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The Most Badass Movie Moments Of All Time

We all know a badass movie moment when we see one, but how would you actually define the term "badass"?

Well, it's refusing to surrender when you're outmatched, outgunned, and overwhelmed. It's when things are tense, but you keep your cool; when the situation gets scary, and you don't run away. It's when somebody gets in your face and calls you out, but you stand up straight and show the world what you're made of. Basically, it's living out the lyrics of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down." And if you can a drop a one-liner while beating some bad guys, well, that's all the better.

Watching a badass hero in action is the highlight of many movies, and cinema has been full of these epically awesome scenes since George Melies killed an alien warlord in 1902's A Trip to the Moon. After all, these scenes get our adrenaline going, the fists pumping, and audiences cheering. From katana duels to sci-fi standoffs, these are the most badass movie moments of all time.

Ripley gets really angry

Some people hate spiders because they've got fangs and eight legs. Some people hate snakes because they've got fangs and no legs. Ellen Ripley hates Xenomorphs because they've got rows and rows of fangs, impregnate human beings, and take joy in murdering as many people as possible. As far as phobias go, that one is pretty legit.

Of course, Ripley's as gutsy as action heroes get, so in Aliens, she pulls on her sci-fi boots and goes down to battle the alien horde. Along the way, she discovers a terrified little girl named Newt (Carrie Henn) whose parents were butchered by these psycho space bugs. Ripley basically adopts the kid and puts her life on the line to make sure Newt escapes in one piece and without any creatures crawling around her innards. However, just as Ripley thinks they've made their great escape, who should show up but an angry Xenomorph queen.

She's big, she's bad, she's got a bunch of arms, and she thinks Newt looks like a nice little appetizer. But as the queen moves in for the kill, that's when Ripley shows up, wearing an exo-skeletal cargo loader. It's perfect for lifting heavy objects and knocking the snot out of oversized aliens. With all the fury of a mad momma bear, Ripley orders the queen in no uncertain terms, "Get away from her, you b***." And that's when these two ladies throw down in the world's most epic wrestling match, a battle that secured Sigourney Weaver's status as sci-fi's biggest badass.

Bruce Lee gets bloody

When Enter the Dragon hit theaters in 1973, it gave new life to martial arts, inspiring thousands of Americans to learn fighting styles like karate and taekwondo.  After all, it's impossible to watch Lee twirling those nunchucks and not think to yourself, "I want to be like that guy." But if you want to see Bruce Lee badassery at its best and bloodiest, then you've got to watch Enter the Dragon's climactic kickfest between Lee and the handsy Mr. Han (Shih Kien).

In between all the action scenes, Enter the Dragon revolves around a kung fu master (Lee) who goes undercover in a martial arts competition to bring down a notorious drug lord, the aforementioned Han. Eventually, the two wind up in a duel to the death, with a shirtless Lee squaring off against the crime boss and his deadly knife hand. Lee absolutely devastates Han with animal noises and lightning-fast kicks, but the bad guy isn't too shabby when it comes to slicing up our hero. At one point, the two leap through the air in slow-mo, and Han delivers a nasty blow, leaving three savage cuts running down Lee's stomach.

But that just makes Bruce Lee angry.

In the ultimate IDGAF move, Lee reaches down to his belly, runs a finger over the wound, and then licks his own blood. And the whole time, he's staring straight at Han. To be clear, the man is covered in bloody gashes, taste-testing his own hemoglobin, and never once breaks eye contact. Sure, you can hide in a hall of mirrors if you want, but when you throw your best shot and the guy's first reaction is to eat himself, well, you should probably put your one good hand in the air and surrender right there.

Rambo lays down the law

John Rambo wasn't hurting anybody. Played by Sylvester Stallone, this Vietnam vet just wanted to visit his old army buddy and then get something to eat. Instead, he discovers his friend has died of cancer (courtesy of Agent Orange), and then he gets run out of town by the ultra-aggressive Sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy). When Rambo decides he's done taking orders from bullies with badges, he gets tossed behind bars and abused by cops...until the PTSD kicks in.

That's when Rambo morphs from a quiet drifter into a one-man army, busting out of jail and hightailing it into the woods. Foolishly, Teasle rounds up his goons and heads into the forest, hoping to capture or kill the escaped con. Of course, Rambo is a Green Beret. Give this guy a knife and a couple of sharp sticks, and these podunk deputies don't stand a chance. With lightning flashing overhead, Rambo moves like a jungle cat, pouncing from trees, darting into the shadows, and incapacitating the terrified cops one by one.

Finally, after taking out the deputies, Rambo turns his attention to Teasle by popping out of the brush, pinning him to a tree, and laying down the law in one of cinema's scariest monologues. "I could've killed them all," Rambo mutters. "I could've killed you. In town, you're the law. Out here, it's me. Don't push it. Don't push it, or I'll give you a war you won't believe." Then after advising the sheriff to let the whole thing go, Rambo vanishes back into the woods. True, Teasle isn't big into taking advice and keeps on pushing, but as First Blood goes on, John Rambo just pushes back even harder.

