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My All-Time Movie Bad-Ass Team

With the current production of The Avengers heating up in Cleveland, OH, and the recent cinematic offerings I’ve been serving up from Netflix (13 Assassins), the idea of a team of bad-asses has been simmering in my cranial cauldron.  We’ve seen super teams before:  X-Men, Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven, The Expendables, Predator, Mission: Impossible, Ocean’s 11,  just to name a few.  The one thing I love about these teams is the dedication to diversity in abilities.  Beast is the brain, Jesse Ventura had a MASSIVE gun, Jet Li was the martial arts master, James Coburn was the knife pro.  They’re one-dimensional characters in and of themselves, yet they make the team more interesting to watch as a whole.  Who doesn’t want to see the knife guy go head-to-head against the martial arts guru, or the military vet get into fisticuffs with the explosives expert?  It’s what keeps the team constantly at odds with one another, causing inter-team squabbling, as well as the inevitable moments where one guy gets to showcase a particular talent at EXACTLY the right moment to save his oppositional teammate.  And it comes complete with a wink and thumbs up.

So who would make up the ALL-TIME MOVIE BAD-ASS TEAM?  It’s the question that’s been circling around my head like a flock of birds after a knock on the dome.  First, the parts of the team must be established: the leader, the brain, the point man, the muscle, the sword/knife, the big gun, the war vet, the martial artist, the tracker, the techie, the marksman, the bomb specialist, and the loose cannon.  I think 13 is a good number.  I know Ocean only needed eleven, but should my team face off against them it’s always nice to have extra fire power.  With the correct team assembled and with all those parts properly casted, this group would be capable of nearly every task.  Infiltrate a Russian palace, gain admittance to an Italian gang in Sicily, bombard a South American drug cartel?  Any cheesy action-movie plot could be put in place with this team and they would be endlessly entertaining to watch.

A few omittances: no super-powered superheroes, no cartoon or computer-generated characters, no robots/cyborgs, no unkillable horror icons, no witches, wizards, or all-powerful beings.  I’m looking for humans who excel at certain areas of combat.

Let me introduce you to the team…

THE LEADER:  Michael Corleone – The Godfather

The only man who could run the team, monitor friends and enemies alike, politic the beaurocrats, and command the respect of all of the above.  Any time my friends talk about a mastermind we always joke that the person is sitting in a dark room behind an oak desk, legs crossed in a pin-stripe suit, folded hands concealing everything but the piercing eyes; basically looking like Michael Corleone.  Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a leader with some financial flexibility who can afford the payroll and has his nose in several different business ventures.  Michael has the guts and the instincts to know if, when, and how to strike a target, and who would dare mutiny after the Fredo scene?  Above all the leader of this team has to command respect.

Runner Up: None

THE BRAIN:  Hans Gruber – Die Hard

Ruthless and intelligent, with a knack for improvisation as well as proper planning.  The only minutiae he wasn’t able to scheme out was the singular thorn in his side, John McClane.  everything else (building infiltration, vault codes, anticipation of police procedures, proper staffing/arming, and sleight of hand) is so intricately planned out that, really, the only thing standing in the way was a street-smart New York cop running around in a high-rise.  And Hans even manages to fool him with a fake American accent and false name upon first meeting (Bill Clay!)

Runner-Up:  Hannibal Lecter – Silence of the Lambs, Keyser Soze – The Usual Suspects

THE POINT MAN:  Maximus – Gladiator

No man embodies the ideals of a team leader better than Maximus.  I considered a Schwarzenneger role (True Lies) here, but all things being equal, I’d take Maximus. He’s a natural leader who inspires his men and curries the favor of both peasants and rulers.   He commands the respect of his troops on and off the battlefield, a trait that would impress his superiors.  If he said he was going to the very depths of hell and drag the devil out by his horns I believe he would do it.   The trust of your team leader is an incalculable trait that cannot be replaced or substituted with mere brains, brawn, or bravado.  Maximus embodies all three and he’s my leader on the battlefield.

