Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lt. "Dirty" Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry)

Pop quiz, Hot Shot Police Officer: what do you do when deranged criminals are roaming the streets and there are these pesky things called "laws" getting in your way? The Only Correct Answer: get the biggest gun you can possibly find and shoot as many bullets as possible (ostensibly towards actual/probable criminals). And if you additionally happen to be Clint Eastwood? Well, for one, everything you do is automatically set to an awesome jazz score by Lalo Schifrin, thus assuring you the maximum allotment of badass points possible. But I get ahead of myself!

I'm pretty excited, because: 1) this will mark Clint Eastwood's first appearance in this column (after many tantalizing references), and 2) I can finally prove (with proof!) that sweater vests and tweed jackets aren't just for saving Latin anymore.

Oh, what's that? I haven't mentioned the awesome robin-red sweater vests and tweed jackets that seem to be the only items that make up Clint Eastwoods's wardrobe in this movie? Check this bad boy ensemble out:

And this is what he wears literally the entire movie! The fact that Dirty Harry, seemingly a mere miniature trolley ride away from the Land of Make-Believe, is still easily one of American Cinema's greatest badasses speaks volumes about the game that Clint Eastwood brings to the table. This is a man who takes out the worst scum and trash that San Francisco has to offer, and damn if he doesn't also give them a lesson in color coordination while doing it. While history may argue for centuries if Dirty Harry was culture's first metrosexual, the simple answer is: yes, yes he was. But it's not all rolled up cuffs and rakishly askew neckties up in this piece. For one, the psychotic madman on the loose definitely isn't promoting his fall collection.

San Francisco! Jazz! The hot hot heat of a summer that lasted two weeks longer than anyone ever wanted and it's still only the beginning of June. What's a Clint Eastwood to do? Be awesome, that's what. To wit:

Awesome Things Clint Eastwood Does In This Movie:

1) Not only does he notice an increasingly in progress armed robbery at a bank two blocks away while eating a hot dog at a local diner, but he then methodically dispatches the very same armed gang of bank robbers. He does it in around thirty seconds. AND the entire time this is happening, he does not for a single second stop enjoying that hotdog meal. I've never seen a man so cool and collected while eating his lunch and causing major/lethal fire-arm damage at the same time. Needless to say, I was impressed.

2) Instead of taking time to talk down a potential suicide jumper on top of a very tall building, Eastwood simply decks the guy and knocks him unconscious. Bold, simple, and with the brushstroke of a master Zen sandgardener.

3) A madman has taken a bus and its load of children hostage. If they sing less than 60 refrains of "Old Macdonald Had A Farm," the bus will horribly explode. Just kidding! The singing is actually the horrible part. ...REGARDLESS, somehow (and without the aid of Google Maps)(remember, this was the 70's and connections speeds for Street View just took way too long) Eastwood knows exactly which highway overpass to stand threateningly atop so that he can jump off the overpass and land perfectly on top of the bus as it passes. My theory? The sweater vest also doubles as a high tech bullet-proof-mesh/innertube, protecting its wearer from a variety of environmental hazards. Protecting in style.

4) Eastwood has finally cornered Scorpio, the psychotic and infinitely less chic murderer/kidnapper. One small problem: Scorpio is using his last child hostage as a child hostage human shield (which science tells us is the worst kind of human shield). Eastwood wouldn't dare shoot at Scorpio if it meant possibly hitting the child, right? Nope! It's actually pretty delightful how breezily and unconcerned Eastwood is when he whips his gun out and blasts Scorpio away, mere inches away from every major artery and organ on the kid's body. And then! Does Eastwood check to see if the kid is okay? Nope! He actually kind of pushes the kid out of the way to chase after Scorpio some more. Genius. Pure genius.

Now....if there was only a way to showcase the all of the above in a quick thirty clip from "The Simpsons." Oh wait, huzzah!

