Okay, this list began as a list of Olympic movies for obvious timely reasons, but due to the fact that would make for a very lame list, I broadened the topic. Instead, I’m focusing on training moments, montages, competition, pommel horses that appear magically in the middle of a chase, and a double dose of Dolph Lundgren. Let’s just say this list ended up being quite different, and a lot more fun, than I originally thought it would be. Let the badassery begin!
10. Superman III (1983)
Everyone seems to be slobbering over the news that Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) has been granted “Godfather” status over the next Superman film. Are they really hoping for a darker Man of Steel? Really? If you don’t remember, that was tried once with limited success. In his most badass moment from the theatrical fiasco known as Superman III, Superman – wait for it – blows out the Olympic torch in the middle of the opening ceremony. Why? Because he’s mother fucking Superman and he felt like it! Seriously, what a dick!
9. Balls of Fury (2007)
The most unlikely Olympic hero hits our list here. Dan Fogler stars as Olympic ping pong washout Randy Daytona who gets a second chance at redemption by beating the German who knocked him out of the Olympics (Thomas Lennon) and get revenge on Feng (Christopher Walken), the Triad leader who ordered the death of his father. The badass moment comes at the end as Randy–with the help of Def Leppard–defeats Feng in a ping pong death match, winning revenge for his dad and the love of the daughter of his guru (James Hong), young Maggie (Maggie Q).
8. Cool Runnings (1993)
“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Sometimes schmaltzy expressions such as this one actually ring true. Disney’s adaptation of the Jamaican’s first bobsled team might not kick as much ass as some of the other movies on this list, but it has its moments. In the film’s final scene, the four members of the team prove just how badass they are by carrying the broken bobsled over the finishing line and finally earning the respect of the other Winter Olympians (even those a-hole Germans).
7. The Cutting Edge (1992)
It’s an Olympic list so you knew ice skating had to show up somewhere. Sure, I could have gone with something like Blades of Glory, but it lacks the heart of this film. Plus, here you get some D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly action. C’mon, admit it, you like this film. The badass moment comes after ice queen Kate (Kelly) slapshots a puck, nearly taking off Dorsey’s (Sweeny) head. The hockey player overplays his hurt before smugly claiming his victory with two words: “toe pick.” Take that, bitch!
6. Stick It (2006)
Okay, it’s not technically an Olympic movie, but it is about a sport we only really think about every four years. There are many positive things I could mention about writer/director Jessica Bendinger‘s forray into the world of gymnastics. Here you’ll get the film’s major training montage (with star Missy Peregrym‘s voiceover -who earns the “badass” title all by herself) as well as a look at some of the film’s kick-ass photography in pulling back, cutting together, and showcasing the young girls’ training. Very cool.
5. Rocky IV (1985)
Is there anything more stirring than a battle of wills against a hated foe? Here Rocky Balboa takes on Soviet legend Ivan Drago for his fallen friend Apollo Creed, for his own honor, and for his country. And what does he do? He’s Rocky freakin’ Balboa. What do you think he does? He knocks the ‘roid rage Commie out! Lots of badass moments here including the training montage, but it’s Ivan’s simple “I must break you” that is the most memorable badass line in the film (and of Lundgren’s illustrious career).
4. Miracle (2004)
Speaking of the Russians… do you believe in miracles? If not, you will after seeing this film. Arguably the biggest upset in the Olympics history occurred in 1980 when a young and mostly unknown American hockey team under coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) took down the best damn hockey team in the world. Two days later, the team took the gold and completed their improbable run. Coined a “miracle” by play-by-play broadcaster Al Michaels, it’s a near perfect real-life badass moment recreated on film. The rest of the movie’s not too bad either.
3. Pentathlon (1994)
On this list, the bronze medal goes to Dolph Lundgren who makes his second appearance here as an East German Olympic gold medalist pentathlete who decides to defect to the West, where after a short uneventful time as a short-order cook he once again trains for the Olympics. Understandably his old neo-Nazi coach (David Soul) and his Aryan army won’t take this lying down. Seriously, this film has Dolph Lundgren, neo-Nazis, Soul’s super-villain speech (which leads to the coach’s downfall), and the kind of twisted logic you’ll only find in badass flicks like this.
2. Gymkata (1985)
The silver medal goes to a film so ridiculous you’ll likely lose a couple of IQ points just by watching it. Real-life triple Gold medalist Kurt Thomas stars as Jonathan Cabot, an Olympic athlete who enters a deadly underground fighting competition in the country of Parmistan in order to help the Special Intelligence Agency and save a princess. (I swear I’m not making this up!) The film’s badass moment comes when Cabot, while running from crazed villagers, just happens to find a pommel horse in the middle of a square which he uses to show of his gymnastic karate-style moves.
1. No Retreat, No Surrender (1986)
That last one certainly sounds hard to beat, doesn’t it? Luckily there’s one more film ready to grab the Top 10 Badass gold medal. This film involves a young karate student wronged by a criminal organization, a brutal beatdown, Jean-Claude Van Damme, a quest for revenge, the ghost of Bruce Lee, and an East vs. West showdown of Olympic-level importance (at least to the characters in the film). Now I ask you, how do you get more badass than that? Here’s the film’s batshit crazy training montage to give you a little taste of the insanity that is No Retreat, No Surrender.