Rogue 10: Ten Tough Guys Protecting Youngsters

Tuesday, 24 April 2012 14:14 Written by  iamrogue
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Rogue 10: Ten Tough Guys Protecting Youngsters

In his career as an actor, Jason Statham has quite frequently played unstoppable tough guys, and whether out of revenge, profit, or self-preservation, Staham characters have perpetrated violence against innumerable bad guys, good guys, and assorted anonymous henchmen.  In this Friday's Safe, written and directed by Boaz Yakin, Statham stars as a former NYPD cop and cage fighter who kicks ass in order to protect a helpless a young girl.

See, Catherine Chan plays a little girl who knows the numerical code to a safe containing an invaluable MacGuffin, meaning that Statham must safeguard her from corrupt cops, Triad gangsters, and the Russian mafia, all of whom would happily dispose of the child once they opened that safe.

The story of Safe had us thinking about the tried-and-true trope of serious cinematic tough guys whose primary goal is the protecting of otherwise helpless youths.  We're not talking about guys like Superman or Spider-Man, who rescue different kids on a daily basis.  Instead, this latest Rogue 10 lists, in no particular order, ten onscreen heroes who dedicate themselves to their youthful charges.

Without further ado, here they are:

Willis Davidge (Dennis Quaid) - Enemy Mine (1985)

It's a tale as old as time.  Davidge, a human soldier in an intergalactic war ends up marooned on a desolate planet along with an alien combatant, where the two slowly but surely become the best of interspecies friends.  When it turns out that Dracs reproduce asexually, and Louis Gossett Jr.'s Jeriba suddenly pops out a kid, it's up to Davidge to raise the littleun and protect him from human scavengers.

Art Jeffries (Bruce Willis) - Mercury Rising (1998)

Thanks in no small part to the Die Hard films, Willis is inextricably associated with the action genre, and in this film, he plays a disgraced FBI agent whose job is to protect an autistic youngster who broke a super-secret code that the NSA inexplicably published in a puzzle book.  Willis and austism-cliche Miko Hughes must evade government-sponsored killers and get to the bottom of the Mercury Code.

Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) - X-Men (2000)

Despite his surly, loner's attitude, adamantium claws, and inexplicable haircut, Logan is a bit of a softie in Bryan Singer's first X-movie.  Specifically, he's got a connection with teenage runaway Rogue, played by Anna Paquin, and even though he accidentally stabs her, his protective streak takes him to the Statue of Liberty and makes him a regular X-Man.

Lincoln Hawk (Sylvester Stallone) - Over the Top (1987)

The child at the center of Over the Top is actually Hawk's own son.  Even though he's an insufferable little brat, both Lincoln and the boy's wealthy grandfather, played by Robert Loggia, want custody of the kid.  For truck-driver, simpleton, and former deadbeat dad Lincoln, the way to protect his son from Loggia and his henchmen is obvious: competitive arm-wrestling.  Also, crashing his big rig through Loggia's opulent mansion.

Smith (Clive Owen) - Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

When this grief-stricken loner sees a pregnant woman being pursued by gun-wielding henchmen, he reluctantly springs into action, murdering a bad guy with a carrot and delivering the baby during a firefight.  He even cuts the umbilical cord by shooting it, then cauterizes the cut with his hot gun barrel.  That ludicrousness runs through the rest of the film, with Smith and a good-hearted prostitute named Dairy Queen protecting the newborn against a seemingly endless stream of gun-toting baddies.

John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) - Commando (1985)

Decades before Liam Neeson matter-of-factly used his "very particular set of skills" to kill everyone between he and his abducted daughter, retired Black Ops Colonel Matrix waged a one-man war and risked major geopolitical instability to save his kidnapped 11 year old daughter, played by Alyssa Milano.  More importantly, Schwarzenegger got to deliver lines like "I eat Green Berets for breakfast. And right now, I'm very hungry."

Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita) - The Karate Kid (1984)

Mr. Miyagi is a peaceful soul, content to hang out at his cool little house, mourn his wife, and work as a handyman.  But when a bunch of punks keep bullying Jersey-born pipsqueak Daniel LaRusso, Miyagi becomes a tiny whirlwind, beating the piss out of the unruly minors. More importantly, Miyagi teaches Daniel to defend himself, but in the meantime he has no problem karate-chopping booze bottles and generally being a badass.

Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) - The Sound of Music (1965)

A widowed Austrian naval officer, von Trapp seems like a pretty typical hardass, ruling over his seven children with absolute authority.  But as Maria, played by Julie Andrews, brings light into his life, we see his compassionate, joyous side emerging.  And when the Third Reich comes a-calling, we see von Trapp nobly resisting military service in order to protect his kids from the regime.  Basically, he turns out to be a real class act.

Leon (Jean Reno) - Leon: The Professional (1994)

As the title suggests, Jean Reno's quiet, milk-drinking character is a man of efficiency and faultless professionalism in a job that just happens to involve mercilessly killing people.  The cleaner's greater morality, alluded to with his code of, "No women, no children," comes to the fore when he rescues a young girl, his neighbor, whose family is murdered by scumbag DEA agents.  The bond between Leon and Natalie Portman as his young friend is both paternal and crazy, since he's reluctantly training her to be a killer.

T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) - Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

James Cameron's sequel turns this character on its head.  In The Terminator, Schwarzenegger racks up a huge body count as the monosyllabic time-traveling automaton programmed simply to kill Sarah Conner at any cost, but in Judgment Day, another of the same model is sent to protect the young John Connor.  The savior of humanity even orders his pet T-800 not to kill, to which the machine obliges by shooting dozens of people in the kneecaps.  Ultimately, the Terminator becomes a weird surrogate father figure, making his final thumbs-up a touching moment for even the most repressed, manliest of men.

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