Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

The 90s Badass Tournament: Final 4 and Championship

The Tournament pits 64 of the most badass characters from 90s cinema against one another in a single elimination tournament.

Today, the smoke will clear, the guns will be holstered, and we will crown a champion of The 90s Badass Tournament. If you haven’t been keeping up, catch up here:

First Round, Part 1

First Round, Part 2

Second Round

Sweet Sixteen

Elite Eight


3. John McClane (Bruce Willis, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, etc) vs 4. El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas, Desperado, etc)

With the knowledge that McClane was still hampered by injuries from his savage beating at the hands of John Spartan in the Sweet 16, not to mention his close call with Ethan Hunt in the Elite 8, El Mariachi looked to finish this quickly and buck his own emerging trend of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. That was more McClane’s style anyway. El was somewhat surprised to see McClane show up on the roof of the 3-story Mexican saloon without a gun, but he respected the man enough not to take it for granted. The gunfighter immediately started spraying automatic gunfire across the rooftop, as McClane headed straight for the edge.

Just before leaping, McClane reached down and grabbed one end of a high-tension climbing rope. Damn! He must have picked that off Hunt after their fight. El could see the rope was tethered to a pipe on the roof. McClane had made it off the roof, but how far had he gone? The musician approached the ledge with caution, and just before he peered over, McClane sprang up from the ledge and smashed El’s knee with Lornette Mason’s retractable club. As he fell off the roof his leg became entangled in the rope.

The Mexican gunfighter came to hanging upside down a few feet from the ground. Woozy, but not defenseless, he released his sleeve guns and waited for McClane to show his face. After hearing an increasingly loud rumbling behind him, El Mariachi was able to swing his body around just in time to see the rapidly approaching windshield of the yellow taxi cab, and McClane’s look of grim determination behind it.

WINNER: John McClane, via vehicular homicide

3. Leon (Jean Reno, Leon) vs 4. Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes, Demolition Man)

Having downloaded a scouting report on Leon, master criminal Simon Phoenix knew he would need to find a way to draw the stealthy assassin out from the shadows. That’s why Phoenix found himself loitering at a grocery store down the block from Leon’s apartment, mean-mugging 12 year old girls.

Later, hunkered down behind his adorable hostage in the hallway of Leon’s building, Phoenix simply rang the assassin’s doorbell. Leon’s moral code left him no choice but to show himself. Grinning, Phoenix casually lined up his shot, but the little girl elbowed him just as he pulled the trigger. The bullet tore through Leon’s shoulder, knocking him to the ground. Phoenix, feeling Leon neutralized, punted away his hostage and asked Leon if he could try on “those cute little sunglasses.” Phoenix plucked the sunglasses off the wounded assassin’s face, and proceeded to pummel him. No match for Phoenix’s superior strength and speed, Leon found himself thrown around the hallway, being toyed with. Desperate, Leon used the momentum of one of Phoenix’s uppercuts to stagger back toward his apartment.

Phoenix chuckled with derision as Leon fled. Just then, the timer on the laser cannon he’d “borrowed” from the armory exhibit of the San Angeles museum chimed. Phoenix unleashed an energy blast into Leon’s apartment, disintegrating a potted plant, and turning the place to rubble. Phoenix swaggered through his destruction, kicking over debris, looking to confirm his kill.

He never checked over the doorway. From his perch above the door, Leon only needed a single shot to end Phoenix’s reign of terror.

WINNERLeon, via home field advantage


3. John McClane (Bruce Willis, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, etc) vs 3. Leon (Jean Reno, Leon)

With McClane in a seriously bad way from his tough road to the Finals, and Leon always looking for a clean and efficient way to finish his victims, neither man wanted to endure a protracted battle here. Leon, wearing a bulletproof vest and armed with grenades and multiple firearms, immediately adopted the same strategy that had carried him this far and ducked into the shadows of the ship’s cargo hold. McClane, armed only with a MAC-10 he lifted from the fallen Mariachi, gave cautious pursuit. With Leon’s calculated shots missing their mark, and McClane’s probing volleys coming too close for the hitman’s comfort, Leon wondered why this cop was faring so much better than previous opponents. Shortly, McClane’s cocky playfulness provided an answer. “With those grenades jingling all over your chest, you sound like one of the fat man’s reindeer. Ho ho ho.”

