| Aussie actor Jai Courtney (right) joins Bruce Willis in "A Good Day To Die Hard" and plays John 'Jack' McClane, Jr., let's just hope that badassery runs in the 'family'.
Failing to make himself a comedy actor or an appropriate lead in thrillers, it has always been his role as a rough and tough badass which is Bruce Willis' best known roles. One thing that sets his mass appeal apart from other action heroes is because his characters would fight tooth and nail against the biggest odds, and come out winning by true grit almost every time. We can always root for these characters because they show us that we can win, but winning ain't easy, and that makes them a badass in our books. Of course, a badass must have their defining moments where they stand tall against the odds, and so here are our favourite Bruce Willis badass characters and their badass moments.
Die Hard (1988)
The Badass: Detective John McClane of the New York City Police Department is a rugged, brash and unrefined tough cop. In trying to make things right again with his estranged wife, Holly, McClane plans the perfect romantic outing on Christmas Day in the glitzy towers of the Nakatomi Plaza, until terrorists interrupt the party.
Badass Moment: While sophisticated mastermind Gruber is giving a decent speech to psychologically terrorize his hostages, it was the immovable letter in the form of Gruber's dead brother sent by McClane that not only made the hostages scream, but sends his own brand of terrifying message to the terrorist. Our first moment of Bruce Willis' badassery comes with him not being in the shot, but we believed that anyone would crap their pants if they knew that Bruce Willis is in the building with a machine gun. This was the start of the best Christmas ever and a badass franchise gift.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)
The Badass: Detective John McClane again, after sweeping Holly off her feet two years ago from the events of "Die Hard". While waiting to pick his wife up from the airport on Christmas Eve as a responsible husband, McClane beats up some highly-trained killers planning an elaborately violent way to free an extradited drug lord, because that's what a responsible badass does.
Badass Moment: Even though he gets kicked off from a getaway plane full of bad guys, because cops just aren't trained to fight against someone from the Special Forces like William Sadler's Colonel Stuart. But we all know the only reason a badass like McClane lets himself get beaten is so that he can say his trademark line and blow your plane up with a lighter.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Badass: Boxer Butch Coolidge is a born badass because of a sentimentally significant watch from his forefathers returned to him by none other than Christopher Walken. After getting into double trouble for refusing to throw-in an invested boxing match and killing his opponent, Butch is on the run from the gangster Marsellus Wallace and plans his getaway with gorgeous girlfriend Fabienne in tow.
Badass Moment: After delivering the knockout punch to The Gimp, Butch was home-free if he had left Marsellus in the sodomizing hands of their captor. But after a brief hesitation, Butch decides to take us through the badass weapons of choice, from the lowest to the highest cool factor, and proving that being a badass means never running away from bad people.
The Fifth Element (1997)
The Badass: Korben Dallas is a futuristic cab driver in the 23rd century, who learns that the best way to pick up chicks is to have one fall right onto your lap... I mean, cab. After learning that Milla Jovovich is humanity's salvation from a black ball of doom, instead of zombies, Dallas turns into a Special Force badass who has to make Jovovich emit a divine light when the powers combined before it's too late.
Badass Moment: When the Mangalores are convinced they can't outshoot Dallas with their stubby fingers, they use one of the oldest tricks in the book. Take a hostage and demand a negotiation. Someone needs to give them an updated version of the book though, because when negotiating with a badass like Dallas, all you get is a bullet to the head and a question of who's next.
The Badass: Harry Stamper is the best deep-sea oil driller and the most overprotective father in the world (with an equally hot Liv Tyler as his daughter, we can't blame him). When an approaching asteroid is sent by director Michael Bay to end the world, Stamper gets contacted by NASA to dig and plant a nuclear device into the asteroid so that we can all die from nuclear radiation raining down from the stratosphere, and partly because Ben Affleck made animal cookies kinky in a PG13 movie.
