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The Lord of the Rings Tag

With Red about to hit theaters this weekend, I thought I’d take a look at a few other notable older movie characters who happen to be badasses. I decided to limit this list to humans only, so sorry there’s no Yoda here. But there is a Jedi.

Harry Doyle and Archie Long from Tough Guys (1986, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas). “Well, what do you want to do now, Archie? Steal another empty armored truck? Maybe start a collection?” The ’80s version of Red was this pairing of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster as two old criminals released from prison for hijacking a train and now have to adjust to modern day lifestyle after being locked up for 30 years. Meanwhile Eli Wallach plays a hit man with an old contract out on them, but he is damn near blind and can barely see his quarry.

Badassitude Level: They hijack the same train they got arrested for and continue driving it even when they run out of tracks.

As someone who has been a regular moviegoer most of my life, I love movie trailers — but as much as well all love movie trailers, we must acknowledge that sometimes they have a tendency to show us too much. Generally though, that’s never a problem with teaser trailers. In many cases they don’t even show any footage from the movie. As in the case of the recent teaser for J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, some are in theaters before principal photography has even begun.

Superman (1978). One of the very first trailers I remember seeing that didn’t actually show anything from the movie was this one for Richard Donner’s big screen version of the man of steel. It’s a simple concept — one continuous shot soaring through the clouds, with the names of the actors whooshing by (somewhat similar to what would become the title sequence), ending with the Superman shield bursting into the frame.

Continuing with my current obsession with a film’s opening moments, here are nine opening scenes that stand out in my mind. It can be a pre-credit sequence, the first scene after the opening titles, or maybe even a scene that occurs during the credits. But whatever it is, it’s something that immediately draws you into the film and sets the tone for what you’re about to see.

Indy_IdolRaiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Like a James Bond prologue, our introduction to Indiana Jones is the finale of a previous adventure. A dude in a fedora leads a group of men through a South American jungle. One henchman pulls a gun, cocks it. Suddenly there is the thunderous crack of a bullwhip and the gun falls harmlessly into the water. The dude in the fedora emerges from the shadows, and thus Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones character is revealed. Indy braves more henchman betrayal, deadly spike traps, tarantulas and a giant rolling boulder — only to have the object of his quest, a golden idol, taken from him by rival archeologist Belloq (Paul Freeman). And get this — the idol doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the movie.

Badassitude Level: Show a little backbone, will ya?

Pulp Fiction (1994). A seemingly innocuous diner conversation between “Pumpkin” (Tim Roth) and “Honey Bunny” (Amanda Plummer) suddenly escalates into an impromptu armed robbery. Honey Bunny screams “Any of you fucking pricks move and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of you!” Freeze-frame. Cue Dick Dale and his Deltones’ “Misirlou”.

Badassitude Level: The one that says “Bad Motherfucker” on it.