Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

The 90s Badass Tournament: Second Round

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

The second round begins below, whittling our field down to only the 16 most Badass characters of 90s cinema. If you need to catch up on the first round, you can do so here:

First Round, part 1

First Round, part 2


4. El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas, Desperado, etc) vs 12. John Smith (Bruce Willis, Last Man Standing)

Tournament matchups are often studies in contrasting styles. We get to see how warriors from different disciplines and time periods stack up against each other. More rarely, two people who do the exact same thing end up battling each other, like in this second round contest. El Mariachi and Smith are both renowned gunfighters, impossibly fast, dual-wielding triggermen with a knack for dodging bullets, capable of sending their opponents flying from the mere force of their bullets. As spent shell casings covered the floor of the saloon, El Mariachi danced around his opponent while Smith traced his movements with gunfire. Finding himself out of ammo and far from his guitar case, El Mariachi asked Smith what it felt like to be a cheap imitation of the legendary Mexican gunslinger. As Smith pondered his own shadowy past, El Mariachi produced two pistols from his sleeves and gunned down the gangster.

WINNER: El Mariachi, via don’t mess with the original

1. Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal, Under Siege, etc) vs 8. Chance Boudreaux (Jean-Claude Van Damme, Hard Target)

The methodical Ryback’s considerable military training did not prepare him for an opponent as unpredictable and versatile as Boudreaux. This fight began as a gunfight in the ship's kitchen, with Boudreaux diving away from Ryback’s precise shooting, answering back with shotgun blasts that filled the room with stylized sparks. Unable to get a bead on Boudreaux, Ryback attempted to turn the contest into a fistfight, but again found himself outmatched by Boudreaux’s superior skill and speed. Boudreaux wailed Ryback across the face with the business end of his shotgun before cutting his legs out from under him with a pair of vicious shin kicks. It was then that the microwave beeped, detonating the homemade grenade Ryback had planted there, and blowing the exposed Boudreaux to pieces.

WINNER: Casey Ryback, via bomb hiding

3. Doug Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall) vs 6. Martin Blank (John Cusack, Grosse Pointe Blank)

Once again, Martin Blank found himself engaged in a tense shootout with an equally skilled opponent. Between blasts of gunfire that chipped away at each other’s cover, Blank and Quaid began to bond over their shared existential dilemmas and various forms of shakabuku. More skilled at slipping out of cover than his brutish opponent, Blank eventually managed to position himself behind Quaid, plugging him with a burst of bullets to the back. Blank pondered the transience of existence as what should have been Quaid’s corpse began to laugh and take aim.

WINNERDoug Quaid, via hologram generator

2. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, Alien 3, etc) vs 10. William Munny (Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven)

Having heard rumors of Munny’s reformation and pacifism, Ripley figured that just because he’d gunned down that barbarian warmonger William Wallace in the first round, didn’t mean he’d turn his weapon on a woman. When she arrived for battle, Ripley offered to allow Munny to simply concede the match, avoid more bloodshed and return to a peaceful life on his pig farm. As Munny took a long swig from his bottle of whiskey, Ripley fingered the button concealed behind her back that would drop molten lead onto the gunslinger’s head. Finishing his drink, Munny told Ripley that he was getting comfortable in The Tournament. As he raised his gun and took aim, Ripley pressed the button condemning Munny to an eternity in hell. She barely had a chance to wonder why nothing happened before Munny pulled the trigger.

WINNER: William Munny, via always being lucky when it comes to killing folks


1. Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon 3, etc) vs 8. Melvin Smiley (Mark Wahlberg, The Big Hit)

Melvin Smiley showed up to do battle looking groggy. Reports suggest that he was up most of the night appeasing both his needy fiancé and his demanding mistress. Smiley perked up considerably when he was able to lose himself in his work, which today came in the form of physically abusing a well-rested Riggs that spectators couldn’t help but notice was considerably less spry than during last year’s Elite Eight run. With Riggs reeling, and Smiley on the verge of a KO victory, the kind-hearted hitman started to wonder if he was just taking all his anger and aggression out on an undeserving fellow competitor. When Smiley reached down to help Riggs up, the veteran LAPD officer locked him in his signature head scissors maneuver. Smiley was figuratively kicking himself, knowing how pissed off his fiancé and mistress would be, as he slipped into unconsciousness.

