Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Most Badass Movie Scenes of All Time

Something I am often taken by in regards to film is the notion of being badass. It’s an art, really. Cinematically, badassness can present itself in a number of ways. There’s the thrilling action scene, the intense monologue, the subtle Fuck You – whatever the case may be, I love watching badass things unfold on screen.

Now, this list was cooked up in a fit of inspiration based on something I posted on Facebook earlier today. After much deliberation, my friends there proposed that I draft a list of my favorite badass scenes, which I’ve gone ahead and done. Kind of.

In all honestly, the list here is endless, these are just the 10 that came to my mind right away. This is the type of list that, as soon as I publish this post, I will think of 10 more (possibly better) inclusions, which is where you all come in. If there’s ever a time I implored interactivity on this blog, it is now. Tell me your favorite, most badass movie scenes. There are no rules, no restrictions. Have a ball with it. Let the badass become you.

Raging Bull (1980)
The Beating

Okay, I’m not sure if this belongs in the badass column or the holy-shit-this-is-what-desperation-looks-like category, but either way you pin it, you can’t help but be in awe (or horror) of the hurting Sugar Ray Robinson puts on Jake La Motta late in Raging Bull. By this point in the movie, La Motta has physically and emotional terrorized damn near every single person in the film, so when Robinson gets him in the ring again, it’s almost as if Jake feels like he deserves the most epic beating of his life.

But that ain’t all. After the ref stops the fight, Jake rushes over to Sugar Ray and quietly tells him that, “You never got me down, Ray.” (Watch, in a miraculous piece of physical acting, the way Robert De Niro pulls up his boxing trunks as he walks away.) Again, badass or desperate, I’m not too sure. Probably a fair mix of both.

Glengary Glen Ross (1992)
The Talk

This isn’t really going to provoke much of a description from me. In the form of words, David Mamet’s priceless monologue, as delivered expertly by Alec Baldwin, is badass personified. Put, that, coffee, down, and enjoy it below.

Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Go-Back

So, you break free from two sadistic rapist bastards (and one chained up gimp), and instead of fleeing the scene (and leaving your sworn enemy to perish), you stay. Why? Because you have to go back. You tour the inventory. A hammer. Too small. A baseball bat. Too weak. A chainsaw. Too loud. And then you see it. A giant, glorious, pristine samurai sword. Time to go, you badass mofo.

Desperado (1995)
The Neck Break

There’s a scene midway through Desperado in which our El Mariachi owns a bunch of Mexican thugs in a bar. Toward the end of THAT badass sequence, Antonio Banderas is faced with the last man standing. Or rather lying. They slide next to each other on the bar, pull the triggers of their guns and – blank. They get off the bar and pick up two more guns. Blank. They try two more, then two more, then, finally, Banderas bum rushes the guy, grabs his neck and as he’s twisting it he yells FUCK YOU at the top of his lungs. That... is badass.

Rounders (1998)
The Nut Straight - SPOILER

Here’s the subtlety I’m talking about. When you go back and watch the final card game of Rounders from the beginning, you see that Matt Damon has it won very early on. And he knows it. And not only does he not let us know, his narration doesn’t either, which is part of the scene’s brilliance. Look at the way Damon slams those cards down. A subtle act of badass defiance.

Any Given Sunday (1999)
The Speech

Some people call Tony D’Amato’s locker room speech in Any Given Sunday (which is, for the record, the very best locker room speech ever given) inspirational. Me? Sure, but I also think it is supremely badass. There’s Al Pacino’s slow build up, the simple music, the growing encouragement of the players, but really, this scene is equipped with something that the others on this list are not: humility.

There’s something I find unspeakably poetic about D’Amato’s gentle relent into how, and why, his life sucks as bad as it does. He’s opening his heart to men he doesn’t expect to give a shit. But, maybe, if he bears his soul to them, they will bear their souls on the field. It’s an excellent scene of outspoken shame and regret, and one that I find immensely moving, and uniquely badass.

(PS, look for the camera move at 1:39. THAT, my friends, is a short piece of expert direction. One of the best shots from any monologue ever.)

American Psycho (2000)
The Ugly Bitch

I cannot draft a list of badass scenes that does not in some way include Patrick Bateman. Bateman does a host of badass (and, you know, psychotic) things in the movie, but the one that I find especially entertaining is his telling-off of a rude female bartender. After the bartender dismisses Bateman’s expired drink voucher, she turns his back to him, and he tells her that, “You’re a fucking ugly bitch. I want to stab you to death, then play around with your blood.”

It’s our first glimpse into the warped mind of one of my favorite anti heroes. Does the bartender hear him? Nope. Do I care? Not in the slightest.

