From throat rips to decapitations, martial art assassins to robotic killers and Yippee Ki-Yay’s to Asta La Vista’s, they have dealt death in every way possible with every weapon imaginable.
Each death reaches the same conclusion but each actor carries it off in their own unique style, often adding a personal touch. Be it an Arnie verbal send off like “Stick Around” after being stuck with a huge knife against a post or adding some humour by playing games with the baddies like John McClane in Die Hard ” Now I have a machine gun, Ho Ho Ho”. A memorable death greatly adds to the enjoyment of watching baddies/goodies perish at the hands, feet, guns, knives, robotic limbs of these iconic action movie stars.
Although this rundown is never going to be 100% accurate I have tried to find as much information to build the most definitive totals of bloody deaths in action film lore. I’ve also added a guess of how many kills each actor racked up in The Expendables, it was an impossible task, but I think Jason Statham came out on top after recording 41 kills in one scene pushing him ahead of his nearest competitor.
This is the Expendables body count run down that totals over 2000 dead bodies in over 300 films combined.
You can read our extensive coverage including our review for The Expendables here.
First up is the rejuvenated Mickey Rourke who never really started off as an action movie star but has slowly become a very dominant actor in the action movie genre.
With starring roles in the excellent Sin City as Marv and as Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2 being recent highlights, Rourke has shown an incredible natural ability to add a villainous menace or a convincing powerful force to his roles which makes him such a watchable actor in action films. Rourke again gives a great performance as ‘Tool’ in the Expendables, easily the best actor in the whole film.
Probably one of the toughest actors on the list, as an amateur boxer he reportedly had 12 consecutive first round knockouts and also went undefeated in 8 professional boxing matches from 1991 -1995 winning 6 and drawing 2 bouts before retiring to go back to acting. Rourke needed facial surgery to correct his disfigurement due to injuries suffered from boxing and a balls up from his plastic surgeon left him with his drastically different looking features.
Rourke’s first film was alongside Jon Belushi and Dan Akroyd in Spielberg’s war spoof ’1941? and he went on to star in 9 1/2 weeks, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City, The Wrestler and Iron Man 2 and he also turned down the roles of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop, Stuntman Mike in Tarantino’s Grindhouse episode Death Proof, Johnny Ringo in Tombstone and Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction.
Along with Stallone, they are the only Oscar nominated actors from the Expendables and Rourke got his Oscar nod for the role of Randy Robinson in the Wrestler
Mickey Rourke – 28 Kills on screen in 61 Films – 0.45 kills per film
Most Kills:- 15 as Marv in Sin City
Kills in The Expendables: 0
Jason Statham is our next hard man in the list and a surprise action star considering he came from nowhere to appear in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and two years after that starred in Snatch. All of a sudden he became a martial artist action movie star who took off in ‘The Transporter’ a film which spawned two further sequels, which Stathem then topped with the insane, ridiculous and guilty pleasures ‘Crank’ and ‘Crank 2: High Voltage’ where he played the delightfully named Chev Chelios, a man trying to keep his ticker ticking by doing adrenaline pumping antics or otherwise he dies. Love it.
He has already faced off against Expendables Jet Li in War and The One as well as Mickey Rourke in 13 and has had leading roles in Bank Job, Revolver, Deathrace with further supporting roles in Italian Job, Mean Machine, Ghost of Mars and as the lead villain in Cellular.
When you watch a Statham film you can expect a few things from them. 1, there will be action and some very OTT action at that. 2, there will be some very well choreographed martial arts that include props and the scenery around him which is very reminiscent of the classic Jackie Chan films which it makes his films more than your average martial art film and very accessible. And 3, there will some quirky humour.
Statham has blossomed into a well loved Hollywood actor who must be in heaven starring in The Expendables with such iconic action movie heroes and fully deserves his major role as the co-star alongside Stallone. For me he was one of the many highlights of The Expendables with his knife killing skills.
