The Most Villainous Bad Guys in Ultimate Action Movie History
The Best Bad Guy Villains You Love to Hate.
For UAMC fans, an ultimate action movie really only needs two things. One, an ultimate action movie star. And two, an ultimately villainous bad guy’s butt to kick. The badder the bad guy, the better the butt kicking and the more ultimate the action. Even those that we love to hate deserve to be kicked around a bit before they meet their ultimate demise. So, let’s look at 10 of the baddest of the bad from some of of the most ultimate action movies known to mankind.
10. The Night Slasher: Cobra (1986)
Sylvester Stallone’s Marion Cobretti represents everything we love in an ultimate action movie hero. He’s an idealistic lone wolf cop whose lip curls at the mere thought of any unruly punk stepping out of line. In Cobra, citizens are terrorized by a supremacist group of strung out wackos looking to bring about a new world order. The Night Slasher (played by Brian Thompson), is the craziest, stringiest, mouth-foaming bad guy in the bunch. As far as final showdowns go, the Night Slasher’s inevitable fate impaled on a meat hook drawn through a furnace is about as ultimate as they come. And great justice for any creep bold enough to torment Brigitte Nielsen in Cobra’s town.
9. Clarence Boddicker: RoboCop (1987)
Like Cobra, action movies in the late 80s thrived on terrifying movie-goers with strung out, yet well manicured junk heads who snapped like hounds at any man, woman or child they saw on the streets. Clarence Boddicker, though, was of a different level. Played by Kurtwood Smith (perhaps best known as Red Forman on That ‘70s Show), Boddicker seamless blends between his manic street thug gang and the corporate aristocracy which RoboCop equally lampoon’s throughout. His volatile temper shoots from zero to a million in an instant, and his dangerous and creepy demeanor makes his death (not executive Dick Jones’) RoboCop’s greatest triumph.
8. Roy Batty: Blade Runner (1982)
Before American audiences were fed a fear of hopped up street punks, the biggest foes in early 80s action movies were those who could only be defined as ambiguously foreign. With Blade Runner’s blend of action and science fiction mind games, Roy Batty (played by Dutch actor Rutger Hauer) fits the bill for a perfectly generic looking android who has an accent. Unlike other android villains, Batty’s sophistication and clear blue eyes somehow makes him that much more sinister. While his end is met as sort of an anti-climax by action movie standards, Batty stands as a tentpole for what a non-American, non-human bad guy can be.
7. Richie Madano: Out for Justice (1991)
It’s a well-established fact that Steven Seagal is the toughest tough guy in action movie history. His no bull crap demeanor and supreme confidence in himself and his abilities is rarely challenged throughout his movie career. So, it takes a certain anti-tough guy presence to counter Seagal’s impermeability. That guy is Richie Madano in Out for Justice, played by the equally celebrated tough guy bad guy William Forsythe who basically plays some version of the same character in everything he does. But in Out of Justice, it’s his best performance by far. Take this scene for example where Madano, at the height of his gangster inner-city power, point blankly shoots a woman driver in the face because she honks at him in broad daylight. Forsythe’s performance powers the entire flick, which gives Seagal ample opportunity to bust heads and tough guy it up when he goes looking for Richie.
6. Fender Tremolo: Cyborg (1989)
An unlikely classic from Cannon Films‘ heyday of ultimate 80s action, Albert Pyun’s early Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle stands out for its ultimately awful cyborg bad guy Fender Tremolo. Played by Vincent Klyn (who also has a notable bad guy role in Point Break – albeit a minor one at that), Tremolo cuts quite a figure up against Van Damme in one of the most ultimate (and probably longest) final showdowns of all time. Tremolo’s ferocity and maniacal fighting ability pairs well with his vampire bat looking features and animalistic grunts and screams. Plus he just keeps. popping. up. again. Van Damme has to conjure every split kick roundhouse he has just to get Tremolo down again and again.
