I had planned to focus on my favourite 80s television shows today but a friend demanded that I give the action heroes their due after last Friday’s countdown on movie heroines. And with pictures too, bosie. Fine by me, I said. That was until I actually started to jot down the names of my favourites. Trying to rank these distinctly individual characters almost took the fun out of the whole exercise!
Anyhoo, I ended up with five categories: a list my top 20 favourite action heroes (can you tell I like action movies?), three 'Honourable Mentions', the ‘Big 5’, the ‘Ones to watch’ category and the ‘Whatever happened to…’ category.
Each of these 20 action heroes has a large number of blockbusters under their belts and strong fan bases so they’re all equal in that respect. I just ranked them according to how much I liked their movies or television shows. No science here, trust me. Let’s roll.
Top 20 fave action heroes
20) Chuck Norris – Before he was immortalised as Walker Texas Ranger, old Chuckie was quite the action hero in such films as Delta Force and Missing in Action. His tv show was a tad corny but still good fun.
19) Sylvester Stallone. Sly obviously likes him some sequels. He made five Rocky movies and then did Rocky Balboa last year, and he did three Rambo movies and plans to do another one next year. Isn't he getting too old for this?
18) Jean Claude van Damme. Mr. Universal Soldier himself was pretty hot stuff back in the day. Bad press and several flops have tarnished his action hero image but we'll always have hits such as Double Team and Street Fighter.
17) Steven Seagal. Seagal was the king of bone breaking. I swore the sound effects guys on his movies were in the background breaking up macaroni sticks. Seagal made so many (fairly corny) movies he almost became a parody of himself, but if you want mindless fun give him a try. Check out Exit Wounds, Under Siege 1 & 2, Above the Law and Marked for Death.
16) Mark Wahlberg. Though a relative newbie to the action genre, Marky Mark has thrown off his boy band days in a big way. Shooter, Four Brothers, Italian Job, Planet of the Apes, Three Kings...not a bad resumé.
15) Orlando Bloom. It's almost an insult to call Orlando Bloom an action hero. His movies are mostly sweeping epics with him wielding a sword or shooting arrows, quite different from the big explosions and car chases we've come to expect from action movies. Hey, with Pirates of the Caribbean, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Kingdom of Heaven and Troy under his belt, we'll forgive him for not trying other types of action roles.
14) Tyrese Gibson. Mr. Gibson has come a long way from that Coca Cola ad. His star is burning brightly right now, and boss man can sing too. Check him out in Flight of the Phoenix, Four Brothers, Waist Deep, the upcoming Transformers, and Annapolis, to name a few.
13)‘James Bond’. I loved most of the James Bonds, especially Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan. I hear the current one Daniel Craig isn't too bad either; actually he seems to be more 'physical' than some of the previous Bonds. Good move.
12) Tom Cruise. Now this guy is the quintessential action hero. With Top Gun, three Mission Impossible movies, Minority Report, The Last Samurai, War of the Worlds and Collateral to his credit, Tom Cruise doesn't have to prove nothin' to nobody. He's a fantastic actor too but always seems to fall short of getting that Best Actor Oscar. Maybe he should let his characters die and forget about happy endings...
11) Mel Gibson. Before he became the producer of controversial movies such as The Passion of Christ and Apocalypto, Mel was an action man. I don't remember much about the Mad Max movies but I was a fan of the four Lethal Weapon movies, The Patriot, Braveheart, Ransom and Payback. Actually, Mel's movies were pretty violent. Was that a sign of his current troubles?
10) Vin Diesel. Vin made guys feel good about having a bald head and made women feel good, period. A bit of a beef cake but his voice, oh boy, his voice. Like his movie The Fast and the Furious, he blew into the action arena and didn't disappoint his fans, for a while anyway. Pitch Black is still one of my favourite movies ever, though I didn't think much of the Chronicles of Riddick. As for XXX, well, just watch it for Vin. Step your game up, Vin, you've been missing in action too long!
9) Wesley Snipes. Before he was making a habit of evading Uncle Sam, Snipes had a pretty good thing going as an action hero. Passenger 57 and the Blade Trilogy are just a few of his movies. Go do the right thing, Wes!
8) Nicolas Cage. The Rock, Con Air, Face Off, Gone in 60 Seconds, National Treasure. If there was an action movie Hall of Fame Nic Cage would be in it. His career has been sliding a bit recently but we'll always have Face, Off.
7) Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. I didn't know the Rock as a wrestler but he's been a welcome addition to the action arena. His small part in The Mummy 2 was corny but The Scorpion King, The Rundown and Walking Tall were great. Now, if he'd only stop that eyebrow thing...
6) Harrison Ford. You've got to hand it to this guy. He's over 60, with classics such as the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies, and Air Force One and Firewall behind him, and he still wants to make another Indiana Jones movie. Good luck on that one, Harry.
5) Matt Damon. Six movies do not an action hero make but since three of those movies were The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Supremacy, you're forgiven, Matt.
4) Keifer Sutherland. 24 on Fox. That's all I need to say.
3) Bruce Willis. I loves me some Bruce. A comedian at heart, he can still throw down with the best of them in a gunfight. Even if he did a Die Hard 10, I'd still be watching. His other action credits include Armageddon, Last Boy Scout, Fifth Element, Sin City, Hostage, Tears of the Sun, Unbreakable and Hart’s War .
2) Will Smith. My boy to the end. I'm so proud of how his career has moved from the rap scene to the movie screen. Funny as hell and a bad *ss when required, Will is the ultimate action hero. And he can do some serious acting too. My faves? Independence Day, Enemy of the State, I, Robot, Wild Wild West, Bad Boys 1 & 2, Men in Black 1 & 2, all of his movies really. Can't wait to see I am Legend in a few weeks!
1) Arnold Schwarzenegger. The King of the action box office and now Governor of California terminates all opposition. I still believe he has a few action movies left in him. Till then, enjoy Predator, the Terminator trilogy, Last Action Hero, Eraser, True Lies, End of Days, The 6th Day, Running Man and Commando.
Other categories next week, si dieu veux. Have a great weekend!