WINNER: Martin Riggs, via nice guys finish last

7. Charlie Baltimore (Geena Davis, The Long Kiss Goodnight) vs 15. Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers)

As the lowest seed to advance to the second round, one might assume that Rico is a big underdog, but after analysts got a look at his impressive high-tech arsenal in a first round victory over bureaucrat Jack Ryan, many wondered how he had every slipped to a 15 seed in the first place. The selection committee’s decision seemed justified, however, when Baltimore dealt Rico a horrific close range shotgun blast early in this fight. Rico was in horrible shape when he lobbed a plasma grenade at the already-celebrating assassin. As Rico limped out of the arena, he swore that he’d be as good as new after a few days in the medi-tank. At press time, news of Rico’s improbable Sweet 16 berth was already heating up the Federal Network. Would you like to know more?

WINNER: Johnny Rico, via surviving the horrors of war

4. The Wagner Twins (Jean-Claude Van Damme (x2), Double Impact) vs 5. The Jackal (Bruce Willis, The Jackal)

Pinned down by The Jackal’s 600 round-per-minute heavy machine gun, The Wagners argued over who should pop out as a distraction. Of course, Alex bullied Chad into running out of cover, drawing The Jackal’s fire. Meanwhile, Alex snuck in the other direction, eventually coming up behind The Jackal. Alex went for a routine neck-snap, but the experienced assassin felt it coming and knocked Alex to the ground. The Jackal drew his pistol and was about to finish Alex off when, behind him, Chad commandeered the machine gun and unleashed a flurry of flesh-disintegrating rounds on its owner.

WINNERThe Wagner Twins, via flanking

3. Leon (Jean Reno, Leon) vs 6. Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat, Hard Boiled)

After an awkward opening that saw both men descend from the ceiling in an attempt to surprise their opponent, this battle settled into a somewhat easy rhythm, despite the bullets flying everywhere; Tequila fired wildly in all directions while Leon calmly slipped in and out of the shadows taking careful shots at Tequila, which he always rolled, slid or jumped away from at the last possible second. With both men growing frustrated, Tequila almost didn’t notice the clanking of the grenades landing at his feet over the clatter of his own gunfire. As he sent the explosives flying back into the darkness, he certainly didn’t notice the light reflecting off a small piece of glass in the distance.

WINNER: Leon, via a sniper’s bullet


3. John McClane (Bruce Willis, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, etc) vs  11. Sam (Robert De Niro, Ronin)

After outwitting the infamous Doc Holliday in the first round, it looked like Sam’s cunning strategic mind would carry him far in The Tournament. Having seen McClane tying one on at the bar the night before, Sam intended to confuse and disorient his enemy. He started by explaining to McClane that he was just an American tourist and spectator, not McClane’s mercenary foe. The veteran NYPD supercop can spot forged papers from a mile away, even expensive ones, even when he’s hungover. Not fooled by Sam’s ruse, McClane played along, allowing Sam to become more confident. Seizing the opportunity, both men drew their sidearms on each other. During the ensuing standoff, the two men bonded over their advanced age, world weariness, and the meaninglessness of it all. Sensing the conversation coming to an end, Sam pulled the trigger and sent a bullet into McClane’s shoulder… right before his brains flew out of the back of his head.

WINNER: John McClane, via John McClane knows how to handle mercenaries

2. John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone, Demolition Man) vs 7. Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis, Last of the Mohicans)

In Mohican legend, John Spartan is referred to as “the great despoiler of the future” and alternately as “muscle-bound barbarian of the past.” Knowing the destructive reputation of his opponent, Hawkeye approached with caution, looking for an opportunity to pick off Spartan with a single musket shot. Spartan, bored and beginning to consider just blowing up the woods, was taken by surprise as Hawkeye’s first shot tore through his shoulder. Seeing his opponent wounded (and considering his musket would need to be repacked), Hawkeye charged forward with his tomahawk. His eyes widened as he realized The Demolition Man had some sort of magic gun that fires an infinite supply of bullets. “Guess there’s no more Mohicans,” grunted Spartan as he set to sewing up his uniform next to Hawkeye’s bullet-riddled corpse.

