The Action Movie BAD ASS

Action Movie Freaks LOVE Tom Cruise!  Go see Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol in IMAX!

Although the bigger the better, the Action Movie BAD ASS comes in all shapes and sizes:

Before I start, I have to list these two men because watching their movies infected me with Action Movie fever.
They are ridiculously legendary, so I'll keep it brief, but they should be in their own category for making the genre what it is.

Watching "kung fu" movies and making fun of the dubbed sound not matching the lip movements is a really common joke, which only drives home the fact that language was no barrier to the enjoyment and popularity of these movies. While we made fun, we LOVED it! And Bruce Lee (3 of his 5 movies were in English and who would have been even bigger in fame had he lived—we can only imagine)—CREATED my idea of the BAD ASS, and many other Action Movie Freaks as well. Along with his a
mazing physical prowess came philosophy. This quote from Enter The Dragon explains why many of us love the Action Figure:

 "It is STRENGTH that makes all other values possible.
Nothing survives without it."

Lee was just as cool as it gets. Kung Fu movies made us hungry for more, then along came:

Everyone knows Chuck Norris is the BADDEST MAN ON THE PLANET.  I'm sure you've heard the one liners. Pick a site: The Chuck Norris or Chuck Norris They're all so funny, it's hard to pick a favorite, but I love "If Chuck Norris is late, time better slow the fuck down." I feel really lucky to have seen most of his movies in theaters when they came out.  He is THE MAN! All his movies are enjoyable. My favorite is A Force of One.

Mr. Norris was the first honoree in the first all-Action Movie Festival: ActionFest 2010! They showed Braddock: Missing in Action III and Mr. Norris's personal favorite Code of Silence, and, put a Chuck Norris quote on the back of their official t-shirt:
"If I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you."

It was great to hear him speak about his early martial arts training and matches against Bruce Lee (on and off the screen). He's a hero in real life too, giving back with his inspiring and effective Kick Start Program. At the inaugural Actionfest closing ceremony, he gave his Lifetime Achievement award to his brother, stunt double, Director, and one of four "Co-Founders" of ActionFest, Aaron Norris, as a fitting tribute to the Stuntmen who make the Action Movie Bad Ass look good.

handshake/arm wrestling between Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Carl Weathers in PREDATORWith the ACTION FIGURE, so much of the movie's success rests on their ability to be that hero, it's hard to separate them from the role afterward. Not enough credit is given because they are in such great shape, as if being in great shape is too much credit already, and the 'action'—the performance of such magnificent physical feats is equally underappreciated. Too often dismissed and not considered serious acting roles, action movie heroes should instead be doubly awarded. Not only are they talking the talk, they're walking the walk!

Still, selling it is a smaller part of the game because when you look this good, we're already buying. There's a "holy crap" factor to the ACTION FIGURE physique. They look like they could really get the job done, and nothing is more convincing than real strength. These guys don't need rubber suits with fake muscles. Hey now! (Grrrrrrrr!)

Carl Weathers and Arnold.  This is how the Action Figure shakes hands!

Dwayne The Rock Johnson in The Scorpion King

After The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King, and The Rundown, we expected BIG things.  BIG (he's taller than Arnold)! Walking Tall was good, but too bad DOOM was so poorly structured: The Rock and Karl Urban, and they still couldn't make it work.  At last, with The Other Guys (however brief his appearance), Faster, and Fast Five, The Rock took over as the Ultimate ACTION MOVIE Bad Ass we always knew he was!  Welcome to the top!!

The Rock has charisma in buckets! I was glad to see him stretching to do a role like he did in Be Cool (the sequel to Get Shorty), but I was fairly certain the people making the movie were making fun of him. And even though he went along with it, it still smacked of jealousy and trying (unsuccessfully) to make him look bad. All I can tell you is I can watch him smack his ass in the mirror all day long. And when they got to the end and he did his native dancing—(IS THERE anything hotter? Not for me!!)—it seemed like they threw that in there just because they knew he'd go for it—Haters! Casting him in that role, and using the fact that the character is gay as bait (like it was an acting challenge), just seemed like 'Hollywood' set him up and was laughing at him. Well F.U. He's The Rock! The Director of Walking Tall must not have liked him either. They banished him to his own commentary. Yep. All by himself. He does come across as egotistical (it's not bragging if it's true), but, he was learning. They were just jealous, Haters.

Women love him, kids love him.  He's "The People's Champion!" Somebody write something worthy of him! We want to see more! He's paid his Action and his acting dues. We don't want him to see him go in a leading man/drama direction. All we want to see him do is Action! So, please, no more kiddie movies (although he was great in Race To Witch Mountain, which is classified Action Adventure Family, and it delivered).  Fast Five was fun but his role was minimal. I hope we see more of him in The Fast and the Furious 6 (2013). 


Coming in 2012
G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation is filming now. Following The Rock on Facebook has given us a glimpse into moviemaking we've never had access to before. He regularly posts stills
and sometimes video (you can even send him a video response on  His character's name is ROADBLOCK—how cool is that?! This role seems like the best use of his talents. The weaponry alone is intriguing.  He was born to play this soldier. I have ridiculously high hopes for this movie.

He has also posted the preview of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Swiss Family Robinson was one of the first movies I saw and I was raised on the Classics, so I am happy to see him in this. (LOL "The pec pop of love" You gotta love his joy of life!)

Coming in 2013
?! with Taylor Lautner (ooieeee have they run out of ideas)? and Snitch a Drama/Thriller with Susan Sarandon  . . . why?

Stallone in the Expendables with beret

He's Rocky, he's Rambo.  Sly absolutely sells it.  He not only sells it, he pushes it past the limit all the time. The bad ass's bad ass, he's still got it and still making great movies. I loved the latest Rambo and the latest Rocky, and with The Expendables, for me he finally beat Arnold out of first place in the Action Movie genre.

Even now, every time you see him, you think DAMN!  But it's not just how strong he is, it's what he does with it that counts. When Rocky won, we all won. The underdog movie of all time: A hero so unassuming, so likeable. From the brutal alternate one-arm push-ups to the cross-city runs, to punching sides of beef, Rocky brought out the inner champion in all of us—Some raw eggs, a grey sweatsuit, a little early morning determination, and we think we could all walk the walk. Everyone identifies with his desire to be somebody. The workouts in Rocky IV made me realize I don't need to pay for a gym, I can drag a log, or lift rocks.  He was so BAD ASS, he didn't even need equipment to work out.  

Rocky and his bicepsAs Rambo, he took the fighter to another level. Rambo was our American ninja. The hero's hero. Competent and fearless to the nth degree. He made do with whatever he has. By the time you realized he snuck up on you, you were already dead. When he emerged from that wall of mud in Rambo: First Blood Part II, he cemented his place in action movie freakdom!  Where others failed, he got the job done by himself.  He was the soldier every man would like to be: strong, resourceful, brave, loyal, honest, and vicious. He set his own wound on fire in Rambo III.  If you saw it, I don't need to say anything more.  But I want to. In Get Carter when he says "You're a big man, but you're in bad shape. With me it's a full time job." It's scary. Truer words were never spoken.

SYLVESTER STALLONE as Rocky Balboa . . . and women everywhere swooned!

Vin Diesel in The Chronicles of Riddick

The shower scene from The Chronicles of Riddick was sPECtacular!

Nobody seems to give Vin enough credit. I get tired of hearing he can't act. Like hell he can't. It's not like the ladies care anyway. If he were any sexier, there'd be pandemonium (like this!) Growl, baby, growl.  I think he moved through Riddick with runaway intensity. "If you can't keep up, don't step up." The characters he's been best at aren't complicated. Isn't that what Action Movies are all about? You have to be physically convincing, believable, to be the kind of bad ass he's been. He doesn't walk, he struts, he stalks, he sizzles. Sexuality crackles off this man.

In Pitch Black, he was the anti-hero they were all afraid of, but who they looked to to save them. The strength of his presence carries his movies. He was the biggest reason for the success of the Fast and Furious series. He seems down to earth but a little scary, like your neighborhood tough guy. His deep voice and devastating physique command attention, even when he whispers. He seems to measure out his performance with masterful control. Silent and deadly, his is not a thinking man's part—So much the better!  As Roseanne said to Fabio (I mean Dan, starting @6:30) "Don't talk."

