In 2007 I went to the theater to see Live Free or Die Hard and I remember vividly the guy that was sitting in front of me. Late 20’s, geeky, awkward. He actually reminded me a little bit of Kevin Smith, who incidentally had a small role in the movie. Anyway, this guy LOVED helicopter scenes for some reason. Anytime a helicopter came into view he would lean toward the screen and grip his fists in anticipation. About halfway through the film there is a scene where John McClane launches a car off a ramp and kills a helicopter with it. Kevin Smith-look-alike lost…his…shit. No joke, he was so excited that he spilled popcorn all over his mom, who was sitting next to him. He took like ten minutes to recover from this experience. It was ridiculous. The point is, sometimes a scene comes along that is so badass it takes your breath away and makes you drop buttery fluffs all over your mother. I’ll count down the Top Ten that are available to stream from home. (WARNING: Most of these videos contain graphic content)
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1. Hemlock Grove–Werewolf Transformation
We’ve all seen werewolf transformations before–Twilight, Underworld, Van Helsing. Forget those. This one takes the cake. In the second episode of the series, The Angel, the transformation goes down, and it is a sight to behold. A violent, disturbing, unsettling sight. Almost as unsettling as the rest of the series, which you should skip entirely.
9. Equilibrium–Not Without Incident
Imagine a man who is conditioned to live without feelings, a man who is trained to kill with mathematical efficiency. Imagine this man when he discovers his feelings and is mad as hell at the people who robbed him of them. Now imagine this man heavily armed and surrounded by the people that have ruined his life. The man is John Preston (played by Christian Bale) and in five minutes time he manages to rack up a body count of about 50, finally ending the mayhem by slicing off the face of the man who betrayed him. Oh yeah, and he does all of this in the flyest white suit I’ve ever seen.
8. Rob Roy–MacGregor’s Revenge
Liam Neeson plays Rob Roy MacGregor, a man of unquestioning loyalty and unbreakable honor. But if you mess with his lady, you better watch out. At the climax of the film, MacGregor is pitted in a duel against Archibald Cunningham, the man who raped his wife. It’s a battle of skill vs. will. I’ll let you guess who comes out victorious.
7. Dollhouse–Battle of the Sexes
I love a heroin who can kick some major ass. What I hate is when they’re pitted against large, muscular men who magically can’t seem to land a punch. It’s like those guys aren’t even trying! That isn’t the case in Season 1, Ep 6 of Dollhouse, when Agent Ballard finally confronts Echo in one of the best choreographed fight scenes I’ve ever witnessed. Ballard doesn’t hold any punches (or kicks, headbutts, body slams, projectiles, etc) and neither does Echo. I remember being brought to my feet during this fight. It was that intense.
6. Burden of Dreams–Werner Herzog Goes Mad
Werner Herzog is the ultimate badass, but he does it in such a quiet, thoughtful way that nobody really takes note. Burden of Dreams documents his efforts to pull a 300 ton riverboat over a huge hill in the Amazon jungle, all for the sake of a movie (Fitcarraldo). During the course of the film the crew is chased by headhunters, one of their planes crashes in the jungle, and an extra is almost cut in half by a steel tow cable. Herzog takes it all in stride and simply reflects quietly on the nature of making a film.
5. The Avengers–Don’t Make Him Angry
This one is a fan favorite to be sure. When Hulk grabbed Loki by his legs and tossed him around like a rag doll, it spawned memes and spoofs across the internet. Loki’s frantic gasps of air, and the look on his face when he lays in the floor are what make this scene so awesome.
4. Serenity–She Always Did Love to Dance
River Tam is young, pretty, and naive. She probably weighs about 90 pounds. So how does she finish off a room filled with flesh-eating space pirates? In glorious fashion. In absolute beautiful, glorious fashion.
3. Pulp Fiction–Samurai Butch
(Warning: Graphic Content)
I like this scene because when Bruce Willis is looking through possible weapons, he’s like a kid in a candy shop. Hammer? Baseball bat? Ooh, a chainsaw! It seems like he’s made his choice when he spots a samurai sword on the top shelf. The look in his eyes tells you he’s in love, and now it’s time for action!
2. Braveheart–Ego sum homo indomitus (I am a savage)
“How do I kill thee? Let me count the ways”
by William Wallace
How do I kill thee? Let me count the ways.
I kill thee with nunchuks hidden inside my coat.
I kill thee with deer antlers thrust into your throat.
If that doesn’t cause you to feel afraid.
I can chop off your leg with a swing of my blade.
Or toss my sword at you, straight through your heart.
I kill thee with a hammer til your bones fall apart.
(For those who don’t know, this is a reference to a famous poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
1. Oldboy–Hallway Hammerdown
He’s been imprisoned and tortured for twenty years. He has a hammer. And he’s got nothing to lose. Dear God, help us all. Oldboy is a striking example of doing “badass” in style. The entire movie is a dark, twisted puzzle highlighted by moments like this one, where the main character Oh Dae-Su takes down dozens of baddies in a hallway with only a hammer.