Needless to say, while discussion of "Dirty Harry" only touches but a mere fraction of the Clint Eastwood badassery lexicon, I hope you enjoyed it as a great introduction to what you'll have in store down the road. Flinty stares, ridiculously oversized guns, and a voice so gravel-ly it puts most rock quarries out of business. (Jazz flute solo).

Badassery Quotient: All%

What It Would Take For Me To Fuck With Him/Her: I would have to be made out of diamond and then put in a cage made out of diamond to keep me separated from Clint Eastwood at all times. Oh, and the diamond cage is also on fire.

*Bonus Badassery: While he's only in the movie for maybe a half hour, the character of Dirty Harry's partner, whom I will affectionately call "Not Edward James Olmos But Probably A Cousin To," is able to legitimately keep up with Eastwood, which already puts him in a select group of maybe 50 people, tops. Keep up the good work, buddy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Edward Cullen (Twilight)

Ah, Edward Cullen, the mysterious stranger who...Bwa ha ha hahahahhah hahahhha...ohhhh man....yeah...had you going there for a second, right? I mean, it was pretty convincing for at least two seconds, right? Whew, I'm glad we shared this time together.

Note to actual Twilight fans: Sorry!

Special Bonus: The highlights to the MSTK3 guys' "Twilight" commentary:

Badassery Quotient: 1% (he can actually run pretty fast, I suppose)
What It Would Take For Me To Fuck With Him/Her: What are you offering? A dollar? Done. Most of an apple? Double done.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Töre (The Virgin Spring)

Ahhh, Swedes. The bastard children of wild Scandinavia. For when it comes to images of brutal viking slaughter, most people are quick to bring up images of the Norse (Erik the Red) or even the Danes (, but rarely do they even consider the possible badassery of the easy going Swedish people.

That's a mistake.

Here's the thing: yes, science has proven that the Swedish people are an easy going, peace loving people, always at the ready with a piping hot mug of hot chocolate. But if you look closely, the reverse corrollary is also true. A corrollary that hides almost too easily in the long arctic nights of the Swedish landscape: if you cross a Swede, prepare to get cut.

A veritable two-man wrecking team, Ingmar Bergman and Max Von Sydow spent a good number of years proving this precise subset of Swedish anthropological study. In one corner you have Von Sydow, a block of Swedish marble. Indomitable against the elements, more of a granite wall than a man, and feared by Death itself. When Von Sydow speaks, his words consist solely of the blood of his enemies. In the other corner you have Bergman, the only living man who was able to fully contain the power of Von Sydow and channel it into the moving image. Having already seemingly reached the pinnacle of their collaboration with "The Seventh Seal" a scant three years earlier, these men dared lightning to strike twice. And strike it did.

In "The Virgin Spring," Von Sydow plays Töre, the tactiturn patriarch of a small medieval farming community. He thinks today is going to be one of those miracle days where the sun shines its brightest, the crops grow their tallest, and his daughter does not get raped and murdered by a roving band of sheep herding thugs. Unluckily for Töre, there's no prize for two out of three. You see, much like in the recent re-remake "Last House on the Left," Töre's pure/virgin daughter is indeed beset by such a roving band of thugs, wherin they have their way with her and then club her to death with a club. Thinking they've gotten away scot free with their evil pursuits, the rapists come across Töre's farm community, not knowing it was his daughter with whom they have just brutally had their way. In this classic poweder keg situation, you have Töre, who realizes what these men have done when he finds his daughter's clothes among their belongings, and the idiot rapists (two young men and their ten-year old brother).

Question: What's a wronged Swede to do?

Answer: Amazing feats of revenge mixed together with just the right amount of cold-blooded murder. A classic recipe!

Portraits of Badassery is now proud to present a step by step guide to Ritualistically Avenging Your Daughter's Death in the Most Awesomely Norse Way Possible:

.Step 1: Find a nearby birch tree and wrestle with it until you have literally pulled it out of the ground.

While most seekers of vengance might think to hew down the tree with a conveniently located axe or short sword, this in fact a common mistake. By proving yourself superior in hand to hand combat with even nature itself, you have all but proven that no other man is anywhere close to being a match for you. Bonus points for picking a birch tree in the most desolate landscape possible.

