There’s something particularly heroic in the act of sacrifice.
While the term “hero” largely refers to individuals of admirable or extraordinary traits, courage and bravery; the ability to rise up and act in the face or adversity, are characteristics that define the word just as well.
Of the past 9 MANLY moments we’ve explored up to this point, most, if not all of them have involved instances wherein heroic individuals had to put their lives at stake for a cause greater than themselves.
In fact, in the case of our 6th and 2nd MANLIEST MAN moments, (Jim Brown’s suicide run in The Dirty Dozen and Optimus Prime’s battle with Megatron in Transformers: The Movie respectively) the MANLY MEN involved in said moments ended up losing their lives despite their accomplishments.
Martyrdom is indeed a powerful form of heroism and MANLINESS, and unsurprisingly; it just happens to the kind of MANLINESS that makes the finale of Sam Peckinpah’s turn of the century Western classic, The Wild Bunch; THE MANLIEST MAN MOMENT IN ALL OF FILM:
Unlike the vast majority of the movies on this list, The Wild Bunch is a legitimately great film.
That’s not to say Transformers: The Movie and Commando aren’t quality films in their own right, I for one fucking love them; however it’s hard to deny that they aren’t of the same caliber as a classic like The Wild Bunch.
That being said, when it comes to films with themes like brotherhood, redemption, and MANLINESS; there are few better examples I can think of than The Wild Bunch.
The finale of The Wild Bunch involves the main characters, a band of somewhat amoral hired guns; recognizing a need for justice in a wartorn Mexican community.
Not lawful justice mind you, just plain old fashioned MAN-JUSTICE.
Initially working for the local warlord and his German arms provider, the Bunch complete the task assigned to them and collect their reward; but at the cost of having their comrade Angel, a Mexican revolutionary; taken from their ranks and brutally tortured.
The Bunch react to this atrocity with disgust and anger, however they ultimately end up gritting their teeth and walking away.
Some time passes however, and their collective consciences rouse their spirits to take action.
In an awe-inspiring act of MANLINESS, the remaining members of the bunch, consisting of Willam Holden’s Pike, Ernest Borgnine’s Dutch, Warren Oates’ Lyle, and Ben Johnson’s Tector; march through the town and towards the warlord’s compound with fire in their hearts.
Arriving at the compound, the Bunch confront the warlord amid an entire mess hall worth of troops.
The warlord, at this point severely inebriated and thusly unaware of the seriousness of the situation, casually asks them what it is they want.
To this, Pike responds with a single demand:
Retrieving the battered and beaten Angel, the warlord seems to be willing to comply with their request.
Unfortunately, the warlord draws a concealed knife and ruthlessly slits Angel’s throat, prompting the Bunch to gun him down on the spot.
There is an awkward moment as the warlord falls, a calm before the storm.
Both the soldiers, and the Bunch themselves; stand in silent awe of the utter insanity of what has just transpired.
The Bunch have ample time to run, and yet for whatever reason; they stand their ground.
Slipping a deviously knowing glance between one another, the Bunch recklessly assault the army of Mexican troops; resigning themselves to the lethal eventuality of the overwhelming odds before them.
Scores of Mexican troops are slaughtered as the Bunch wildly spray fire into the crowd, laughing maniacally at the sheer ridiculousness of the predicament they’ve willingly thrown themselves into.
As the initial surprise of their attack begins to fade away however, the soldier’s sheer numbers begin to wear on the Bunch; resulting in nearly all of our “heroes” receiving serious bullet wounds at some point.
A major turning point in the conflict occurs when one of the Bunch manages to get ahold of a mounted machine within the base, increasing the Bunch’s attack power 10 fold.
Unfortunately, even a machine gun isn’t enough to turn the tide completely, as one by one the Bunch begins to fall apart.
At the end of it all, only Pike and Dutch remain, with Pike dieing a heroes’ death manning the machine gun as Dutch is gunned down trying to come to his aid.
In the end, The Wild Bunch isn’t really a story about good guys and bad guys.
As mentioned earlier, the Bunch is made up of brigands and outlaws; making them questionable as traditional heroes.
Despite their somewhat underhanded nature though, in the final act of the movie; the Bunch manage to redeem themselves by demonstrating a clear belief in the concept of moral decency and justice.
Everything they do throughout the movie, especially in the finale sequence, could very easily be viewed as “wrong” or unjust; however in going back for Angel, and thereby adhering to their personal form of MAN-CODE; they gain a very small, but meaningful degree of redemption.
In essence, the Bunch gave their lives not for glory, or even necessity; but simply for the purpose of being MEN both in life, and in death.
In that sense, I can think of no MANLIER act of MAN-NESS in the pantheon of MANLY cinema.
Well folks, thus concludes the Azn Badger’s list of the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments in movies.
Hopefully you all enjoyed yourselves.
I for one seriously need a break from all of this MANLINESS business, as all of this writing has pretty much pushed me to the brink of MAN-SANITY.
Maybe I should watch some Ugly Betty or something, cleanse the palette…