Chopper (2000)
The Kung Fu

Early in this brilliant, criminally underseen Australian thriller, Chopper (a nearly unrecognizable Eric Bana) is stabbed by his best friend and cellmate, so that his friend can gain some jailhouse clout. Thing is, Chopper doesn’t feel the shank repeateding going into his abdomen. After the first hit, he suggests to his soon-to-be-enemy that it’s, “A bit early for kung fu.” It takes a second stab for ol’ Chop to feel anything. But because Chopper doesn’t go down (or show any sign of pain whatsoever) the cellmate stabs him again, then, again, then… shit, I think it’s seven times total. Oh, and did I mention that everything in this scene actually happened in real life? Yup. Badass.

Eastern Promises (2007)
The Bath

The badassness of Eastern Promises’ most iconic sequence isn’t that it happens, it’s that it Just. Keeps. Going. A few minutes after Viggo Mortensen’s Nikolai is attacked in a Turkish bathhouse and left to defend himself with literally only his dick in his hand, he takes his two attackers down, and that should be that. But then, slowly, desperately, he crawls overtop one of the goons and, after a brief struggle, plunges a shank into one of his eyes. The thing is… Nikolai does this as if he’s done it a dozen times already. No mercy. Nikolai is as badass as they come.

Surprisingly, I was unable to find an embeddable clip of this scene. I found many parodies, but the scene itself is well hidden. Here's a glimpse:

Inception (2010)
The Hallway

Now, here is a perfect example of situational badassness. The first time I saw Inception, I was dumbfounded by the marvel of most of the film, but when Dileep Rao's faulty maneuverings of a van sent Joseph Gordon-Levitt flying through the air, I knew I was in the midst of something that deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as 2001. Inception has its fair share of naysayers, which is fine, but like the film or not, there’s no denying how epic this floating hallway fight scene is. And the fact that it was achieved using very little special effects is, well, you guessed it.

Seriously, folks, the possibilities here are endless. I’ve left it wide open, so please, do share your favorite cinematic badass sequences.


  1. Dae-su, Oldboy. That entire sequence where he's holding a hammer and fighting off goons in a tracking shot. Come on, that is pure badass. It's shot beautifully with a wide frame that is perfect. The way the action is choreographed. You can't get any better than that.

    1. Yes! I was really hoping someone would mention that sequence, and I'm glad it was in the first comment. You're right, badassery doesn't get much higher than that.

    2. Honestly this was the very first thing that came into my mind when we were discussing it on facebook.

    3. I thought it might be. Such a worthy pick.

    4. I'm really curious to see what Spike Lee does with it.

  2. Wow, much respect to this list. You've already included three that would be on my list with Desperado, Rounders and Any Given Sunday. To this I would would add when Andy climbs out of the sewer during the storm in Shawshank Redemption, the scene in the bar with Bullet Tooth Tony and the desert eagle from Snatch, the introduction of Pablo Escobar in Blow, and the end of Mystic River "that was 25 years ago, driving up this street, in the back of that car". The first three are clear, but there's a subtlety in that conversation between Jimmy and Sean that is just phenomenal.

    1. Oh shit, that scene in Snatch is epic. Vinny Jones kills in that role... too bad his career has kind of turned into a joke. That Escobar introduction is completely badass... I actually just wrote about that in my Cliff Curtis In Character. Love it.

      And Mystic... fuck. "Thanks for findin' my daughter's killer, Sean. If only you'd been a little faster."

      That's how you win an Oscar.

      Great picks, BK.

  3. Funny, I thought of Glengarry Glen Ross too. Oh, and anything with John McClane. And the end of The Usual Suspects.

    1. Yippie Ki Yay will forever be badass, no doubt. And The Usual Suspects, well... yeah.

  4. Fantastic idea and list! Baldwin is killer in that scene. For me the badass moments would be "I'll stick it in your ass until it goes CLICK" from The Big Lebowski, pretty much every time Malcolm Tucker opens his mouth in "In the Loop", "Do I look like I'm negotiating?!" from "Michael Clayton" and Lisbeth Salander walking with the gun in her hand to the burning car in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".

    1. Shit. All seriously excellent picks. The way Clooney's face shakes when he says that line - love it. Tucker in In the Loop is one of the best written characters of recent cinema. That movie didn't get nearly enough credit.

      Do you watch HBO's VEEP? I wish he would make a cameo.

    2. I saw 2 episodes but just couldn't get into it, with The Thick of It I saw entire series in 3 days, so it's very unlikely I will come to like VEEP. But who knows, if Tucker appears I will definetly have better shot at watching more episodes.