.Step 2: With a careful eye, hew as many branches from the birch tree as possible and fashion them into a cat o' nine tails. Whip yourself repeatedly with this instrument, fully nude, in the nearest bathhouse available. Fact: Not only are you repenting for the bloody sins you are about to commit, you are also toughening up your body for any damages it might take in the ensuing melee. This is exactly the type of synergy you'll need to adequetely take on a band of depraved monsters.

.Step 3: Now fully dressed in your resplendent Swedish murder wardrobe, silently enter the dining hall where the murderers are sleeping. Be careful not to wake them up (yet), as you'll want to enjoy the time readying your "butcher knife," the one covered top to bottom with ritualistic demon iconography, in your handmade badass chair seemingly made from five seperate redwood trees. Since you are doing God's work, you'll want to wait precisely until dawn to actually strike. Another two-fold reason here: not only will you be bathing your transgressors in the forgiving light of the Lord, you'll also be able to see better as you are repeatedly stabbing with your giant hell blade. No need to waste your energy stabbing thin air!

.Step 4: Feel free to enact your bloody bloody revenge as necessary!

Honestly, what makes this film work so well is the perfect slow-burn Bergman creates. When the flame finally reaches the powder inside the keg, it is quick, dirty and so very thrilling. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Von Sydow dispatches his victims in the most badass ways possible. The first guy get pinned against the wall with a huge dining table and then repeatedly stabbed in the neck with the devil knife. Awesome. The second guy gets burned alive on the cooking pit in the center of the room. In an especially badass display, Von Sydow holds his perp over the flame at the expense of his own hands, badly burning them in the process. And then, we're left with the ten year old kid. Now, I know what you're thinking: in a typical scenario, the kid repents for the sins he took part in and then the hero forgives him and maybe adopts him to make sure he's raised in a good home, right? Unfortunately, in this scenario, the ten year old kid messed with the wrong Swede. In what is arguably the best moment in the film, the kid is looking at Von Sydow with these blubbery repentant eyes, and Von Sydow grabs the kid over his head and throws him full force against the nearest wall, killing him. Amazing. So cold blooded, without an ounce of remorse (see, Von Sydow already repented with the whole birch flogging ritual, so it's cool, right?).

As the film comes to a close, Töre promises to build a church on the spot where his daughter died (just to definitely make sure he was in the clear for all that messy revenge business, I suppose) and everyone learns a valuable lesson: it's always better to cross the Danes. Really, as far as cinematic revenge sequences go, there's no better place to visit than "The Virgin Spring."

Badassery Quotient: 261%
What It Would Take For Me To Fuck With Him/Her: The destruction of all the world's birch trees, for a start.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Baroness - (GI Joe)

Ahhhh, The Baroness. The thinking man's sexpot. The ultimate naughty librarian (who kicks you in the face). But most importantly, the most capable of all of GI Joe's many dangerous foes. She is like, hmm, let's say, some sort of animal. A silent animal. Silent, yet deadly. An animal that creeps, perhaps? Creeping around, silently, always poised ready to strike. The sort of animal, let's say a reptile, the sort of reptile that would attack effectively, because you couldn't hear it coming before it struck. A piercing kind of strike. Say, with fangs. A fanged, piercing strike that springs, hidden from the shadows, hidden because it has been silent prior to the poisonous and damaging strike. Poisonous, because the fangs have venom in them. Snake venom.

So, basically, The Baroness is the ruthless panther of the dreaded Cobra organization. Beautiful to look at, but more than ready to tear your throat to shreds with her massive incisors. I'm imagining two reallly big teeth here, glinting in such a way that you just can't take your eyes off of them. Really, they're just too distracting, you can't help but stare....and then she roundhouse kicks you in the face.