"Aaaah . . . the Riddick!"

Ever since she re-invented the bad-bitch-with-attitude, Michelle Rodriguez has been steaming up the lens in Action Movie after Action Movie. You either love her or hate her. She's the go-to actress for every tough-chick character. She was the teaser at the end of Fast Five which left us with the idea that Lety's coming back from the dead in The Fast and the Furious 6 (2013). She's starred in Battle Los Angeles, Machete, LOST (TV), Avatar, Fast & Furious, Battle in Seattle, The Breed, BloodRayne, Control, S.W.A.T., Blue Crush (how cool was she in that!), Resident Evil, The Fast and the Furious, 3 A.M. Salgado, and Girlfight (according to IMDB she beat out over 350 others trying for the role).  She's played a soldier convincingly many times, and has over 30 titles to her credit at just 33!  She's just 5' 5" but packs a lot of power into a tiny frame.

She's also a character voice in the video games Halo 2, Driv3r, True Crime: Streets of LA, and Avatar : The Game.  The ultimate endorsement.

Making his Directorial debut with Never Back Down 2 (and starring in it) Michael Jai White appeared at Actionfest 2011 to promote the film.  As humble as he is charming, his bromance with Stunt Coordinator ("little brother") Larnell Stovall was fun to watch.

He has seven black belts and was equally impressive and hilarious as Black Dynamite (both movies were shown at the 2011 Festival).  From Brooklyn, he started training in martial arts at the age of seven.  He trained with Jean Claude Van Damme and did stunt work in Prototype and On Deadly Ground, but his work on Kill Bill: Vol 1 and 2 went from the trailer to the cutting room floor. 

He's been in an impressive number of movies starting with Toxic Avenger Part II, he played a soldier in Universal Soldier,  was in City of Industry, Spawn, Universal Soldier: The Return, Exit Wounds, Undisputed II: Last Man Standing, The Dark Knight, and Blood and Bone, as Isaiah Bone. If anyone's an Action Figure to the bone in real life, it's Michael Jai White!  He played Mike Tyson for TV!

Check him out demonstrating telegraphing with Kimbo Slice. 

"Boy-ka! Boy-ka! Boy-ka! . . . " You're scared just looking at this picture, I can tell. He looks like Ben Affleck might after training in Hell (to be fair to Ben, he looked great in The Town, but you've got to admit there's a resemblance). Scott Adkins owned the role of Yuri Boyka from the Undisputed series. It's a testament to his characterization of that he almost looks like a different person in real life. Adkins is so intense as Boyka, it's scary good. If you've never seen any of the Undisputed series, you're missing out!

He's had small roles in The Pink Panther, The Bourne Ultimatum, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. With a physique like this and mad martial arts skills, hopefully there will be lots more starring roles for Adkins in movies like Assassination Games (formerly called Weapon? opposite JCVD),  ReKill (still in post production), and Universal Soldier: A New Dimension (2012). [What happened to Blood Hostage, which paired him again with Undisputed III: Redemption Director Isaac Florentine and Larnell Stovall (UIII:R's Stunt Coordinator) as Second Unit Director?]  

He's confirmed as having a role "Hector" in The Expendables II (also 2012).

Unforgettable in The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner's career has taken off.  He will be a new character in a Bourne-type movie The Bourne Legacy (2012).  He is in the The Avengers (2012) , stars in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (12/21/12), had a cameo in Thor, starred in The Town, had a small part in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and played the good-guy Delta Force sniper in 28 Weeks Later.

He's a tough guy, despite his boyish face.  S.W.A.T. in 2003 was the first time I noticed him, but Kathryn Bigelow noticed him in Dahmer (2002) and wanted him for The Hurt Locker.  There isn't an ounce of fat on him.  His forearm alone is intimidating in this shot.  He's just a born G.I. Joe.  Captivating and capable, I hope he steals the show in Ghost Protocol . . . 


Chris Hemsworth IMDB headshot









I wasn't too happy when I heard Chris Hemsworth would be Thor, but I am oh so happy to have been proved wrong.  He was great.  I read that Kenneth Branagh thought he was getting too beefy (no such thing for this role), but he was beefy enough.  He played the role with such charm you couldn't help but like him. 

Now he has been cast in The Expendables II.  Hooray!  That cements his "Action Figure" status.  He was great at Capt. Kirk's Dad in Star Trek (2009) defining bravery, and we can look forward to seeing him in The Avengers (reprising Thor—this movie looks incredible), Red Dawn, and Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012.

Chris Hemworth as Thor with Loki

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You can't star in a movie named Warrior (2011), without being a badass.  Ladies and Gentlemen, Tom Hardy as Tommy Conlon.  I first noticed him in Wuthering Heights (there is nothing more romantic), and worked my way backwards.  He really captured the brooding, lovesick beast.  He got attention for his role in Inception in 2010, but his career began back in 2001 with 2 episodes of Band of Brothers. He next appeared in Black Hawk Down (2001), then Star Trek: Nemesis (2002).  If you're a fan of Kirsten Dunst and went to see Marie Antoinette (2006), he had a small part in that.

From IMDB: "He appeared as gay hoodlum 'Handsome Bob' in the (2008) 'Guy Ritchie' film, RocknRolla, but it would be his next transformation that would prove his extensive range and stun critics. In the film Bronson (2008), Hardy" . . . [gives] "a harrowing performance that is physically fearless [lots of full frontal nudity] and psychologically unsettling."

Subtitle could have been: Beating Up A Naked Guy, but not to diminish the performance, which won him a British Independent Film Award for Best Actor.  It's categorized as Action, but it really has very little other than fist fighting, which is often highly stylized and slo mo.  Next came a role on the TV show The Take and the lead in PBS's Masterpiece Classics Wuthering Heights. It's rare to see someone with such physicality have such a great acting range.  At 34 he still has a lot to give and we can look forward to seeing Hardy as Mad Max in Mad Max: Fury Road (rumored?), and in The Dark Knight Rises (2011). He is also co-starring in This Means War (a Romantic Comedy with an Action twist) (2012) with Chris Pine :) and Reese Witherspoon.

Lucky Action Movie Freaks who attended Actionfest 2010 were treated to a double shot of Marko Zaror. He was there to promote Mandrill and Undisputed III: Redemption with Director Isaac Florentine and Stunt Coordinator Larnell Stovall. I have often wondered if Action Movie Actors are also Action Movie Freaks and love the movies as much as we do. Marko Zaror is definitely the BIGGEST Action Movie Freak. He's a huge Bruce Lee fan—I got to ask him who his influences were at the Q&A after Mandrill at Actionfest 2010. The whole tongue-in-cheek treatment of the lead character ("mandrill" means baboon) is such a tribute to the Action Movie hero that you couldn't help but love it, and love him.  He gets it. All of it.  He gives it back too in performances with amazing physicality and charm.  Being worthy to fight Boyka as the villain in Undisputed III is quite a compliment.  Love his signature corkscrew move.

It's not an exaggeration to say he's wildly entertaining. Don't miss anything with him in it. I hope to see more and soon.

Tony Jaa

As if he wasn't already insanely great at everything he does (watch this), Tony Jaa's fighting skills in Ong-bak could wow even the toughest audience. He took a flight of fantasy with Ong bak 2, which he also co-directed. Ong bak 2 features a series of fights with different weapons, in different styles, that showcases his skills—eyes rolling back in my head—to sick levels!

It's one thing to be good at one or two martial arts (some spend a lifetime). Jaa appears to be invincible, and a master of everything you can think of, and some you haven't: like fighting off of an elephant. Yep, that's what I said. Might have helped that his parents were elephant herders, so dispense your concern over the elephants appearing in the movie as 'actors'. Everyone knows you don't mess with an elephant, they'll stomp your ass if you treat them badly, and considering Tony Jaa's skills, an elephant stomping might be less painful. And that's an 8-pack, at left, from the Enter The Dragon remake. Check the veins! Go watch any Tony Jaa movie before you open your mouth about him being on my Action Figures list. Ong Bak 3 did not make it to Miami and was hoping they would show it at Actionfest 2011 so I could see it on the big screen, but no such luck.  Time to buy the DVD! 