Trying real hard to be a shepherd

If you asked someone to pick the most badass scene in Pulp Fiction, they'd probably point to a wide-eyed Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) quoting Ezekiel 25:17 before blasting poor Brett in the head. We'll admit, Jackson is absolutely ferocious in this scene. It's one of the greatest moments of his impressive career. But there's a problem here. Jules is a contract killer who violently murders a frightened kid for stealing a briefcase. At first glance, it might seem badass, but really, it's just bad.

Instead, the most epic scene in Pulp Fiction comes when Jules is eating breakfast after a bloody and theologically confusing morning. That's when he crosses paths with Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer), an unhinged criminal couple robbing the very diner where Jules is enjoying a muffin. On any other day, Jules would've plugged these two losers and calmly walked away, especially when Pumpkin demands he hand over Marsellus Wallace's briefcase. But after experiencing a bona fide miracle, Jules is starting to question his vicious line of business.

Granted, Jules just can't give away Marsellus' property, but instead of opening fire, Jules talks some sense into the frightened couple while working out why God spared his life... all while being in the middle of a Mexican standoff. Revisiting his favorite Bible passage, Jules realizes that he's the "tyranny of evil men," but thanks to divine intervention, he's suddenly "trying real hard to be the shepherd." In this incredibly tense ten-minute sequence, almost everybody finds redemption — Jules turns over a new leaf and gives Pumpkin and Honey Bunny a second shot at life. And it's that grace under pressure that makes Jules' conversion one of the most badass moments in any Quentin Tarantino movie.

Always bring a horse for Harmonica

When it comes to crafting badass imagery, there's no director more skilled than Sergio Leone. Team him up with Charles Bronson, one of the OGs of action cinema, and you've got a recipe for some seriously awesome moments. And the two waste no time in establishing Bronson's tough guy credentials in Once Upon a Time in the West.

Okay...that's not exactly true. The opening scene takes over ten minutes as we're introduced to three greasy outlaws chilling at a train station in the middle of nowhere. They're waiting to meet somebody on the next train and plan on giving him some gifts made of lead. That somebody is a gunslinger named Harmonica (Bronson), and when the train rolls out, he's standing there with eponymous instrument in hand, playing some eerily mournful music. It's the kind of song you might hear before a gunfight goes down.

At first, Harmonica thinks the trio are going to lead him to a mysterious man from his past, but when he notices they only brought three horses, he realizes these guys aren't giving him the grand tour. "It looks like we're shy one horse," the bad guy jokes, but the laughter dies down when Harmonica slowly shakes his head and says, "No, you brought two too many." What follows is an epic wide shot of the four men facing off, and that's when the guns come out and the bodies go down. Of course, you need more than a bullet to stop Charles Bronson, and while he's got a nasty hole in his shoulder, Harmonica picks himself up and sets off into the prairie, kicking off Sergio Leone's operatic magnum opus.

The Bride comes to collect

It's very possible that Kill Bill (we're counting Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 as one film) is the most badass movie ever made. Starring Uma Thurman as the yellow-clad protagonist, this bloody affair follows the vengeful Beatrix Kiddo (a.k.a. the Bride) as she slices her way across the world, hunting the assassins — her former coworkers and ex-lover — who did her wrong. And without a doubt, the best moment of the movie comes when the Bride flies to Japan and squares off against O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) and her gang of yakuza killers.

The showdown at the House of Blue Leaves is just straight-up Tarantino madness. The Bride fights a psychopathic schoolgirl, she goes Bruce Lee on a group of masked swordsmen, and as the color scheme shifts from black-and-white to black-and-blue, she hacks off every limb that gets in her way. But the most badass moment in the entire film comes after the Bride defeats the leader of the Crazy 88. With almost every enemy vanquished, the Bride stands atop a second-story bannister, looks upon her gory work, and sees that it is good. Then, katana in hand, she issues a bone-chilling proclamation in Japanese: "Those of you lucky enough to still have your lives, take them with you! However, leave the limbs you've lost. They belong to me now."

When the Bride claims your body parts, there's not much you can do besides moan. And if you're tough enough to leave a room with more legs than you walked in with, you probably deserve to have them anyway.

Nick Frost really hates this town

Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) is not a happy man, but he's doing his best to keep calm. An alcoholic friend from high school is dragging him along on a pub crawl through their hometown, and pretty much everything is going wrong. His friend keeps lying, there's unresolved drama with his inebriated buddy, and on top of all that, Andy doesn't drink, which makes doing a pub crawl a bit problematic.

And, oh yeah, everybody in town has been turned into robots by aliens.

