Last week in the magazine, I put together a smackdown bracket game to try to figure out who was the biggest real-life badass in the cast of The Expendables. Round one consisted of a dozen he-men from the action flick, round two narrowed it down to six, then down to two, and then one final winner. The winner that I picked was Mickey Rourke. I was pretty clear about my criteria — I knew that guys like mixed martial artist Randy Couture could eat his lunch — but there’s something about Rourke’s crazy-eyed, unpredictable, wild card loco-ness that gave him the edge in a bar fight. Plus, he’d also been a professional boxer, so my choice wasn’t totally out of left field. At least to me. But ever since I put this game together, I’ve heard nothing but bellyaching from action movie fans: How can you say Rourke is more of a badass than Jason Statham? Or Stallone? Or Schwarzenegger? I even got a call from a guy at Ultimate Fighting who was ticked off that Couture wasn’t our biggest badass, as if this was somehow real science we were dealing in.
Anyway, all of this has made me think that it’s time to get the EW.com community involved in the debate. Below you will find the 12 toughest guys from The Expendables with a few words about each. Give them all a quick look-see, then at the end in the comments section tell us who you think is the biggest badass in the cast. Just to clarify: do not vote for who was the biggest badass in the film, vote for who in the cast would beat all the others in a no-rules bar fight in real life. Got it? Good.
1. Sylvester Stallone: Sure he’s 64, but the ringleader of The Expendables was also Rocky Balboa and Rambo — two of the biggest badasses in cinema history. Guys who not only knew how to dish it out, but also knew how to get beaten to a bloody pulp in the ring or tortured in a jungle camp and come back for more. Plus, do you know any other 64 year old who’s got muscles like his? The dude’s ripped! Bonus item to consider: in high school he was voted the student most likely to end up in the electric chair. That’s pretty badass!
2. Jason Statham: In his Crank and Transporter films, the chrome-domed Cockney does a lot of his own stunts — especially the driving ones. And you have to admit, he sort of looks a bit like Bruce Willis back in his baddest of badass days: the first Die Hard era. But does the fact that Statham worked as a male model before he got into movies hurt his chances in this contest? Just something to think about.
3. Jet Li: I’ll be honest, I’ve never been the biggest Jet Li fan; I’m more of a Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan guy. But this isn’t about me, it’s about who you think is the biggest badass. The martial arts maestro could kick the snot out of just about any one in the world, but there’s some pretty big guys in this cast.
4. Dolph Lundgren: Or as I like to call him “The Swede Who’ll Make You Bleed.” Everybody remembers Lundgren as Ivan Drago from Rocky IV (“I must break you!”) and he was equally menacing in 1992′s Universal Soldier and any number of more recent straight-to-DVD action cheapies. He’s big, he’s got a black belt, he put Stallone in the hospital for 9 days when they were making Rocky IV, and then there’s this story: Last summer, a pair of burglars reportedly broke into Lundgren’s mansion in Marbella, Spain. As they were looting the place they saw a photo of him in one of the bedrooms and got so scared when they realized who they were robbing that they dropped their loot and hightailed it out of there. Classic.
5. Eric Roberts: He’s crazy (on screen at least) and he’s a loose cannon (ditto), but let’s face it, while Eric Roberts could definitely beat me up, he doesn’t really belong in this field. Save your vote.
6. Randy Couture: Okay, now here’s the guy I’ve gotten the most heat about not naming the biggest badass in The Expendables. He’s huge, he’s got a creepy cauliflower ear, he looks like a cross between Bob Hoskins and Thing from Fantastic Four, and he’s one of the world’s most lethal mixed martial artists. Overlook him at your own peril.
7. Steve Austin: a.k.a. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Pro Wrestler, all-around tough guy, looks like a human steamroller. Not the kind of guy you want to walk up to in a bar and tell that you think wrestling is fake.
8. Gary Daniels: This guy’s a dark horse, a sleeper. But he’s pretty badass. If you don’t know Daniels, he’s a British kickboxer who segued into a career of mostly straight-to-video action flicks in the ’90s. I’ve seen many of these movies and I’m here to tell you that as an actor he’s not gonna make DeNiro give up his day job, but as a guy who kicks the stuffing out of people for a living, he’s legit.
9. Terry Crews: A former NFL star who looks like a wall of muscles — his muscles have muscles. If you haven’t seen The Expendables yet, you’re gonna crack up when you see the gun that this guy uses in the film. It makes a bazooka look like a water pistol.
10. Mickey Rourke: See the intro to this blog post. What can I say? I like the guy in a bar fight against anyone. That’s just me.
11. Bruce Willis: It’s John McClane…yippee kay yay, motherf—-er!
12. Arnold Schwarzenegger: If you need me to tell you who this fella is, then I say this: Welcome to earth, I hope you enjoy our planet.
Okay, now time to vote. Let’s hear it…who is your biggest badass in the cast of the The Expendables?