The 40 Most Fearsome One-Man Armies In Cinema

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The following are the biggest, baddest, most brutal death-bringers seen on film. But a few rules, before you leap to the comments section: no superheroes, because then The Avengers and their Marvellous buddies would make up most of list, and as few mythic mega-men as possible (though Sauron was considered, because he really does kill quite a lot of people). And, ideally, if the film the character appears in really is that terrible, it doesn't much matter how many goons he guns down, he's not making the cut. Sorry about that, Agent 47: your 53 kills are impressive, but you have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.

40. Max Rockatansky

Mad Max Mel Gibson

Played by: Mel Gibson, Tom Hardy Films: Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2 (1981), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Max Rockatansky lost his wife and child under the wheels of a motorcycle gang, and possibly with that in mind, spends the rest of his screen time causing carnage from a moving vehicle. Mad Max 2, known to some of you as The Road Warrior, is the purest distillation of a mythical Max detached from his past and his future, eking a violent living and only begrudgingly returning to some sort of society, stepping up to lay waste to the horde of The Humongous. Moving Beyond Thunderdome his edges start to soften when a tribe of feral kids is involved, but there’s still room for some chainsaw fighting inside the titular arena, and some awe-inspiring vehicular hecatomb in the final stretch. Next year’s Fury Road promises engine-revving chases of a length and destruction seldom – if ever – seen before. (See trailer below)

39. Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry still

Played by: Clint Eastwood Films: The Dirty Harry series (1971-1988)

There’s more to Harry Callahan than meets the eye: Pauline Kael famously called him a fascist but nobody ever said he was supposed to be a hero. Across five movies Harry takes down crazed serial killers, execution squads, hippie cults, evil lesbians and film directors. Are we supposed to unequivocally approve? That point gets muddled as the series progresses and Clint Eastwood himself takes control of the reins. But whether or not – as Magnum Force explores – Harry is at ease with his own right-wingery, the fact remains that his modus operandi is to shoot perps with a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, which could blow your head clean off. He has a nice line in catchphrases too: in Dirty Harry it’s “Do you feel lucky?”; in Sudden Impact it’s “Make my day”; and, perhaps less celebrated, in The Dead Pool it’s “You’re shit outta luck”.

38. Riddick

Riddick still

Played by: Vin Diesel Films: Pitch Black (2000), The Chronicles Of Riddick (2004), Riddick (2013)

Vanquisher of bat-things, swamp-things, mercenaries and (ahem) Necromongers, Richard B. Riddick is not a man to be trifled with. And yes, his name is Richard. The furious Furyan is as lethal with his bare hands as he is with a machete or a shiv, but despite the brutality he’s something of a lady’s man. He can even turn a lesbian’s head – the rascal! Nominally an anti-hero, he’s introduced in Pitch Black as the apparent villain of the piece: the perpetrator, we’re told, of enormous crimes. But did anyone ever really believe he wouldn’t do the right thing in the end?

37. Ash

Ash still

Played by: Bruce Campbell Films: The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), Army Of Darkness (1992)

If a true hero is someone who doesn’t want to be there but forces himself into action anyway, Ash must be the dictionary definition. Wanting nothing but a quiet weekend in the woods with his girlfriend and his pals, he ends up the sole, beleaguered and bloodied survivor of an Evil Dead infestation. And then he has to go through it all again, and lop off his own hand with a chainsaw when his own body turns against him. As if that weren’t enough there’s then the small business of a portal that sends him back to the 11th century where he has to protect primitive screwheads against his own evil twin, armed only with a chainsaw and an S-Mart boomstick. Depending on which ending you prefer we left him either in a post-apocalypse London or back home being hailed as The King. Either way, he’s groovy.

36. Snake Plissken

Snake Plissken still

Played by: Kurt Russell Films: Escape From New York (1981), Escape From LA (1996)

The youngest soldier ever to be decorated by the US President is a snarling, permanently pissed-off bad-ass with an eye patch and a limited vocabulary. He could probably talk your ear off if he wanted to – he just doesn’t like you enough. Not much impressed by politicians, or soldiers, or basically anyone since the events of World War III, he’s incarcerated in the island prison of Manhattan for attempting to single-handedly break into the Federal Reserve. And when POTUS crash lands in his territory, he’s only persuaded to get him to safety by the impetus of explosives planted in his arteries. Even then, he deliberately sabotages the mission at the end. He just doesn’t care, that Snake. A few years later, in LA, he has another very similar experience that this time involves surfing with Peter Fonda and destroying all the technology in the world. Take that, society!

