While there is a little overlap with this previous list, the members of this list are all suited to it sufficiently to overlook the duplication. These are characters who are not necessarily evil to the core – that would be another list – and in some cases you even have sympathy or fondness for the character.
Dame Angela Lansbury
She doesn’t gun down busloads of people, but there’s more than one way to be bad-ass. Mrs. Iselin is the wife of a senator, and her son, Raymond Shaw, hates her domineering attitude toward him. Shaw has been brainwashed by Soviet Communists years before the movie begins, and his own mother is a communist agent working undercover in America in order that she and her husband (really just she) gain all power in the White House. She does this by using her own son, Shaw, as a tool. She has absolutely no love for him. Or anyone else. All she wants is global power.
The idea of brainwashing her own son, of which activity she was the driving force, in order to force him to assassinate the President, after which Shaw goes to jail and she gets the power, is monumentally bad-ass!
Sgt. Alonzo Harris
He’s got better performances under his belt, but this one is outstanding. Harris gets into hot water when he personally beats a Russian mafia member to death in full view of people in Las Vegas. You gotta be bad-ass to willfully screw around with the Russian mafia.
They demand monetary recompense, and he sees to this by breaking the law every time he has to, robbing a known drug dealer, personally executing that drug dealer with a shotgun at point-blank range, enjoying his dying breaths in the process, robbing drug dealing street punks, and personally threatening to kill his own brand-new partner if he talks! He threatens him twice with guns, forces him to smoke a PCP-laced joint, then berates and threatens everyone in his entire neighborhood when his partner finally confronts him! That’s called FTW! That’s what that’s called!
Not an easy choice, given the definition of bad-ass, but I say he is. All he cares about is money. That’s it. And he will gladly kill every person on the planet to get more of it. Luckily oil drilling doesn’t require genocide, but he does see fit to execute a complete stranger who lies to him for a cut of the money.
Then he buries the body to hide the evidence. He publicly beats the minister of a small town, the sort of thing that will be found out by everyone in town sooner or later. Does he pick up and leave? No way! Just stays and keeps drilling the oil for himself. He blatantly reneges of monetary promises, and if you believe in God and jesus and such, dig this: he allows the minister to baptize him, provided that he gets the last tract of land in the area, to build a pipeline through it. He could not care less about the baptism. He uses God himself as a tool to get more money.
At the end, he cements his legacy by beating the minister to death with a bowling pin, after humiliating him. His own butler just stands and looks at him sitting next to the body. No surprise. Now that’s bad-ass.
A Britishman who dresses like a French fop. Even the characters around him think he’s gay, let alone public sentiment today. But he’s one of the finest swordsmen in the world, and derives sadistic ecstasy in dispatching a duelist one piece at a time, slowly, methodically, until the poor guy is helpless and terrified.
Ol’ Archy’s most bad-ass move by far, though, is slowly, methodically raping the helpless wife of a Scotsman who has irritated him. The Scottish are beneath him, he feels, and sees nothing wrong with raping and killing them. Then he leaves her alive to grieve.
Then the much larger Scot challenges him to a duel. Cunningham doesn’t even hesitate. “Bring him on.” And he enjoys himself immensely, slicing the Scot again and again, until the Scot finally kills him. Dead or not, Cunningham is one mean jerk!
No death scene has ever been more FTW!!! than Montana’s. He’s the greatest druglord in all creation, and uses more of his cocaine than anyone else. He just doesn’t give a flying rip. But that’s the thing. He never did. All the rival gang members in the world come down on top of him, and does he call security? Piss on security!
He loads a particularly grandiose self-defense weapon and proceeds to take on all comers. He just wastes ’em right and left like rats. They shoot back, but he deliberately hocked himself up on coke beforehand, and now he’s nearly unstoppable. Shot after shot goes through his torso, and he takes ’em like a man and shoots back, grenades and full-auto. His rivals can’t even take him off his feet! He’s just lost his sister, so he doesn’t care anymore. He just stands there shooting back and taunting them! They finally have to shoot him in the back.
His most bad-ass scene, though, is much earlier, when a drug deal goes sour, and he’s captured. The buyer demands all the drugs. He threatens Montana with a chainsaw! Montana is tied up and defenseless, and what does he do? He taunts the buyer to his face! “Why don’t you stick your head up your ass? See if it fits.”
Sir Ben Kingsley
In the annals of bad-ass scriptwriting, this one has to be #1! Kudos to the writer, whoever you are, because all those repeated Nos and Yeses and such are actually written that way on the page! Kingsley wasn’t ad-libbing! But the marvelous performance is all his, and he based it on his grandmother! Talk about Thanksgiving.
Logan wants the ol’ gang’s best safecracker back in action for one more heist. The safecracker is retired and living the sweet life in sunny Spain. Not an easy person to convince to return to a life of crime. Logan actually pulls it off, at the ultimate cost of his life, granted, but he just refuses to back off.
He smashes a beer bottle over the safecracker’s head, he screams like a lurching gorilla right into his ear, he howls, he kicks walls, threatens everyone around him with death, he publicly trashtalks the safecraker’s wife, Jackie, and lady friend, says how lousy they both were in bed. The safecracker’s wife is an ex-porn star, and Logan makes several points of that. He walks right up to a kid with a rifle pointed at him and mocks his fear.
