Today: June 20, 2024

Who Would Win In A Fight?

Out Of The Furnace features a cast of well-respected actors who also happen to have an awesome rep as on-screen hard men. With a selection of roles under their belt that showcase their ‘tough guy’ personas – and to mark the DVD and Blu-ray release of Out Of The Furnace – FilmJuice takes a look at the roles that established their street cred and asks just Who Would Win In A Fight: Christaian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe or Forest Whitaker?

Christian Bale

The actor’s first action film came in the form of 2002’s Reign Of Fire, in which he played Quinn Abercromby. Training for the role by boxing and an extreme workout regime, Bale played the leader of a community of survivors who are forced to take on fire-breathing dragons to protect the world they live in.

Equilibrium followed that same year, with Bale this time playing John Preston, an elite law enforcer in yet another dystopian society. For the role Bale mastered a fictional martial art known as ‘Gun Kata’ (a merging of gun-fighting and hand-to-hand combat). Incidentally, the film that boasts the record of third most on-screen – 118, for those interested.

It was only natural, given these tough guy roles, that Christopher Nolan opted to cast Bale as Bruce Wayne in his 2005 franchise re-starter, Batman Begins. Although Wayne still lives the millionaire playboy lifestyle, Bale gave Bats an altogether scrappier and dangerous slant, meaning when he donned the cape and cowl, his Batman proved a real force to be reckoned with; merging fighting technique with gadgetry genius.

… and if that wasn’t enough, let’s not forget that Christian Bale played John Connor in Terminator: Salvation. Director McG cast Bale in the role as he claimed he was ‘the most credible action star in the world’, and even revealed how Bale broke his hand punching a Terminator prop on set.
Hard-Guy Rating: 5/5

Casey Affleck

Despite not appearing physically empowering, Casey Affleck’s role in the 2007 crime thriller Gone Baby Gone (directed by his older brother, Ben) shows how he can be tough when he needs to be; although that ‘toughness’ is often shown through the character’s belittling and intimidating dialogue.

The Killer Inside Me followed in 2010, a role in which Affleck played a dependable small town Texan Sheriff who, underneath his pleasant exterior is a sociopath who bears extremely violent sexual tastes. He may not be able to scrap with the bulkiest of them, but psychologically, this is the role in which Affleck delivers a knockout blow to his peers.
Hard-Guy Rating: 3/5

Woody Harrelson

Natural Born Killers was directed by Oliver Stone, written by Quentin Tarantino and unveiled back in 1994. In it, Harrelson plays Mickey Knox, a killer who is just as comfortable with weapons or his bare hands, as witnessed in an extended scene where he breaks a fellow prisoner’s neck during a yoga session. Based on the infamous spree-killer Charles Starkweather, Harrelson plays Knox with brute force, creating an alarming sense that if you were to cross him in the street, you’d probably be inclined to turn and walk the other way.

In 2011 Harrelson starred in Rampart, which told the story of dirty LAPD veteran Dave Brown. Harrelson played up Brown’s characteristics – his violent behaviour and his erratic personality – to produce an effect that’s unnerving to watch.

Most recently, Harrelson has starred in the HBO series True Detective in which he plays Detective Marty Hart alongside Matthew McConaughey’s Detective Rust Cohle. Again, here he plays a lawman who is willing to go that extra mile to not only enforce what he believes in, but get results. Working on the case of a murdered girl, the conspiracy he and Rust uncover becomes deeply personal, pushing Marty to limits he never knew he had – shots are fired, punches are thrown and relationships are shattered.
Hard-Guy Rating: 4/5

Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe’s rise to fame was solidified with his role in Oliver Stone’s Vietnam classic Platoon (1986). Playing the heroic Sergeant Elias, Dafoe depicts him as a valuable mentor to many of the other soldiers who find themselves out of their depth and terrified by the horrors of war. Dafoe’s efforts saw him nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

In 1989, he starred as Salamo Arouch in Triumph Of The Spirit in which he showcased his athleticism by playing a Jewish boxer (horrifically forced to fight internees to death in a death camp at Auschwitz). Dafoe also played the devilishly dangerous Barillo in Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon A Time In America – a character so violently unstable he’s sure to come out of any scrap on top.

Not only did the actor display his hard man combat skills in the 2011 Australian thriller The Hunter, but Dafoe trained with a bush expert who taught him essential, real-life survival tips.
Hard-Guy Rating: 4/5

Forest Whitaker

In Ghost Dog: Way Of The Samurai, Whitaker played a mob hit man, who follows the ancient code of the samurai, to create a character who is a fearsome killer despite his serene exterior.

Whitaker starred alongside Jude Law in 2010’s Repo Men playing a repo man who reclaims artificial organs designed by a corporation known as ‘The Union’. Coming up against extreme force, Whitaker’s character – himself requiring a heart replacement following a ‘cardiac repossession’ gone wrong – beats his way through the film, displaying formidable weaponry and fighting skills. Whitaker attributed the skills to preparation for his role in the 1984 Arnie film The Last Stand in which he played an FBI agent chasing an escaped drug cartel leader.
Hard-Guy Rating: 3/5

It’s pretty clear to see that the winner of this contest can be no other than Christian Bale, despite fierce competition from his fellow Out Of The Furnace actors. Although his co-stars all have a strong onscreen hard-guy credentials, there’s no denying that Bale would trounce them all. The guy is John Connor and Batman after all …

See them all lock heads on screen when Out Of The Furnace is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 2nd June 2014 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

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