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Sheer Damn Manliness

By Pajibamen | Comment Diversions | October 7, 2010 | Comments ()

I think the first time I saw Sidney Poitier it was in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and while he was certainly a competent actor, he was too nice. Too asexual. There was no heat (In fact, he later talked about how so many of his roles where stripped of sexuality, including an African prince who was celibate despite his large harem). I knew he was an acting legend, but I wasn't much impressed. Until I saw In The Heat of the Night.

The film is filled with great performances -- Rod Steiger won an Oscar for Best Actor -- but Poitier owned the film. Virgil Tibbs was a study in barely smothered rage. To see a black actor, especially someone as intelligent and genteel as Poitier, play character who commanded, DEMANDED, respect, as a man was a revelation.

The following scene is one my favorites and it must have started riots from Harlem to Houma. ~ Tracer Bullet

Kurt Russell is a man of many characters. Some he plays with a wry wit and zest for bucking the system, others are brooding outcasts with distaste for authority and yet others are men of honour and bravery. A prolific actor though he's been somewhat absent in recent years, he's currently got three films in various states of pre or post production. While he's certainly had his share of misses, there's no denying that when Russell is on his game, he brings a certain swagger to his characters that is a joy to behold.

The first of my two favourite performances of Mr. Russell's is his portrayal of Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. Loyal, honourable and righteous to a fault he was still prone to the odd indiscretion. While he exhibited all these characteristics throughout the movie when it came time to kick ass it was done with such fortitude that you would swear Wyatt had not the testicles of a man, but two cast iron wreaking balls betwixt his legs.

At the opposite end of the spectrum we have Russell's depiction of one Jack Burton in Big Trouble in Little China. A wise cracking, brash, thug of a man; the character is almost the complete opposite of Wyatt Earp. Played by Russell with such verve that it's impossible not to love the jerk, he spouts one-liners like a man in a yo-mama contest and lays down beatings with comical aplomb. It's really too bad that Hollywood is re-making the movie with Robert Pattinson as Jack, Miley Cyrus as Gracie and Will Smith as Lo Pan. ~ Robert Scott

What do you get when blend the stoic wisdom of a Buddhist monk with the unlimited ammo code in Goldeneye 007? You get Chow Yun-fat. Bursting out of TV and onto the Hong Kong Cinema scene in John Woo's A Better Tomorrow (1986), his impact is lost on American filmgoers after being pigeonholed as the "wise Asian mentor" following Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Versatile enough to win awards for his TV work and dramatic roles, his manliness is best exemplified when at home in a John Woo bullet-fest. While it's easy to laugh off the ridiculous and implausible elements of these films, remember that they packed more innovation and entertainment than the tepid American action films that hit, particularly after our idols started ageing. At the center of it was Chow Yun-fat; able to play the desperate and downright manic anti-hero, or the graceful and illusive villain you can't stop cheering for. He could wield any weapon (he's unparalleled with the oh-so-manly tactical shotgun) and take any number of bullets, but he'd always dive in headfirst and with a smile. As John Woo said of first seeing him, "This guy was so elegant and also had great charisma. He reminded me of Alain Delon, and Steve McQueen, Ken Takakura".

There are too many insane clips to choose from, such as the groundbreaking single-take hospital shootout in Hard Boiled, the climax of The Killer, or the endless throng of bloody bodies from A Better Tomorrow 2. But I always go back to the "Teahouse Shootout" from Hard Boiled. The pay-off is just too damn cool. ~ D-Day

I'm not going to spend a lot of time marvelling over Woody Harrelsons' interesting life, like being named 'Woodrow Tracy Harrelson' (that shit'll make you tough), or being the son of a convicted contract killer, or that he was born in Texas. I don't even want to delve into the part where he punched out a photographer because he might have been a zombie. I'll try and stick with the tele/movie things of more relevance.

For a guy that made his break through as the po-dunk hick bartender on Cheers, he's come a long way. Personally, I never would have guessed that he would have the chops to break that stereotype, let alone pull a 180, move onto the big screen and actually be successful. But he did it. And did it well. From his performance in The People vs. Larry Flynt to last years The Messenger, it would be bullshit for someone to make the simple argument of 'but he can't act!'. Screw that, the boy can act. He's done a multitude of rolls, from batshit crazy to deadly serious, and while I'll concede he's no Carrie Grant, he's definitely no Keanu Reeves.

Dedicated action star? No. But Woody has that something that has always drawn a crowd. It showed with Natural Born Killers, and he did it again with Zombieland. He has that 'all bullshit aside' persona in those roles that people are hypnotized by, something of a Stockholm Syndrome that makes us want to hang out with this guy, even though he can be kind of a fucker - hell, he might kill you for eating his Twinkie.

Now, please "Nut up or shut up". ~ Xtreme

When Hollywood looks for a real man it goes to Russell Crowe. Authorative, straight talking and not one to suffer fools; he throws not only a mean look but also hefty punches and the odd telephone. Every character he has played from Hando in Romper Stomper to Richie Roberts in American Gangster carries the genuine intent and honesty of a real man. We are not ever going to see him teach a kindergarten class or wear a tutu. Crowe is as far as you can get from the atypical sparkly tinsel town Ken doll. Pacino and De Niro will give character performances; Crowe will give you the character of the man. When one of the world's last real men, Richard Harris, referred to Crowe as a soul mate, you know it was not in the Greek context.

Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Russell Crowe are drinking in a bar, in turn each of them smiles at you and tells you to "fuck off!"
Who do you listen to? ~ Peanuts

L.A. Confidential (1997) KillCount
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There you have it. Who gets your testosterone (or by default, estrogen) boiling?

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