Runner(s)-Up: Snake Plissken – Escape From New York, Harry Stamper – True Lies

THE MUSCLE:  Marv – Sin City

This is a minor rule infraction: he appears in a comic, but isn’t necessarily a superhero and doesn’t possess special powers.  Basically, Marv is a human, which I feel makes him eligible for consideration.  He’s a lumbering thug who has the strength and brute aggression to take on any man, plus he can take a beating like no other.  When it comes down to it, Marv is always ready to scrap.  He has no inhibitions about hurting another human being, in fact he enjoys inflicting pain, especially on those who deserve it.  Plus, while he isn’t stupid, he doesn’t have the brain-power to threaten the rule of smaller, more intelligent men like Hans and the Godfather.

Runner(s)-Up:  Dutch – Predator,  John Spartan – Demolition Man

THE SWORD/KNIFE:  Musashi Miyamoto – Samurai Trilogy

Coupled with the speed of his glistening blade, Musashi is a strategist who can outwit his opponent like a chess master.  He’d be the greatest close-quarters stealth combatant in action film history, needing only his brains and his silent sword to move in and out of secured locations.  Through his rigorous mental as well as physical training, Musashi would be a challenge for any opponent. The complaint people would make about this selection is due to the mass of sword-wielding competition in a sundry films, but I discount them as merely quick blades without the intelligence of Musashi and therefore inferior combatants.  Plus, you knew Toshiro Mifune had to make this list somewhere.

Runner(s)-Up: Ryunosuke – Sword of Doom, Sanjuro – Yojimbo/Sanjuro

THE GUN:  Joe/Manko/Blondie – The Man With No Name Trilogy

Is there a soul out there who would defy this pick?  Pick a Clint Eastwood role from one of his Westerns (Josie Wales, possibly), any one of them could get the part.  But, his character in Sergio Leone’s films shows more than just the quickest gun in the West.  He routinely outsmarts his opponents (the finale’s of Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) much in the same way our heroic swordsman from above strategically eliminates enemies.  I’d put my money on the man in the poncho in a duel any day, even if my action movie would rarely feature an old West stand-off.  Eastwood is my gun.

Runner-Up: The Harmonica – Once Upon a Time in the West, Col. Mortimer – For a Few Dollars More

THE MILITARY VET:  John Rambo – First Blood/Rambo

Rambo could undoubtedly double as the loose cannon of the group as well, but he’s the man I want if my group gets deployed to the jungle or any other treacherous combat zone (Oregon?).  His attributes: amazingly resourceful, trained in many forms of combat, can operate military machinery and weapons, and has a wide variety of killing methods.  What’s not to like?  The only downside: he’s more of a loner and you run the risk of him turning on Michael Corleone.  I think the idea with Rambo is let him be and only use him when it’s absolutely necessary, which Michael would recognize.  How awesome would this scene be?

Hans: “This isn’t going to be easy, Michael.  It’s more complicated than Sri Lanka.”

Michael: “What are you saying, Hans?”

Hans:  “We’re gonna need him….”

Michael leans back, crosses his legs and folds his hands in front of his mouth.

Michael (picking up the phone): “Get me Rambo”

Runner-Up:  Casey Ryback – Under Siege 1 & 2,  Riggs – Lethal Weapon 1-4

THE MARTIAL ARTIST:  Mr. Lee – Enter the Dragon

Given the film I’ve chosen, it should be obvious this is the foremost martial artist the world has ever known.  Other performers are just that: performers, like acrobats or choreographed dancers.  Mr. Lee was silent, ruthless, and unstoppable even against a horde of well-armed adversaries.  His ability to disarm, his legendary speed, and skills with multiple weapons would be an incredible asset in hand-to-hand combat situations.  He’s small enough to get into heavily guarded areas without batting an eye, and he doesn’t require a bag of weapons to infiltrate a fortress.  His body is his greatest weapon and that’s a match no other man can meet.