35. James Bond

Daniel Craig

Played by: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig Films: The James Bond series (1962-onwards)

He’s the smoothest bastard in cinema, a man confident enough to hate The Beatles and pull off a kilt (oo-err). He’s also a stone-cold killer, who had to bump off two people just to get his bloody job. In fairness, Bond’s also got a few advantages: it helps that of all the people on this list, 007 is least likely to get told off, what with his license to kill and/or thrill. Moreover, he’s had 23 (official) chances to destroy his enemies and has made the most of them. Since 1962, he’s killed his various foes through shooting, harpooning, strangling, exploding, inflating, electrocuting, printing, braining with a urinal, and sucking through an aeroplane window (so to speak) – leaving a body count of just under 400 corpses. Better still, he’s always ready with a quip. Our current favourite? When villain Kananga balloons and explodes in Live And Let Die: “He always did have an inflated opinion of himself.”

34. Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones

Played by: Harrison Ford Films: Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981), The Temple Of Doom (1984), The Last Crusade (1989), The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)

He’s possibly the least well-prepared army on the list, but in his defence, Dr. Jones is by far the deadliest archaeologist in cinema (sorry, Benjamin Gates). If you’re a Nazi, a Ruski or a member of an evil cult, be warned: this university professor is coming for you. He’s also not too bothered about that pesky “honour” business, as evidenced in his celebrated shooting of a particularly gifted swordsman (cut down in his prime). Who else on this list has come face-to-face with Johnny Hitler himself? Granted, he didn’t mow him down (we’d have to wait for Inglourious Basterds for that), but sometimes the best armies have to keep their powder dry.

33. Léon

Leon still

Played by: Jean Reno Film: Léon (1994)

Sweet, simple Léon. The most adorable assassin this side of Hit-Girl, Léon is the real deal. He’s a man of few words but plenty of bullets, and has ascended the assassin ladder high enough to dispatch his targets with a knife. Mind you, he’s fine with bullets too. He’s also generous with his time, helpfully teaching newly orphaned Mathilda (Natalie Portman) in the ways of professional killing. If you were in any doubt about his lethality, even everyone’s favourite psychopath Gary Oldman couldn’t take him down alone – he needed “EVERYONE!”

32. John McClane

John McClane still

Played by: Bruce Willis Films: The Die Hard series (1988-2013)

Possibly the perfect cinematic example of the reluctant hero, John McClane has had some truly Very Bad Days on the job, second only to TV’s Jack Bauer. He’s the perfect foe for terrorists everywhere – no pretensions, no bullshit, just good old-fashioned New York justice: “Just a fly in the ointment, Hans. The monkey in the wrench. The pain in the ass.” He’s as good with psychological warfare – “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho” – as witty quips – “Go fuck yourself, Hans.” Even in his older, balder, chunkier incarnation, he’s still a force to be reckoned with, managing to “kill a helicopter with a car”. McClane’s reasoning? “I was out of bullets.”

31. Chev Chelios

Chev Chelios

Played by: Jason Statham Films: Crank (2006), Crank: High Voltage (2009)

Chev “Is that actually what you’re going to call a British hitman living in Los Angeles who’s had his heart stolen?” Chelios is a man so incomprehensibly hard he can be burned to a crisp, then die, then come back to life. Chev “Shove a shotgun up someone’s backside after saying the words ‘Where’s my strawberry tart?’” Chelios is a man so jaw-breakingly tough he’ll happily attach car cables to his tongue to jump-shock his ticker. Chev “Suddenly turns into a Godzilla-like monster in a electrical outhouse” Chelios is a man so knuckle-crunchingly manly he makes Lee Christmas seem like Lloyd Christmas; The Transporter like The Postman. In fact, Chev Chelios isn’t a man – he’s the man.

