The Top Ten Quentin Tarantino Bad-Asses

No, they're not who you think they are. Here's our selections for the 10 forgotten figments of cool in Tarantino's amazing oeuvre.

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.'

Next Page






Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.


The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.


Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.


Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.


Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.


The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.


Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.


Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.


Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.


Songwriter Shelly Peiken Revisits "Bitch" for '2.0' Album (premiere)

A monster hit for Meredith Brooks in the late 1990s, "Bitch" gets a new lease on life from its co-creator, Shelly Peiken. "It's a bit moodier than the original but it touts the same universal message," she says.


Leila Sunier Delivers Stunning Preface to New EP via "Sober/Without" (premiere)

With influences ranging from Angel Olsen to Joni Mitchell and Perfume Genius, Leila Sunier demonstrates her compositional prowess on the new single, "Sober/Without".


Speed the Plough Members Team with Mayssa Jallad for "Rush Hour" (premiere)

Caught in a pandemic, Speed the Plough's Baumgartners turned to a faraway musical friend for a collaboration on "Rush Hour" that speaks to the strife and circumstance of our time.


Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."


The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.


Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.


The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.


Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.


King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.