Directed by Edgar Wright, The World's End takes a hard left turn into sci-fi territory when Knightley and his friends are attacked by androids in a pub bathroom. We get to see Frost performing some WWE-style wrestling moves, but the man truly hulks out at the Beehive. Ordered to surrender by the robo-army, Knightley rips open his sweater (a scene set up earlier in the film), grabs a pair of barstools, and starts channeling the power of Sammo Hung.

After letting everybody know just how much he hates this town, Knightley destroys every android in his path, ripping off heads, caving in skulls, and launching dudes across the room. He's a bespectacled wrecking ball, crushing every single machine in his path. While we generally associate action stars with ripped bodybuilders, Frost's major meltdown proves that you can have a belly and still be a badass.

The last good fight I'll ever know

Directed by Joe Carnahan, The Grey is one brutally nihilistic movie where a group of oil drillers crash land in the Alaskan woods and find themselves hunted by some very hungry wolves. It's a literal eat-or-be-eaten scenario, one that forces John Ottway (Liam Neeson) to make a difficult decision: to fight and survive.

See, when we first meet Ottway, he's thinking about putting a bullet in his brain. We don't know it then, but Ottway recently lost his wife to cancer, and now he just wants to give up. It takes a plane crash and a pack of killer canines to reawaken his survival instincts. And as he's spent his life hunting wolves, Ottway is the best equipped of the group to make it out of this icy hellhole alive.

And true, Ottway is the last man standing, but at the end of the film, he stumbles straight into the wolves' den. Surrounded by snarling beasts, Ottway duct tapes shards of glass to one fist and holds a knife in the other. As the alpha male moves in, ready for a fight, Ottway psyches himself up by quoting a simple poem that his father wrote: "Once more into the fray. Into the last good fight I'll ever know. Live and die on this day. Live and die on this day."

It's a simple mantra, one that encourages Ottway to try and win an unwinnable fight. And while we never see the actual showdown, the sight of Liam Neeson standing there in the snow, reciting poetry, and rediscovering his will to live as he prepares to battle the baddest wolfpack on the planet is the textbook definition of what badass looks like.

Luke Skywalker's last stand

Whether you believe The Last Jedi is the greatest Star Wars film or think it's the worst movie ever made, we can all agree that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) went out a badass. After spending years hiding on a remote planet, Luke finally gets a haircut, picks up his lightsaber, and shows up on Crait, ready to inspire some hope. And hope is desperately needed down on the blood-red salt planet. 

The Resistance forces are majorly outmatched, with the few survivors hunkered down, hoping for a miracle. Basically the entire First Order is right outside their door. They've got massive ships and gigantic walkers, all carrying the biggest laser cannons in the galaxy. And it looks like they're going to blast the Resistance to bits... until old Luke walks out of the shadows. That shot of a lone Luke Skywalker facing off against the almighty power of the First Order is one of the greatest images in Star Wars history. And after Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) unleashes all his power, Luke just calmly brushes the dust off his shoulder, like taking a hundred laser blasts is no big deal.

Granted, this Luke is just a projection. The real Jedi is back on Ahch-To, projecting his consciousness miles and miles across the stars. But this last little twist makes the scene even more badass. Luke knows that Force projecting that far will kill him, but he puts his life on the line anyway because that's what the Jedi are supposed to do. It's maybe the most courageous act of any Star Wars character — and a great reminder that, despite his flaws, Luke has always been the series' greatest hero.

Samurai showdown

Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Seven Samurai is one badass scene after another. There's Kambei Shimada's head-shaving rescue and Kikuchiyo's last stand in the rain, but none of those moments can hold a katana to Kyūzō's samurai showdown. Played by Seiji Miyaguchi, Kyūzō is a master swordsman and the ultimate zen warrior. This ronin doesn't talk a whole lot; instead, he lets his blade do the talking for him. He might seem all meek and mild, but push him too far, and you'll get sliced up like sushi.

That's something one brash samurai finds out the hard way. When we first meet Kyūzō, he's engaged in a mock duel with a hot-headed loudmouth. The two meet in the middle of a field and slash at each other with bokkens (wooden swords), and to the uninformed observer, it looks like a draw. And that's what the loudmouth thinks too, but Kyūzō matter-of-factly lets him know that if they'd been using steel, the guy would've been taking sword lessons at that great big kendo school in the sky.

Naturally, Mr. Opinionated gets his feelings hurt and challenges Kyūzō to a real duel. The weary samurai tries to walk away, but when the guy draws his sword, Kyūzō isn't about to back down. That just ain't bushido, baby. So the two step back into the field, like gunfighters at high noon. The loudmouth lets loose with a cry and charges at Kyūzō...before dropping dead in slow motion. Sword in hand, Kyūzō just stands there, straight-faced and stone cold. He takes no satisfaction from putting his opponent in the dirt, but when you come at the katana king, you best not miss.