In a world where Ultimate Fighting Championship and The Passion of the Christ are passed off as entertainment, it's difficult to remember a time where the subtleties of a good thrashing captured the public's interest. With that itch no longer needing to be bashed, Joe Pesci has found fewer and fewer roles fitting a thespian who possesses his unique talent for conveying seemingly unbearable pain.
One need only look at his single credit since the `90s-a small appearance in The Good Shepherd, where nary a finger was laid on him-to understand how far cinema has fallen. CRACKED recalls Pesci's most memorable beatdowns not only as a tribute to his considerable acting talents, but also as a warm reminder of an era of filmmaking where assaulting a diminutive Italian-American could capture a nation's collective imagination.
5LETHAL WEAPON 2
Role: Leo Getz
Attacker(s): South African hitman, followed by Mel Gibson
OK, OK, OK, in this consummately '80s action-drama, Pesci' annoying money launderer, Leo Getz, spends 90% of his screen-time getting punched in the face. In this scene, as JP struggles with a South African hired goon, Gibson' Riggs makes the rational decision to tackle Leo and his attacker through a window, plummeting the trio from a high-rise penthouse into the pool below. If that wasn't traumatic enough, after The Pesh falls a distance that would kill any man who was not a character in a Lethal Weapon movie, Riggs mistakes Leo for the goon and proceeds to punch him in the face no less than four times while Leo labors to stay afloat. Even better, this all goes down in Pesci' first three minutes of screen time! Taking a page from the Latin Kings, the Lethal Weapon franchise literally beats Pesci into the film.
Injuries Sustained: Busted nose
4RAGING BULL (1980)
Subheader Role: Joey LaMotta
Attacker(s): His own brother, Jake LaMotta
You know it' on when Robert DeNiro' Jake asks Pesci' Joey, "You fuck my wife?" They don't throw down right away, though. Jake warms up by slapping around his better half a bit before marching over to his brother' house to commence in a legendary Pesci pounding. First, Joey is yanked from his seat at the dinner table by the prize fighter, then thrown to the ground and given a few jabs to the kisser. Foreshadowing his fine window work in Lethal Weapon 2, Pesci is then thrown through a glass door and given a few stomps for good measure. JP would later tell the New York Times that DeNiro actually broke his ribs during filming. Now, that' method acting.
Injuries Sustained: Bruises and cuts, permanent emotional scarring from being manhandled in front of wife and kids.