ter one for East­wood than High Plains drifter. It slipped my mind.

    I was think­ing about Paci­no or de Niro but I’ve only seen half of Ser­pi­co and I think Taxi Dri­ver is a bit too pathet­ic for true badass­ness.

    Leon can’t make it pre­cise­ly because he has a heart of gold. Too com­pli­cat­ed of a char­ac­ter.

    and I’ve nev­er seen Pulp Fic­tion.

  • You should see Bul­lit Adam, one of the best care chas­es on film IMHO. I do like High Plains Drifter or East­wood as The Good, in the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m sur­prised to see Ter­mi­na­tor in there, I thought it would be DQ’d along with Robo­cop. If you want­ed Ahnold in there you should have tak­en his char­ac­ter from Pred­i­tor (real badass there) I am sur­prised that there is no Steve McQueen in there, he was bad ass in Bul­lit and in The Great Escape.

  • Peo­ple seem to be for­get­ting female badass­es!

    1) Eliz­a­beth Shue: “Adven­tures in Babysit­ting.”


    or/ (in all seri­ous­ness)

    2) Uma Thur­man: “Kill Bill”

  • Ward, yes that was a realul­ti­matepow­er ref­er­ence.

    I thought about putting in East­wood for TGTBTU but since it is too close­ly relat­ed to Yojim­bo I passed. Preda­tor was in there as well, but at the last minute I changed it to The Ter­mi­na­tor. And Steve McQueen is a pret­ty boy.

  • I thought about Uma Thurman’s char­ac­ter but I hate Taran­ti­no, so that axed it. For what its worth, both Elis­a­beth Shue and Uma are on my harem list.

  • Yeah, I con­sid­ered both of those as well. Both got axed because their char­ac­ters were much more com­pli­cat­ed than sim­ply being ass kick­ers.

  • It just occured to me that you are miss­ing one of the biggest badass­es ever on here…
    John Wayne in The Searchers
    Also miss­ing George C. Scott play­ing the tit­tle char­ac­ter in Pat­ton Total badass in that movie with his ivory han­dled revolvers. He even won an Oscar for play­ing one of the biggest badass­es of WW2

  • Where is Charles Bron­son, he’d kill every one men­tioned on this page… Except Clint East­wood who should be num­ber one, have you seen Unfor­giv­en?

  • Per­son­al­ly I think when it comes to badass­es we have to con­sid­er Oh Dae-Su from “Old­boy”. I mean, come on, he ate a live squid.…Oh and beats six­ty peo­ple down with his bare hands…

  • I dun­no about you guys, but for my mon­ey I like Tom­my from Good­fel­las and Doc Hol­l­i­day from Tomb­stone

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