I grew up on the 1980’s action genre and admittingly I still love many of those films. So in honor of these cheesfests I so adore, this week I’m listing 5 Phenomenal tough guy one-liners. Now on the surface that probably looks pretty easy, but it didn’t take long before the one-liners started stacking up. So I put the emphasis on “TOUGH GUY”. There’s a lot of great movie one-liners but this list is restricted to those sometimes cheesy but always memorable action movie one-liners that were a staple of so many films. As always, I wouldn’t call this the definitive list, but there’s no denying that these movie tough guy one-liners are absolutely phenomenal.
#5 – “YOU’RE A DISEASE, AND I’M THE CURE” – MARION COBRETTI (“COBRA”)
Sylvester Stallone’s 1986 cheese-fest “Cobra” is a guilty pleasure of mine. In many ways it epitomized what the 80’s action genre was all about. It had the tough-as-nails hero, over-the-top action sequences, and plenty of corny but fun dialogue. In the opening scene, Cobretti (aka “The Cobra”) is called in to take care of a lunatic who has taken hostages inside a supermarket. The two have a standoff inside where the maniac rambles on about how he is a new world hunter. The Cobra simply replies “You’re a disease, and I’m the cure”. He follows that by wiping the guy out in typical 80’s tough guy fashion. Sure it was cheesy, but even today I still get a kick out of it.
#4 – “I’M YOUR HUCKLEBERRY” – DOC HOLLIDAY (“TOMBSTONE”)
One of the best things about 1993’s “Tombstone” was Val Kilmer’s performance as Doc Holliday. Since then Kilmer has fallen off the map but looking back he had several memorable roles including this one. In this particular scene a drunken Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) is stumbling through the streets of Tombstone when he comes across Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) and his brothers. Ringo decides to pick a fight with the Earps. After Wyatt turns down his challenge, Doc steps off the porch and utters the memorable line “I’m your huckleberry”. Ringo’s gang rushes in to lead him away which certainly shows that Doc qualifies as a tough guy. Kilmer’s huckleberry line is simply unforgettable.
#3 – “LAUGH IT UP FUZZBALL” – HAN SOLO (“THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK”)
Ok sure, Han Solo had a soft side. But he was also the quintessential tough guy. The one-time smuggler became an important part of the rebellion but he never fully shed his tough guy personality. After rescuing Luke on the ice planet Hoth, Han and Chewbacca drop by the medical ward to check on him. Also there is Princess Leia and Han immediately begins to give her a hard time. Leia fires right back at Han causing Chewie to let out a hearty laugh. Han gives his furry friend a look and utters the great line “Laugh it up Fuzzball”. Obviously this one is quite different than the other one-liners on this list, but it’s a tough guy line nonetheless and I still love to this day.
#2 – “HASTA LA VISTA, BABY” – THE TERMINATOR (“TERMINATOR 2”)
You could do an entire list of great Arnold Schwarzenegger one-liners. In almost every film of his you could expect an assortment on them. So for the sake of variety I chose one Schwarzenegger one-liner. It was hard to leave off classic cheese such as “I’ll be back” from the first Terminator film, “Stick around” from “Predator”, and “Let off some steam Bennett” from “Commando”. Instead, I chose a one-liner that is a classic in every sense of the word. After being chased, shot at, and beaten up by a newer Terminator model, Arnie finally gets the upper hand, pulls out his pistol, and says the now famous line “Hasta la vista, baby” before shattering the frozen T-1000 into pieces. It’s the perfect mix of toughness, humor, and cheese and it’s a line that almost everyone immediately recognizes. How could it not be on this list?
#1 – “GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY” – HARRY CALLAHAN (“SUDDEN IMPACT”)
Could any other tough guy one-liner honestly top this one? It’s a Clint Eastwood line that people know and recognizes even if they’ve never seen the movie. Just as he does each morning, San Francisco police detective Harry Callahan grabs a newspaper and walks into his favorite cafe for a cup of coffee. He leaves, takes a sip of his coffee and finds it to be loaded with sugar. This tips him off that something is wrong. The cafe is actually being held up for several armed gunman. Harry comes in the back way with his buddies Smith and Wesson (aka his .44 magnum) and takes care of business. The one surviving robber grabs a hostage and tries to escape. Harry meets him at the door, points his .44 at his face, gives him the Clint squint, and utters the famous line “Go ahead, make my day”. Classic! Eastwood delivered several memorable movie lines especially with his Dirty Harry character. But when it comes down to it, this is the one that will always stand out.
Like my list? Dislike my list? See a one-liner that I left out? Disagree with one I included? What’s you’re favorite tough-guy one-liner? Please leave a comment or share your own favorites below.