Now, besides being completely fetching and stunning, pray tell, what makes The Baroness so renowned for her badassery? Well, besides the fact it's kind of hard to be both fetching and stunning at the same time (I would like to see you do it, Mr. and Mrs. Trashtalker), she also reaps the benefit of having been trained in the martial arts by Cobra's other resident badass: Storm Shadow. So, quick recap (I know, this is flying by):

1) Fetching
2) Stunning
3) Intense martial arts training by a rouge ninja who viciously murdered his own sensei in cold blood (scientifically proven to be the best sort of teacher, because, hey!, Storm Shadow sure doesn't want to make the same mistakes that led to him murdering his own teacher. Amiright?)

Now, clearly, today's entry also has a lot to do with the release of the hit new classic American film "GI Joe." Portrayed by Sienna Miller, the film version of The Baroness only amplifies her trifecta of winning attributes.

Thanks to this performance though, we can add a fourth quality that simply shouldn't be overlooked: expert bedazzling. If you take the time to really study the outfit that the film version of The Baroness is wearing in the above photo, you can really admire the high detail work and craftsmanship that must have gone into creating such a finely made battlefield ensemble. And let's not lie, The Baroness is an expert at not sitting around. Right from the start of the film, she's shooting dudes in the face (after kicking them there), hanging from sweet helicopters, and unleashing deadly pandemics of nanoviruses left and right.

But, as every night has its dawn, so must The Baroness have her one demerit. And it's a doozy. You see, even though she's the fetching-est vixen this side of a succubus convention, for some inexorable reason, the one guy she is romantically linked to is...Destro. You know, the guy with the metal head. Made of metal. You know, this guy:

...Now, I'm no scientist, but, um, I can't imagine it's too much fun being intimate with a guy with a metal head. First of all, on a purely tactile level, that metal is probably going to be cold to the touch, so that's awkward right from the start. And then after that, well, there's a whole rabbit hole of problems you could potentially be getting into. And frankly, I would think The Baroness is too smart to box herself into a corner like that. Also!, what is she doing with a guy who's down with wearing that much fur? Fur is murder, people. Even when it's in the outrageous shape of a cobra hood. There is simply no excuse.

At the end of the day though, The Baroness rises to the top of the GI Joe elite. She's a fiesty lass with enough brains to teach two SAT prep classes at once and she's into metal. What else can you say? Oh right, one more word: fetching.

Badassery Quotient: 170%
What It Would Take For Me To Fuck With Him/Her: Ironically, a metal head. Just trying kicking me in the face now. Checkmate.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Liam Neeson's Character (Taken)

Ostensibly, the character Liam Neeson plays in the hit movie "Taken" is named Bryan Mills. Ultimately, you don't need to know that. What you do need to know is this:

Liam Neeson's Character (hereafter referred to as Liam Neeson) wants his daughter back, damn-it, and he's going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.

And friends, if I ever come to the point in my life where I start kidnapping nubile teenaged daughters, you better believe the first question I will ask them mid-kidnap will be, "Hold up, are you by any chance Liam Neeson's daughter?" Why is that? Because after all these years, Liam Neeson has evidently been the secret master of Badassery and hasn't really bothered to tell anyone about it until now.

I mean, sure, on the surface, he's got some things going for him already going into this situation:

1) He was Darkman, a scientist horribly scarred by toxic waste toting criminals, who then turns to a sordid life of revenge. Wearing synthetic skin of his own creation, Liam Neeson goes on a murderous rampage to take back the life that was stolen from him. Definite bonus points here.

2) He was Oskar Schindler, pretty much a one man army personally responsible for infiltrating Hitler's secret bunker and putting a violent stop to him and his mad search for mystical powers. This could also be the plot to Return to Castle Wolfenstein, so let's get back to this one.

3) He was Qui-Gon Jinn, ladykiller of epic proportions (he totally did Anakin's mom that night on Tatooine in "Phantom Menace," admit it) and knight errant of a simpler more elegant age (also, he almost won that lightsaber fight with Darth Maul, so, a couple of bonus points for effort).