Maybe there are so few younger manly men heating up the screen in Hollywood because Chris Evans is burning so brightly.  He rocked the suit in Fantastic Four (as good as 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer was bad) but looked better out of it.  He starred in Push and  The Losers, and was an evil ex in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  Next, he conquered hearts as Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger.  He's got that cocky charm that Action Movie Freaks eat for breakfast. He's good and he makes sure you know it.  He was perfect as a "dude" in What's Your Number? He's so good looking, he's bound to be in more chick flicks and romantic comedies, but I hope after The Avengers (2012) he appears in more Action Movies. We women will definitely be watching! 

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan The Barbarian










The former undisputed KING of Action Movies: Mr. Universe,  Mr. Olympia,  Mr. Action Movie! So dominant in the genre Saturday Night Live's Hanz and Franz coined the phrase “non-Arnold movies”. With a body like his, it must have been hard to find a stunt double.  The comic book super hero come to life. He embodied our collective desire to be invincible, and was what we wanted to be when we grew up. His belief in himself, evidenced by his achievements, his determination to succeed, and success in attaining 'The American Dream', were all part and parcel of his charm, along with the Austrian accent that made his characters all the more likeable and memorable. 

ARNOLD as Conan The Barbarian 
Still a great Saturday afternoon matinee movie.  Leather bikini

Bigger than life off screen as well as on, that's why he was #1 for so long. He made so many great movies, but chose to 'retire' into politics and became Governor Schwarzenegger. Weren't you expecting he would get the law changed somehow so you vote for him for President? And then the scandal, oh well . . ..

After making  The Expendables, Stallone briefly took over as #1 and bumped Arnold to #2.  But since Dwayne Johnson is back doing Action and has finally run with the torch Arnold passed him in The Rundown, I moved Arnold moved down on my list, to #3, and then we found out about the housekeeper!  I can't help it, I'm majorly disappointed in him. He had to screw the pooch!  GOOD GOD MAN, why'd you do it (like Bill Clinton said "because [you] could"? How big was your ego?! Was it a tumor? You did lie. I hope you won't be back.  Was she worth it?

"Itz nodda tooma." 
"Rememba, Sully, wen I prommusst  to kill you last?"  "I lyhed."
"Uhl be bahck."

 My favorite ARNOLD role is "Dutch" in Predator:  BIG Guns!  A cast that could be measured in Biceptitude. 

In spite of his bad behavior, he will always be the shit for being The Terminator! 

Cyborg movie posterIf you're a huge Van Damme fan, you're gonna hate me. Yeah, he made Action Movies.  I put him on here 'cause he made so many.  If you can tell me any good ones, I might watch them again and re-consider.  Well, maybe Cyborg. Who can complain about hot guys grunting and growling?!  He gets an "A+" for ability and effort, but if he's selling it, I'm not buying.  He comes off as too conceited.  And there's just something not manly enough about him, despite the physique. Too polished and too well groomed? I don't think it's necessarily because he speaks French (yeah I know he's the Muscles from Brussels), but French does sound very 'girly man' to me (as unfair and biased as that is). Christopher Lambert of Highlander, that's another story.  When he growls in Greystoke . . .  "UH!" (monkey grunt) "Ee wuz my favaaaa!" Luc Besson represents for the French in Action Movies with his general awesomeness and the Taxi and Transporter series.

I know Van Damme has mad skills. Him and the splits. Some (most) of his movies are just too gay (like this one) for me. You can hate on me for saying that, but I'm a straight girl and it's my site. He thinks he's sooo good looking and that makes him sooo unattractive like this scene—which is all about him appearing in tights, I'm not buying the girls as cover—get over yourself!.  Van Damme bottom line: for me: not so much. 

Wesley Snipes

"Never send a boy to do a man's job."  Wesley Snipe's physicality in his roles is truly impressive. Even before the Blade series, he was a force to behold. His training in martial arts shows in all his moves. With fluidity and physical grace, he makes it all seem easy. He has a great voice too and underplays his abilities, making him seem all the more the bad ass. Like a snake ready to strike, even motionless but with intent, he just looks downright dangerous.

He carried the sequel to The Fugitive, U.S. Marshalls, and even though it was a bad movie, he was good in Drop Zone. He's made lots of movies that went straight to DVD, which is our loss. He was great in the first Undisputed, and I liked him in The Money Train—kinda doesn't matter what genre he's in, he's so watchable. It was a stunning surprise he was cast in To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, but he was scary good in it (I confess I didn't watch the whole movie, but I saw enough to be wowed at his range and acting talent). I liked him in Murder at 1600, and Chaos.

Dolph Lundgren as He Man in Masters of the Universe

I may never forget the first time I saw Dolph Lundgren on screen. Glowering his way as "Venz" through A View To A Kill, for me, he brought the movie to a halt. Who was that?! He's too pretty to be taken seriously, but with a body like that, don't tell him that to his face. He vill break you. Rocky IV was only his second movie!

Despite his amazing good looks, he's amassed an impressive Action Movie career. Masters of The Universe, The Punisher, I Come In Peace (with Dar Robinson!), Cover Up, Universal Soldier. I haven't seen all his movies but I am impressed that he stuck mainly with Action and was nearly always the main character. The Action, however, in too many of them is too loose and fake, but that was a sign of the times. Compare his The Punisher (1989) to Thomas Jane's The Punisher (2004). While the earlier movies might have great action scenes like the men shooting while sliding down the amusement park multi-slide, it loses its appeal if it's too fake. Thankfully, movie makers either figured this out or were forced to get 'real' with their Action (perfect example: the change in James Bond movies).

If you're a Dolph fan (he's on twitter @Dolph_fans but  has only 1 tweet), check out's breakdown of  Universal Soldier: Regeneration

As good as he looked in this get up from Masters of the Universe, he still looked good in The Expendables. When you got it, you got it.  At right, Dolph topping the leather bikini category in every woman's fantasy.

Best known for his role as "Apollo Creed", Carl Weathers was also great in Force 10 From Navarone, The Defiant Ones, Predator, and Action Jackson. I think he should have won an award for best supporting actor for Rocky, and has been underappreciated.

He made an instant Action Movie classic with Action Jackson.  A movie with everything Action Movie Freaks love. A little tongue-in-cheek '80s fun with a great cast and Weathers at the top of his game. His physique is so perfect, he almost doesn't seem real. 

Would have loved to see him in Expendables 2! 

Aliens female character Vasquez

Too seldom (can you think of another?) are women with muscles used in film. Jenette Goldstein as "Private Vasquez" from Aliens is a no-bullshit woman but she's still feminine in the best way: she's HOT! You can say whatever you want about her muscles, they're just a bonus. And what a plus being physically capable is. As Vasquez she talks the talk and walks the walk: 

"I only need to know one thing . . . where they are!"

She's cocky, but she's brave as hell.

HUDSON:    "Hey Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?"
VASQUEZ:   "No, have you?"


Until I saw The Marine I didn't think an action movie starring a pretty wrestler could be ugly, but this movie was three explosions and John Cena not being able to walk straight. As predictable as The Condemned starring "Stone Cold" Steve Austin was (the tag line was "10 people will fight . . . 9 will die" guess that takes suspense off the table), it was enjoyable because there was some GREAT fight scenes! The following wrestlers, happily, kick ass off screen and on!

Texan Steve Austin is steadily invading the Action Movie world and I hope to see more of him. The epitome of the strong-and-silent type, he's really likeable and fun to watch. From a small part in the remake of The Longest Yard, he began making movies that were Steve Austin vehicles, until he accepted a small part in that ultra-boys'-club The Expendables. Loved him in The Condemned—He was unstoppable!