    3. Yeah I mean it's okay, but not nearly as good as Iannucci's other stuff.

  5. 1. I can't find any videos of it, but the 'revenge'/freakout scene in Midnight Express.

    2. "The" bank robbery scene in Heat

    3. The coffee scene also in Heat

    4. The climax of 28 Days Later

    5. Final fight scene in Equilibrium

    6. Maximus vs Commodus in Gladiator

    7. End of Gran Torino (you know what I'm talking about)

    8. Marv's handcuff scene in Sin City

    9. Prison escape in The Deer Hunter

    10. Roy vs Deckard (Rutger Hauer vs Harrison Ford) at the end of Blade Runner

    I could go on for awhile... but I'll stop at 10. lol

    1. Just kidding, I already feel compelled to continue.

      11. Serpico slamming fellow cop on the ground and putting him in his place (the one that casually threatens him with a knife out).

      12. Liam Neeson at the end of The Grey

      13. Noomi Rapace in the uhh, you know, in Prometheus

      14. Donnie Yen in all of Ip Man 1 & 2

      15. Jet Li vs Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 4

      16. Ted Levine's "God loves violence" speech (esp. the end of it) in Shutter Island

      17. 2nd half of Man on Fire, need I say more?

      18. Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter in general

      19. Anthony Hopkin's Bill Parish in Meet Joe Black telling off Death at any point

      20. The main character in The Descent towards the end

    2. All excellent choices.

      2-3. define badass.
      8. Love that.
      9. Fucking heroic.
      13. YEEEEES!
      17. I wish… you had… more time.
      20. Oh shit, I forgot about that one, great choice.

    3. 21. Tom Wilkinson's Falconi lecture of young Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins

      22. Interrogation scene in The Usual Suspects, especially Kevin Pollak's

      23. Stephen Baldwin's double take down in the garage scene of the same movie

      24. Denzel's coffee shop scene in American Gangster

      25. Clint Eastwood in the Mexican Standoff in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, esp. his setting it up

      26. Brad Pitt's scalping rampage in Legends of the Fall

      27. Brad Pitt vs Eric Bana in Troy

      28. Russel Crowe and Guy Pearce's interrogation of Ron Rifkin in L.A. Confidential

      29. Jeremy Renner in all of The Hurt Locker

      30. Terence Stamp in all of The Limey

    4. 31. I can't believe no one has mentioned the restaurant stick-up scene in Pulp Fiction. Literally a badass scene (BMF)

      32. Russel Crowe's character introduction in L.A. Confidential (where he handcuffs the wife-beater)

      33. Ripley in Alien

      34. Cogburn in True Grit (either)

      35. Denzel's 'arrest' scene at the end of Training Day

    5. 22. “Uhhhhh fuck your father in the shower and have a snack.”
      23. “Bad day… fuck it.”
      28. “I don’t know how.”
      31. That was my first Pulp choice.
      32. “Ghost of Christmas past…”

  6. Hey I'll add a few:

    1. Oldboy hallway scene (worth re mentioning, because...c'mon)
    2. Boogie Nights - Alfred Molina scene
    3. Drive - elevator
    4. Crouching Tiger - Zhang Ziyi vs Michelle Yeow
    5. Closer - Caveman
    6. Legend of the Drunken Master - Final fight
    7. X2 - Nightcrawler
    8. Enter the Dragon - Bruce Lee!
    9. The Matrix (original still holds up)

    1. 2. "...he's Chinese."
      3. I almost put this on my list, but I wanted to let someone else have the honor haha
      5. "...but sweeter."
      7. Fuckin' hell of an intro.

    2. Thanks, Evan, now I have to re-watch X2. rofl

  7. Not sure if you've heard of The Man from Nowhere. Korean action flick, it's absurdly violent and pretty badass. Throw it on your list if you're ever looking to just sit back and enjoy something light.

    Glad to see a positive response from Boogie Nights. I took badass as my own interpretation.

    1. I have heard of that... definitely going to check it out. Dude, Molina is badass through in through in that scene.

  8. Great list. Agree with all the choices although I probably would have had more than one from Bateman. The entire "Huey Lewis & The News" sequence is great. Also I think one the the most badass monologues there is is the "Fuck you" monologue from The 25th Hour. And I couldn't go without mentioning the torture scene from Reservoir Dogs. Can't listen to "Stuck In The Middle With You" without picturing Mr. Blonde. Love it.

    1. Thanks! And let's be honest, Bateman could occupy every spot on this list... the dude is badass incarnate.

      Fuck You monologue is epic. As is "All's you can do is pray for a quick death, which you ain't gonna get."

