Top 40 Badass Movies of the Last Ten Years
I’m sure you’ve come across this kind of movie. The one where right from the beginning you know it will be know no-holds barred. The gritty, in-your-face, relentless, gasp-for-air kinda films that can come from many genres, be it horror, action, suspense, or what have you. Wanton and careless disregard for life is often a common trait throughout. Violence, gore, cursing, and multiple headshots, yeah they’re here too. And you normally have a single character whose extreme attitudes and behavior are admirable. Think classics from the Schwarzenegger oeuvre, such as from his Commando days. Other classics include The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Scarface, Dirty Harry, and many of John Woo’s earlier works such as The Killer or Hard Boiled.
I’ll grant you, these aren’t always the best movies from an artistic standpoint, but they can be highly entertaining. And here are some of the best examples from the last decade. Sure, there are better action movies out there. And sure there are better overall movies. But these kind of movies make you think the individuals are just Jack Bauer/Chuck Norris-style badass.
40. Rambo (2008)
Rambo’s heyday may have been in the 1980s, but the latest installment doesn’t disappoint with this one man killing machine. For example, Stallone rigs a nuclear bomb and then outruns the blast radius and also single handedly ends the Burmese civil war with a truck mounted machine gun. If you ever wanted to see a guy’s head turn into a scrambled egg, then this is for you.
39. Payback (1999)
Sometimes, you just like to watch a badass do his thing. Gibson plays Porter, who’s basically just a total bad ass, doesn’t care about anything or anyone and is hell bent on revenge. I guess that’s what happens when you’re shot by your wife and best friend and are left to die.
38. Man on Fire (2004)
Teaming up Christopher Walken and Denzel Washington in a movie is never a bad thing. Having it happen in this extremely violent movie about kidnapping and corruption in Mexico City only sets itself up for Denzel to kick ass.
37. Exiled (“Fong juk”) (2006)
Exiled reminds you a bit of those Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, except set in Macau circa 1998. Plenty of gunfights are present, and it shows Hong Kong still leads the trend in innovative action film-making.
36. Collateral (2004)
Michael Mann directed Collateral, and you can see that this is the same man that brought us awesome movies like Heat. Tom Cruise stars in this one as Vincent, an ice cold contract killer ready to burst forth at a moment’s notice with lightning quick reflexes to bring about sudden violence. As an utterly ruthless hitman, Cruise is excellent as he picks people off in the Los Angeles night.
35. Running Scared (2006)
This is the kind of movie that will get your pulse running out of control. In addition to extreme graphic violence, this film uses the f-bomb at least 315 times, features a chick killing people at point blank, a shot of someone getting their nuts blow off, and a final shootout at a hockey rink with glow in the dark paint. It has it all: drug addicts, hookers, mobsters, wife beaters, pedophiles, crooked cops, and pimps
34. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Zack Snyder know how to make entertaining films, and this Romero remake launched his film career that we now enjoy. Would you like to see fast zombies? Check. Head shots? Check. Dismemberment? Check. It is chock full of bizarre creepiness, like when a zombie baby gets shot, plus it adds on Ving Rhames and plenty of guns.
33. Smokin’ Aces (2006)
Any movie that kills of Ben Affleck can’t be all bad. If you hadn’t had the opportunity to watch Smokin’ Aces yet, then do yourself a favor and get that popcorn popping! The sole point of the movie is a bunch of hitman attempt to pour pour boxes of bullets into one man, played by Jeremy Piven. In addition to the gun play, it also adds touches of grim humor and a dash of eye candy. Sounds like a fine recipe.
32. Open Range (2003)
Nothing says badass like an old-fashioned western. They don’t make that kind of film much anymore, but Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall team up for one of the better modern incarnations. There’s only one gunfight in the picture, but it is worth the wait and it makes you hearken back to stuff from Sam Peckinpah or Clint Eastwood.
31. Road to Perdition (2002)
Come see Tom Hanks wipe out almost an entire mob by himself. Irish mob movies don’t get much better than this 1930s gangster flick. For an added bonus, Jude Law’s performance as the psychopathic hitman Harlen Maguire was chilling.
30. Heist (2001)
Gene Hackman makes every movie seem better than it is. So I couldn’t leave him off this list. Teamed up with a David Mamet script, a man never shy about a few f-bombs, Heist is the story of clever criminals who must worry not only about the authorities but about the treachery of other clever criminals. There’s not a ton of violence, but there’s some ultra cool about a man who can con a con man while working though some on Mamet’s trademark badass dialogue.