Superman Meets Lex Luther PosterWhatever he winds up doing, I'd love to see him as a pirate, and a patriot! It would be fun to see him with the other big baldie Vin Diesel, and doing anything military in a uniform. I think he would probably be better as a villain, but with the right roles, and a little more attitude, I think he could have a really huge Action career. You can't help but like him. He's part The Thing, part Mr. Clean (sans earring), part All-American. He better hurry up, though, he's 46 . . .

He'd make a great Lex Luther. They tend to cast way-too-ordinary-looking actors as comic book heroes for my taste (read my Anti-Scrawny Rant.)

After Arnold (of course) Jesse "The Body" Ventura is the PREDATOR Bad Ass! He speaks one of the most classic Action Movie bad-ass quotes:

"I ain't got time to bleed!"

Maybe it's the swagger, maybe it's the dimple in his chin, maybe it's the moustache (no, it's not the moustache although Action Figure Therapy would say it's like a "moustache with titties"), maybe it's everything. Jesse is the G.I. Joe doll come to life. The chauvinist's chauvinist. There isn't a lot to his role in this movie, and he's not on screen that much, but he has a commanding presence and really adds a silent strength and force to the group.  When he says "I ain't got time to bleed" and is asked "You got time to duck?" you half expect he doesn't and won't, and will still come out of it okay. 

I also liked him as "Captain Freedom" with Arnold in The Running Man.



Rowdy Roddy Piper in They Live

They Live featured the best fight scene (since The Quiet Man with John Wayne) and the best action movie line ever improvised by Rowdy Roddy.

The movie spawned a video game: Duke Nukem. Sadly, hoped for a Part 2 of They Live that never came. This movie is, deservedly, a cult classic, and earned Rowdy Roddy a place of honor here on the Action Figures list . . .

"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm all outta bubblegum."

Check out: Their action movie breakdowns are hilarious! Follow them on twitter: @AllOuttaBG

The Whiner? Yep! The Whiner is the complement to the action movie bad ass. The speck of green that makes the red so much more powerful.  All the really good action movies have them, and in the great ones, they steal the show. That's why I have them here with the Bad Asses: for how can you truly appreciate bravery without cowardice? They are the yin to the bad ass yang. No really great action movie is complete without The Whiner. Someone to explain when you're in some "real pretty shit". Their antics make light of a situation when everyone (you included) is pooping-in-their-pants afraid, and they forego all semblance of dignity. Being heroic is always the farthest thing from their mind and the last thing on their lips. The worse their situation is the more you laugh at their (and your likely) inability to deal with it. That guy would be us, and that's why we laugh.

Here are some of the best Whiners, ever:

Bill Paxton in Aliens

  as "Private Hudson" in ALIENS

#1 on the list of course! His cocky attitude in the beginning made his taking a crap later all the funnier. He's scared out of his mind. Of course he is. You are too, but he's not afraid to show it. His way of dealing with it is wise-ass humor. Has being totally fucked ever been funnier?

"Well, that's great. That's just fuckin' great, man! Now what the fuck are we supposed to do? We're in some real pretty shit now, man."
"That's it, man. Game over, man. Game over!  What the fuck are we gonna do now? What the fuck are we gonna do?!"

Richard Chavez in Predator

Richard Chavez
 as "Poncho Ramirez" in PREDATOR
The first crew is found skinned alive. The big guys are scared and they're being picked off by something unseen. How do you think the little guy feels? Then, he gets wounded. Oh, he SO does not want to get left behind! Would you?

"I can make it! I can make it!"

Leland Orser in Alien Resurrection

as "Larry Purvis" in ALIEN RESURRECTION
The bigger the crap they take, the funnier it is. This poor slob falls into the world of Alien Resurrection to find out he was infected in his cryosleep. Talk about your waking nightmares! Then they have to try to explain it to him.  According to Wikipedia: "Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times felt: 'There is not a single shot in the movie to fill one with wonder,[1]" I disagree! Leland Orser's fear-filled face is easily one of the best action movie moments ever. But more about how wrong critics were about this movie in a different place.  

"What's in-fucking-side me?"  


as "Joey Pantucci" in DEEP RISING
Kevin J. O'Connor played the same type of character well in The Mummy. If you've never watched this movie, watch it just for him.

"The Girl From Ipanema."

as "Marine Who Dies" in THE ROCK

If not for this performance, the movie would not have much tension outside the relationships and just watching the action unfold. His death is why you care that they succeed at protecting everyone. He sells it with his panic, the pus, and the convulsing. The makeup was incredible—in just a few seconds he goes from sheer terror to slippery blob. Really brings home the idea of "movie magic" because you can't help but wonder how many gifted make-up people it took to transform him, how many levels of makeup he had to wear, and how many takes it took in how many hours (or days) to film. It may not be fair to say he's a "whiner" but it certainly is an epic lose your shit moment.

"Lemme outta here, oh God! Lemme outta here, oh God!"   

Part Action Figure, part Regular Joe. They've got the bad half of big 'n' bad, but not the big. Muscular, yes, but even when they are doing seemingly impossible physical feats, their physicality and stature seems attainable. With just a little extra training, maybe we could get there. We expect the Action Figure to do all these things, but when these guys do it, it's considerably more impressive.

4 shots of Tom Cruise in the movie Endless Love

Tom Cruise in the movie Legend


My endless love for Tom Cruise began when he appeared briefly in the Brooke Shields movie Endless Love (1981) playing soccer. I remember thinking: "To hell with this story, let's follow that guy!"

Tom is always in great shape and does a lot of his own stunt work. His body of work is impressive and I would say (in box office success as well as popularity) he was the next generation's Burt Reynolds: attractive and average enough in stature to be a leading man, yet physical enough to sell the Action scenes. If you're a true Cruise fan, you saw every one of these movies—and thought they were all good!

Tom Cruise with long hair in a blue suitTaps (1981)

The Outsiders (1983)

Losin' It (1983)

Risky Business (1983)

All the Right Moves (1983)

Legend (1985) (in which he looked painfully beautiful)

Top Gun (1986)

The Color of Money (1986)

Cocktail (1988)

Young Guns (1988)

Rain Man (1988)

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Days of Thunder (1990)

Far and Away (1992)

The Firm (1993)

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Jerry Maguire (1996)

I believe Tom Cruise is underappreciated because people think he IS the role he most often portrays (a cocky jerk) in real life, and therefore he is not acting. This is unfortunate because his performances are so enjoyable, and he deserves credit for that. Think it was easy to bark "I want the truth!" at Jack Nicholson? "[He eats] breakfast 300 yards away from 4,000 Cubans who are trained to kill [him]." If only Tom didn't seem so damned pleased with himself maybe we'd like the person/actor more, but then we wouldn't love the characters so much.

Joel • Maverick • Vincent • Brian • Cole Trickle • Lt. Daniel Kaffee • Ethan Hunt • Jerry Maguire

Tom Cruise movie roles

Continuing the list . . . It IS impressive. Come on!! Give the man some credit!

Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Tom Cruise in The Last SamuraiMagnolia (1999)

Mission: Impossible II (2000)

Vanilla Sky (2001)

Minority Report (2002)

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

The Last Samurai (2003) (Love the long-haired Tom!)

Collateral (2004)

War of the Worlds (2005)

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Lions for Lambs (2007)

Tropic Thunder (2008)

Valkyrie (2008)

Knight and Day (2010)

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

young Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan carrying Olympic TorchJackie Chan made a younger generation love martial arts movies. If you didn't already love 'kung fu' movies because of Bruce Lee, then you probably went back to have a look after you saw Jackie Chan. When his first movies came to American cinema, we all watched with our mouths open. The drop from the helicopter into the frozen lake, the building-to-building jumps, fights with things like a shopping cart, ladder, lamps, chairs, refrigerators, pool cues, scaffolding, skis, poles, bottles: it's a long list, but he's even more incredible with his hands, feet, his whole body. It all seemed impossible to believe he did those things until we saw the misses and practice, and injuries, on the outtakes. 

