The ‘No softies” Truly Bad Guys list

There are various lists online touting “Best Bad Guys” and “the most Evil Villains in Cinema” (the guy who keeps hiring Shia LeBeouf springs to mind), but I reckon most of them miss the point.

Time and time again the character of Hans Gruber comes up somewhere near the top – and I LOVE me some Die Hard – but if we’re talking truly bad, evil or heinous I think it a horrible call.

Hans Gruber is many things:

Memorable? Certainly.
Calculating? Check.
Brilliant? Well… his intricate masterplan was brought down by one balding shoeless singlet wearing guy but I’m willing to give him a pass there too.
Ruthless? Definition: Having no pity. OK it’s fair to say he exhibited no Ruth… um pity in Die Hard, hence “Ruthless” stays.
Bad? Definition: Not good in any manner or degree. I’ve got trouble with this one, Hans seems a most generous host at various times, as long as he is not crossed – so he is good to some degree.

But let’s ramp it up a notch.

Evil? Definition: Morally wrong or bad. That describes a lot of people – let’s put that on the back burner and move on.

Time to synonym test this sucker.

Wicked? Definition: Evil or morally bad in principle and practice.
Depraved? Definition: Corrupt, wicked or perverted.
Abominable? Definition: Repugnantly hateful, detestable, loathsome.

See now we’re talking, if we really want to discuss those that are TRULY evil or heinous, the guys who make you feel uncomfortable even though you know they’re not real, the characters that inspire disgust and intense revulsion, then some of these adjectives need to come up in the description.

Wicked, perverted, corrupt, hateful, morally reprehensible, detestable, loathsome, abominable and so on.

Back to Hans: he was a naughty, naughty man, but no-one hates Hans, in fact he is beloved among cinephiles for a myriad of reasons, none of which are impacted by feelings of hatred, disgust or animosity.

“But I brought my own handgun. German made. Very efficient.”

Hans was more a cool villain than an evil fucker, therefore he doesn’t land on MY list.

So to remedy this injustice I have sought to compile a list of the lowest of the low, bad guys bereft of levity and with no chance of absolution. The irredeemable and worthy of wholesale scorn. You might like watching them but you wouldn’t natter on about the quality of your new suit.

This rules out your run-of-the-mills like:
Hans Gruber (Die Hard) – A charismatic criminal who fails on his first big heist.
Agent Smith (The Matrix) – Basically a computer program.
T-1000 (T2) – Again a mindless cyborg programmed for a purpose.
A dozen generic ‘bad guys’ along the lines of Lithgow in Cliffhanger,

I’m also making the executive decision to leave out the contrived shock value morons who exist only to achieve notoriety, your ‘Collectors’, ‘Human Centipede’, ‘A Serbian Film’, ‘Last House on the Left’, ‘Irreversibles’ and the like. Not interested.
Ditto the real life stuff from films like Schindler’s list, Hotel Rwanda and Blood Diamond. Too real. Too depressing.
I find no joy in celebrating real life evil, and give no credit for lazy characterization.

That aside, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the comprehensive.

Top 10 really, truly abhorrent, detestable & repugnant bad guys… who are also naughty.

Inspector Richard (Tcheky Karyo) – Kiss of the Dragon

Banal character name, under-acknowledged bad guy. Check out this laundry list of fiendish accomplishments!

The case for the prosecution:
– Used his own evil henchman as a grenade shield. (The result? Half a bad guy.)
– Killed numerous civilians and bystanders in pursuit of Jet Li.
– Runs a prostitution ring off to the side. Keeps any unwilling girls doped up and less rebellious. If that fails he kidnaps their kids and holds them ransom!
– Ummmm, is a corrupt and murderous cop in charge of many similarly bent cops and criminal underlings. (Spending the entire film hunting ‘good cop’ Jet Li.)

The case for the defense:
I doubt the defense would bother showing up at the trial.

The verdict: Dirty cops are bad enough, taking money on the sly and ignoring crimes are pretty evil to start with. But if you think about it this guy is himself a one-man crime wave that could justify an entire police task force assigned specifically to wade through the wake of his crimes.