30. Hit-Girl

Hit-Girl

Played by: Chloe Grace Moretz Films: Kick-Ass (2010), Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

“Okay, you c**ts, let’s see what you can do now.” Never has an 11-year-old girl made a more violent and… well, kick-ass entrance. With her double-bladed staff and purple wig, she drops c-bombs and chops limbs like a particularly sweary, incredibly violent little sailor. This is a girl who can throw knives, shoot guns and even reload her pistols in midair (take note, Natalie Portman). Under the watchful, if utterly insane eye of Nicolas Cage’s Big Daddy, she’s ridiculously deadly and takes a worrying amount of pleasure from her bloodletting. Better still, she thoroughly freaked out Christopher Tookey, and anyone who can single-handedly trigger a Daily Mail moral panic deserves inclusion on the list.

29. Walker

Walker

Played by: Lee Marvin Film: Point Blank (1967)

Click, clack. Click, clack. That's right, Walker's coming and he doesn't care who knows it. His righteous fury is understandable: firstly, he's Lee Marvin and secondly, when your best mate shoots you, nicks your cash and your woman and buggers off, leaving you in a puddle on Alcatraz, it's going to put you in a bit of a mood. Walker just does what any self-respecting mentalist would do: he gets better, puts on a nice new suit and then hunts down everyone who had anything to do with it and pretty much kills them. Brutally. Then he discovers that the ultimate perps are a shady organisation called, well, The Organisation, and kills them too. In fact, he's so busy killing people he forgets to get his cash back.

28. El Mariachi

El Mariachi

Played by: Antonio Banderas Films: Desperado (1995), Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003)

Guy walks into a bar with a guitar case, kills everybody. The story's better when Steve Buscemi tells it, but whichever way you look at it, this is not your average busker. Here's the thing: he has guns hidden up his sleeves, in his guitar case, down the back of his neck and occasionally in his crotch – that's right, even this man's genitals can kill you. He wields his arsenal with the grace of a matador, usually firing on two different guys at once for maximum kill efficiency, all the while swinging his silky hair around like it's all some bloody, viscera-smeared shampoo advert. Why? Because he's worth it.

27. Smith

Shoot em Up

Played by: Clive Owen Film: Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

Mothers have long claimed that eating carrots improves your eyesight. What they didn't tell you was that carrots will also let you shoot the shit out of hordes of guys while skydiving, delivering a baby or having sex with Monica Bellucci. Apart from keeping up his five-a-day, Smith enjoys guns, explosions and making people dead. Even after he loses his pistol, this guy is so unstoppable he puts bullets between his fingers, sticks his hand in a fire and uses his own arm as a shotgun. HIS ARM! Did we mention he also kills a guy with a carrot? In the eye? Imagine what he could do with a cucumber. Or a pineapple.

26. Paul Kersey

Paul Kersey

Played by: Charles Bronson Films: Death Wish 1-5 (1975-1994)

Drugs. Crime. Knives. Some more drugs. No, not Camden Town on a Saturday night, but New York in the '70s: a murky metropolis so intimidating even Snake Plissken would have wet himself there. Needless to say, Charles Bronson cowed the whole damned place. He's vigilante John Kersey, Gotham's self-appointed judge, jury and executioner, who adopts the maxim 'If you can't beat them, just shoot the shit out of them' when his wife is murdered by violent crims. Average Joe he may be, but he's an Average Joe with a Colt Police Positive .32 and a 'tache that says "If I've grown this, there's nothing I won't do." Notching up more petty and less-than-petty criminals than RoboCop and the entire cast of The Bill combined, Kersey demonstrates that there's more to being a vigilante than wearing a nice beret and pointing grannies towards Trafalgar Square.

25. Blade

Blade

Played by: Wesley Snipes
Films: The Blade Trilogy (1998-2004)

Half-man, half-vampire, Blade is an relentless death-distributing machine, slicing open more cans of whup-ass than you ever thought possible. He has all the positives you get from being a vampire (immortality, strength, neat teeth) and none of the disadvantages (fear of sunlight, garlic and being cut with silver) – something he makes the most of, slicing and stabbing his way through legions of the undead with bloody aplomb and a number of sharp objects. He'll cuss you out, too ("I promise you, you'll be dead by dawn") and do it all in a flash black leather coat and customised low-rider. His real name is Eric Brooks – which might go some way to explaining all the anger.