Rush Hour paid homage Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder and the combination of action and comedy has never been better than Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. And he's so lovable! Maybe it's the smile or just some inner goodness that shines through. Even when Chris Tucker is aggravating the hell out of him, he keeps his cool.  What I find so funny is that even with the fact that he's in perfect shape, can do all these incredible moves, and twist himself this way and that, when he tried to dance, he was awkward. Compared to Chris Tucker pretty much everyone's awkward at dancing, still... "how difficult is that?"   [According to Wikipedia, not only does he speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and English fluently, and also speaks some German, Korean, Japanese, and a little Spanish.]  He is super popular with kids (even more so after the remake of The Karate Kid). They are building a Jackie Chan museum in Shanghai!

Jet Li open shirt

Mr. Li was dropped in our movie-going laps like a hot coal, smoldering his way through Lethal Weapon 4, you knew that someone was going to get hurt (please make it Mel Gibson!) and they were. He's as intense as Jackie Chan seems sweet. Whatever character Jet Li plays, you are always a little afraid. Even in Romeo Must Die, which was a 180-degree turnaround from LW4, bad guy to good guy, he had a presence of danger (and sexuality). He seems a little evil, a little kinky. His only bad movies were just not worthy of him; he's been good in everything he did. I loved him in Unleashed. Watch him kick Dolph Lundgren's ass (wink) in The Expendables, also starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture.

Jason Statham in blue boxers Transporter 2

A mean machine alright. He's tightly coiled and ready to spring into action.  If action movies were coffee, he'd be espresso—all that heat contained by a steely cool exterior that makes you want to push buttons just to set him off. Break the rules! Open the package!  He's not overly built, he's perfectly built. In a suit, he could be just another guy, like you. Yeah, you could do all that—not!  You just think you can 'cause he makes it look easy, and stays cool, calm, and collected. If he can do all that when he's under control, when he's pissed you know anything's possible. He moved past the thug roles to the James Bond type with The Transporter series and back to the thug. I'm sure his career will survive Crank: High Voltage, but I wish I could forget the image of his nasty hairy ass crack . . . Too much guys, too much!

(This black-and-white Brando-esque photo is all the proof you need that you can dress up the action figure.) He has the bad boy appeal, but only the charm is boyish, the rest is all man.

Of course this photo of the blue bikini! A very demure and proper friend went to see this movie (Casino Royale) with her husband, and beforehand she had down played wanting to see it because Daniel Craig was in it. But when he came out of the water in this bathing suit (translation: in this body), she says she made a noise, an involuntary  gutteral shudder of appreciation escaped her lips: "uuh-huh-huh-huh". To which her husband replied "Oh yeah?" No way she could deny that she found him attractive after that! I think it was pretty much the same for women around the world. Never has one blue bathing suit done so much for a man's career.

Daniel Craig's physicality was just what the Bond series needed. After the later years of Roger Moore looking (sorry Roger) a little ridiculous doing the kinds of things James Bond does, we needed someone who was up to the task of making the incredible action sequences believable. It's difficult to spot where Craig has a double in most scenes. Just the all-out, strong-as-hell way he runs in the opening chase of Casino Royale is enough, but he takes the character beyond, where it should have always been. I also enjoyed Quantum of Solace, although some didn't, and look forward to anything action-related or otherwise Craig does! Both movies had a strong, emotional plot line that fleshed out the character of the man. More than just an impressive figure in a bathing suit or tuxedo, Craig's Bond has depth, something you don't find in Action movies where we are usually satisfied with two-dimensionality. His is a thinking man's Bond. Kudos to the writers!

Sadly, we have to wait until 2012 for more in "Bond 23". Until then, maybe The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo will satisfy.

Karl's career has been a succession of really interesting and fun parts. He has looked very different in most of his roles but none as impressive as he was in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers as Eomer. Not since Interview With The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles have so many gorgeous long-haired men been on screen, but he took the cake.

He was hilarious and scruffy in Ghost Ship, majestic in The LOTR Series, "flawless" as Vaako in The Chronicles of Riddick, underutilized in the anticipated yet disappointing Doom, heart-wrenching and vicious in Pathfinder, and spot on as Bones in Star Trek. Also, he seemed to bear a resemblance to Roger Moore in R.E.D. (Retired Extremely Dangerous) which borrowed a lot from Live and Let Die.

After seeing Thomas Jane in Deep Blue Sea, I was hoping to see more of him, and The Punisher delivered. He was great in both. He was too good for Deep Blue Sea and I don't remember seeing him in anything until he did The Punisher five years later, but his Deep Blue Sea performance was so strong, it stayed with me how out of place it was and great it would be to see him in an Action Movie. He also really sold it in The Punisher from beginning to end, but especially when he takes a beating in the fight scene with the big blonde freak. His Punisher is the best version. I think he would have been a great Captain Kirk, but they cast that well (not complaining).

(I haven't seen him in Give 'Em Hell Malone yet, but liked it. I really wanted to see The Mist (based on Stephen King's 1980 short story anthology from Dark Forces—I read it in Skeleton Crew: at 131 pages it's considered a novella) because I loved the setting and how it ended made you want more., but I missed that as well. I thought it would be great to see how CGI helped them make that into a movie. Gotta get busy and play catch up on my Thomas Jane watching!)

He had a small (uncredited) role in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. 2011 has him coming out in a thriller, I Melt With You, and a comedy, LOL, but I'd love to see him do more Action.   (Title aside, I wonder if 2008's Mutant Chronicles was any good?)

300 the movie

300 didn't just put Gerard Butler on the action-figure map, it put him on the map with a Krispy-Kreme-HOT-NOW-red-neon sign. This movie is the greatest beefcake buffet of all time. It's like your plate just gets fuller and fuller and at the end of the movie, it's still overflowing, but they were so busy piling on, you forgot to eat. I heard and see the physiques were enhanced with spray on (at left) and digital effects. That's just jealousy talking, and who cares!? It's also been called homo-erotic—Gay men weren't the only ones who liked it!  It was a reality check anyway, the no-you're-not-in-good-enough-shape-to-be-this-for-Halloween realization for the average guy. Magnum (P.I.) and Putty (from Seinfeld) come to mind as the beefy version of the average-Joe type that illustrates Gerard's appeal. He's not so pretty, but he is ruggedly handsome. This movie got even better for me when Tom Wisdom as Astinos came on and satisfied my Keanu Reeves craving. Women should watch this every day to even out the b.s. from men looking at girlie magazines. (Now maybe you know how it feels.)

Steven Seagal

The Master! Steven Seagal . . . Bone-crackin' trash talkin' at its most entertaining! The essence of action movies in ultra-in-your-face form. A few drops of a Seagal movie is more than fun than other whole movies. He was one of the most entertaining action movie actors out there. If he walked into a room, it was deep shit. He really doesn't need weapons although he sure knows how to use them, and can make up some of his own. He'll beat the crap out of you, help you up, then smack you on the back of the head. It still hurts my face every time I watch this scene.  His movies have SO MANY great one-liners, where do you begin? "Let me do it my way. Just give me an unmarked and a shotgun.This'll get your teeth knocked out: "You wanna get by me? There's only two things stopping you. Beer and common sense."

Ask R. Lee Ermey:  "My guy in D.C. tells me that we are not dealing with a student here, we're dealing with the professor. Anytime the military has an operation that can't fail, they call this guy in to train the troops, okay? He's the kind of guy that would drink a gallon of gasoline so he could piss in your campfire. You could drop this guy off at the Arctic Circle wearing a pair of bikini underwear without his toothbrush, and tomorrow afternoon he's gonna show up at your poolside with a million-dollar smile and a fistful of pesos." (Come on! If you've got R. Lee Ermey talking about you, it doesn't get more bad-ass than that!) (And if you had to click on that link to find out who R. Lee Ermey is— get off my site! Just kidding, happy to share that one if you didn't already know.)

Often, these characters find themselves in impossible situations and rise to the challenge. In shape, but not unusually so like the Action Figure, they and their characters are often hugely popular because they are so relatable. The characters, too, are often about their moral compass. The everyday hero and the man we look up to, want to model ourselves after, and deluded-ly think we could be, if just for a Saturday afternoon.