And nobody, NOBODY, has ever unleashed a torrent of awe-inspiring, profanity-laced volcano language on the level of Don Logan. “Laced” isn’t the proper word. It’s profanity-inundated. If it’s an art, this guy is Jackson Pollock. “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!!! No f___ing way! No f___ing way! No f___ing way! No f___ing way! You made me look a right c___!” “I don’t give two s___s what Jackie Big-Tits thinks, she can think what she f___ing likes!” “I WON’T LET YOU BE HAPPY!! WHY SHOULD I?!?!” “F___ off, wanker! You’re doing it!”
This guy played Gandhi!
Bill “the Butcher” Cutting
He’s so bad-ass that you love him! You want to see him dead more than anything in the world, but not for awhile. First you want to see him be bad-ass! He’s certainly got the coolest threads of anyone on the list. He smokes hash, he shoots morphine, he bangs hookers three and four at the time, and he rules the Five Point with “a spectacle of fearsome acts.”
He cudgels his political rival, a man many people in the area like a lot, with the rival’s own club. But that’s after he throws a meat cleaver into his back. Dozens of people witness it. No one dares say a word or try to stop him. “Why doncha burn him? See if his ashes turn green?” he mocks an onlooker over the dead body. This guy is none too fond of the Irish. “If only I had the guns, Mr. Tweed, I’d shoot each and every one of them before they set foot on American soil.”
He stands his ground and fights like a man, charging right into a crowd of opposing gangs. He lost a fight once, and personally cut out his own left eye, and sent it to the victor wrapped in blue paper. As a show that he would never look away again. “I would’ve cut ’em both out, if I could’ve fought him blind.”
No loyalty. He is the man. Everyone else is loyal to him. Or dead.
David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Sebastian Shaw
All the geeks were sweating up to now, I’m sure. No argument, Darth Vader is an icon of bad-assness. All he wants is the rebel alliance crushed. They’re a threat to the empire, and he has no qualms about obliterating an entire planet of innocent species to draw those rebels out of hiding. He cuts off his own son’s hand. He tries his best to tempt him to the dark side, and when that fails, he threatens to tempt his daughter, of whom he has just learned. He says it with such malicious glee. He loves his job!
Hayden Christensen is not included for good reason. If I ever feel like ranking the biggest p_____s (female reproduction orifices), I expect he’ll make the list.
The original Vader just stalks around force-choking people to death. “Apology accepted, Captain Nieder!” Then on top of all that, he has a change of heart at the last second and personally kills the emperor at the cost of his own life.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Sir Anthony Hopkins
How do you escape a super-ultra-hypermax security prison-asylum? Arrange to be transferred to anther facility, with more moderate security. True, the opportunity is lucky, but Lecter is always on watch for such things. I deliberated about whether he belonged, since he’s psychopathic. That means he has no feelings for the soul of anyone around him. But it doesn’t detract from his fearlessness, his sadism, or his brilliance. Nobody’s ever had a more horrifying stare.
Never mind that he eats people, first, he totally mindf___s Clarice, all just to grab a little payment for himself: moderate security. Then he still has to escape, which isn’t going to be easy. He picks his cuffs, he efficiently beats down both well armed guards. Then, to cement his legacy among the baddest of the bad-ass, he changes clothes with one guard, cuts his face off while he’s still alive, puts it on his own, and rides right out on a gurney. No one saw it coming. That’s after he disembowels the other guard and hangs him from his jail cell. He puts the guard’s pancreas on the guard’s head. He even has the nerve to call Clarice later–at the FBI’s headquarters–to let her know he’s out and having the time of his life. And he tells her a bad joke, “I’m having an old friend for dinner.”
Let’s run through the logic on this one: this guy robs a mafia-owned bank, rigs the heist so that all his accomplices kill each other, he kills the last one, takes only the mafia’s money, $60,000,000, and then personally confronts every one of the mafia bosses at the same time. He walks right in laughing! They know he’s the one who robbed them, and he proceeds to make things worse by killing one of their underlings with his disappearing-pencil trick. He gleefully mocks them about paying for his new suit, then deliberately insults the one who’s angriest. Why? Well, because he’s the angriest. What makes this guy tick?
He lets on that he only robbed them to initiate a citywide war with one of the baddest crime-fighters in 20th Century fiction. It’s good sport. He demands half of the mafia’s money in exchange for killing Batman. This is after he’s robbed them. Later, he lets the angry mafia boss capture him, just so he can cut the guy’s throat. Then the Joker goes right about his business!
He executes people daily throughout Gotham just to make Batman take his mask off and give up. Why? He explains that to Batman after he rigs his own capture. “I wanted to see whatcha’d do! And ya didn’t disappoint!”
What the hell makes this guy tick? He explains himself to Harvey Harvey Harvey Dent, after he’s sure Dent won’t be returning to the land of heroes. “I’m an agent of chaos.” Folks, in my opinion, that is the definition of bad-ass. How do you deal with a guy like this? He’s so bad-ass that he has no rules! He tries to execute innocent hostages just to play a little game with Batty.
Then on top of everything else, he actually has the nerve to justify himself to Batman. “I’ll show ya. When the chips are down? These uh…’civilized’ people? They’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.” Then he just lets Batman beat him for a while, and laughs in his face the whole time. You cannot get more bad-ass than that.
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