Badass Moment: We could've said that the best moments in "Armageddon" was the goodbye transmission to Gracie or the singing, but we want to pay tribute to the moment that defined Stamper to be a badass dad. Sure, he was an overprotective and disapproving father, but other than taking the brunt of the blast so that his daughter would have a happy ending, his very last few seconds before pressing the button were spent having very brief memory flashes of his daughter, instead of his own life. We think that's what makes a badass so badass; when the only person they think about in times of their death is someone they love.
The Badass: David Dunn is a former football player who one day survives a terrible train accident where he comes out as the only survivor completely unscathed. Now working as a miserable security guard, Dunn is told that he has superpowers by an unsuspecting comic book fan, who has disillusioned schemes for his gift.
Badass Moment: After listening to the crazy suggestions of Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson) that he could be more than human, Dunn decides to put it to the test by making every gym nut jealous. Dunn's unbelievable bench press scene and realisation of his true potential is more than just one of director M. Night Shyamalan's pivotal twists, but the transition of Dunn from an average Joe to awesome super human is badass.
Tears of the Sun (2003)
The Badass: Lieutenant A.K. Waters is the leader of a Navy SEAL team sent to bring back an American doctor helping out refugees in a war torn Nigeria. After witnessing the enemy rebels mercilessly massacring innocents, Waters sends his team back to escort the surviving refugees to the borders of Cameroon, defying his military orders and against insurmountable odds, thanks to one refugee he is carrying.
Badass Moment: As an overwhelming swarm of rebels closes in and blows away every branch and grass with high calibre rifles, Waters nearly reaches the finish line, carrying a mostly dazed Monica Bellucci on his shoulders. But as soon as a comrade in charge of calling an airstrike gets shot, Waters drops the doctor, runs back with a wounded leg, and furnishes the incoming fighter pilots with coordinates to finish the airstrike under heavy fire. This one goes in the badass books, even though the movie goes into other books for being misrepresentative of both Nigerians and Navy SEAL invulnerability.
Sin City (2005)
The Badass: John Hartigan is an aged police officer in the Basin City, who isn't swayed by the corrupt ways of the city to serve justice. When Hartigan stops a serial child rapist from harming a little girl named Nancy, Hartigan gets betrayed by his partner and framed for murdering the rapist, who was also the son of a senator. After being released from prison on parole, Hartigan seeks to find the grown-up Nancy, but unwittingly leads her into old dangers.
Badass Moment: Driven to ensure that no harm comes to Nancy who grows up to be Jessica Alba, Hartigan defies death on numerous occasions set by the Yellow Bastard. As Hartigan staggers into the farmhouse to save the abducted Nancy, Hartigan serves a fistful of justice by literally punching the scum's brains out, after, of course, taking out his 'weapons' for the second time.
The Badass: Frank Moses is a retired CIA agent who is finding it hard to make the switch from high risk life to retirement. When a hit squad is sent to get rid of him, Frank goes on the road to find who is responsible for calling the hit and eventually uncovers a larger conspiracy by the government to kill other retirees.
Badass Moment: When Frank singlehandedly takes out a heavily armed hit squad in his home, we could call it a fluke because he had homeground advantage. But when his car gets send into a mad spin that by a highly trained CIA hitman like Cooper, Frank's effortless swagger out of the spinning vehicle while letting loose a barrage of gunfire was the moment we knew once a badass, always a badass.
The Badass: Joe is a Looper, an assassin hired by a criminal organisation in the future who is tasked of killing and disposing the bodies of those that are sent back in time when time travel is invented. When Joe is forced to kill his future self and close his loop, he eventually finds that life has more than he bargained for and travels back in time to set things right for himself.
Badass Moment: During the talk between Bruce Willis' future Joe and Joseph Gordon Levitt's present Joe in the diner, we had the most intense exposition and implications about time continuity and alternative timelines, but it all comes down to two men willing to do whatever it takes for their own futures. When communications breaks down, we see which of these two men had the higher motivation to stay alive and proceed with their plan. Here's a hint, age doesn't matter.
Cinema Online, 29 January 2013