‘Army-of-One’, ‘One-Man-Army’, ‘I’m-Really-Hard-and-You’re-Not’ – whatever you want to call them, these wrecking machines are what make an interest in cinema worthwhile. Never have I disliked, or will I ever dislike, any film which features a one-man-army in any capacity – even if “Commando” is just playing on the TV in the background.
So here is a list (in no particular order) of films that contain what I believe to be 14 of the hardest one-man-armies ever depicted in film. Aside from the most well-known ones, I’ve also tried to throw in a few you might not have yet witnessed.
1. John Rambo in “First Blood”, “Rambo: First Blood Part II”, “Rambo III” and “Rambo”
Many people forget that only one person dies in “First Blood”. But any lightweight accusations directed towards John Rambo were certainly quashed once he really got into the swing of things. Each subsequent movie ups the body-count, finally settling on a respectable 247 kills in “Rambo”. And that was when he was 110 years old.
The other unbelievable thing is – he’s not even finished yet, with “Rambo V: The Savage Hunt” coming in 2011. Early reports have it that the film will be based around Rambo’s surgical attachment to a tank with wings, just as an entire planet of stuntmen and film critics arrive in a massive spaceship with “RAMBO’S A DICKHEAD” written on the side in massive letters.
2. John Matrix in “Commando”
“Ver da fuck iss Chenny? I reely need to fiynt CHENNY! Eef any of dose scheissekopf mit gans are looking at me again, I AM GOING TO BE SMASHING DEM VIV MY MACHINE GAN UNT FISTS! Oh and you know ven I said that I vood kill you last? Yes, you now ven I said that? Vell, I LIED!”
The finale to 1985’s “Commando” is quite possibly the greatest one-man-army sequence in movie history. Picture the scene: John Matrix has infiltrated the bad guy’s villa to find his kidnapped daughter Jenny, but oh no! There are absolutely tons of henchmen and they all have guns! But oh yes! John Matrix is the hardest most bullet-proof man in the world and he doesn’t even bat an eyelid as he wipes out the entire army. If that wasn’t enough, he even has time for a knife fight with the lead bad guy, Bennett – before kindly allowing him to let off some steam.
3. Cutter in “The Ultimate Weapon”
Hulk Hogan, everyone’s favourite Nanny/Suburban Commando/Santa With Muscles, and now, Ultimate Weapon. Not content with letting Jeff Wincott hog the title as “The Perfect Weapon”, Hulk had to go one better by bringing ‘ultimate’ to the table. Luckily he succeeded, otherwise he might have looked like a bit of an idiot.
WHICH HE DEFINIELY DOES NOT IN THIS FILM.
It also turns out he had a bit of beef with Arnold Schwarzenegger – if it wasn’t enough that he was in the business of making similarly titled films, he decided to challenge him for the World Heavyweight ‘Who can kill the most bad guys without getting shot’ Championship Belt. He certainly gives Arnold a run for his schillings in “The Ultimate Weapon” – mainly by way of killing loads of bad guys without getting shot.
4. Toby Wong in “Drive”
I will never stop loving this film. It’s so good that the fact that not many people have seen it is a bum-clenching travesty. Mark Dacascos is one of the great underrated actors of all time, and watching him in this proves the indefutable evidence. Toby Wong is also one of the most ruthlessly effective one-man-armies ever to smash his boot onto celluloid. That’s really all you need to know.
5. Bryan Mills in “Taken”
Bryan: I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.
Marko: [after a long pause] Good luck.
Yeah, but Marko, actually good luck. TO YOU. You’re the one who’s going to need the luck. The GOOD LUCK. Bryan doesn’t take shit from anyone, especially you. SO GOOD LUCK. To you.
YOU’RE ONE WHO NEEDS GOOD LUCK.
(You get the idea)
6. John Lomax in “The Expert”
John is not happy with the judicial system in America, and decides to assume the role of judge, jury and most importantly EXECUTIONER, himself. So off he sets to wreak vengeance on a serial killer who escaped a real punishment and ended up in a lenient mental facility.
“But he’s only going to fight one person? That’s not much of a one-man-army!” I hear you scream. Well if you’ll let me finish, there’s loads of other mental patients for him to fight, and numerous drunks in bars too. Don’t worry, he beats a great amount of people into the ground. He possesses all the needed requirements.
7. Kham in “Warrior King”
Someone’s stolen Kham’s elephant and he wants it back! He’s so serious about this that he constantly repeats really frightening and threatening things like “Gimme back my Elephant” and “GIMME BACK MY ELEPHANT!” Tough talk for sure, but can he back it up with a well timed kick to someone’s face?
Yes he can.
Phew. That’s that cleared up then. Better go and get your elephant back then Kham. It’s up there in that building. At the top. Speak soon.
8. Beck in “Welcome to the Jungle”
This is easily The Rock’s best film, even though he’s amazing in everything he’s in (I know that I will like “The Tooth Fairy” even though I haven’t seen it yet). But amongst all his work, this has to be his most subtle, nuanced and emotional performance.