29. The Limey (1999)
An extremely volatile and dangerous Englishman about an ex-con seeking revenge on the man that caused his daughter’s death. Stamp plays the Englishman Wilson, a man that just will never let up. Anyone unfortunate enough to get in his way is pretty much toast as well.
28. The Way of the Gun (2000)
Ryan Phillippe and Benicio Del Toro team up as two petty criminals who decided to kidnap a surrogate mother for cash. Though as the movie states, the longest distance between two points is a kidnapper and his money. As you might imagine, things do not go as planned. The two modern day antiheroes are forced to engage in violence, and that violence is often fearsome, difficult, and wholly unpleasant.
27. Domino (2005)
Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke play bounty hunters in this Tony Scott flick full of raunchy strong language and gun violence. In fact, Knightley’s character is based on a real life model turned bounty hunter. There’s something pretty sexy about a girl who can kick some ass. If you can get past the choppy, dizzying editing you can see Knightley play a cocky badass.
26. Versus (2000)
A film which relies solely on its style and its visual slickness, it pits zombies vesus the yakuza among other face offs. Don’t be worried hwoever, there are plenty of swords slicing, bullets blazing, or good old fashioned martial arts. The movie is totally campy, very bloody and gory, and in the end remains fairly memorable.
25. Taken (2008)
Taken is admirably in-your-face, satisfyingly blunt and a blur of fighting, fear, chasing and excitement at serious pace. Liam Neeson has set the bar high for ass-kicking fathers with his “very particular set of skills”.
24. The Boondock Saints (1999)
The Boondock Saints is the ultimate triumph of style over substance. But it still was a bad ass movie if you’re willing to make a suspension of belief here and there. It’s about two Irish lads who realize what they were put on earth to do, to punish the evil people of the world. In nomine Patri. Et Fili. Spiritus Sancti.
23. Layer Cake (2004)
Before he was Bond, Daniel Craig was the man with no name in Layer Cake, a unique and remarkable experience that weaves a complex web of multiple stories. Craig is the cocaine dealer who’s simply a business man dragged into a mess with crazy Serbians, a double crossing cockney gangster boss, and some of the seedier individuals of the criminal underworld.
22. The Transporter (2002)
Jason Statham pretty much lives on this type of movie, and the Transporter is him at his action-packed best. You get car chases, roundhouse kicks, and generally absurd action while Statham drips attitude as the jack-of-all-trades Transporter.
21. Shooter (2007)
You don’t understand how serious this is. They killed my dog. Never mess with someone who can drop you with his gun from miles away. Mark Wahlberg is Bob Lee Swagger, a one man wrecking crew and special forces operative who is an expert with his sniper rifle. Directed by Antoine Fuqua, watch Wahlberg single handedly kill dozens of people, including a few head shots along the way.
20. Snatch (2000)
Besides some of the finest swearing and gunfire in contemporary British cinema, you have a character that will feed individuals to pigs. There’s no one single badass character, but guys like Boris The Blade and Bullet Tooth Tony make a nice badass ensemble.
19. Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
If you like to see people getting owned, but want to sprinkle in a little Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley while you’re at it then this is for you. People are getting killed left and right, and you’ll have to wait until the end of the movie how they are all connected.
18. Battle Royale (“Batoru rowaiaru”) (2000)
The strength of Battle Royale is one awesome idea. The film focuses on what happens when a group of high school students are sent to an abandoned island to kill each other. And you thought your high school years were rough! In the end, there can be only one, so it’s literally survival of the fittest.
17. The Proposition (2005)
Captured outlaw Charlie Burns is given the Sophie’s Choice of propositions. He can kill his at-large older brother Arthur or else captured younger brother Mikey will die at the end of a hangman’s noose. This real treat of a Western (if you can call it that since it takes place in Australia) is gritty, bloody, and unjust.
16. Ichi the Killer (“Koroshiya 1”) (2001)
Do you like fairly regular over-the-top violence, torture and gore? Ichi, the most deranged delusional psycho-killer is one of the more unique films around. You’ll probably remember it most, however, for its graphic and inventive torture scenes.
