Before Jason Bourne and Evelyn Salt, a different breed of action hero roamed the Hollywood landscape: guys who were pumped up, armed to the teeth, and quick with silly one-liners. And some of us, including Sylvester Stallone, miss them. Which is why he co-wrote, directed, and stars in The Expendables, a throwback to the red-meat flicks of the '80s that hits theaters on Aug. 13. The cast is a who's who of real-life badasses. So we devised a bracket-based tournament of head-to-head showdowns to determine the baddest.
Eric Roberts, 54
Just crazy enough to be dangerous in a bar fight.
Sylvester Stallone, 64
Rambo gets a pass to round 2.
Winner: StalloneMickey Rourke, 57
See Eric Roberts entry...now multiply by 1,000!
Terry Crews, 42
Six years in the NFL; cause of countless concussions.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, 63
The Terminator...'nuff said.
VS.Steve Austin, 45
A.k.a. pro wrestler ''Stone Cold'' Steve Austin.
Jason Statham, 37
The chrome-domed cockney from Crank.
Bruce Willis, 55
Yippee-ki-yay, motherf---er, it's John McClane!
Dolph Lundgren, 52
Ivan ''I must break you'' Drago from Rocky IV.
Jet Li, 47
Martial-arts legend; heir to Bruce Lee's throne.
Randy Couture, 47
Terrifying five-time Ultimate Fighting champ.
Gary Daniels, 47
Kickboxing icon-turned-straight-to-DVD goon.
On the plus side: voted by his high school classmates as ''most likely to end up in the electric chair'' (that's pretty badass!). In the debit column: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.
It could be the tattoos, or the strange obsession with Chihuahuas, or the nose rebuilt with cartilage taken from his ear, but we've got a good feeling about Rourke's odds in this brawl.
The Austrian Oak won five Mr. Universe and seven Mr. Olympia titles. He's kicked all kinds of ass on screen both human and alien. But has his second act in politics made him soft?
We have a soft spot for Statham's Transporter flicks, especially since he does his own hairy stunts. But there's an unbadass skeleton in his closet: He used to be a model.
Burglars reportedly broke into his home near Marbella, Spain, then saw a framed photo and realized whom they were robbing. They hightailed it out of there.
Maybe it's because he looks like the Thing from Fantastic Four; maybe it's because his cauliflower ear kinda creeps us out. Either way, Couture is not a man to be trifled with.
While shooting 2008's The Wrestler, Rourke used a real razor blade to cut a bloody gash across his forehead. The dude didn't even snag the Best Actor Oscar. Still, we like that kind of moxie heading into the finals here...
The Swede Who'll Make You Bleed holds a third-degree black belt in karate. He was Grace Jones' bodyguard. He made Jean-Claude Van Damme look puny in 1992's Universal Soldier. But does the fact that MIT offered him an engineering scholarship make him too brainy to win?
At the peak of his Hollywood career after Diner, The Pope of Greenwich Village, Angel Heart, and Barfly when other stars would have settled for a cushy life of caviar and spa appointments, Rourke gave it all up to become a professional boxer...and proceeded to lay waste to both his reputation and his once-pretty face. That, my friends, is the very definition of a badass.