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Action movies have a pretty simple formula when it comes to killing bad guys: you leave the toughest villain for last. It’s why at the end of Die Hard, that dead Russian guy jumps out of a body bag, somehow still armed with an automatic weapon. The filmmakers knew that, despite defying the laws that govern the physical universe, if they had ended the movie killing anyone else, it just wouldn’t have felt right. Leaving the toughest bad guy for last creates a sense of suspense as to whether or not the hero is going to be able to take him. So if the last bad guy is a total pussy, well, the audience is probably going to notice. Below, we count down the five most mismatched climactic fights in action movie history.

5. Cliffhanger

Fight: Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) vs. Eric Qualen (John Lithgow)

The bad news first: a gang of evil white-collar criminals are holding your sister hostage approximately 10,000 feet above sea level. To make matters worse, it tends to be cold on mountaintops, and for no discernible reason you’re only wearing a tank top.

Now for the good news: you’re a trained mountain climber who, as luck would have it, grew up climbing the mountain on which they’re holding her, so you’ve got a Coors Park-sized home field advantage. Oh, also, you’re Sylvester Stallone and the guy you’re fighting is the dad from 3rd Rock From the Sun.

That’s right, when faced with the job of finding a villain fearsome enough to menace Stallone’s maverick climbing instructor, the makers of Cliffhanger settled on John Lithgow, a man whose previous villains spent their time trying to convince kids to stay home from prom.

In an attempt to even the odds, Cliffhanger emphasizes the fact that Stallone is haunted by the memory of watching a woman plunge to her death. He is not, however, haunted by cerebral palsy, the only thing that could make a fight between Lithgow and Stallone anything other than laughable.

When they finally meet in the climactic scuffle, Lithgow manages to get Stallone in a head lock, and improbably appears to have him on the ropes before the helicopter they’re dangling from (don’t ask) falls off the side of a cliff, taking Lithgow with it.
4. Gladiator

Fight: Tommy Riley (James Marshall) vs. Jimmy Horn (Brian Dennehy)

Gladiator is better known as that movie you accidentally started watching because you thought it was the one with Russell Crowe, and had to keep watching because you couldn't believe how bad it was.

It almost feels like nitpicking to call out just one aspect of a movie about underground boxing as being absurd. To begin with, we're pretty certain the world of illegal underground boxing doesn't exist, or at least isn't as easy to get trapped in as the filmmakers ask us to believe. Even more absurd—they ask us to buy Cuba Gooding Jr. as a black man.

The story follows Tommy Riley’s rise through the seedy world of some strange boxing-like sport that's illegal for some reason. After beating his final opponent, you think the movie’s over, but instead Riley goes on to fight the same guy who played Chris Farley’s dad in Tommy Boy, who we think is supposed to be an evil trainer or something. To get an idea of just how mind blowingly strange this turn of events is, imagine if after Rocky beat Ivan Drago at the end of Rocky IV, there was a 20-minute scene in which he fought Drago’s 65-year-old boxing trainer.

The highlight of the final fight has to be the tankini that Dennehy is sporting, though it just barely beats out the part where Dennehy punches Riley in the balls. You’ve got to hand it to the filmmakers, no one saw that ending coming.
3. Out For Justice

Fight: Gino Felino (Steven Seagal) vs. Richie Madano (William Forsythe)

First things first, Seagal’s name in Out For Justice is Gino Felino. (Gino Felino!) His quest throughout the movie is to kill his childhood friend Richie Madano because Richie killed the third member of their childhood trio, Bobby Lupo. We swear to God we didn’t make up any of those names, and in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, the director wants you to know that these guys are supposed to be Italian.

Seagal spends the first 80-plus minutes slicing through a sea of Richie's street toughs in typical Seagal fashion, handing out compound fractures like a Chinese lady handing out free Szechuan Chicken samples at a mall food court (yes, that simile has been copyrighted).

Once he gets to Ritchie, the only real suspense is how he’s going to kill him. Of course, rather than spending their energy devising a cool stunt in which Seagal stabs Ritchie through the heart with his own femur, the filmmakers dawdle through a completely drawn out fistfight that brings even more attention to the fact that there’s no way that an overweight middle-aged man would last more than three seconds in the ring with Gino Felino. Good lord, that name is just fun to write.

Quick Note About William Forsythe: the above picture, which looks like it was taken on the set of the film, was actually taken last year at the Sundance Film Festival, so Forsythe has apparently decided to live out the rest of his days looking like a ridiculous villain from a Steven Seagal film, which we really can’t argue with. Good choice, Will. Also of note, William Forsythe got invited to the Sundance Film Festival.
2. The Fugitive

Fight: Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) vs. Dr. Charles Nichols (Jeroen Krabbe)

Okay, we’re not really sure who this mismatch is in favor of. On the one hand, Harrison Ford punches like a woman in every single action movie we've ever seen him in. There’s always this drunken looking follow through after each punch where he falls forward a couple of steps and then looks up like he just forgot where he was. For some reason, people thought this guy was an action star for 25 years despite the fact that his career has been mostly comprised of angrily crumpling paper and looking like he's just pooped his pants.

On the other hand, the idea of a research doctor, as played by Jeroen Krabbe, kicking anyone’s ass is just so far beyond absurd we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Think about the progression of the character Dr. Charles Nichols throughout the course of The Fugitive. He starts off as Kimble's slightly overweight but jocular colleague. Then, there's a scene in the middle where they try to award him athletic credibility by showing him leaving what appears to be a racquet ball club, which only makes you imagine how awkward his man boobs must look when he runs. Then, in the final scene, the retirment-aged research doctor is all of the sudden breaking chairs over Kimble’s head, climbing out the window and stalking around the building fucking up cops with Judo chops and flying anvils. Where the fuck did that come from? And more importantly, if they had tried, could they have given the villain a job any less prone to ass-kicking than research doctor?

1. Commando

Fight: John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) vs. Bennett (Vernon Wells)

After systematically killing an army of no less than 300 fully armed men, Schwarzenegger’s Matrix must face his ultimate challenge: some pasty fat guy dressed like he’s just finished playing the submissive in an act of bondage.

Just about every aspect of this showdown is a mismatch. To begin with, let's look at the names. Schwarzenegger’s character is named Matrix, a mantra so bad ass that it is unsuccessfully self-ascribed by at least a dozen high school football players each fall. Compare that with Bennett, a nickname that people with the last name Bennett prefer not to give themselves. When making an action movie, one of your very few jobs is to come up with a cool-sounding name for your bad guy. On a scale of bad-ass-itude, with Hans Gruber being a seven and Clubber Lang being a 10, Bennett scores a Chauncey.

Another good indicator that we’ve got a mismatch is attire. Anytime one guy doesn’t require a shirt, and the other stays covered up like a fat kid at the public pool, you know you’ve got a mismatch. You half expect Bennet to tell Schwarzenegger that he’d take his shirt off too, but he burns real easily.

The fight itself is implausibly a back-and-forth affair, but it’s over rather quickly, and even ends with one of the more satisfying corny Schwarzenegger lines: "Let off some steam." Because what else are you going to say to a guy who you’ve just impaled with a 15-foot long steam pipe?
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