Father’s Day is a day to honor our dads – the men who helped bring us into the world and teach us survive it. To celebrate the holiday, we at Screen Rant compiled a list of 10 cinematic fathers who kick serious ass. Whether these proud papas are attempting to save their children or trying to control the intergalactic universe, these dads are always willing to engage in a fight to protect their children (and families) when they are in danger.
This list is for all of the fathers out there who kick ass in real life, including my own dad. Happy Father’s Day – and enjoy!
Sure, Darth Vader isn’t the best dad out there, and he’s awful to shop for on Father’s Day (what kind of tie actually goes with an all-black mechanical suit?).
In the original Star Wars trilogy, the older Anakin Skywalker is known for taking down his opponents and murdering those who disappoint him. But inside that cruel facade is a father who at the end of the series eventually makes the right decision in protecting his son, Luke Skywalker.
Telling Luke about his identity minutes after chopping off his arm in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) isn’t the most paternal thing to do, but there’s no denying that Vader was a father who kicked a lot of intergalactic butt.
Tom Mullen isn’t your typical father. A successful entrepreneur, Mullen seems to have a perfect life – until his young son is kidnapped and he is asked to pay millions of dollars to get him back in the 1996 drama, Ransom.
Not one to stand by and be manipulated, Mullen takes the situation into his own hands and uses the media and his money against the kidnappers. Despite those who criticize his methods, Mullen proves to be one tough father.
Holding his child hostage was a huge mistake and this successful businessman proves that he is one dad that isn’t to be messed with.
Early on in The Punisher, Frank Castle watches as members of his family are murdered at a reunion. His wife and young child are two of the innocent victims whose blood is spilled. But never one to accept his fate, Castle personally seeks vengeance against the family of low-lifes who caused his misfortune.
Before tragedy invaded his life, although he was a cop, he was more of a gentle soul – but once his switch was flipped by the murder of his family, Frank became a formidable killing machine with no remorse whatsoever for those in the crosshairs of his extensive collection of weapons.
In Death Wish (1974), Charles Brosnan stars as Paul Kersey, a man whose life is changed forever after his daughter is raped and his wife is brutally murdered. Instead of letting such harrowing circumstances cause him to wallow in self-pity and despair, he becomes a vigilante facing off against New York City criminals.
The original Death Wish launched a long-running and successful film series and it showed how one man fought for justice against those who had done so much wrong to his family – and others as well.
And for those who want to see this character return to the streets, a Death Wish reboot is reportedly on the way….
In 2010, Screen Rant‘s Paul Young called Ip Man the best movie of the year. He wrote that the movie “is quite possibly the best martial arts film to come out of Hong Kong in the past 10 years.” The film, he noted, revolved around a pacifist Kung Fu Master played by Donnie Yen, who makes the decision to fight back against the Imperialist Japanese army that takes control of his village.
Like many of the fathers on the list, the title character doesn’t live a life of violence until his family is threatened. When that happens, this dad takes matters into his own hands and shows that his skills are strong enough to take on those who wish to do harm to those he loves.
And this father isn’t done yet. Yen is rumored to return to the role in Ip man 3D.
Harry Tasker is a boring, unremarkable husband. At least that’s what his family thinks he is in the 1994 action film, True Lies. In reality, he’s a counter-terrorist agent leading a double life and trying to protect his family from his dangerous job.
But as the movie progresses, his family learns about Tasker’s true identity. When both his wife and daughter are put in danger, he shows how far he is willing to go to protect them – and that’s pretty damned far.
Retirement can be a relaxing period in a father’s life – after spending years working, a dad can use the time to relax with his family and loved ones. But for John Matrix, a retired military operative who simply wants to be left alone in the 1985 drama, Commando, things take quite a different turn.
When his daughter is kidnapped by a former colleague, Matrix ends his retirement and fights to get her back. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the only actor to make our list twice and he deserves it. He is a one man army in this perfect example of kitschy 80s action fare.
Retirement never looked so exciting.
We would have been remiss not to add the father from Kick-Ass (read our review here) to our list of fathers who, well – kick ass. As Damon Macready (also known as Big daddy), Nic Cage stars as a superhero wannabe who fights crime with his daughter Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and a wimpy teenager who fights crime under the alias Kick-Ass.
Throughout the movie, Big daddy tries to look out for his young daughter and new ally. Although his parenting techniques are seriously questionable, he’s a father who wants his daughter to be self-reliant and fight for justice.
And along the way, he does kick a lot of ass.
Number 2 on our list is officer John McClane, a New York cop attending a Christmas party as the original Die Hard begins. But when the party is hijacked by terrorists, he must use every tool in his arsenal of experience to fight against a psychotic mastermind villain named Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his greedy accomplices.
McClane starts out the movie as a (separated) husband and father, but he soon becomes a one-man army. Although his children aren’t hostages, the media uses them in a newscast, putting McClane and his wife Holly in even more danger. But this father proves that he isn’t willing to back down – and will do anything to see his kids again.
“Welcome to the party, pal.” Indeed. This is one dad that you always want on your side of a fight.
And finally, our number 1 pick – the most kick-ass movie dad.
Over the years Liam Neeson has played a series of tough guys in films – and Taken (2008) was no different. In this movie, he played a proud papa whose daughter is kidnapped overseas. (Make sure you check out our review here.)
As Bryan Mills, Neeson is a retired CIA operative who takes on his daughter’s kidnappers one by one, searching for any way to bring his beloved child back to safety. He personified a bad-ass dad, and even though he was in his late 50s when the film was made he was completely believable as a dad you do NOT want to mess with.
Taken quickly became of Neeson’s biggest roles and its sequel is now in production.
Here is the full list of our top 10 cinematic kick-ass fathers. They may not be the best fathers in the world but they are parents who are willing to kick butt to protect or avenge their children.
10. Darth Vader, Star Wars Trilogy (James Earl Jones/David Prowse)
9. Tom Mullen, Ransom (Mel Gibson)
8. Frank Castle, The Punisher (Thomas Jane)
7. Paul Kersey, Death Wish (Charles Bronson)
6. Ip Man, Ip Man (Donnie Yen)
5. Harry Tasker, True Lies (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
4. John Matrix, Commando (Arnold Schwarzenegger)
3. Damon Macready /Big daddy, Kick-Ass (Nicolas Cage)
2. John McClane, Die Hard (Bruce Willis)
1. Bryan Mills, Taken (Liam Neeson)
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