If I’ve learned one thing from Batman, it’s that a hero is truly defined by his villains (in truth I’ve learned many things from Batman). For every great hero, there has to be a healthy stable of villains who can, and will, strike at any moment and be a constant pour of salt onto an open wound. This sentiment rings true in most creative mediums, but comic books aside, action movies are the standout.
Continue reading to check out my Definitive Guide To Obscure Action Movie Villains.
Recently, my devout love of action movies was rekindled by an obscure action movie called The Last Stand (starring a surprisingly action packed Arnold Schwarzenegger). It was your basic tale of small town sheriff pitted against big time drug lords and not taking kindly to their presence. I soon came to realize that there was something special about this movie. It was the first time in years I felt like I was watching an action flick attune with the classics I was raised watching, usually rented on VHS from Stop & Shop.
Finally, action movies were back, and they didn’t have to rely on bogus nostalgia like The Expendables. It was an honest to goodness ’80s-style non-stop action thrill ride!
The Last Stand was far from perfect, however. The one glaring error was a non-memorable bad guy. It was like a deck of cards with no kings (so there was no chance of playing the game “kings” and the inevitable drunk that follows). In action movie lore, there is a laundry list of notable villains, but more importantly there is a list of unsung miscreants who you’ve seen dozens of times, but for some reason have drifted to the archives of full-blown obscurity or minimized to cool cameos. Speaking of The Expendables, (which now has two sequels and an all-female spinoff) I think it’s about damned time for an all-villains edition (and it’ll happen if my impending Change.org petition has its way).
These following gentlemen would be amongst the most heavily recruited, if there’s any injustice in the world.
AS SEEN IN:Delta Force 2, Invasion U.S.A., The Acting Class, Never Say Die
NOTABLE NEMESIS: Chuck Norris
WHO IS HE?Billy Drago is the ultimate action movie bad guy. Drago is most prominently known as playing Frank Nitty in The Untouchables, but his catalog goes so much deeper than main stream success, stretching from action to horror and really nowhere else. Drago is an acting powerhouse who’s so goddamned good at acting that he teaches people to act…like Billy Drago.
Drago is a hard guy to miss in any vehicle he’s a part of. He generally has a ponytail or tight, slicked back Dracula-hair. He’s mostly known for touching people’s faces even more uncomfortably than John Travolta and he gets so into character he spits when he talks.
BEST QUOTE:“Why is the girl not harvesting the coca?”
BEST MOMENT: Falling from an airplane without a parachute while holding an open suitcase full of cash.
WHO IS HE?Bruce Payne is a gentleman I often confuse with the guy who played Warlock in Warlock. This confusion would grow stronger as Payne eventually played the titular character in Warlock 3 . A striking head of golden locks and a European accent that makes terrorist girls panties drop, Bruce Payne is a versatile staple to both the action and horror genres.
His most notable appearance is of course that of plane-blower-upper Charles Rane in Passenger 57. For this role alone, he deserves to go down in history as one of cinemas most amazing crazy pants.
BEST QUOTE:“I’ve just executed five passengers. I will execute five more every three minutes until you find someone who is authorized to meet my demands.”
AS SEEN IN:Sudden Impact, Death Wish 2, Alien Nation
NOTABLE NEMESIS: Charles Bronson
WHO IS HE?Kevyn Major Howard (KMH for short) is known to most as lovable journalist Rafterman in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece Full Metal Jacket. However, like most actors, he couldn’t sustain a career from one movie (even if it is arguably the greatest war film of all time). KMH is an obscure member of the villains club as he never really had a prominent role outside of Death Wish 2. What gives him major street cred is the fact that he tangled with both Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood, in their primes, AND James Caan very close to his.
KMH is amongst the baddest bad guys on this list and, to make matters more awesome, he kind of looks like a way more pleasant version of former professional wrestler Lex Luger. That really doesn’t add much to his credentials, but seriously, he REALLY looks like Lex Luger.
BEST QUOTE:“I’ll show you how good dog shit is now, Callahan!”
STATUS: Alive and probably available if called upon.
AS SEEN IN:Invasion U.S.A., Bad Dreams, Invasion Force
NOTABLE NEMESIS: Chuck Norris
WHO IS HE?Richard Lynch is the definitive movie “holy shit it’s that guy!” Boasting a whopping 160 acting credits, Lynch has been all over TV and the silver screen. His most prominent appearances have to be the ’80s horror masterpiece Bad Dreams and of course, my favorite Christmas movie, Invasion U.S.A. In fact, he kills Billy Drago in the aforementioned Chuck Norris masterpiece!
Lynch is an easy addition because, as stated, he just looks evil. This is one time where typecasting gets a gold star.
BEST QUOTE:“Welcome to America!” (before having his army of terrorists machine gun a raft of refugees)
AS SEEN IN:Missing In Action 2, Steele Justice, Death Wish 4
NOTABLE NEMESIS: Chuck Norris (of fucking course)/ Martin Kove (tie)
WHO IS HE?Soon-Tek Oh is a well-loved and respected voice actor who, when not providing voices for numerous children’s cartoons, portrays an evil Vietnamese general/ex-pat/terrorist every chance he gets. Some may argue that Fa Zhou of Mulan fame is his most notable role. I would not be in that camp because, to me, his greatest role is as clear as a window before someone is thrown through it…Missing In Action 2.
The perfect foil to Norris’ P.O.W., Oh is one of the most ruthless war villains Hollywood (and Canon) ever gave us. Steele Justice is a very close second where he basically plays the same villain but this time he wears a suit.
BEST QUOTE:“For the crimes against the people of Vietnam, I sentence you to death!”
AS SEEN IN:Crocodile Dundee 2, Street Hunter, Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, McBain
NOTABLE NEMESIS: Paul Hogan, Charles Bronson, Steve James, Michael Ironside, Christopher Walken
WHO ARE THEY? These two will be forever linked in my mind as the murderous brothers from Crocodile Dundee 2. However, by the grace of some divine force, they both found their way into countless action properties over the years tangling with the best of the best (not the movie, but the caliber of action star). Their combined body count is legendary and their evil schemes nearly unmatched. It’s almost unfair to group them, but come on guys, Crocodile Dundee 2 (which was The Empire Strikes Back of that series).
Ubarry is the notable standout of the pair as he was in McBain, AKA the BEST ACTION MOVIE EVER. Fernandez is no slouch himself though, because tangling with Charles Bronson, especially when women are concerned, is no easy task.
Seriously though, have you seen McBain?
BEST QUOTE: Ubarry – “This Dundee likes to play games! Maybe we show him some good games when it gets light.”
BEST MOMENT: Fernandez – Charles Bronson makes him eat his own watch.