WINNERJohn Spartan, via superior firepower of the marauding white devil

4. Cameron Poe (Nic Cage, Con Air) vs 12. Lyon Gaultier (Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lionheart)

Cameron Poe’s first round victory over the feisty youngster Jake Lo proved that he could handle a martial arts specialist, so Poe headed into the second round with an apparent psychological advantage despite Gaultier’s success in similar one-on-one pit fighting contests. After the two former military men complimented each other on their skin-tight jeans, they engaged in a stiff, herky-jerky hand-to-hand battle that one spectator said was like watching two 70-year olds fight blindfolded. After Poe gained the upper hand, Gaultier’s friend and minor league fight promoter Joshua told Gaultier that he put all their money on Poe. Feeling betrayed and fiscally irresponsible, Lionheart told Joshua that he’d made a big mistake, just before Poe ran him over with a commandeered motorcycle.

WINNER: Cameron Poe, via oh yeah Cameron Poe is also awesome at riding motorcycles

1. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible, etc) vs  8. Porter (Mel Gibson, Payback)

Perhaps it was the brutal beating he suffered in the first round at the hands of John Hatcher that made Porter slow to question why Val Resnick and not Ethan Hunt turned up at the appointed time of his second round match. Resnick handed the concussed Porter a briefcase of his share of the Triad heist money, explaining that he’d also taken out Hunt as a gesture of good will. Groggy but satisfied, Porter staggered away. As soon as Porter was out of sight, Hunt ripped off his rubber Resnick mask and extended the antennae on his detonator.

WINNEREthan Hunt, via exploding briefcase


2. Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) vs 7. Wong Fei-hung (Jet Li, Once Upon a Time in China)

These two folk heroes were lucky to meet each other in the second round, rather than an opponent with a distinct technological advantage. The Prince of Thieves put Wong on his heels early, with a long-range volley of flaming arrows that set the martial arts master’s clinic ablaze. While the fire raged around him, Wong was able to deflect Robin’s arrows and even kick some flaming debris toward the expert archer. Sensing a shift in momentum, Robin rushed in and engaged Wong with his sword. Wong’s umbrella proved little match for the heavy blade. Unarmed, and running out of options, Wong employed the shadowless kick and launched himself at Robin, who quickly sidestepped and slipped a knife into Wong’s ribcage.

WINNER: Robin of Locksley, via stabbing

3. Chan Ka Kui (Jackie Chan, Supercop, etc) vs 11. Bodhi (Patrick Swayze, Point Break)

Caught in mid bank robbery by Hong Kong’s finest cop, Bodhi found himself in the unenviable situation of trying to both win a Tournament fight and make off with his latest score. Shooting at Chan produced a series of stunts – flips over desks, running jump-slides under teller windows, etc – that the thrill-seeking Bodhi appreciated as pretty rad. When Chan managed to close the distance, he simply spun around Bodhi’s Reagan mask, blinding him, and clobbered him over the head with a bag full of money.

WINNER: Chan Ka Kui, sick moves brah

4. Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes, Demolition Man) vs 5. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, etc)

Sarah Connor’s glimpse into the apocalyptic future made her fearful and paranoid, while Phoenix’s stint in a whitewashed utopia unfamiliar with violence made him a god. He strode into battle with a cocky swagger and a whole bunch of guns, while Connor came in with a single shotgun and a severely injured shoulder from a first round gunshot wound. Her one handed pumping proved to be a huge disadvantage as Phoenix quickly kneecapped her and stood over the mother of the human resistance, ready to put a bullet in her head and advance. Connor pleaded for her life, claiming that without her around there would be no one to teach John to fight the terminators. Simon responded that he thought the next century was in desperate need of more killer robots.

WINNER: Simon Phoenix, via cold-blooded execution

1. Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger, True Lies) vs 8. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs, etc)

With rumors persisting all week that the demented Doctor Lecter intended to target his family, the obsessively cautious Tasker arranged for round-the-clock surveillance on his home. At the sounds of screaming over his earpiece, Tasker rushed from his well-fortified living room to the nondescript white van Albert was using to monitor the block. There, he found his hefty right-hand-man brutally slashed and barely breathing. Tasker glanced over the surveillance monitors, detecting no sign of Lecter. As he radioed in for chopper support and an ambulance, Albert’s body sat up, scalpel in hand.

