It takes more than ripped abs, an arsenal of automatic weapons, and an endless supply of one-liners to be a movie badass. Actually, no, that's exactly what it takes. But sometimes directors think their hero needs a little something extra to set them apart from all the other beefcakes. And sometimes they miss the off ramp to Badassville so badly that they accidentally get off at Goofytown. For example ...
Hard Target is a 1993 action movie directed by the legendary John Woo and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme's awesome mullet. JCVD plays Chance Boudreaux, a Louisiana man who ends up being hunted for sport by a cabal of wealthy businessmen. But what they don't realize is that, despite the misplaced accent and constant forehead glaze, Boudreaux is a man of the bayou. And that means there's nothing in that swamp he can't beat into submission. Nothing!
While on the run, Boudreaux and his beau are taking a breather in the bayou when he suddenly clocks a rubber rattlesnake sneaking up on them. Being the ultimate outdoorsman, Boudreaux simply snatches the predator and knocks it out with a swift punch to the face.
To the utter disgust of his soon-to-be romantic partner, Boudreaux then bites off the snake's tail like he's yanking the cork out of a stubborn bottle of wine.
So ... why? Just why? Obviously, to turn this stunned prey into a silent but deadly trap for the pursuing baddies. Of course, no actual snakes were harmed in the making of this movie. We wish we could say the same of Jean-Claude Van Damme's career.
Steven Seagal has only three passions: martial arts, dumb conspiracy theories, and pretending to be a Native American. And in 1994, he managed to combine all three with On Deadly Ground, an "environmental action-adventure film" in which he plays a tough-guy environmental activist(?). Michael "Did My Check Clear?" Caine played the villain, an evil oil rig bigwig.
Not only did Seagal star in On Deadly Ground, but he also financed and directed it -- and it shows. In between the thrilling oil rig subplot, Seagal has time to become an honorary Native Alaskan. And just like any white guy who discovers he's 1/700th native anything, Seagal promptly ditches any clothing item without frills. This culminates in an epic bar fight in which Seagal, dressed with all the sensitivity and subtlety of Tonto, defends his new Native Alaskan buddies by beating up a bunch of 70-year-old retired steelworkers while the world's worst country song plays in the background.
After breaking a bunch of geriatric bones, Seagal squares off against the burly ringleader and challenges him to a duel. What kind of duel? Sword fighting? Boxing? Arm-wrestling? No, the manliest blood sport of them all: slapsies.
But there's a twist: Every time Seagal slaps hands, he gets a free punch. And because this is Seagal's movie, he takes a lot of free shots. The one-sided slapfest ends with the big ol' racist bleeding and puking and crying all over the place, admitting he has learned his lesson and blubbering that he needs "time to change." And then the two part ways, each a stronger man for knowing the pain of a third-grader.
In XXX -- a movie that is not a porno, but does have the plot of one -- Vin Diesel is Xander Cage, an extreme sports star who's recruited as a government spy, because his X-Games abilities somehow meet the rigorous demands of international intelligence gathering. Since this movie was obviously conceived as a 30-second Powerade commercial, there's not a lot of plot, and what little there is revolves around Cage finding ways to incorporate his sports skills into his spy missions.
This includes pointless stunts like dirt bike jumps to escape attack helicopters, skydiving onto a mountain to infiltrate an enemy compound, and driving without wearing a seat belt. But the worst attempt to wedge in the early 2000's obsession with x-treme sports has to be the serving platter grind. In this scene, Cage is trapped in a restaurant by a sniper on a roof. To escape, he grabs a serving platter, blinds the sniper with it, then escapes by using the plate to grind down a nearby railing like Tony Hawk guest-starring on Downton Abbey.
Not that there would be a cool way to use your grandma's fine silver to grind a tourist trap, but it doesn't even work! Diesel is almost immediately overpowered by two random dudes the moment he lands. Let that be a lesson to you, kids: Skateboard tricks do not always sway a battle in your favor. Except for a front-foot impossible; that will get you out of just about everything.
In End Of Days, a movie so bad that it almost ended several careers, Gabriel Byrne plays Satan himself, who's being pursued by Arnold Schwarzenegger's detective protagonist. Perhaps overcompensating for the visual disparity between waify Byrne and meat-tank Arnold, Satan pulls all sorts of evil power moves. Definitely the weirdest? That time he pees flammable urine to blow up a van.
Over the millennia, folklore has assigned Satan a host of strange and despicable powers, but we sure don't remember "arsonist urethra" among them. But then again, perhaps that's the real best trick the Devil ever pulled -- convincing the world his napalm dick didn't exist.
Byrne earned himself a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor for this, losing out to Jar Jar Binks. And losing to Jar Jar, in any capacity, must be a career low.
In the 1986 film Cobra, Sylvester Stallone plays Marion "Cobra" Cobretti, a cop who doesn't play by society's rules, mainly because those rules gave him the name Marion Cobretti. He cuts his pizza with scissors, he drinks beer during a hostage negotiation, and he wears sunglasses indoors. At night. While watching TV.
Every line Cobra utters is a badass one-liner, like "You're the disease, I'm the cure," and "This is where the law ends and I start." But what audiences may not realize is that these are the testosterone-rich words of Sylvester Stallone himself, who wasn't just the star, but also thescreenwriter ofCobra.
But what possessed Stallone, at the height of his popularity, to overcompensate so hard that he makes Truck Nuts seem subtle? Well, before Cobra was even a glint in his steely gaze, Sly was cast as the lead in Beverly Hills Cop. But Stallone wasn't a big fan of all the silly comedy bits, so he kept trying to change the entire movie, pushing the studio to add big-budget bloody action scenes. Oh, and he also wanted the character to be renamed Axel Cobretti. (You see where we're going with this, right?)
Stallone was eventually booted off the movie and replaced by Eddie Murphy. In response, he swore to take his ideas and write his own movie. With blackjack, and hookers, and a scene where he criticizes a woman for putting too much ketchup on her fries.
E. Reid Ross has a couple books,Nature Is The Worst: 500 Reasons You'll Never Want To Go Outside Again and Canadabis: The Canadian Weed Reader, both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Brad LaCour is barely living up to his potential. Please follow him on Twitter.
Support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page. Please and thank you.
For more, check out 5 Cool Action Hero Moves That Look Idiotic In Real Life - The Spit Take:
Follow us on Facebook. Because we said so.