24. Frank Castle

Frank Castle

Played by: Dolph Lundgren, Thomas Jane, Ray Stevenson
Films: The Punisher Mk. I-III (1989, 2004, 2004)

A killer so elite that he can take the time out to rig a whole fleet of cars to explode in such a fashion that they'll form his signature skull icon WHEN SEEN FROM SPACE, Frank Castle is a vigilante not to be messed with. Fuelled by bottomless wells of anger over the brutal murder of his family, Castle hits back against the mob with an equally endless arsenal of weapons and a penchant for inventive kills. If you want a free runner to be blown out of the sky, mid-leap, with a surface-to-air missile, Frank's your man. Shotgun to the face? That's not even breaking sweat. In fact, particularly in Punisher: War Zone, he kills so many mobsters that there might not actually be any left.

23. Lee

Lee Enter The Dragon

Played by: Bruce Lee
Film: Enter The Dragon (1973)

Guns? Swords? Knuckledusters? Not for Bruce. Weapons are for wimps, and those using them will be promptly kicked in the head, such as Han and his laughable Wolverine-lite hand claw. Armed with only his arms (and legs) and the occasional pair of nunchaku, Lee takes on all comers, be they wielding blades or bottles. Mess with this guy and he'll scream like a dying cat and launch a flying kick straight at your face. His habit of tasting his blood when he's been cut is a little off-putting but that's just because he's a bit thirsty from working up a sweat kicking so many asses. Maybe. Anyway, Bruce is one bad-ass baddie beater and the ultimate king of kung-fu. 'Nuff said.

22. Darren McCord

Darren McCord

Played by: Jean-Claude Van Damme
Film: Sudden Death (1995)

A fireman who presumably puts fires out by beating them to death, McCord takes time out from his axe-swinging lifestyle to watch his beloved Pittsburgh Penguins play in the Stanley Cup. Within an hour, he's strangled the Penguins' mascot, killed a variety of terrorists and uncovered a hair-raising plot involving extortion, large bombs, and the Civic Arena being blown to smithereens. Which is not bad going for an night off. He even finds time to get onto the ice and make a couple of crucial saves for the Penguins. Ultimately the terrorists' plan fails because, (a) it's epically overcomplicated and, (b) McCord has killed every single one of them. TO DEATH! Never mind one-man army, this is a one-man Department of Homeland Security and ice-hockey team rolled into one.

21. Casey Ryback

Casey Ryback

Played by: Steven Seagal
Films: Under Siege (1992), Under Siege 2 (1995)

Like Mary Berry gone rogue or Gordon Ramsay gone... ok, like Gordon Ramsay normally, Casey Ryback is a chef not to be messed with. This particular kitchen-based killing machine may spend most of his time sautéing ceps or julienning carrots, but as an ex-Navy SEAL, he's not averse to laying aside his apron and unleashing a Force-50 shitstorm on whichever bad guys cross his path. With life skills that include special weapons and tactics, counter-terrorism training and being Steven Seagal (see also, the utterly insane Out For Justice), he's the only man on the planet equipped to recapture an entire battleship / train moviing through "Dark Territory" on his todd. Battering a variety of mercenaries into the middle of next week while gallantly escorting Erika Eleniak and her pneumatic breasts, it's all multi-tasking machismo with Ryback. Even if he does have a girl's name.

20. Eric Draven

Eric Draven

Played by: Brandon Lee
Film: The Crow (1994)

This is a man who managed to take out a whole gang of sociopaths – a year AFTER they killed him. That's right, they raped his girlfriend, kicked his ass and threw him out of a window but even that didn't stop this emo, garage-band-looking motherfrakker from getting resurrected and then getting even. He can't be killed (he's already dead), he wears a mean leather coat taken off a dead guy (who he killed) and he takes on an entire room full of gang-bangers with assault rifles by sitting cross-legged on a boardroom table and letting them shoot him first. Yes, he wears a startlingly large amount of make-up and keeps his soul in a bird. So what? He'd still punch your teeth through the back of your head if you tried to play 'Stairway To Heaven' on his guitar.