John Doe (Kevin Spacey) – Se7en

Either PURE EVIL or a man of such rigid moral principles that he ignores all that ‘society’ sees as reprehensible. You choose…

The case for the prosecution:
Let’s see.
– Made a guy die through binge-eating.
– Starved a guy.
– Made a woman choose between death or disfigurement (dead).
– Made a hyperventilating man puree a hooker with an especially eye-catching strap on.
– Put Gwenyth Paltrow’s head in a box and couriered it to her hubby. (Would have been worse if it was C.O.D.)

The case for the defense:
– Take another look… aside from Gwenyth he never actually killed anyone else himself did he?
– Cut off Gwenyth Paltrow’s head.

The Verdict: Pretty awful stuff just to prove a point to a society that he loathed. But I saw Gwenyth Paltrow on Glee, I’m deducting points because she’s still alive.

Stansfield (Gary Oldman) – The Professional

The case for the prosecution:
– As retribution for being ripped off by a minion Stansfield lays waste to the guy’s ENTIRE FAMILY. Including *sniff* an innocent young boy.
– Takes and sells drugs while on the job. (That’s bad enough but he is also a cop.)
– Plans to kill sweet little pre-teen Mathilda (who grows up into sweet little Natalie Portman).
– Over-acted to shit.

The case for the defense:
– Technically Leon is also a criminal.

The Verdict: Taking down criminals is what he is supposed to do. Killing innocent kids as an act of revenge – after he had already killed the Father – ya gotta draw the line somewhere.

Kevin (Elijah Wood) – Sin City

The case for the prosecution:
– Kevin possesses ninja-like skills, ballet dancer footwork, the dress sense of a librarian and the body of a twelve year old Chinese female gymnast.
– Unfortunately this is alongside Hannibal Lecter’s palate and Lindsay Lohan’s moral compass.
– Not content with silently and swiftly capturing his victims, Kevin sees fit to both snack a little on them while they are still alive, then mounts the heads on the wall as trophies.

The case for the defense:
– Seeing as he was apparently moulded as an emotionless killing machine from childhood it seems hard to pin the entire responsibility on how Kevin turned out on the boy.
– Can anyone named simply ‘Kevin’ really be that bad?
– Elijah Wood inexplicably channels his own inner Ad-Rock in the Beastie Boys new film clip for ‘Make some noise”. He can’t be all bad can he?

The Verdict: All of the above is bad enough. But a guy that remains conscious and emotionless while he himself is being eaten by his own pet, that’s fuckin’ evil right there. Bad Hobbit!

Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) – No Country for Old Men

The case for the prosecution:
– Using a weapon generally associated with bovine related genocide. Points for sheer creativity. Points deducted by not allowing the weapon to be used for it’s sole purpose, thereby depriving me of potential burgers…
– THAT haircut.
– Somehow deciding that calling someone “Friendo” was not socially reprehensible – akin to calling someone ‘Champ’ or ‘Ace’ instead of taking the trouble to remember their damn name.
– All those murders that he done…

The case for the defense:
– Ummm, I think ‘he was just doing his job’ might not be sufficient justification for this guy to get off.
– I seem to remember he killed Woody Harrelson in the film: might I say reduced sentence?

The Verdict: An easy and predictable choice really, but anyone who would rather flip a coin to choose between killing someone and saving a buck on a truck stop snack sorta demands inclusion here.

Howard Saint (John Travolta) & henchmen – The Punisher

The case for the prosecution:
– Saint’s naughty son is inadvertently killed in a botched police sting. So Saint orders the ENTIRE FAMILY of the guy responsible – Frank Castle – dead. Fortunately they hold a convenient family reunion to save the bad guys petrol.
– After the hit begins and most of the Castles have fallen, the henchmen turn out to be quite the completists, hunting down both Castle’s wife and young son. This pair are run down (I guess to save bullets) just as Castle shows up.
– Castle himself is then shot, partially exploded and left for dead.
– Saint then kills his best friend and loyal 2IC, and then calmly drops his (previously) beloved wife off an overpass into an oncoming train.
– As an added bonus Saint cracks a lousy joke about his wife’s untimely demise.

The case for the defense:
– Saint didn’t actually pull the trigger(s), nor did he give the initial order, that was his missus. But she’s already dead and we’ve gotta nail someone with the crimes.
– How could John Travolta make any list of evil for anything other than his over-acting?