15. Spartan (2004)
After the kidnapping of the daughter of a high-ranking US government official (probably the President, although its never specifically stated), the Secret Service taps all-purpose badass Robert Scott (Val Kilmer) to find her. Scott is a guy who, no matter what’s happening, always seems to manage to work his way out of it. Besides Scott, the screenplay is full of interesting and crisp David Mamet dialogue along with plenty of fascinating characters.
14. Ong-bak (2003)
They marketed this Thai film as the nuclear bomb of cool, probably because trying to even name all the badass crap Tony Jaa does in this one six minute chase scene, let alone the entire movie, would take forever. Check it out:
13. Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)
Clive Owen plus a trenchcoat pretty much automatically equals awesome movie. But in this one you can also see Owen killing people with carrots or killing people while having sex with Monica Bellucci.
12. Kill Bill (Part 1 and 2) (2003-2004)
First, Quentin Tarantino is definitely badass, so you know one of his films has to crack this rundown. Second, Kill Bill is basically one film, so we lumped the two parts two together. And third, Uma Thurman vs The Crazy 88’s. That is all.
11. Sin City (2005)
Remember that Clive Owen plus trenchcoat corollary? that’s present here. So are plenty of ass-kicking chicks, and one additional badass named Marv played by Mickey Rourke. The film is a blistering ballet of bullets and blood, with dames and danger at every turn. It’s a kinetic masterpiece, bold, brilliant and totally badass.
10. Equilibrium (2002)
Let me introduce you to Gun Kata. In this man vs. futuristic oppressive society film, Christian Bale gets the adrenaline flowing with ridiculous, unbelievable over-the-top action in one of the coolest movies to come out in years.
9. The Departed (2006)
It’s by Martin Scorcese, need I say more? Plenty of foul language and violence throughout, a great elevator scene, and even a brief venture into a porno theater to round it all out.
8. No Country For Old Men (2007)
Violence and mayhem litter the plot as criminals engage in wild shootouts and murder sprees over several days. Javier Bardem plays Anton Chigurh, a true embodiment of a psychopath and the possible manifestation of your childhood nightmares. He may very well be death personified. AS he’d say, “You need to call it. I can’t call it for you. It wouldn’t be fair.”
7. Oldboy (2003)
The middle of Chan-wook Park’s revenge trilogy, is the best of the trio and quite excellent in its sickness. It’s not for the faint, as it gets pretty twisted and disturbing along the way. Plus, you’re only a true tough guy if you can pounds your way though an entire legion of attackers using only a hammer.
6. A Bittersweet Life (“Dalkomhan insaeng”) (2005)
Byung-hun Lee starts in A Bittersweet Life, the story of a badass mofo who could twist your spine into a pretzel at the drop of a hat. If you’ve never head of Lee, you can see him play Storm Shadow in the upcoming G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra. And if you’ve never heard of A Bittersweet Life, check out the breathtaking revenge movie.
5. The Bourne Identity (2002)
Really I’m including the whole Bourne trilogy here. Jason Bourne kills a man with a pen. Jason Bourne kills a man with a magazine. Great car chases. And I can thank this movie for bringing about a revamped Bond among other things. I swear to God, if I even feel somebody behind me, there is no measure to how fast and how hard I will bring this fight to your doorstep. Jason Bourne is a machine that kills.
4. Fight Club (1999)
What more can be said about Tyler Durden? Dude shot himself in the face and is still standing. We all find ourselves looking in the mirror thinking what it would be like to be Tyler Durden. He’s definitely reached Chuck Norris status. In fact, Tyler Durden is a force that we all know could be out there somewhere just doing whatever it is Tyler Durden does.
3. City of God (“Cidade de Deus”) (2002)
Based on the real story tour de force of violence and absolute anarchy in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, City of God is stunning in every sense of the word. One of the characters, L’il Ze will scare the crap out of you with his badass attitude and badass ‘fro. Dude shot up an entire motel before the age of thirteen. You know, before he became the kingpin of the Rio slums.
2. Gladiator (2000)
Filled with grandiose fight scenes and blood literally splattering across the screen, Gladiator also tells the story of a general sold into slavery and who eventually works his way back to Rome by becoming a badass gladiator. And he will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.
1. 300 (2006)
The badass of all badass movies? 300 Spartans set off on a suicide mission to battle thousands upon thousands of Persians against impossible odds. They’re the toughest, most hard-core soldier to ever walk the Earth. Madness? This is Sparta!