19. Creasy

Creasy Man On Fire

Played by: Denzel Washington
Film: Man On Fire

Creasy's art is death, and boy, does he paint his masterpiece as he works his way through the Mexican mob in an attempt to rescue innocent young charge, Dakota Fanning. Of course, his style – involving bombs up bums, torture that would make Guantanamo Bay's finest wince, and the wielding of a shotgun with lethal proficiency – is more Damien Hirst than J. M. W. Turner, but it's art nonetheless. Fanning dubs him her 'Creasy Bear', but she'd probably run screaming if she saw him bare his claws – for this is one bear that, when fully angered, wouldn't think twice about ripping off your head. Shitting down your neck is, of course, optional.

18. The Bride

The Bride

Played by: Uma Thurman Films: Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (2003, 2004)

This list's only One-Woman Army, Beatrix "The Bride" Kiddo could mess up a room full of guys just for trying to hold a door open for her. This chick is almost impossible to kill: her enemies shoot her in the head and bury her alive and what does she do? She wakes out of a coma, grabs a sword and starts carving her initials into their asses. Darryl Hannah looked at her funny, so she pulled out her eyeball. Eighty eight Yakuza gangsters tried to slow her down and she cut off all their limbs and kept them. And that's just when she's in a hurry. Really piss her off and she can make your heart explode. That's not even a metaphor.

17. Jason Bourne

Jason Bourne

Played by: Matt Damon Films: The Bourne Identity (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

He may not know who he is, but who gives a damn when you can kill a guy in the face with a fountain pen? Or a book. Or a magazine. Hell, with access to a branch of WHSmith, this guy could wipe out half a country. For Jason Bourne, anything within a six-foot radius can become a weapon, and anything outside that is only there to be leapt on, crashed into or blown up. This a man so astonishingly hard he jumped down the stairwell of a multi-storey apartment building shooting guys in the face all the way down, and cushioned his fall with the body of a guy he'd just killed and dragged along solely for the purpose. Then, of course, he got up, dusted himself off and walked out to kill a whole load of other guys. Seriously, he could break your kneecaps with his eyebrows.

16. Achilles

Brad Pitt Troy

Played by: Brad Pitt
Film: Troy (2004)

Being a demigod does give you an unfair advantage over ordinary men, but the only divine power demonstrated by Achilles is the power to mess your shit up. Asked to battle the gigantic champion of an opposing army, this guy walks onto the field, hungover and having just got out of a bed full of naked women, runs up and just stabs him straight through the neck. Later, skipping ahead of the other 999 Greek ships, he essentially leads the attack on Troy single-handed and it takes the world's second-best warrior to even make him work up a sweat. Plus, he kills a guy with a spear from, like, half a mile away. All this, and he still finds time to highlight his hair.

15. John Preston

John Preston

Played by: Christian Bale Film: Equilibrium (2002)

In a society where no-one has emotions, John Preston is literally the angriest man on the planet. They messed with him and they messed with his woman, so Preston did the only thing he could do: he flipped his lid and killed the hell out of every last bastard in the building. Of course, it helps that he's a master of Gun Kata, whipping out his Gun-Fu to blow holes in everyone who crosses his path. After all, this is a guy who killed a squad of armed enforcers in motorcycle helmets with a pair of pistols – not by shooting them, you understand, but by beating everyone to death with the handles. Plus he gets points for the best ever entrance: kicking down a door, surfing it into a room and gunning down every person in it without even looking up. Hardcore.

14. Tequila

Tequila

Played by: Chow Yun Fat Film: Hard Boiled (1992)

Many of the characters on this list are heroic, the sort of person who takes down an army to avenge a dreadful wrong or protect a loved one. Few, however, manage to protect an entire hospital full of civilians, paying particular attention to the newborn ward, while simultaneously mowing down the mobsters who killed his partner. All as he manfully carries a big baby. In a film that uses more firepower than World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined, Tequila kills every living thing on the planet (scientists have counted) on his way out of the building. Plus he plays jazz clarinet and manages not to look like a sissy – but mainly because if you called him one he'd make you eat your own fists.

