While spending an entire day driving all over Western New York yesterday the boredom began taking over and my mind started racing a million miles a minute. Usually what I do at that point is flip through radio stations until I hear something half way decent. No offense Buffalo, but with some of the stations we have, I am, more often than not, at my destination before I find anything worth listening to. Is it so much to ask to hear Go West’s King of Wishful Thinking AT LEAST once a day? Well, whatever.
When I began to give up hope I switched over to AM. I heard an interview with the UFC’s Randy Couture. Who has apparantly been in like, over 30 movies. I’ve seen two, and they were the Expendables 1&2. Now, I loved these movies. Like I’ve said a million times before, I am all about lots and lots of over-the-top, cartoonish violence. The Expendables movies used a very simple formula: Loads of mindless violence+cheesy one-liners+Jurassic-era action stars=pure awesomeness. One of the most important life lessons I learned as a child was that anything that had both Stallone AND Lundgren is great. Anyway, Couture said that the third Expendables is beginning filming this August. And, in my boredom, I began to think about all of my favorite movie badasses. I’m talking about the REAL badasses here. Not Taylor Lautner. Not Angelina Jolie. Not Shia Labeouf. Real action stars. Oh, and not Chuck Norris. Really. Those jokes about him were funny for about 37 seconds. He played in ONE good movie, which was Return of the Dragon. He had no lines, and Bruce Lee kicked the shit out of his character. Awesome!! What else was there? Top Dog? Sidekicks? Walker: Redneck Cop? All crap. So, here is my Norris-less list of my all-time favorite movie badasses:
1. Bruce Lee– Now, I’ll admit. His movies were kind of overrated. Let’s be honest. They were pretty boring except for the fight scenes, and even his only American-made hit Enter the Dragon seemed to have the budget of a Star Trek episode. Not that it WAS low budget, but it just looked cheesy, even by 70s standards. But we would not have any martial arts movie choreography without Bruce. Even Darth Maul, without Bruce Lee, would probably have just stood there swinging punches like John Wayne if there was never a Bruce. Hell, the martial arts as a whole probably wouldn’t even be as widespread as they are now. Instead of the UFC, we’d probably just have dudes dressed in metal armor and rusty swords fighting starving lions in front of crowds of drunk, obnoxious loudmouths. I just wish Bruce could come back to life and tell all of the UFC people to improve their musical tastes.
2. Brandon Lee-Lots of superhero movies have been released since Y2K came and went quite anticlimactically. All kinds of casting experiments have been performed. Some, like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron-Man were fantastic, and others, like Christian Bale’s Batman (I know, I know, forgive me) just didn’t cut it for me. But before Marvel opened up the vault of characters to Hollywood beginning with 2000’s X-Men and a new generation of action/fantasy was born, Brandon Lee starred in The Crow. The fights in this movie were awesome. His character was a back-from-the-dead, invincible rock star. And he fought like an invincible supernatural being. No fear, taunting his foes while taking bullets, and depressed and tormented by memories when alone. The movie was an artistic, goth masterpiece with what could be the most badass of all superheroes. He has Wolverine-like healing abilities but also driven by memories of his former life. Wolverine couldn’t remember shit because of an adamantium bullet. Lame. Oh, and Lee also starred in the BEST of ALL of the 90s action movies: Rapid Fire. It’s a movie about a pacifist college students who witnesses a mob killing. As it turns out, no one involved in the Chicago police force knows how to fight, but this PACIFIST knows how to kick all kinds of ass. So the police convince him (after he gets laid by one of the hot female cops) to allow himself to be put into several sting operations to bring down a mob boss. You know, just like real life. The movie also features one of the last great gratuitous action movie sex scenes featuring a song by cheesy hair metal band Hardline. Oh, and Brandon also starred in another 90s action flick Showdown in Little Tokyo, with the always awesome Dolph Lundgren.
3. Dolph Lundgren– He was He-Man. He was The Punisher. He was Ivan Drago. He was a full-contact karate champion in Japan! He acts, sings, directs, and has a genius-level intellect. He even made a workout video in the 80s. It’s horrifying. I used to make a game out of going to Blockbuster video stores and counting all of the straight-to-video movies released each month starring Dolph. The highlight of his career was killing Apollo fuckin’ Creed!!! And you don’t just ride off into the sunset after beating Apollo to death in the ring. You stick around and sign autographs! I wish they would have just made an Ivan Drago spin-off.
4. Sylvester Stallone– I remember when I was approaching 30 and the one thing that kept me motivated was knowing that Sly was 30 when Rocky came out. I thought, “well, I still have time to make it in Hollywood!!” Well, I didn’t make it in Holly- wood. But nevertheless, Rocky is still inspirational for a ton of reasons. A total underdog that nobody believed in was suddenly given the chance of a lifetime to fight the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. This was a few years before said champion was beaten down in the ring by He-Man after a James Brown performance. Holy shit…. read that previous sentence again and think about how ridiculous and awesome that sounds! The 70s and 80s were very kind to Sly. Then came the 90s: ROcky V, Judge Dredd, Stop! Or My Mom will Shoot, Oscar, and Cliffhanger were all less than awesome. He did have Demolition Man though, which was great. At 60, Sly came back as Rocky and followed up with a new Rambo. Then came The Expendables. When I’m in my 60s, I can only hope to be as badass as Sly.
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger– Ok, so in the last few years he’s made his share of stupid decisions. But look back at the guy’s career. He was some powerlifter kid in Austria who moved to America to be a competitive bodybuilder. He would mess with people at the gym and backstage and ruin their self confidence. In other words, he crushed his enemies and saw them driven before him! He took all kinds of bad acting jobs until finally being cast as Conan and the Terminator. Then came a string of hits like Commando, Predator, and Twins. Then there were those delightful numbers, Jingle All The Way, Batman and Robin, and Junior. Then Arnold got sick of making movies and decided to become Governor of California. Why? Well, he SAAAAAID he wanted to serve the public. I’m convinced he probably just woke up one morning and just said “I’m going to Governor.” And BAM!!!! He beats Gary Coleman to become governor of California. When he got bored, he went back to movies. And it doesn’t get much more badass than just checking off Arnold’s To-Do list the way he does.
So, I’m a big action movie fan. Especially the 80s and 90s VHS gems. I could go on forever listing the action heroes I looked up to as a kid. Perhaps I’ll leave those for the sequel……….