4) He was (spoiler alert) R'as al Ghul, the Batman villian with eyes of cold steel matched only by the actual cold steel in his hands. By which I mean his sword. By which I mean his actual sword, with which he fights Batman, and wins! And as we all know, anyone who can best Batman in a test of physical acumen automatically gets infinity bonus points.


Going into "Taken," Liam Neeson already has some serious credentials going for him. His secret weapon though, is that regardless of this extensive badass background, most people still see Liam Neeson as this soft spoken gentle giant. A kindly, older father figure who just wants to share some quality bonding time with his estranged teenage daughter on her 18th birthday. When "Taken" is properly examined, science shows us that the critical error the villains make in bringing down Liam Neeson's unmeasurable wrath, in lieu of not kidnapping his daughter, is instead actually kidnapping his daughter and then (sadly, for them) daring him to do something about it.

What occurs over the next hour and a half is one of the most enjoyable and unexpected exploits of badassery I have ever watched. Sure, knowing Liam Neeson's secret badass past, it makes sense that he'll shoot a couple of guys, maybe throw some punches, and if he's lucky, drive a car really fast past some recognizable French landmarks (spoiler alert: the film mainly takes place in France). In fact, what actually happens is so...vivid, I almost don't want to ruin the clinical ruthlessness Liam Neeson displays in categorically destroying anyone even remotely involved with his daughter's kidnapping (he just wants his daughter back, damn-it!). To wit:

1) His method of hand to hand fighting, which I was not familiar with before this movie, but according to the furious fact checkers at the IMDB is called "Pentchack Silat," involves Liam Neeson using whatever is available (guns, nightsticks, candleabras) and then ramming those objects into his victims throats as hard as he can around ten times in a row. It is stunning to watch. This happens about every five minutes, and not only does it not get boring, it somehow becomes more awesome as the movie continues.

2) Oh man, the guy stuck with actually physically kidnapping Liam Neeson's daughter gets pretty much the worst deal of anyone in the movie, or any movie ever (but of course, his main mistake: deciding to kidnap Liam Neeson's daughter). After getting slammed in the throat about twenty times and then shot, the kidnapper awakens in Liam Neeson's secret interrogation chamber for a fun little round of electric shock 'til you drop. Curious fact about Liam Neeson: he is the Emeril of electric shock torture, always wanted to kick it up a notch. So, instead of simply attaching metal clips to the dude to electrocute him (you know, standard operating procedure), Liam Neeson takes two metal spokes and thrusts them into the poor kidnapper's legs, seemingly straight into the most sensitive of bones, the leg bone (again, according to science). Liam Neeson then turns on the electric current, snaps a witty riposte, and smoothly walks away imparting one final lesson: If you kidnap Liam Neeson's daughter, he will jam metal prongs into your bones and then leave you to die via a endless steam of electricity going directly into your aforementioned fragile, fragile leg bones.

3) Liam Neeson invites himself over to the house of one of his old French colleagues for dinner (ooh, burn), and in a slightly more rude gesture, ends up shooting the man's wife right in front of him in order to get a missing piece of information. Oh, Liam Neeson, you card! Pulling the old Shoot-A-Man's-Wife-Violently-In-Front-Of-Him Gambit! Honestly though, Frenchman, a simple bullet wound is probably preferable to the alternative of getting slammed on the throat a dozen times.

4) Honestly, much much more. If you have any interest in the dark journeys a man must take in order to reclaim the one thing most precious to him, you really can't beat "Taken." Each time you see Liam Neeson inventively and bone-snapping-ly claim his next target, it's just a light feather tap compared to what's coming next.

Also, for all you would-be kidnappers out there, please watch this movie first to make sure you learn the one necessary lesson to stay alive: whatever you do, please please, don't kidnap Liam Neeson's virgin daughter. Thanks for listening!