13. Bryan Mills

Bryan Mills

Played by: Liam Neeson Films: Taken (2008), Taken 2 (2012)

Whoever said that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned clearly hasn't seen Bryan Mills at work. For hell really hath no fury like a dad, proficient in all manner of special bad-guy-killing skills, whose daughter has been kidnapped by oily goons. Enraged, and having informed the goons that he will find them and will kill them, Mills stays true to his word by flying to Paris, where he proceeds to punch, shoot and maim the living hell out of anything and everything that gets in his way – like some demonic crossbreed between Jack Bauer (electrodes jammed into the knees!), Jason Bourne (he takes out six men in one go!) and the Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley (that extraordinary American accent, by way of Belfast!). By the time he's finished, it's a wonder that he hasn't roundhouse kicked the smile off the Mona Lisa's face.

12. King Leonidas

King Leonidas

Played by: Gerard Butler Film: 300 (2006)

A cynic might note that Leonidas has a bunch of guys behind him and isn't a one-man army at all. But the Cynics came from Athens, so Leonidas would just dismiss them all as pansies, kick them down a well and get back to the important business of gutting Persians and getting takeaway. FROM HELL. This man is a one man army in an army of one man armies and the fact is that whether measured by blood spilled, lives taken or raw kickassery, Leonidas could take on any normal army and smash their teeth in, and he'd do it wearing nothing but skimpy leather Speedos, just to show how damned hardcore he is. It's only when faced with a million opponents that he brings a few mates along to join the fun – and he still takes the lion's share of the ass-whuppin' despite the odds of over 3,000 to one.

11. Matt Hunter

Matt Hunter

Played by: Chuck Norris Film: Invasion U.S.A. (1985)

We shouldn't even need to tell you why Chuck Norris is on this list and if you've ever seen Invasion U.S.A. then you need read no further. Communists invade the United States and only one man can stop them: Chuck Norris as Matt Hunter. On the whole Chuck does this by delivering a series of roundhouse kicks to the head but that's not where his power ends. So incredibly hard is Hunter that the leader of the invaders actually has nightmares about Chuck dealing him a beating. Chuck can even kick your ass even in your dreams!

10. John Matrix

John Matrix

Played by: Arnold Schwarzenegger Film: Commando (1985)

A man so hardcore he can actually smell his enemies coming, John Matrix could kill you just by sneezing in your direction and rout an army with one flex of his camo-painted biceps. After his daughter gets kidnapped, Matrix not only doesn't give in to the kidnappers' demands, he kills his handler, kills the guy who handled the handler, flies a plane to the island of the South American dictator who bankrolled the whole job and kills him, kills all his men, and blows the shit out of his flowerbeds. To top it off he flips a guy's Porsche with his bare hands, scalps another with a circular saw and impales his ex-army-buddy-turned-villain with five feet of used copper piping. Why? Because he's John Matrix, that's why.

9. John Rambo

John Rambo

Played by: Sylvester Stallone Films: The Rambo series (1982-2008)

Often imitated, never bettered, Rambo is the best there is at what he does and what he does is tear shit up. America lost the war in Vietnam, so what did they do? They sent John Rambo in to take the V.C. down by himself – and pick up a load of guys they'd lost while he was at it. Even when he'd got a bit long in the tooth, Rambo was still the baddest hombre in jungle, going into Burma and killing a shitload more guys before chopping a goon's head clean off his shoulders. This is a man who got shot through the side and, instead of crying about it, opened up a bullet, poured gunpowder into the wound and set it on fire. War? He'll give you a war you wouldn't believe.

8. Judge Dredd

Dredd

Played by: Karl Urban Film: Dredd (2012)

Rarely has death come more gravelly-voiced than Judge Dredd, with his chin of death, Lawgiver sidearm and excellent legal qualifications. The less said about his portrayal by Sylvester Stallone, the better (though in fairness, that goes for any film featuring Rob Schneider). In the far superior Dredd, Karl Urban gives the character real judicial menace, all without ever taking off his helmet. Better still, his ruthless kills (a total of 57) are documented in gloriously grotesque slow motion, for all you gore hounds.

