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Michael Jordan isn’t the greatest basketball player of all-time because he dominated thousands of games. He’s the greatest basketball player of all-time because he dominated thousands of games against the best players in the world. Greatness cannot be proven without competition, and toughness is measured the same exact way. Jason Statham’s appeal wasn’t forged through beating up random people in movies, it was built through looking fearsome characters in the eyes and ultimately prevailing through his own force of will. We respect him because of the men (and women) he’s bested, and over the course of his career, there have been a lot.
Last year, Statham partnered with Robert De Niro and Clive Owen for the action thriller Killer Elite. With a savage aggression, the action star knocks off assignment after assignment, mowing down those in his path like a man possessed. The film has already hit the States on DVD and Blu-Ray, but in celebration of its upcoming Australian release, we decided to have a little fun. What follows are, in our opinion, Jason Statham’s best movie adversaries. They’ve been argued over, added, dropped and added again to wind up with this final product. More than likely you’ll disagree with some of our choices, but from our perspective, these are the 5 best foes Statham has ever done battle against.
Hennessey from Death Race Obviously, this match-up is a joke in hand-to-hand combat, but then again, brute force isn’t exactly how Hennessey has risen to the top. The warden is cunning, deceptive and powerful. She’s a smart and ruthless businesswoman with almost unlimited resources, and as an inmate, Statham’s Jensen Ames has nothing beyond a small crew, his own wits and his incredible driving ability. The balance of power is completely tipped in her favor, which is why she’s such a worthy adversary. She’s willing to step on necks and get her hands dirty to accomplish her aims. In a perfect world, she’d like to think of Ames as merely her pawn. In fact, he basically starts out the film that way, but by the end, she realizes just what kind of man’s life she attempted to ruin.
Big Chris from Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels is filled with crazy bastards. Any of them would be very much at home on this list, but there’s something about Big Chris that’s slightly more terrifying than the rest. Collecting debts for Harry, he goes about his job with a cool, calculated efficiency, tracking delinquents through the streets and into tanning beds in order to fulfill his mission and strike fear into onlooking hearts. He cares about the job and Little Chris, not necessarily in that order, and when the four heroes of our story run afoul of Harry, there’s never really a doubt as to who will walk away with the money. I’m not sure Statham’s Bacon would necessarily get massacred in a fight, but I sure as hell wouldn’t bet on him to emerge without a broken nose.
Wall Street from The Transporter If Hennessey is on this list because she has institutional control and Big Chris is here because he’s a scary son of a bitch, Wall Street makes the cut because he has crazy weapons. from bombs to missiles, Wall Street has what amounts to an arms dealer’s arsenal, and he’s not afraid to use it in his quest to rid the world of Frank Martin for opening the package. It should probably be noted Lai’s father pulls some of the strings, but since he’s hardly in play throughout much of The Transporter, Wall Street is probably the real adversary. Unfortunately, he gets docked some points for having really pathetic and weak henchmen.
Ricky Verona from Crank Okay, Ricky Verona is kind of a dumbass. He’s not exactly the most lettered or presentable gangster of all-time, but he does gain points for being a madman. It takes a serious piece of shit to inject someone with poison and then tell the poor guy he’s about to die. Verona does that, which is both his single scariest decision and his greatest mistake. You never leave Jason Statham an hour to do anything. He could murder a thousand people in sixty minutes, let alone one lowly thug. I love Verona’s monologue in which he references Shakespeare and tells his buddy he should play for the Dodgers, but more than that, I love his final confrontation with Chev in the helicopter.
Brick Top from Snatch It’s a good thing Brick Top isn’t a quarterback in the NFL because if his crimes were ever discovered, the outrage would make the Michael Vick situation seem like nothing. In addition to dog fighting, the crime lord takes bets, fixes unlicensed boxing matches and feeds his enemies to ravenous pigs. He also has a crew of men at his disposal and a network of big money friends. He’s not above arson, threatening family members and looting to wrangle compliance with his demands. He puts the fear of God in those around him, including Statham’s Turkish, but it’s the unexpected foes Brick Top winds up running into trouble against.