(bowing) Not worthy!
What can I say about the ridiculously AMAZING career of Harrison Ford. He was Indiana Jones and Han Solo. That would be enough in itself, but he did so much more. He's Dr. Richard Kimble (The Fugitive), Jack Ryan (Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger), and Rick Deckard (Blade Runner).  It's hard to pin down what Harrison brings to a role but he's got charisma in spades, something everyone first noticed in American Graffiti. He comes across as a good man, a catch, something women loved to see him portray in Working Girl. He played against type in n Presumed Innocent to great effect with a thrilling ending. Was hilarious as a Realtor/Detective in Hollywood Homicide. It's quite a list of movies: and I left out a few: Air Force One, The Hunt For Red October, Apocalypse Now, Force 10 From Navarone, Witness, Frantic, The Mosquito Coast, Hanover Street, Regarding Henry, Sabrina, The Devil's Own, Random Hearts, What Lies Beneath, K-19: The Widowmaker.

He could be considered our John Wayne. The man's man.  The man men look to to know how to be men.

We love you Harrison! (He knows.)

Harrison Ford characters

Burt Reynolds and Sally Field

Burt Reynolds Cosmo centerfold

Burt ReynoldsMy boy Burt. No one young understands how big he was (how well liked, how good looking, how much charisma and record-shattering box-office draw he had). You had to have lived through it.  Shown here with two of the loves of his life: Dinah Shore and Smokey and The Bandit co-star Sally Field. He said later of leaving Sally Field for Loni Anderson that he traded a diamond for a rhinestone.

The Cosmo issue where he was the centerfold (cropped version below) sold out in minutes on newstands. No man had ever posed nude before. (Burt knew what women wanted—him!. And no, he didn't show anything.) Before there was Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, there was Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, before them, Robert Redford and Burt Reynolds (and Paul Newman and Marlon Brando) (my point? HOT HOT men). He's more of a dramatic actor than an Action Movie star, but he helped fuel the love of the genre immeasurably because he always brought excitement and action to his films (hear him say so better than I can).

Just so you can appreciate the breadth of his career, he started on TV with the Gunsmoke series (1955). He has 90 feature films to his credit, so I want to mention just my favorites:  There's the single role he's most known for Deliverance (1972), and the type of movies he's most know for: the Smokey and The Bandit movies (1977,80, 83), Cannonball Run I and II (1981, 84), and Hooper (1978). I love all those, but I also loved him in The End (1978), Rough Cut (1980), Sharkey's Machine (1981), Stick (1985) [filmed here in South Florida] where legendary stuntman Dar Robinson did a backwards fall while shooting a gun off a condo in Fort Lauderdale—a stunt first done for this movie (no net). It came off as such a vicious thing to do: be on your way to death and still be shooting.  It was copied later in many other movies, including Trinity in the Matrix Reloaded (@1:29], Heat (1986), Physical Evidence and Breaking In (both from 1989), Cop and ˝ (1993) [co-starring a friend from high school Tom Kouchalakos :D], and The Crew (2000).

Burt was also the first to show outtakes at the end of a movie (Hooper). It was so obvious they were having a great time filming, and he knew we would love to see that, and wanted to share it. You just gotta love his unique laugh (hear it in the Smokey And The Bandit 2 outtakes at @1:26).

How big was Burt? He turned down playing James Bond and starring in Die Hard

He appeared recently on Burn Notice (July 2010) and threw down ;).  I would say there are few actors more loved than Burt Reynolds. 

What do you say about a man with such a body of work!? Going back to the early days of the Italian films and 'spaghetti westerns', he was just this lanky good-looking actor who downplayed the emotional side of acting. We came to love him for this. Shoot first and shut the hell up. The man with no name.

Then the Dirty Harry character came along and it was like adding Raiders to Star Wars for Harrison Ford, we already loved Clint, but this made us love him more. Then the fighting movies with the orangutan. How to take it to the next level! Instead of just shooting his way through shit, he started brawling. It gave me new respect for him as an actor, as a man. He wasn't that young either to be playing that role, and that made it all the better. Made him a tough guy legend.

Then he started directing. It was like coming full circle when he made Unforgiven. An ode of love to the western, for which he won Best Director and Best Picture. Often imitated (I think David Caruso is trying to be Eastwood behind those sunglasses in CSI) but never with the same impact. The calm, deadly, silent strength and tall good looks were a unique combination.

There's no one like him. He made his own brand of 'cool'.

Nicolas Cage in Con Air

Nicolas CageThere's almost nobody I enjoy watching more. The timbre of his voice is so pleasing—he could be reciting the grocery list and I'm enraptured. From as goofy as he was in Peggy Sue Got Married ("Lucky Chucky") to 'Mr. Slick' in Lord of War, he's thoroughly entertaining and can't-take-your-eyes-(and ears)-off-him watchable. His delivery in The Rock was so much fun it added to that roller-coaster-ride feeling, like you were on it with him.  He can do more with a nothing role than you can conceive of (LOL Wicker Man).

Leading man and Action Movie star, he mixes it up better than anyone else. He's done a big variety of roles and looked very different in a lot of them. You know he was impressive looking for Con Air!  His performance can carry a film, like in Bangkok Dangerous. Not that the other actors in his movies aren't good too, it's just that what they do seems to add to him, not take away. It's rare anyone can steal a scene from Cage (like Sammi Rotibi "Gun of Rambo" in Lord of War). He's very 'Bond' in his smoothness and charm, yet so down to earth and likeable: perfect example: Family Man. After Gone in 60 Seconds, I hoped his career would go more toward Action but he's done more than enough to be included here. 

He's hot, he's cool, he's Cage!

I don't know what took me so long to add the irresistible Irishman Liam Neeson! Maybe it's because he's so well-rounded in his choice of roles. So many great movies, you may be wondering "He was in that?" If that is what you're thinking it's probably because he's so good at acting you forget it's him. And with someone with his physique and stature, that's quite a compliment. In the otherwise enjoyable but forgettable Suspect starring Cher and Dennis Quade, he played his character so well, the unsettling performance is still with me. He charmed me down to my toes in Rob Roy. As large off screen as he is on. He IS the stuff legends are made of, yet there's something so real, so grounded about him. What a career! Here are just a few:

Excalibur (1981)

Krull (1983)

The Bounty (1984)

The Mission (1986)

A Prayer For The Dying (1987) with Bob Hoskins and Mickey Rourke (whose bad-assery consists mainly of smoking wherever he feels like, especially when told not to, with unintended hilarity!)

Suspect (1987)

The Dead Pool (1988)

Next of Kin (1989) with Patrick Swayze

Darkman (1990)

Schindler's List (1993)

Rob Roy (1995)

Michael Collins (1996)

Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace (1999) A fitting and welcome addition!

Gangs of New York (2002)

Love Actually (2003)

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Batman Begins (2005)

Taken (2008)

Clash of the Titans (2010) Who else could play Zeus?—such a voice!

The A-Team (2010)

Liam Neeson collage

After Moonlighting, we loved Bruce Willis for Die Hard. The do-it-yourself cop with the take-no-bullshit attitude. It's the adventure we always dreamed of having: being the hero on your Christmas break. The wrench in the works, Bruce got under Alan Rickman's skin like a bad rash. The cowboy taking out the Eurotrash. Bruce Willis as John McLane in Die Hard

"Yippe-ki-yay mother fucker!"

We'd like to imagine we'd be this heroic if put in his situation.  He's the personification of the American spirit in this role. We believe in him because we believe in ourselves.

He can be forgiven for Hudson Hawk because the rest of the Die Hard series was REALLY GREAT, but when they say things like "his face is unrecognizable" (The Jackal) you have to laugh, because Bruce is stuck with the John McClane persona, like it or not, and a very distinct way of moving (in the shoulders) and pursing his lips . . . To paraphrase a line from a Toby Keith song, he's "Not as good as he once was, but he's as good, once, as he ever was." In other words, he'll be John McClane no matter who they cast him as, and he'll never be as good.  It's an insult but also a tremendous compliment. 

Another Action Movie compliment paid was that Stallone included him in the ultimate Action Boys' Club The Expendables.