  9. Amazing list. I don't feel like there's much more I can add to it, since the comments above me have really gone all-out. But how about any scene with Ordell Robbie in Jackie Brown? Or the Crazy 88 fight scene in Kill Bill? Or Eli Roth... being Eli Roth in Inglourious Basterds? Those are all Tarantino films, I realize, but he's the only director I can think of straight off the top of my head. I'm sure if I gave it more thought others would come to me. GREAT list anyway.

    1. Dude, this entire list could be Tarantino based, so I definitely think all of your picks are legit. Tarantino's flicks are the epitome of badass. Accept no substitutes.

  10. FUCK What about the final scene of There Will Be Blood? Perhaps the most badass scene I can remember.

  11. Some badassery that always sticks out to me- Harry Callahan towards the beginning of Dirty Harry. After he shoots out the bank robbers' car and then cooly walks over to the guy on the ground- "Do ya feel lucky?" -all while eating a hot dog.

    1. That's classic badassery right there, no argument whatsoever.

  12. Hell yeah. Great idea for a post, with some especially inspired choices. I was not expecting to see that American Psycho scene, but yeah, you nailed it.

    1. Thanks man! I fuckin' LOVE Patrick Bateman. Just had to include him here. Everything out of that dude's mouth is pure gold.

  13. Great choices! Al Pacino in ANY GIVEN SUNDAY is supremely badass. I have not heard a better locker room speech, and I just listened to it twice haha.

  14. Great choices, especially Eastern Promises and Raging Bull! I love Desperado and those opening scenes, in the bar, with Tarantino and the fight and everything, are just amazing!

    1. You like Desperado? That's awesome! Love that movie... by far one of my favorite action flicks. Tarantino's cameo is hysterical in that.

  15. One of the first movie categories I did was titled Serious Badasses where I reviewed movies with, you guessed it, serious badasses in them. I covered Dirty Harry, Gran Torino, Pitch Black, and...Kung Fu Panda (I explain in the review). If you are interested, you can find the parent post here (complete with a Bruce Lee playing ping pong with nunchucks video): http://www.tipsfromchip.blogspot.com/2011/02/movies-with-serious-badasses.html

    1. That video is awesome! Even though it's fake, it's pretty crafty editing/special effects work. I know some bloggers get weirded out or pissed or whatever when commenters post links to their own stories, but seriously man, feel free to post your stuff in the comments here anytime. I love cool shit like that.

  16. Check out this trailer for Badass Brock

  17. The final shootout - The Wild Bunch
    Michael Caine in the drughouse - Harry Brown
    Mostly all of Scarface (Pacino)
    Gary Oldman - True Romance
    All of Cagney - White Heat

    1. Great picks. That scene in Harry Brown was epic.

  18. Werner Herzog.........Jack Reacher!!! "Bite your fingers off.......or I will kill you!" - I shuddered!
    Ryan Gosling........stomping all over that guy's face......Drive! - I double shuddered!!

    1. Fuuuuck I still need to see Jack Reacher. Herzog is my God.

      The Gosling stomp was epic shit!

  19. Perhaps my definition of badasserey differs from some others. Buuut here it goes. In no particular order.

    1.“Get three coffins ready”

    2. “You didn’t mean that, did you?”

    3. That unforgettable monologue by Lime at the Ferris wheel followed by him strolling off, leaving Martins speechless. So badass. The Third Man.

    4. Hans Landa. …Just Hans Landa.

    5. Bickle pointing a finger popper to his head and quickly showing the cops that they stumbled into some DEEP shit

    6. “Oh and one more thing- love the suit”

    7. Luke and ALL THOSE EGGS

    8. R Lee Emery facing Pyle’s loaded gun like a true trooper. Subsequently the rest of R Lee Emery’s contribution to Full Metal Jacket.

    9. “Shall I take it as a souvenir?” (Day Lewis fucking MADE that film)

    10. The sheer balls of the producers for clearing the ending of The Great Silence. Seriously.

    Sorry for commenting on all your old stuff dude, just love your work :D

    1. Don't ever apologize for commenting! I'm so appreciative that you do, no matter how old the post is. Love your picks. Number 9 rocks. Gotta love ol' Bill.

  20. Brandon Lee was a total boss for most of The Crow.
    The snake scene in The Assassination of Jesse James.
    Most of the scenes with Lil Ze in City of God.
    In Mud, when Ellis gets bitten by the snake and Mud just slides down the bank into the pit of snakes willingly to save him.
    The first time we meet Leon in Leon: The Professional.
    The Jumpin' Jack Flash scene in Mean Streets.
    When the women chase down Stuntman Mike in Death Proof.
    "I count six shots, nigga." "I count two guns, nigga."

    1. All great choices. Man, that Mean Streets scene. Good god.