Runner-Up: None

THE TRACKER:  Aragorn – Lord of the Rings

I’m getting greedy with this pick considering his combat skills are through the roof, but he’s also an experienced tracker who has travelled the lands and can navigate all manner of terrain.  Rambo could fill this spot or work as a tandem, but Aragorn would be the team-player that Rambo isn’t, acting as tracker and de facto leader in actual battle zones.  His relentless will, natural leadership and ability to think on his feet would be respected by all the team members.  I have no doubt he would be the first into combat and the last to retreat, ensuring all his teammates were safe before thinking of his own survival.  Good attitude guy.

Runner-Up:  L.T. Bonham – The Hunted

THE TECHIE: Luther – Mission: Impossible

There’s been a multitude of computer gurus/hackers in films since the computer became the foremost tool for living everyday life, so picking one is difficult.  Seemingly, they’re all able to hack into any tightly-guarded website, open doors, cut electricity, and essentially wreak havoc for everyone but our heroes.  So I’m going to pick the most entertaining in Luther, who brings a bit of humorous banter to the show.  As a trained IMF Agent, I have to assume he’s skilled in more than just computers, which would be useful if things get extra hairy.  Plus, the gadgets, voice and face disguises he’s equipped with are pretty bad-ass and most useful to our team.  In this day and age, a computer guy is as invaluable as the finest warrior on the team.  Plus, I’d love to see Aragorn and Luther interact.

Runner-Up:  Q – James Bond Series

THE MARKSMAN:  Leon – The Professional

This person has to be the watchful eye that covers the insertion and extraction of the team with pinpoint accuracy and a steady hand.  While Leon is skilled in many different execution methods, he’s the guy I want on the roof with the rifle watching my team’s back.  Not just because of his dead-aim, but also his unflinching cool in a combat scenario.  He’s a trained killer.  When the job doesn’t require eyes from above, he could be a point-man during the mission and showcase his other abilities.  Versatility is a major factor in assembling this team, and Leon gives them another movable piece that no enemy would be prepared for. 

Runner(s)-Up:  Vassili Zaitsev – Enemy at the Gates,  Thomas Beckett – Sniper

THE EXPLOSIVES EXPERT:  Howard Payne – Speed

A tough pick to decide, but I went with this guy because I’d love to have the late great Dennis Hopper in the flick.  That’s not to say he’s not a skilled explosives tech, clearly it’s the contrary.  He’s a schemer, planting clever devices in places with unique demands.  If he can plant a bomb on a public bus with a sensory-based detonator that depended on the speed of the bus, then he must be capable of normal explosive devices.  Should the team encounter a heavily fortified objective, the explosives man would be of the utmost importance, and he has to deliver for the mission to succeed.  And, really, Hopper would be such a wild-card on this team that I have to cast him.

Runner(s) Up: Ryan Gaerity – Blown Away, Sgt. William James – The Hurt Locker, Basher – Ocean’s 11

THE LOOSE CANNON/MANIAC:  Anton Chigurh – No Country For Old Men

Quite possibly the most ruthless killer on this list, he’s an experienced tracker, relentless opponent capable of nearly anything, and a certified psychopath.  Put this maniacal bloodhound on the scent of a possible target and he would embed the fear of God in his soul.  He would be a specialist in tracking down a singular target alone, and only used on rare occasions as an actual team member.  Without a doubt the most unpredictable member of the crew, but that’s his purpose.  Scenes featuring Chigurh and Rambo or Musashi would be worth the price of admission alone.  Chances are he would never even meet Michael, and for good reason.  Is there any way to tell what he would do in those circumstances?  Dammit, that would be fun.  The rest of the team trying to either keep an eye on or keep their distance from him would cause so much tension, but when unleashed on a target, there’s no doubt he’s coming out with blood on his hands.

Runner(s)-Up:  John Doe – Seven, Travis Bickle – Taxi Driver

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