Sean Connery as James Bond

A Scotsman. He was everyone's favorite James Bond. He and singer >Tom Jones (who? LOL) ruled the world at one time. Seems like the other Bonds just played the part. He embodied it. His distinctive voice and self assurance were half of his appeal, the rest: good looks and his acting ability.  (You have to have charisma and confidence in spades to pull off an outfit like this one from Zardoz.)

From this legendary early role, his career only added to his larger-than-life persona. My favorites roles of his are all the Bond movies (but especially Live and Let Die), The Wind and The Lion, The Man Who Would be King, The Great Train Robbery, Outland, The Untouchables, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, The Hunt for Red October, Family Business ("Where did you find this fucking parasite?" LMAO), and The Rock.

It didn't matter what his age was, he pulled it off until  Entrapment with Catherine Zeta-Jones. His Action Movie 'cred' brings such strength to a movie, for example, The Rock. Who do you get when you need a bad ass who's been locked up for 30 years? "John Patrick Mason, General Sir."

"Swords for $400." XD

Tommy Lee Jones was born in charge.  He's a real-life John McClane and then some. If you co-star with Tommy Lee Jones, you better be able to carry your weight, cause once he walks in, he's taking over. He's cornered Competence. Part of it is his voice. The low rumbling, deep, Southern accent. Part of it is his background: A born Texan, his Mom was as a police officer, school teacher, and beauty shop owner, and his Dad, an oil field worker.[1] According to Wikipedia, they were married and divorced twice. [That had to be interesting to grow up with.] And "Jones, an eighth-generation Texan, had a Cherokee grandparent.[3]" He graduated cum laude from Harvard [on a "need-based scholarship". He also played football (how could he not? from Texas)]. A no bullshit Texan 'poor boy jock' among the rich. He was roommates with Al Gore (and Bob Somerby) yet he cast a long shadow. They were the lucky ones.

It all culminated for me in No Country For Old Men. (How do you not get the ending?!) Those damn Coen geniuses, who else but Tommy Lee Jones?!! "Whatcha got ain't nothin new. This country's hard on people, you can't stop what's coming, it ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity." Well, if it was gonna wait for anyone, it'd be Tommy Lee. But he's gonna die, and he's okay with that. Not a good prognosis for the country, but then when the kid with playing cards on the spokes of his bikes accepts the bloody money [I wanted him to tear it up (so easy to corrupt the innocent!) but he didn't], it tore my heart in two. (It was like a Norman Rockwell painting of evil.)  And Tommy Lee's character's acceptance of his coming death, equally as sad.

He has danced [Step Up and Step Up 2: The Streets] and fought [Fighting] his way into the hearts of every teenage girl. He's more often been a leading man than an action star, but his roles in G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, and Parkour and Knockout (as a black ops super soldier) (both coming soon) are sure to make him the brightest star on the Action Movie horizon, even though he's also doing other dramatic and romantic roles. He seems to have a quiet demeanor and this compliments his attractiveness. He's not cocky and in your face and that makes you want to find out more; gives him some mystery. Being able to dance and fight speaks volumes for his talent. It's rare that someone does both so well.

The All-American blonde look has never been better represented. He's got all of Robert Redford's appeal plus physicality, and is better looking than Brad Pitt (I may be the only female who doesn't think that Brad hung the moon).  He's "Holy Mother of God" hot!

Robert Shaw as Quint in Jaws

Robert Shaw was my favorite actor. My favorite roles of his are From Russia With Love (1963), The Sting (1973), The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), Jaws (1975), Swashbuckler (1976), The Deep (1977), and Force 10 From Navarone (1978). A man's man, and an Englishman. A great voice and in-charge presence: He stole the show in Jaws. He re-wrote the Indianapolis monologue and the final version was done in one take. A lot of what was great about "Quint" in Jaws was all Robert. You know you loved him!

Tragically, he died at only 51.

QUINT What d'ya have there—a portable shower or a monkey cage?
HOOPER Anti-Shark cage.
QUINT Anti-shark cage!
You go inside the cage?
Cage goes in the water . . .
you go in the water . . .
shark's in the water.
Our shark.
Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. . . .

Robert Shaw collage of roles played

Sam Worthington

Cementing his place in action movie history as the paraplegic hero of James Cameron's CGI epic Avatar, Sam Worthington also played John Connor in Terminator: Salvation and thank God he did because Christian Bale was busy ruining it! (link is a parody)  He was on quite a roll, also starring in Clash of the Titans.

Maybe it's just his look with a crewcut but he has a very everyman face. I mean that in the best way: relatability. You're not distracted by his looks. Of course, that could be a testament to his acting ability. Too many times actors seem to play themselves. Sam disappears into the role. I think that's the highest compliment but this is sometimes negatively criticized with action movies because it seems like fans want their action stars to be personalities before the even get to the screen, and to be that larger-than-life persona in their role.  I guess you could put it this way: Sam Worthington has no swagger. I still like him.

Rain as Raizo

JUNG JI-HOON aka "Rain"

The hottie hunk of Speed Racer and Ninja Assassin, Rain's grace and speed were only part of a total package. He is also an international sensation as an award-winning dancer and singer.

In Ninja Assassin, standing still he commanded as much attention as when he fought. And what a dazzling array of abilities: hand-to-hand fights, knives, swords, and a kusarigama. With a little parkour thrown in, it was hard to keep up with the action. The movie was not only a kick-ass Action Movie, it was a thing of beauty (as was he). The ending features a scene with fire so stunning, it brought to mind Memoirs of a Geisha. The fire itself was a star and tried to steal the show. 

Ninja Assassin is a must-see movie for any Action Movie Freak and an astonishingly impressive first Action Movie leading role for Rain—Hope to see LOTS more of him in Action Movies, although there is nothing listed for him on IMDB in 2011.


Iko Uwais in Merantau

Iko Uwais's skills as a fighter stole the show in a movie that looked on the surface like just a sweet-coming-of-age drama, but Iko as "Yuda" fought for his life, and on screen it felt more like a documentary than an action movie.  Iko's speed and stamina were off the charts! If you don't mind an action movie that might make you cry, appreciate life, and understand that we're all the same the world over, Merantau delivered the most impressive and d memorable fight scene since Rowdy Roddy and Keith David beat the shit out of each other in They Live.

In a series of progressively tougher fight scenes building up to a what-is-he-capable-of? finale, Merantau showcased Iko's Silat skills with jaw-dropping impact. Out of this role as a slender, unassuming young man, a major action star was born. Can't wait for more from Iko!  Here's an interview with Writer/Director Gareth Evans by Robert A. Mitchell @SoldierOfCinema of The Raid (aka Serbuan Maut). The Raid opened TIFF Midnight Madness.  Sony picked it up for the U.S. It should be released in Indonesia in January 2012. 

Taylor Lautner on New Moon poster


Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black with long hairShark Boy grows up! Just 17 years old, already-super-popular Taylor Lautner became an 'overnight' international sensation through the Twilight movies. Team Jacob! You could almost see him age for real in the movie: from 16 to 17, from a boy to a super buff wolfman. The blush on the rose and any baby fat he might have had transformed into a chiseled body right before your eyes. After the un-shirting in the sequel The Twilight Saga: New Moon that left girls and women the world over swooning, his display of his martial arts training and true physical prowess on Saturday Night Live (link to video embedded in a Huffington Post article), and the lead in the upcoming action movie Max Steel, the world is Taylor's.

He seems to have an inclination toward action, so we hope that he chooses well and that he's offered choice roles. Maybe he would be THE all-time best Batman!



Reported as Jackie Chan's successor, Jack Tu stars in the martial arts movie The Forgotten Jewel. He is the lead in the parkour movie Tropical Tornado. The winner of a national talent search show called Disciple, Jack Tu was chosen by Jackie Chan after an extended and rigorous audition process: "We experienced war, Chinese ancient drama, science fiction, and boats, water, explosions, car crashing, jumping off buildings. We also experienced all the movie stunts that Jackie has done in his past movies. He said that in two or three months, it compacted what he has done in ten years."

