Well, the first round is in the books and now that the dust has settled, we can see who are the ass kickers, and who are the ass kickees…I don’t care that that isn’t a word. I’m coining it. Enough chatter, onto the matchups.
1. Arnold Schwarzenegger vs 17. Robert De Niro
Arnie had a fairly easy first round matchup, handily beating Danny Trejo. His second round matchup will be a bit tougher as he comes up against Hollywood legend Robert De Niro. If this was a matchup that took into account all of their respective filmographies, I think Bob would take it handily. However, this is not that. While Arnie is the heavy favourite, De Niro does have other action films apart from Heat. One of the more underrated action films is Ronin with him and Jean Reno, which features a car chase scene that rivals the best in the industry, including the one from Bullitt which I hyped in the Steve McQueen writeup. But of course, even with underrated hits, De Niro’s action resume is a little light compared to Arnie’s, so can the legend pull off the ultimate upset or will Arnie coast on through?
8. Bruce Lee vs 9. Jackie Chan
I think this is the biggest matchup of the entire second round. The master vs the protege. The teacher vs the student. I can see an argument for either side here. Jackie Chan had, due to Bruce’s untimely demise, a much more successful mainstream career. The Rush Hour trilogy, as racist as it may be, was a hit and then Chan also had the Shanghai movies with Owen Wilson (wow) and just a plethora of family action hits. He hit that blend better than nearly anyone. But on the other hand, Bruce Lee is Bruce motherfucking Lee. Without him there is no Jackie Chan. No Jet Li. No Michelle Yeoh. I doubt martial arts films even make their way to the US without the power of Bruce Lee, and you don’t even really need a reason other than he is Bruce Lee. So does the student finally become the master or does experience prevail?
4. Sean Connery vs 20. Denzel Washington
I genuinely think Sean Connery is one of the most underrated in this bracket. Granted, we ranked him as fourth, but I am just as guilty as most others as I had him way lower in mine and I’m wondering why. Maybe it’s the scottish accent? But that can’t be it. Whatever the reason, it’s not a fair one as Connery is an action heavyweight. Even his final film (he isn’t dead, just retired) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a solid superhero(ish)/action movie. But speaking of heavyweights, Denzel suffered from our biggest botch in the polling stage and is looking to underdog his way to the finals. The great thing about Denzel is even if he is given an awfully generic script, say the likes of Safe House or The Equalizer 2, he still makes his role his own and just dominates it. For the record, I don’t recommend either of those two movies. If you want a good, underappreciated Denzel action, go for Man on Fire. Two Hollywood heavyweights…who’s gonna win?
5. Mel Gibson vs 12. Harrison Ford
Speaking of heavyweights, this is a behemoth matchup here. The guy who played Mad Max and Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon vs Han fucking Solo and Indiana fucking Jones. Are you kidding me? Even their minor action movies are great. Mel had revenge movies like Payback and Ransom before Keanu Reeves made them cool. Harrison Ford also played one of the more famous characters adapted from novels in Jack Ryan, in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, but that fact gets overshadowed because his other characters are so fucking iconic. So it’s the Australian that loves to have a drink and berate cops going up against the surly ‘pilot’ and I use that term loosely because Harrison has crashed multiple times and escaped death.
The second round is about to tip off…who ya got?