The Verdict: Wha???? I hear you thinking. If you seek revenge on a guy by taking out his entire family, then take it a step further by mopping up the strays that escape the initial bloodstorm, then you Sir are one evil dude… or said dude’s staff.

Kyung-Chul (Choi Min Sik) – I saw the Devil

The case for the prosecution:
– Kyung-Chul roams the backroads looking for hitchhikers and the stranded unfortunate enough not to have heard about how the guy going around killing hitchhikers and the stranded.
– Even prior to killing his victims he seems far more concerned with how he will dispose of the bodies and subsequent mess than the actual act itself.
– ‘Prepping the victim’ requires little art or subtlety; a hammer or length of pipe does just fine.
– Even other cannibalistic mass murderers with fridges full of miscellaneous body parts bow down and provide shelter and food to the undisputed Master. (And if you believe the film, 1 in 7 South Koreans are apparently serial killers).
– If you cross him, Kyung-Chul will go to extreme lengths to ‘win’, including killing the entire family of your already dead wife.

The case for the defense:
– I can only come up with the fact that Kyung-Chul copped so many blows to the head in this film that I find it hard to believe that he could remain standing, much less devise an intricate plan to enact some form of surplus reverse-retribution.
– It was ‘Oldboy’ himself – Choi Min Sik – surely a career achievement award might provide absolution, even if it was just for a movie character that he played?

The Verdict: Like John Doe he is labeled a serial killer. Unlike John Doe this man seems to have no real process or modus operandi. He hacks and slashes his way through countless random victims, not for his own satisfaction, but to one-up his rival!

Brick Top – Snatch

The case for the prosecution:
– In the seedy underworld of London where crime is rampant and everyone is especially ‘ard, Brick Top runs shit. Fixing fights and selling shoddy counterfeit merchandise almost count as ‘going straight’ when compared to the rest of his activities.
– If you cross ‘im; e’ll kill ya. If you don’t come through: e’ll kill ya. If you have a crack about his googly eyes and coke bottle glasses; well I think we know the answer to that one.
– If the killing ya wasn’t enough, old Brickie will then have you prepped and fed to his pigs, but not before cold-bloodedly describing the entire process to you from beginning to end.
– On top of all the crime, killing and nefarious activities, Brick Top is also guilty of butchering the English language for much of the film.

The case for the defense:
– Guys like Brick Top don’t get arrested…

The Verdict: At first glance might just appear as a scumbag amid other scumbags in this ensemble piece of lads and ne’er-do-wells. It is when you realize that this guy is the one that the hard nuts fear that due credit must be given, even if old Brick Top might only see that as another sign of weakness.

Top Dollar (Michael Wincott) – The Crow

The case for the prosecution:
– Similar to Brick Top, but in the even more chaotic environment of a lawless city where anarchy reigns. Top Dollar is the general head of naughtiness.
– Upon being unable to rouse a naked – apparently dead – naked woman, Top Dollar turns to his Asian ‘sister’ and calmly deadpans “I think we broke her”.
– Top Dollar is alarmed that several of his best men are going missing, not because of his empathy toward humanity, but because it is hurting business and the upcoming Devil’s Night (Halloween) is peak season.
– Still unafraid of the undead scrawny rock musician who has cut a swathe through crime in the city – including many of Top Dollar’s own crew, TD relishes the opportunity to challenge himself against the best.
– Michael Wincott’s voice is itself awesomely evil. (He singlehandedly made Alien: Resurrection almost worthwhile.)

The case for the defense:
– Being the head man Top Dollar seldom gets his hands dirty, hands that are nonetheless drenched in the blood of the innocent…

The Verdict: If you order a hit on a guy that you’ve already ordered a successful hit on, that’s just cold.


And that’s the list. I haven’t ranked them or named a #1 evil guy. Evil is evil.

Keen eyed readers who passed kindy counting might note that there are only 9 truly evil guys on this list. That is because I know that I have left someone out that warrants inclusion and rather than adding a sub-evil guy to pad the list I am leaving that position open for nominations.

Feel free to make yours below.



About OGR

While I try to throw a joke or two into proceedings when I can all of the opinions presented in my reviews are genuine. I don't expect that all will agree with my thoughts at all times nor would it be any fun if you did, so don't be shy in telling me where you think I went wrong... and hopefully if you think I got it right for once. Don't be shy, half the fun is in the conversation after the movie.
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