WINNERHannibal Lecter, via wearing someone else’s face

That leaves us with the following match-ups for the Sweet Sixteen:


1. Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal, Under Siege, etc) vs 4. El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas, Desperado, etc)

3. Doug Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall) vs 10. William Munny (Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven)


1. Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon 3, etc) vs 4. The Wagner Twins (Jean-Claude Van Damme (x2), Double Impact)

3. Leon (Jean Reno, Leon) vs 15. Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien, Starship Troopers)


1. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible, etc) vs 4. Cameron Poe (Nic Cage, Con Air)

2. John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone, Demolition Man) vs 3. John McClane (Bruce Willis, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, etc)


4. Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes, Demolition Man) vs 8. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins, Silence of the Lambs, etc)

2. Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) vs 3. Chan Ka Kui (Jackie Chan, Supercop, etc)

Going into the Sweet Sixteen, the average reader score is 38 points. So if you’re around there, consider yourself still in the mix, especially considering correct predictions are worth 4 points in the next round.

Although, if you’re one of the 20% of brackets to lose your champion, you might as well start researching badasses of the new millennium because this Tournament is over for you. Harry Tasker was the most popular choice for champion to be eliminated so far. To be honest, we’re more broken up about the implied death of Tom Arnold’s True Lies character. Moment of silence, please.

Only 23% of brackets still have their entire Final Four intact, so if you count yourself amongst that elite group, pat yourself on the back.

If you’re Leaderboard #1 Willias, maybe don’t stop at just a pat. Willias was able to break away from the pack on his absolutely unprecedented 14-of-16 Second Round performance. Congratulations, Will! Let’s see how long those Demolition Man picks continue to hold up.

(1) Willias (Simon Phoenix, John Spartan, Martin Riggs, El Mariachi) – 55 pts
(2) MPC (Casey Ryback, Simon Phoenix, Martin Riggs, John McClane) – 48 pts
(3-t) Dan M (Leon, John McClane, Chan Ka Kui, Doug Quaid) – 46 pts
(3-t) John A (Leon, Ghost Dog, Hannibal Lecter, John McClane) – 46 pts
(4) Merman (John McClane, Martin Riggs, Hannibal Lecter, Casey Ryback) – 45 pts
(5-t) Bitter Old Joe (Ethan Hunt, Leon, Sarah Connor, El Mariachi) – 44 pts
(5-t) Giovanny (Ethan Hunt, Simon Phoenix, The Wagner Twins, Ellen Ripley) – 44 pts
(6-t) Christian T (Leon, Doc Holliday, Sarah Connor, William Munny) – 43 pts
(6-t) Snob (Ethan Hunt, Leon, Hannibal Lecter, William Munny) – 43 pts
(7) Steve P (Leon, John McClane, Harry Tasker, El Mariachi) – 42 pts

Somebody better start talking some trash on Demolition Man or else Willias will run away with this thing! Where do you come down on the massive Spartan/McClane Sweet 16 match? What about the Phoenix/Lecter battle of the psychos? Should Johnny Rico’s improbable run continue? Tell us in the comments!

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9 Responses »

  1. Demolition Man is a horrible shit movie. Of it's 115 minutes about half of that is Spartan and Phoenix engaged in single combat. This shit movie could have been a lot shorter if one of these jack asses learned how to shoot a gun or delivery a body crushing blow. Spartan couldn't even figure out three seashells!! This coupled with the fact that they eat Taco Bell everyday should be reason enough for them both to die next round.

  2. I don't know how it's possible to talk trash on Demolition Man. Perfect movie.

  3. Three violations of the Verbal Morality Statute. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  4. the fact that con air's cameron poe made it this far is undermining this entire tournament. the guy was probably the fifth (and that's being reaaaaal nice) most badass guy IN HIS OWN MOVIE. and don't give me some 'no villains' bs. all the guys on that plane wanted to do was do EXACTLY what andy duphresne did in shawshank redemption. if you consider duphresne a villain, then it's high time we moved 'driving miss daisy' to the 'horror' section. hanh.

  5. i liked demolition man better when it was called judge dredd.

  6. That'd be a good joke if Judge Dredd had come out first and if it made any sense. What's your boggle?

  7. The only problems with Demolition Man are that it's not long enough, it's far too fantastic, and that the Spartan and Phoenix may be far too bad-ass for any decade's bad-ass tourney.

  8. Is there a 'no villains' rule? If that's the case, what the hell is Simon Phoenix doing in the tournament at all?

  9. There is no "no villains" rule. Phoenix, Lecter, Deebo, Mr. Blonde, the Jackal, Annie Wilkes, Verbal Kint, Mickey Knox, and Wah Sing Ku would all be in violation of such a rule. But not Bodhi. He's one of the good guys.