Badassery Quotient: 300%
What It Would Take For Me To Fuck With Him/Her: An adamantium neck guard and bones that didn't conduct electricity.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Eleanor Roosevelt (Historical Record)

In the early decades of the 20th century, the Women's Suffragist Movement was turning the tides of American culture, bolstering the feminist viewpoint, and paving the way for ladies everywhere (everywhere = the continental United States)(you don't want to know what was happening in Hawaii...). What the Susan B. Anthony's and Elizabeth Stanton's of the day did not realize was that they were not just changing the course of women's rights; they were setting into play a set of variables that, when combined, would create a true force of nature ten times more powerful than the ancient gods of myth and a hundred-fold more rooted in reality.

A woman. A dragon-lady that even the simplest fool knew not to cross. A weapon with more megaton force than all of the combined engines of destruction dreamed up by the Manhattan Project. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. A woman who defied the shackles that society placed upon her in order to rise up and single-handedly thwart the ambitions of Hitler and Tojo.

Now, while there might be some slight hyperbole in the above statements, let's take a moment to look at some actual true facts about Eleanor Roosevelt (again, these are true, according to TIME magazine):

. During FDR's vast presidency, she declined Secret Service protection in lieu of her own personal handgun she kept on her body at all times. A mankiller for which she did have a permit for, thank you very much.

. Eleanor Roosevelt is the only First Lady to have a Klu Klux Klan bounty posted on her. For her death. As in, she was marked for death by a secret nationwide cabal that existed solely to promote injustice and hatred.

. In her spare time (when she wasn't dodging racist assassins), she worked in the crime ridden slums of the Lower East Side to teach underprivileged children how to read. Not only were these mean streets already a host of unknown dangerous elements, but they were also perfect places to be gunned down by behooded killers with visions of glory in their eyes! And she never got a scratch on her! And let's not lie, even if she was shot, I don't think I'm going out on a limb by assuming she would probably have taken the bullet out and sewn up the wound by herself.

. Her (at the time) secret FBI file was over 4000 pages. And get this: it was single spaced.

Simply put, Eleanor Roosevelt challenged the status quo at every turn, and did it in a time before shoulder pads and pant suits were acceptable parts of everyday wear. At a time when most ladies were cleaning up messes in the kitchen, Eleanor was cleaning up history's greatest evils and illiteracy (which, actually, is another one of history's greatest evils). She was a nationwide newspaper columnist, a charter member of the first United Nations delegation, and a world class fencer (probably). At the end of the day, there was only one thing Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was not: just a woman.

For your viewing pleasure, Eleanor tells a joke about those zany japs:

Badassery Quotient: 180%
What it would take for me to fuck with him/her: Man, I don't know. If the KKK didn't have the stones to fuck with her, I'm gonna have to go with: the only known cure for polio, for use as a bargaining chip.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Conan the Librarian (UHF)

In this history of Badassery, only a scant few have the ability to leave an indelible impression of their badassery on your soul. And of those few, how many can say they've done that with less than one minute of face time? Today's entry, Conan the Librarian, is without a doubt, the unrivaled victor of this esteemed category. In a scant 41 seconds you will fear him. You will learn about the dewey decimal system. You will know what dark deeds accompany a late book return. And then he will stay, in the back corners of your mind, until those darkest times of need, when only a champion's champion will see you through the day.

To this day, I'm convinced that The Librarian fostered a large sense of pride and acceptance in jock culture that had never existed prior. Before 1989, libraries were the strongholds of academia and if jocks dared enter, the best they could make out of the situation was the occasional construction of a fort made out of those small plastic steps (the ones that helped kids reach those higher shelves). After 1989, the physically fit among us now knew they were welcome to enter these bastions of learning without fear of mockery nor spitballs. Truly, the wrestling captains and quarterbacks of the day were finally able to live their lives to the fullest, confident in the fact they would no longer be pigeon-holed as non-academics. They too had the grits, guts, and snuff to make it as societies top prize: the librarian.

Here's to you, Conan the Librarian, and your revolutionary dichotomy of scholarly pursuits and badass swords. And now, the clip we've all been waiting for:

Badassery Quotient: 170%
What it would take for me to fuck with him/her: Knowledge that my library card was not expired, and I had no outstanding late fees.