4 Inappropriately Awful Final Movies of Great Actors

#2. Raul Julia -- Street Fighter: The Movie

Raul Julia was a fairly accomplished character actor who starred in several dramas throughout the 1980s that most of us weren't allowed to see, like Kiss of the Spider Woman and Tequila Sunrise (the latter contains Mel Gibson nudity, which I think officially classifies it as a hate crime). You might recognize Raul as Gomez from the Addams Family movies:

If not, I hope you have absolutely no idea who Raul Julia was, because the only other possibility is that you recognize him as M. Bison from 1994's Street Fighter: The Movie, and quite frankly it would be better if you never even knew he existed.

Van Damme's face is bigger than all of the other characters combined.

Street Fighter feels like someone was held at gunpoint and forced to write a movie using nothing but a shoebox full of G.I. Joes and three pages of the Street Fighter II instruction booklet. It was an early demonstration of Hollywood's firm belief that anyone who plays video games is either 7 years old or was hit in the head by a chunk of concrete dislodged from the front steps of a rec center during a helicopter crash. And Raul Julia is all over this motherfucker, chewing the scenery like he's trying to bite his way through a binding of rope before a bomb explodes.

His eyes are played by golf balls with dots on them.

Street Fighter can't decide whether it wants to be wacky or dramatic, frequently shifting its tone in the middle of a scene and occasionally in the middle of a sentence. For example, at one point two characters are taken to a torture chamber, where the jailer's ineffectual attempts to flay them are played up for laughs. However, the second the jailer leaves the room in frustrated embarrassment, the two characters begin a stonefaced discussion on the horrors of torture. They exchange a few solemn, contemplative nods, and then end the scene by telling a gay joke and ripping a giant iron chain out of the wall with their bare hands. This isn't an isolated incident, either -- every scene in this movie is ludicrous to the point of being gibberish.

I'd like to be able to say that Raul Julia is the film's high point, and I suppose he technically is, but all he really does is wear an assortment of vinyl capes and Nazi hats and deliver the hamboniest dialogue ever written. Unlike the filmmakers, who couldn't figure out exactly what kind of movie they wanted to make, Raul clearly decided that Street Fighter was meant to be utterly ridiculous. He may have gotten this idea from the scene in which he transforms a man into a giant green troll doll with Kool-Aid, or it may have occurred to him during the five-minute sequence wherein he tries to blow up an invisible speedboat with a Super Street Fighter II arcade stick.

Perhaps both.

What makes this role particularly sad is the fact that Raul Julia only agreed to be in Street Fighter because his kids were fans of the game. He had a couple of automatic-awesome movies lined up afterward, including the role of the main villain in Robert Rodriguez's Desperado. But he died very suddenly and never got to do any of them, so his last contribution to the world of cinema ended up being Street Fighter the goddamned movie.

Hopefully they at least let him keep that jacket.

#1. Sean Connery -- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Sean Connery is one of the most well-known actors of all time -- he originated the role of James Bond, he played Indiana Jones' father, he taught the Highlander how to chop people's heads off as the most improbable Spaniard in history, and he's responsible for one of the earliest Internet memes, which is a dubious distinction but a distinction nonetheless. Sean Connery is such a giant figure in pop culture that it's easy to forget he hasn't been in a movie since 2003's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a film so penis-bruisingly awful that it makes Chill Factor look like Schindler's List.

And it's arguably more depressing than the latter.

The worst part is, Sean Connery is totally still alive. He could end this curse any time he wants, but he hated the experience of making The League so much that he refuses to ever act again. Apparently, the only reason he agreed to be in it in the first place was because of residual bitterness over having refused the part of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, a role he turned down because he didn't understand the script. And to be fair, I am in no way surprised that Sir Sean Connery, lord of the perpetual scowl and crusher of international ass since 1962, had no fucking idea what J.R.R. Tolkien was talking about. So when The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen landed on his desk like a fat wet turd and he found himself equally baffled by its contents, he decided he had no choice but to accept the lead role. I imagine any attempt on the part of Sean Connery's agent to question the wisdom of starring in a movie that he didn't understand was met with a jawbone-dusting knucklefist explosion.

The League follows a group of famous literary characters who join forces to stop a bunch of terrorists from unleashing Steampunk Apocalypse. Sean Connery's Allan Quatermain is the de facto leader of this bowtie-spinning clownshoe parade, and when his team is finally recruited, they spend about an hour standing around talking to each other before embarking on a trip to a Siberian fortress for a climactic action sequence on one of the worst miniature sets in the history of film.

That's supposed to be the top of a giant submarine in a field of massive glaciers.

The movie barely makes narrative sense, the majority of the characters are dull and completely unrecognizable from their respective source materials, and the special effects are embarrassing, even for 2003. The whole thing ends with Quatermain about to burst triumphantly out of his grave like a zombie pro wrestler, but the credits roll just before we see his clenched fist punch through the burial mound. This cliffhanger was meant to lead into a second installment, but for obvious reasons a sequel was never produced. So the ending is unintentionally symbolic -- Sean Connery would rather molder in the forever darkness of his own interred casket than reemerge and risk being in something as bad as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 2. Do you hear me? I would rather be fucking dead."

Tom had to pause several times during the writing of this column to look at his Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade poster for strength. Read his novel Stitches and follow him on Twitter.

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