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The Top Ten Quentin Tarantino Bad-Asses

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Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012

Jules and Vincent. Mr. Orange and Mr. Blonde. The entirety of the Basterds. Jackie Brown and her company of male admirers. When one thinks of Quentin Tarantino and his compendium of motion picture badasses, these are the names that come to mind. These are the characters (and the actors who portrayed them) that Messageboard Nation swoons over, whom cinephiles dissect and fans foam over with memorized dialogue and exaggerated body art. Yet buried within each QT gem are a myriad of evocative individuals. Some get their major moment and then fade into the woodwork. Others operate on a level wholly separate from the onscreen scenarios, threatening to overwhelm the stars with their heft and substance and when viewed in total, they become as important as the players they are supporting.
  
But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a little aesthetic appreciation now and then, and with the arrival of a massive, 10 disc Blu-ray overview of Tarantino’s career (entitled Tarantino XX), perhaps it’s time to prop up those who fail to get the full faith and filmic credit they deserve. Remember, we are purposely avoiding The Bride, Marcellus and Mia Wallace, Louis Gara, Vernita Green, Elle Driver, the Bear Jew, Hans Landa, and Aldo Raine, just to name a few. While some may argue over a few of the choices (we’re looking at you, numbers 10, 4 and 2), we believe that they meet our imagined criteria—to wit, we would LOVE to see a movie made of their backstory. They are so compelling, so captivating in small batches that we can only imagine what a full length feature would find, beginning with this vehicular homicidal maniac:


 
#10: Stuntman Mike—Death Proof

Up until the moment they get their comeuppance, before he starts balling like a baby absent his bottle, this muscle car wielding weirdo with a proclivity for mauling females is a regular Tarantino treat. He’s got game and the patter to make it matter. He’s alluring without being alarming, and when he turns, it’s like a viper recharged with venom. So why is he so low on the list? Well, because of the crying jag. No true badass would beg for his life, or scream like a stuck wig when some girls start literally busting his chops.


 
#9: Captain Koons—Pulp Fiction

Don’t remember him? Can’t recall this character? If I said “watch up the ass”, or perhaps, Christopher Walken in slightly less oddball mode, does that ring a bell? Sure, now you remember. This was the “intermission” moment in Tarantino’s breakthrough masterwork, a surreal monologue which has the always interesting actor recounting his time in a ‘Nam POW camp, the horrible bouts of disease and dysentery, and the promise to keep a family heirloom up his bum. For the intestinal fortitude alone—really—he deserves badass kudos. For keeping the promise to what appears to be a horribly unimpressed brat, he deserves much more.


 
#8: Johnny Mo—Kill Bill, Vol. 1

He’s there for a moment, masked and ready to fight. Then he shrieks like a badass banshee and the rest of his legion, the Crazy 88s, come running. Later on, he does get a one-on-one battle with Uma Thurman’s Bride, but for the most part, Mo’s raison d’être is to provide martial arts legend Gordon Liu a place in Tarantino’s homage heavy home. As important to the entirety of Hong Kong action cinema as the other famous members of the Shaw Brothers-hood, this icon validates Tarantino’s chocie chop socky love letter. He’s also pretty good with a sword as well.


 
#7: Zoe Bell—Death Proof

After falling in love with her as Thurman’s stunt slayer in Kill Bill (which is the focus of a fine documentary entitled Double Dare), Heir Auteur decided that Ms. Bell needed a starring role in his next feature. Playing a cheeky version of herself, Tarantino cast her as a performer who can’t wait to straddle the hood of a sweet ‘70s muscle car. The resulting ride starts out scary enough. Then some nutjob with a vendetta shows up to cause some female fender bender chaos. Throughout the ensuing chase, Bell baffles physics by staying glued to that Detroit steel. Amazing.


 
#6: Mr. Pink—Reservoir Dogs

True, he won’t tip, and he’s a pain the side of everyone who signed on for this supposedly simple jewelry store heist, but when the spit hits the can, whose thinking the calmest. Better yet, when Mr. Blonde is wielding his gun like a goon and Mr. Orange is bleeding out all over Mr. White, who figures out that it’s all a set-up? And makes sure the gems are safe and sound? Say what you want about his whiny weasel persona, but Mr. Pink is the only ‘Dog’ who knows what he’s doing. He’s the sole ‘professional’ amongst the anarchic ‘amateurs.’


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