It’s easy to forget the legendary tough guys who didn’t need to hide behind superpowers, a super suit or super explosives. But we’ll bet you the badasses starring in this week’s MovieZoot Watchlist picks from our classic movie collection can match every Superman, Batman or Robocop, foiling villains by relying only on brains, brawn and the occasional weapon or two.
This week, watch some of the biggest toughest guys in the history of tough guy films with Marlon Brando in the 1961 western”One-Eyed Jacks,” Charles Bronson in the 1973 action-packed “Chino,” Bruce Lee in the 1971 classic “Fists of Fury” and John Wayne in the 1970 gun-blazing western adventure “Rio Lobo.”
While super powers or super suits could make things infinitely easier for these dudes, what makes them so endearing to audiences is that some of them could be any of us.
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Filmed in 1973, true Western adventure and action abound with Charles Bronson as Chino Valdez, a horse breeder in New Mexico shunned by everyone for being half Native American. But his loner lifestyle shifts when he houses a young runaway and trains him in horse breeding. Meanwhile, a wealthy rancher named Maral, played by Marcel Bozzufi, tries to force Chino to leave town so he can claim his horses and break up the romance between Chino and his sister, played by Jill Ireland.
A 1972 classic, after his kung fu master is murdered, martial arts expert Bruce Lee vows vengeance. He discovers that a Japanese drug smuggling ring is behind it all and takes action with a Capitol A.
Marlon Brando not only stars in this 1973 Western but directed the tale of intrigue and betrayal. Released from jail for a bank heist, his character, Rio, learns that his partner in crime, Dad Longworth—played by Karl Malden—has become a wealthy and influential lawman thanks to the loot they stole. Rio thirsts for revenge but bides his time, waiting for the right moment to strike.
John Wayne is at his give ‘em hell best in the 1971 portrayal of Cord McNally. The last of his Civil War characterizations, he plays Cord McNally, a Union Army colonel who loses a gold shipment in a Confederate raid, during which a devoted young officer is also killed. After the end of the war, McNally bears no ill-will toward the leaders of the raid, Pierre Cordona (Jorge Rivero) and Tuscarora Phillips (Christopher Mitchum), who were acting as soldiers, but he still wants the two unknown men on the Union side who they say sold them the information about the gold shipments. A year later, McNally crosses paths with one of the men, now a deputy from Rio Lobo.