5. Ramon Cota: Delta Force 2 (1990)
The American drug epidemic of the 80s found a new form to fear in action movies with the shadowy, menacing drug lords. From this vein of evil-doers we have Ramon Cota up against Chuck Norris in Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection, a merciless dictator and drug peddler from the “NOT Colombia” South American country San Carlos. Ramon (played by Billy Drago) has an aura of sleaze and ruthlessness that is a rare sight to see. One dark example of his personality is when he catches one of the female workers in the cocaine fields tending to her child instead of toiling away. He immediately has her husband and baby murdered and we later find that he, of course, used the dead child’s body as a method to smuggle drugs into the United States.
4. Bennett: Commando (1985)
What. to. Say. about. Bennett. In a movie where Arnold is an indestructible force as they come, he’s pitted up against a tubby, whiney chainmail mall cop who has a face his own parents would love to slap around. Throughout 80 plus minutes of Commando, Bennett (played by Vernon Wells) does absolutely nothing to warrant any fear, respect or intrigue, yet as far as ultimate final battles go, there’s none more memorable and awesome. Maybe that’s what’s so endearing about Bennett. It’s a huge suspension of disbelief that he could match strength with Arnold’s arm cannons, so when he does meet his end, it’s to the thankful relief of everyone (probably himself included) that it can be delivered with the greatest one-liner of all time.
3. The Terminator / T-1000: The Terminator / Terminator 2 (tie)
We actually have a tie here at number 3. It’s hard to disconnect Arnold the Terminator from his role in the original Terminator, with the nurturing protector Terminator he becomes in T2. Luckily, Robert Patrick’s performance as the T-1000 is such an demonstratively refined killing machine, that we can reach a draw. While the Terminator kills with a curt and monotone manner which seems unstoppable by his sheer size and strength, the T-1000 is equal parts terrifying with his intense and resolute demeanor. You know that both these guys will quite literally stop at nothing to accomplish their missions, and even when they do, you kinda doubt that another one won’t just be sent again tomorrow.
2. Chong Li: Bloodsport (1988)
Early in his career, Van Damme forged his superstar career by showcasing his martial arts prowess in these tournament style flicks like Bloodsport. We could just as easily talk about his matchup against Tong Po (Michel Qissi) in Kickboxer, but here at the UAMC, we just love Bloodsport so much! It also has Bolo Yeung as Chong Li, who is as ultimate as they come. Not only does he put Ray Dux’s buddy Ray Jackson in the hospital, Li’s dangerous pecs and utter lack of respect for everything the Kumite stands makes for an epic final battle for the ages. Bolo Yeung, an accomplish martial artist in his own right, made quite a career based off of this performance and even got a rematch against JCVD in Double Impact (spoiler: he loses. again.)
1. Hans Gruber: Die Hard (1988)
Ah, now finally we can talk about an action movie villain with class. Die Hard is more than your average action flick. It’s a classic. It’s a holiday staple. And it has an elegance to it which is 100% delivered by Alan Rickman’s performance as the sophisticated, well-spoken and ultimately deadly Hans Gruber. A role so deftly delivered that all action movie villains after will aspire to match. Bruce Willis, for all his boyish likability and ingenuity, feels like hardly a deserving foe matching speeches like Gruber’s ‘Alexander Wept’ with cowboy quotes like ‘yippie-ki-yay’. Yet, when Gruber meets his end, like all villains do, we’re left with a resolute ending that’s both glorious as it is disappointing that we can’t see Gruber live so that we can all buy stock in his splinter cell organization and wait for him to eventually take over the world.
For the amount of ultimately awesome action movies out there, narrowing a list down to a top 10 means there are many ultimate bad guys who barely didn’t make the cut. While many famous bad guys are left off simply because they’re not from the 80s and 90s heyday which the UAMC is all about, here are several who deserve to be mentioned and appreciated on their own: Bill Strannix in Under Siege, the Predator in Predator, Kurgan in Highlander, Qualen in Cliffhanger, Benedict in Last Action Hero, Gary Busey (Joshua) in Lethal Weapon, Chains Cooper in Stone Cold, Scorpio in Dirty Harry, Viktor Rostavili in Red Heat, Joan Freeman in Murphy’s Law, Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man, Warden Drumgoole in Lock Up and of course Hans Gruber’s brother Simon in Die Hard with a Vengeance.
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