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 thoughts on “Top 10 Movie Badasses

  1. 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.

  2. 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 WITHHEART OF GOLD.

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. People seem to be for­get­ting fe­male badass­es!

    1) Elizabeth Shue: “Adventures in Babysitting.” 


    or/​ (in all se­ri­ous­ness)

    2) Uma Thurman: “Kill Bill”

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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

  11. 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?

  12. 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…

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

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