Once a professional diver who competed on the British national team, Jason Statham found his calling as one of the world’s biggest action movie stars. From small beginnings as a comedic actor for Guy Ritchie’s early homegrown crime movies, Statham progressively grew into the kind of star who would go toe-to-toe with Dwayne Johnson in full butt-kicking mode and partner up with Sylvester Stallone.
There are a lot of contenders for Statham’s most badass roles so far, so we’ve whittled them down to the best of the best for your reading pleasure. Here are our picks for Jason Statham’s ten most badass characters.
10 Jericho Butler (Ghosts Of Mars)
Jason Statham has played tough cops, he’s even played tough sci-fi cops but, so far, his career has only one tough sci-fi cop who gets to waste scores of undying Martian demons. Jericho was a relatively early role for Statham, particularly in his segue into action hero stardom.
Armed with machine guns, shotguns, handguns, improvised grenades and that winning Statham charm, Jericho Butler made a big impact in the relatively small movie. Statham was originally one of the actors considered for the male lead role, of space outlaw ‘Desolation Williams’, before being turned down by the studio for lack of star power. He went ahead and stole the show anyway.
9 Jensen Garner Ames (Death Race)
Framed for the murder of his wife, NASCAR driver Jensen Ames is imprisoned and forced to take part in his prison’s deadly ‘Death Race’. The race features convicts battling it out in a futuristic chariot race using customized armored cars with heavy weaponry.
Jensen agrees to take part on the condition that he replace a former masked driver within the Death Race called Frankenstein, assuming his identity and winning his final race to gain freedom. Based on Roger Corman’s cult favorite Death Race 2000, Statham’s iteration of the character lives up to the bloody and flamboyant legacy of the original.
8 Arthur Bishop (The Mechanic)
A mob hitman, Arthur Bishop is ruthlessly effective at your standard guns and explosions type action movie fare but his selling point is his ability to assassinate the most impossible targets and make it look like an accident. Stuck in a constant state of either double-crossing or being double-crossed, Arthur Bishop is one rightly paranoid man. If he’s not killing people, he’s rigging his home and possessions with explosives just in case.
In the sequel, Mechanic: Resurrection, Arthur manages to find love in the form of Jessica Alba’s angelic children’s shelter worker. As you’d expect, the bad guys kidnap her to make Bishop work for them and, as you’d expect, it does not go well for them.
7 Jonas Taylor (The Meg)
Jonas Taylor is a deep sea rescue diver who goes through the usual action hero woes of a failed rescue and self-imposed exile before being forced to come back to rescue a crew stuck at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, which includes his ex-wife. Down there, the divers encounter a megalodon and this is where Jonas really starts to shift into badass mode.
Statham has a pretty high body count as an action star, one which makes him worthy of being included in machismo supergroup The Expendables. One thing that none of the gargantuan stars in that team can claim, though, is that they’ve killed a giant prehistoric shark with (effectively) their bare hands.
6 Parker (Parker)
A slick thief, Parker is a man of precision and professionalism. As he puts it himself, “I don’t steal from people that can’t afford it and I don’t hurt people who don’t deserve it.” Luckily for the audience, Parker meets a lot of people who deserve a hurting.
Double-crossed by a sloppy team, Parker is shot and left for dead by the side of the road. His violent quest for revenge stands out thanks to Statham performing all of his own stunts on the movie. He leaps out of a moving car, several times for the right take, and even hangs off the top floor balcony of a twenty-storey hotel. Not being able to separate the actor from the character only serves to make Parker all the more badass.
5 Lee Christmas (The Expendables Franchise)
Of the original roster for Sylvester Stallone’s festival of badass action stars, Statham was pretty much the newest kid on the block. With a slew of successful action movies under his belt, and at the age of forty-three, Statham was, by no means, a spring chicken. But there’s still a kind of passing of the baton between Stallone and Statham in those movies. It wasn’t that uncommon a thing for Stallone to do but it did really allow Statham to shine.
Favoring all manner of blades over guns, Lee Christmas is the right hand man of Expendables leader Barney Ross as well as possibly the franchise’s biggest source of kills and quips. Highlights include him disguising himself as a priest and saying “By the power vested in me, I now pronounce you...man and knife” before stabbing a guy and using an incense holder as a mace.
4 Luke Wright (Safe)
Luke Wright is a cage fighter and former cop who falls victim to a Russian mobster after accidentally winning a fixed fight. His punishment is the murder of his pregnant wife and the promise that anyone that he speaks to for any length of time will also be murdered. Beaten and hopeless, Luke is moments away from throwing himself in front of a New York subway train before he notices a young girl in distress.
Luke quickly discovers that the girl is the target of both the Russian and Chinese mafias as well as every corrupt cop in New York City due to her knowledge of valuable information. With a new lease on life and nothing else left to lose, Luke takes on everything the city can throw at him and beats the snot out of it.
3 Deckard Shaw (Fast & Furious Franchise)
The brother of Luke Evans’ big bad villain from Fast and Furious 6, Deckard Shaw is a rogue special forces assassin who’s trained in every kind of black ops dark magic you can think of. He’s also macho enough to survive head on tussles with Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs and head on collisions with Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto.
Though initially appearing as a villain in the series, Deckard quickly comes around and discovers a beautiful budding bromance of bravado with Johnson’s character. The two had so much chemistry in The Fate of the Furious, in fact, that their own spin-off movie was green-lit almost immediately.
2 Frank Martin (The Transporter Franchise)
Statham’s first real opportunity to branch out and create an action icon of his very own, the titular Transporter does not disappoint. Frank Martin is an automotive artist. The road is his canvas and the car is his brush. The Transporter makes most of Statham’s other characters look like rank amateurs in the world of crime. He knows every detail, down to how each occupant will affect the tires he chose that day.
Statham made the character so successful that, after he completed his own trilogy, the franchise was bankable enough for the producers to make a TV show and reboot the movies with fellow British action star Ed Skrein in the driver’s seat.
1 Chev Chelios (Crank And Crank 2 : High Voltage)
A cockney hitman based in Los Angeles, Chev Chelios gets injected with a synthetic drug which inhibits the flow of adrenaline to his heart. To stay alive, Chev needs to constantly shock his system into producing high volumes of adrenaline just to keep his heart pumping. The action possibilities this affords are limitless and the results are just as entertaining as you’d hope they'd be.
Just when you think you can’t see Chev doing anything more unbelievable than the last thing he did, he gets an artificial heart in the sequel. This means Chev has to now literally shock his system with electricity to power himself. Chev is a unique character not just for Statham but for action movies in general. Twenty years from now, he could be the one Statham is really remembered for.