7. Nicholas Angel

Nicholas Angel

Played by: Simon Pegg Film: Hot Fuzz (2007)

Although he starts out as a wonky, by-the-books PC Plod, by the end of Hot Fuzz Simon Pegg has become an avenging Angel, punching Timothy Dalton and rescuing swans like nobody’s business. Crucial to his arse-kicking is a willingness to take on pensioners – who else on this list could kick an old lady in the face without remorse? If you’ve seen “some hippy types messing with the recycling bins,” Nicholas Angel is just three numbers away

6. Neo

Neo

Played by: Keanu Reeves Films: The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003)

Okay, this one’s a little bit unfair, considering that Neo is technically something of a god within the Matrix: stopping bullets, flying through the air and reading reams of computer code. Still, even when pitted against hundreds upon hundreds of Smiths (the Hugo Weaving type, not an army of whiny Morrisseys), he dispatches them with ease. Stylistically, Neo’s a little dated – nowadays you’d struggle to wear an ankle-length leather coat and wrap-around shades without getting laughed at – but fortunately his fighting skills would soon stop you spouting any abuse to his face. That said, the quality of his quips leaves something to be desired, extending mostly to a monosyllabic, surfer-dude, “Huh?”

5. Ripley

Ripley

Played by: Sigourney Weaver Films: The Alien ‘Quadrology’ (1979-1997)

“Get away from her you BITCH!” This iconic line came from the mouth of one Ellen Ripley, the most badass astronaut this side of Buzz “I’ll punch you in the face” Aldrin. Her rise to badassery was unexpected back in the original 1979 film, where she started off more of a nondescript space-workhorse. By the time she’d jettisoned that pesky xenomorph from her escape pod, however, she’d transformed into a hardcore killer. Even better, James Cameron ordered her out of her skimpy underwear (not like that) and into some proper clothes for the sequel, while equipping her with some scarily-large weaponry. Whether armed with guns, flamethrowers or a nifty wearable forklift truck, Ellen Ripley is an alien-slaying army.

4. Marv

Marv

Played by: Mickey Rourke Films: Sin City (2005), Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014)

So large, scarred and gravelly-voiced as to almost be a total parody, Marv is a great hulking beast of a man. Near unrecognisable under some serious prosthetics, Mickey Rourke manages to exude grit and fury with every grumble. He has no trouble taking out a plethora of cops – even if they’re driving at him at 90mph – and has little concern for his own facial integrity. Not only that, he even manages to subdue and decapitate the creepiest killer of the franchise, Elijah Wood’s Kevin. But Marv is a lover as well as a fighter – his whole violent rampage of the original film is triggered by the murder of Goldie, the only woman he ever loved. He’s a sensitive soul, under that ugly, ugly face.

3. Anton Chigurh

Anton Chigurh

Played by: Javier Bardem Film: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Armed with nothing more than a gas canister, a lucky coin and a haircut very similar to your aunt Muriel’s, Anton Chigurh is possibly the scariest assassin there is. He is, in the words of Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), “the ultimate badass” – and, in the words of Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), “doesn’t have a sense of humour.” That second part’s not necessarily true; for instance, the psychopathic look of glee in his eyes as he brutally strangles a cop with his handcuffs, or his wry mocking of a poor old gas station owner.

2. Buford Pusser / Chris Vaughan

Walking Tall still

Played by: Joe Don Baker / Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Films: Walking Tall (1973), Walking Tall (2004)

Based on the real-life story of a former professional wrestler-turned-lawman in McNairy County, Tennessee, both characters from the original Walking Tall and its reboot - which are essentially the same, only with different names - make it on this list, essentially because there's nothing more satifying than seeing a righteously angry man hit people over the head with a plank of wood. Where others on this list rely on blades, bullets, explosives and other more technical death-distribution devices, Pusser / Vaughn stick with what Mother Nature gave them: a blunt chunk of a tree. Sure, they do use guns at some point, but never in such a gratifying fashion. Plus, in The Rock's version, he knocks a man out after he pops his pecks and the goon in front of him runs away in fear and hits his head on a pillar. Not a lot of one-man armies can do that.

1. Conan

Conan still

Played by: Arnold Schwarzenegger Films: Conan The Barbarian (1982), Conan The Destroyer (1984)

If Conan had a business card it would say something like: Conan T. Destroyer, CEO Ass-Kick Corporation: "We crush our enemies, see them driven before us and hear the lamentation of their women". This is one barbarian who's pulled the horn off a demon, cut the head off a snake priest and killed a lizard man using a mirror. He doesn't use a gun, but only because they haven't been invented yet, and whey they are, you can bet Conan will be the one to come up with them. But even armed only with his trusty Atlantean broadsword, Conan will cut you up, beat your ass and punch your camel in the face.