When, as women, these characters find themselves in impossible situations and rise to the challenge, the bar is set higher. Nobody expects women to be able to do what men can do.  But I have news for you, we can! Whether these actresses have martial arts training or not, they did a damn good job of 'keeping up'. For the female Action Star, it may not be about obvious strength, but more about agility. She doesn't have to be butch, but she has to be believable. With Martial Arts movies leading the way (as they once did with early Action Movies for men), kick-ass women who don't need to fake their skills are going to be, hopefullly, the norm rather than the exception in the future. 

We haven't scratched the surface of the potential for truly strong women in Action Movies. I thought Red Sonja in 1985 was an indicator of things to come, but we're still waiting! (check out Seeing Red Over Sonja)  What are we waiting for?! Strong women need to get out there and make these movies! All of the women below are more the type of women MEN want to see. We are missing the type of woman WOMEN want to see, like JeeJa Yanin . . .


The star of Chocolate and Raging Phoenix, Jeeja Yanin  is a Thai Taekwondo sensation.  Billed as "no wires" and "no stunt doubles" Chocolate created a lot of buzz for the female star. At just 5' 2" she packs a lot of lethality into a lithe frame. 

The follow-up movie, Raging Phoenix was billed as "Chinese Drunken Fist vs. Drunken Muay Thai", plus B-Boy moves! The Thai movies in general and this one in particular throw so much at you, it's hard to not be amazed. The creativity of the fighting moves, and the intensity is unmatched.  If you haven't seen either, you must see both!


Until recently, I had not heard of her—My very great loss—and I have not seen any of her movies (that I remember, and I think I would). The apparent Queen of "B" Action Movies, it was hard to find a non-tacky picture of her fully clothed. Check her out on IMDB or

She holds 6 Black Belts, and if this clip is typical of her work, it reminds me of what they said about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: that she did everything he did, backwards and in heels. Here, Rothrock looks a little like Jackie Chan . . . in heels. 




Ye-oh-my-god! She left such an indelible impression after Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), it gave girls everywhere hope of equality with men! There seemed to be nothing she couldn't do.

In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2003) she was also so good that she could do nothing else the rest of her career, and still be an Action Movie legend. She 'brought it' to the screen and hacked it to pieces. She was a dancer, but had no formal martial arts training (!). She does her own fighting and most of her own stunts. "She gets injured a lot" according to IMDB. More reason to love her! Proving strength is not a man's province, Yeoh sells it like nobody else.

She turned down a role in The Matrix: Reloaded. Our loss!

Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil series












Milla Jovovich as a teen MILLA JOVOVICH

From her twitter bio: "pronounced mee-luh-yo-vo-vich"

Kate who? A face so flawless, she'd be breathtaking even without hair. In the film The Fifth Element, she was female perfection, wearing only straps for clothes. She dominated the screen in Resident Evil, which spawned four sequels: Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction, Resident Evil: Afterlife, and Resident Evil: Retribution (filming for 2012). Thanks to twitter you can follow @millajovovich "shooting RE5 in camp evil"  and get behind-the-scenes updates.

An unlikely Action Movie hero . . . pale, slight, and slender, Milla is also fierce, savage, and lethal!  Hers is not the big-boobed, bleached-blonde, artificiality of the every skank. Her vulnerability and slenderness add to rather than take away from the persona: A 'normal' girl until she shows her power. Milla was so mesmerizing in her portrayal of Alice in Resident Evil that it's impossible to imagine anyone else in the role: the highest compliment.

And as Ultraviolet, she was a force of nature! If you could stop watching with your mouth open long enough, you had to notice she was effective as hell in those roles. Compare her to Linda Hamilton: Milla's proof you don't have to look butch to kick ass.  That was unkind to Linda Hamilton, yes, but also flattering as Hamilton raised the bar on the standard of kick ass. 

composite of Milla Jovivich roles












The kick ass star of Alien, Aliens, Alien3, and Alien Resurrection (I love them all!), and Galaxy Quest (loved that too). The one who kept a cool head when even the robot had an evil agenda, when the soldiers needed rescuing and their leader fell apart, and through the nightmare and back again as the monster's mother. The only tattoo I ever considered getting was the "8" on the forearm from when she is the eighth clone in Alien Resurrection. I can handle myself Ripley and Hicks from Aliens

It ROCKS that the star of the most enjoyable Action Movie of all time (Aliens) is a WOMAN and a mother, and it's about a mother rescuing 'her' child.

Can you believe she made that over-the-shoulder-past-the-3-point-zone shot in Alien Resurrection?! YES I CAN! (Watch this clip, aptly titled "Why Sigourney Weaver Is The Shit!"

In a male-dominated genre, she stands tall literally and figuratively! I don't need Superman. I'll take Ripley, Ellen, Lieutenant First Class 36706, and happily be a clone.  

Ziyi Zhang


So beautiful yet so deadly. She stole the show in Rush Hour 2. She was also devastating in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero, and House of Flying Daggers. She played the lead in Memoirs of a Geisha with Gong Li (Li Gong) and Michelle Yeoh, alongside The Last Samuri's heartthrob leading man Ken Watanabe.Ziyi Zhang House of Flying Daggers

She is starring The Grand Masters (2012), "the story of martial-arts master Ip Man, the man who trained Bruce Lee". Woo-ping Yeun is the action choreographer.

How perfect is this? Zhang was to play Mulan in a film directed by Jan de Bont,  which, according to Wikipedia was supposed to wrap January 2011, but for which no release date is mentioned (I could not find it on IMDB).  This lengthy comment is the only thing I could find. (I disagree on the 3D and the English—I would love to see her as Mulan in any language, 3D or not.)

Zoe Saldana with big gun from Colombiana


Zoe's career is blazing like a comet!  From Star Trek in 2009, Zoe Saldana's "Uhura" brought her into the Action Movie forefront, and when she played "Neytiri" in Avatar, the whole planet wished there was a sex-with-the-blue-monkeys scene. 

Although 2010's The Losers wasn't well received, she rocked the role. Her looks and sexuality were probably the reason 99% of heterosexual males saw the film. What a shame that men are less than 50% of the population. Maybe when Action Movies roles for women start are appealing to women and not catering to men, things will change for us.

She next appeared as a minor love-interest role in the underappreciated The Takers.  (I think they chose her for her real-life background in Action Movies so she would seem 'the part', and her role would be informed by her career choices.)  Shoot me for liking it (the critics didn't).  It delivered!  Zoe's proved she's got what it takes many times, but I think she was best in COLOMBiANA.  If you haven't seen it, you should—especially if you're a woman!

CARRIE-ANNE MOSS Matrix Reloaded Trinity flame stunt

Bring that high kick, Carrie-Anne. Admitting she had a hard time learning the stunts on the DVD extras to The Matrix Series, Carrie-Anne nevertheless perfected a fluidity of movement, enhanced by slo-mo and shiny poly vinyl. Acrobatic and graceful, Moss took the character of Trinity beyond believability into the realm of a super heroine.  The one thing I loved about The Matrix until they showed other women on the 'outside' was that Trinity seemed like a different kind of woman. Like women had evolved by necessity to be warriors, having the same survival instinct/fight-on-the-run mentality as the others.  When Trinity faces down the dump truck, that's balls! But it's Carrie-Anne Moss that's selling it. 

"Hey Carrie Anne, what's your game now, can anybody play?" I wonder if she was named for that 1967 Hollies song. That's the year she was born.

Bridget Fonda in Point of No Return


Earning her place here for a savage-yet-endearing performance in Point of No Return, convincingly portraying a girl pushed too far and what she's capable of (of what maybe anyone is, with enough programming and training). Her delicate features and femininity that make it all the more devastating to watch her do those things. Her intensity and concentration seem real. Point of No Return delivers the Action Movie excitement as effectively as any guy-star's movie. But maybe you think I'm saying that just cause I'm a girl—Bite me!

Genna Davis in The Long Kiss Goodnight


That's right! Geena Davis. You know why . . . The Long Kiss Goodnight. Geena is quite a chameleon when it comes to roles and hasn't gotten nearly enough credit for her talent. She is completely believable in this real-life nightmare. Her character's alter-ego is a contrast to what we probably think Geena is in real life. That makes it all the better. The script is great too. She's a bad mother! (Shut your mouth!)