Not really, but he does beat the shit out of loads of people. And when he finally gets hold of his shotguns after repeatedly mentioning that ‘BAD THINGS FUCKING HAPPEN WHEN I GET HOLD OF GUNS’ he puts in a one-man-army performance to rival the best.
P.s I added the ‘FUCKING’ in the above quote for effect. I hope you liked it.
9. Casey Ryback in “Under Siege”
Proud owner of the world’s only Michelin throwing-star, Casey Ryback is one hot-headed chef. Especially when he’s spent ages making a nice Spaghetti Bolognese for his ship’s crew only for Gary Busey to start screaming at everyone and ruin dinner. Oh and Tommy Lee Jones is parading around shouting and wearing a particularly offensive hat – and you know what Ryback thinks about hats. (hint: they cover up the ponytail)
Ryback is the epitome of one-man-army hardness, and he proves it by single-handedly wiping the floor with any bad guy that even thinks about insulting his meatballs. He’s so hard he does it all over again on a train a few years later – all because some bloke said his Shepherd’s Pie tasted like cock.
On a side note, the new series of “Kitchen Nightmares” that sees Ryback replacing Gordon Ramsey had to be pulled because he wouldn’t stop killing the restaurant owners.
10. Yo Hinomura in “Crying Freeman”
Don’t you hate it when you go to your boyfriend/girlfriend’s house for the first time, and everything’s going swell until it turns out they have a secret wall of guns and swords and they’re actually highly trained assassins? Well pity poor Emu O’Hara (not just because of her name) – as the peaceful idyll of her and Yo Hinomura’s woodland retreat is shattered as the express train from Henchmensville arrives. As a result, it’s up to Yo to fire a grenade launcher into the air numerous times, while stunt men shout and fly through the air firing machine guns aimlessly.
While not your typical one-man-army throughout most of the film (even if he does kill lots of bad guys on his own), it’s the final action sequence that allowed Yo an invite to the annual ‘Army-of-One Dinner and Dance’ held at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s house. For this scene is up there with “Commando” in terms of sheer wanton destruction – with Yo clearly taking a leaf from John Matrix’s book (and a machine gun from his basement) and single-handedly using an endless supply of guns to defeat an endless supply of bad guys.
11. Jack Severino in “Pit Fighter”
What starts off as a relatively realistic and grounded film about no-holds-barred fighting suddenly and inexplicably decends in gun-flailing, neck-tensing, shouting-as-loud-as-you-can pandemonium. The reason for this abrupt and uncalled-for gear change into unadulterated insanity is not quite clear and as such I’ve got to say it ruined the film to a certain extent. Still, it was pretty darn funny, and it’s impossible to deny that Severino makes a pretty tough one man army.
12. John McClane in “Die Hard”, “Die Hard 2: Die Harder”, “Die Hard with a Vengeance” and “Live Free or Die Hard”
Yippee ki-yay Silly Billy! McClane is so hard, he doesn’t even need sleeves to beat up bad guys. Whether he’s in an apartment block, in an airport, chillin’ with Sam jackson or riding on the back of a jet plane, McClane always gives the bad guys what-for. He’s definitely up there in the hall of fame, mostly due to the fact that he can inexplicably foil almost any nutcase or terrorist’s plans all by himself (with a little help from Justin Long), usually destroying everything around him in the process. He’s definitely not the kind of person you want housesitting for you – yes he may save the neighborhood, but you can gaurantee that he’s fucked your Xbox doing it.
13. Frank Castle in “The Punisher” (1989), “The Punisher” (2004), and “The Punisher: War Zone”
He’s the one man that can make you shit yourself with an Ice lolly. Ok, I shit myself every time I hear the Ice Cream Van but that’s not the point – it’s a good shit. Frank will make you shit BAD shit. Especially if you’ve done him wrong in some way. Like telling him to ‘sod off’ or something.
14. Chev Chelios in “Crank” and “Crank 2: High Voltage”
The role Jason Statham was clearly made for, especially seeing as he went on a similar rampage after reading the reviews for “Revolver” – Chinese poison, electric heart and all. At least I think he did anyway. Still even if he didn’t, he could have fooled me, as he’s entirely convincing as the manic human-version-of-the-bus-from-”Speed” with a penchant for beating up large amounts of people for varying reasons. Both films are amazing and the sheer amount of carnage displayed earns him a place up with the big-boys.
Frank Martin can suck it.
Paul Kersey in “Death Wish”, “Death Wish 2”, “Death Wish 3”, “Death Wish 4: The Crackdown” and “Death Wish V: The Face of Death”
Lee in “Enter the Dragon”
Darren McCord in “Sudden Death”
Smith in “Shoot ‘Em Up”
Joe Armstrong in “American Ninja”
Nick Hume in “Death Sentence”
Topper Harley in “Hot Shots: Part Deux”
If you know of any more – leave them in the comments below!