Moments after ditching his vest, Leon saw an opportunity. Three precisely fired bullets tore through McClane’s shoulder and torso. The NYPD veteran’s return fire, in between screams of agony, continued until the cartridge clicked empty. Sensing victory, Leon emerged from the shadows, aimed for McClane’s head, and pulled the trigger.

He was empty.

In a moment of desperation, both men’s eyes landed on Leon’s discarded vest, and the firearm attached to it. They scrambled to the vest, and as they struggled over the firearm, McClane explained, in between brutal headbutts, how he had tricked Leon into dumping his weapons and armor. “Last mistake you’ll ever make.” The single shot echoed throughout the cavernous hold. McClane slumped to the ground. Next to him, Leon laid in a rapidly growing pool of his own blood.

Leon’s hand fell to his side, and McClane saw a small metal ring roll from it. McClane looked to the bundle of grenades fixed to the vest as Leon rolled into an open cargo crate to protect himself from the blast.

WINNER, AND CHAMPION: Leon, via the ring trick

It’s all over! Leon has overcome a kill-crazy face mutilator, Hong Kong’s finest detective, a bug-killing space grunt, twins, the present and future’s most notorious criminal, and one smart-mouthed supercop to become the Culture Blues 90s Badass Tournament Champion.

In his victory press conference, Leon mentioned something about “sleeping in a bed,”  “having roots,” and finding his “taste for life.” Glad we could help, buddy! We’re sure everything is going to turn out just fine for that dude.

Savoring his victory.

Thanks to everyone (EV-RY-ONE!) for playing and reading! We leave you with the final Leaderboard.

(CHAMPION) Dan M (Leon, John McClane, Chan Ka Kui, Doug Quaid) – 117 pts
(2) Steve P (Leon, John McClane, Harry Tasker, El Mariachi) – 113 pts
(3) John A (Leon, Ghost Dog, Hannibal Lecter, John McClane) – 107 pts
(4) Nelson O (Leon, John McClane, Casey Ryback, Harry Tasker) – 99 pts
(5) Christian T (Leon, Doc Holliday, Sarah Connor, William Munny) – 88 pts
(6) Willias (Simon Phoenix, John Spartan, Martin Riggs, El Mariachi) – 87
(7) Bitter Old Joe (Ethan Hunt, Leon, Sarah Connor, El Mariachi) – 86 pts
(8) Laurie M (Ellen Ripley, Leon, Harry Tasker, John McClane) – 85 pts
(9) Brandon T (John McClane, Simon Phoenix, Martin Riggs, El Mariachi) – 82 pts
(10) MPC (Casey Ryback, Simon Phoenix, Martin Riggs, John McClane) – 80 pts
Annie Wilkes Miserable Bracket Award:  Rob W (Doc Holliday, Mr. Blonde, Harry Tasker, John Smith) – 25 pts

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10 Responses »

  1. WOW. After finishing in almost dead last in the 80's tournament, champion of the 90's.

    Great tournament everyone. I'd like to thank one person and one person only... the sexiest 9 year old every to appear on the big screen. no jeremiah not macaulay culkin.... Natalie Portman


    see you all in the 2000's bad ass tournament.

  2. Although a finals appearance is very impressive, I think Bruce would have won this whole thing if he was Korben Dallas.

  3. Nicely done sir.

  4. I would like to thank every one who made it possible for me to come in third: First and foremost God Almighty, without your guidance and wisdom I'd still be smoking crack and stealing shit, and sucking old dudes off in the bathrooms at Port Authority. Second, I'd like to thank my mother. She is the one that first got me into action movies and taught me how to pull all of the smoke out of a pipe. And lastly I'd like to thank the Editors at Culture Blues who have given me a reason to believe in myself. I am truly blessed.

    Congrats to Dan M!

  5. So when's the 2000's Badass Tournament?

  6. Whew! Eventually? These things are exhausting. I think we may break up the action theme with a different sort of Tournament soon. Stay tuned.

  7. Congrats to the winner. Also, thank you Culture Blues for the black bar over the results (and the results themselves).

    I love The Professional, but I just want to point out that he had to blow himself up to kill a drug addicted Gary Oldman in his movie. This was a tournament of upsets though, that's for sure. One thing I learned during this tournament is that I haven't seen Total Recall in a long time.

  8. Pro-Wrestling Badasses tournament first, then 2000s Moviestars!

  9. Congrats Dan M. You, my friend, are a badass champion.

    Leon pour toujours!


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