What makes a tough guy? Why are we so fascinated by them? Who wakes up in the morning and decides that today is the day that they will smash a baddie’s head through a wall, save the damsel in distress and ride off into the sunset? These are all pertinent questions. In order to answer them, we have to look at the world of cinema. Here stories come to life. Stories of fantasy, romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy and heroism. Anybody can be a hero with the right back-story. However, to be a tough guy, that takes a special gift.
Tough guys are those individuals who lived the hard knock life. The rough and tumble of the streets have made them as hardy as leather, steely-eyed and taciturn. They will chew on a cigar, bite down on a cigarette or even keep a toothpick in the side of their mouths. You can hit them as hard as you’d like and they would take it without a whimper or protest. But if anyone raises a hand to the weak and the defense-less, then heaven help them. Hollywood has given us many tough guys and here are a few of my favorites in no particular order of ranking:
This is one bad mamma-jamma, if you know what I mean. And if you don’t know what I mean, let me try another approach. This is a tough guy. With fists of iron and nerves of steel, he has taken the world of action with storm ever since he showed up in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He knows what he is capable of doing on screen. His roles have primarily been in the block of action-hero-tough-guy. Doing his own stunts and being a certified diver whilst able to snap a villain’s neck in two, he has managed to make his mark in Hollywood. With films ranging from Snatch to Mean Machine to Transporter to Crank, Jason Statham’s ability to draw the audience into this world of action is astounding. Because of him, we all know about "Rule one."
If you are thinking that this Irishman doesn’t belong in this list, then tough cookies. He stays. Ever since he was a child, he was a scrapper. An amateur boxer, in fact, but I digress. How is Liam Neeson a tough guy? Let’s take a look at one of his most memorable performances, shall we? Yes indeed, Oskar Schindler from Schindler’s List. Think about it, he played a Nazi party member who profited from the indentured labour of the Jews who decides to do what is right. He sets out to save the lives of those who worked for him. Now, yes, this is a true story. But you have to remember, it takes a remarkable actor to convincing play this flawed and tough human being. The performance he gave and the speech at the end of the movie still resonate in the annals of cinema. If you want further proof, then all you have to do is watch Taken. Playing a father whose daughter gets abducted, he brings this whole measured
performance to the screen. His portrayal of a CIA agent whose skills are legend, made the movie come alive. Finally, if you are still in doubt, watch A-Team. Not a movie where you have to use your brain, but hey, it is full of guns, bombs, planes, helicopters, guns and a flying tank. In his words, "I love it when a plan comes together."
3) Jean Reno:
What is a Frenchman doing in these ranks, eh? It’s not odd if you think about it. This is Leon: The Professional. The hitman who soul has been corrupted by years of cold-blooded murders. The one who is incapable of mercy while on the job. And the one who decides to take a young girl under his wing and teach her the way of the hitman. The movie was brilliant, still is, and also has been remade in our world of Bollywood. This charismatic Frenchman is known for his work with Luc Besson. His role in Ronin as the fixer and scrounger, was wonderful to watch. If you are thinking about watching a fun film starring Jean Reno, catch Wasabi.
Yet another Frenchman? Fine, fine, let me explain why. You might remember him from the Ocean’s Twelve and Thirteen movies, and that he was married to Monica Bellucci
But here is the thing, he is quite well-known for playing the lead role in Mesrine: Killer Instinct and Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One. His role in the movie Eastern Promises, made people shiver in their seats. Tough, laconic, suave, he definitely makes the list of tough guys.
5) Vinnie Jones:
Enough of the French, back to the English (say it with a French accent, the women go ga-ga over that). Vinnie Jones is a consummate tough guy. When he was young, he was a professional footballer. He was a tough guy on the pitch and maintained that image off of it. This is another class act whose career in film started off with Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He then went on to play "Bullet-Tooth Tony" in Snatch, another well known tough guy. This is one guy whom you don’t want to piss off. He is so good at being tough, that he was asked to be a spokesperson for The British Heart Foundation. To the tune of Stayin’ Alive, we get to learn about Hands only CPR. Funny that, entertainment and a safety lecture. Vinnie Jones is a class act, ladies and gents.
With that we come to the end of our list. There are many more tough guys out there. Doubtless, you would to have a say. Why don’t you leave us a little note in the comment box? Make your voice heard. Be a tough guy. Lord knows, we need a few more.