Jason Statham – 147 Kills on screen in 23 Films – 6.4 kills per film
Most Kills:- 60 as ‘Farmer’ in ‘In the name of the King’
Approximate kills in The Expendables: 80
Bruce Willis is only third in the list of the action stars in terms of on screen kills but is easily one of the most loved due to his success as John McClane in the Die Hard movies; despite how poorly received the fourth movie was, the lure of seeing McClane back on the screen was the main draw, and that’s thanks to Willis.
He had his first staring role in the non action movie ‘The Return of Bruno’, a “Hilarious Rock Comedy” which was followed by Rom-Com ‘Blind Date’ starring alongside Kim Basinger. It looked like Bruce Willis was heading towards being a comedy actor with his next role being in ‘Sunset’ with James Garner, but after that the legend was born with Bruce Willis being cast as Detective John McClane in 1988’s Die Hard apparently beating actors Richard Gere, Don Johnson and Richard Dean Anderson in the process and the rest is history.
Willis has performed in over 60 films and numerous TV shows with highlights being Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, The Fifth Element, Sin City, Armageddon, Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Moonlighting was the highlight of his TV Career winning a Global Globe with his performance as David Addison and also had appearances in Friends and Ally McBeal, but in the end he will always be known as John ‘Die Hard’ McClane.
Bruce Willis 168 Kills on screen in 62 Films – 2.7 per film
Most Kills – 26 as Korban Dallas in Fifth Element
Approximate kills in The Expendables: 0
Next on the list is Jet Li and it’s also a step up in kill rates per film for the action stars, in fact Triple the amount of Bruce Willis.
Jet Li (real name Li Lian Jie) is arguably the most natural action fighting star in the film with an incredible knowledge of martial arts under his belt with the mastery of Wushu, Tai Chi, Drunken Fist, Praying Mantis Fist as well as weapon skills that make him the real fighting machine who could probably take on any of the guys on this list and win.
Jet Li’s first entry into movies was the successful Shaolin Temple films that were followed by the Once upon a time in China trilogy, Fist of Legend and High Risk that developed him into one of the greatest martial artists on the big screen of all time. Inevitably it wasn’t long before Hollywood came calling when he appeared in Lethal Weapon 4 in his first ever role as a villain which was then followed by his first Hollywood leading role in Romeo Must Die.
Li continued to make films back in China as well as in Hollywood with the pick being the stunning Hero but also he starred in The One, Cradle 2 the Grave, Unleashed, The Mummy 3, Fearless and The Forbidden Kingdom which would all be pretty abysmal or average films if it wasn’t for the killer moves and presence of the great Jet Li appearing in them.
Not many martial art actors have earned world wide recognition but Jet Li has fully earned his place alongside the greats of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan as the best.
Jet Li – 327 Kills on screen – 39 Films – 8.3 per film
Most Kills – 50 as Kit Li in High Risk
Approximate kills in The Expendables: 30
The man who brought them all together in Expendables and the man who holds the second highest amount of kills in one movie for his throat ripping, machine gun firing and knife chopping killing spree in 2008’s Rambo. From his most innocent kill from dropping dead weight in Cliff Hanger to shooting a soldier pointblank repeatedly with the biggest machine gun in Rambo 4, Sylvester Stallone is quite possibly the first name that would spring to mind if you were asked to name an action movie star on Family Fortunes, he is and always will be an action movie star.
Complications during his birth left Stallone with a severed a nerve in his head which left him with partial paralysis in his face, slurred speech and his sagging lower lip, but something that could have seriously limited most actors chances to succeed, it has become as much a part of his character as his bulging muscles and killing machine personality.
His career has had its up and downs with Stop! or my Mom will Shoot being a horrible low and Rocky being a triple Oscar winning high. Stallone has a fine collection of franchise movies with Rocky producing six highly enjoyable films and Rambo forging four well loved movies with Rambo 4 giving Stallone the second highest kill rate in one film from our list with a staggering 87, he just knows how to create iconic characters in his movies.
Stallone is one of the biggest box office earners, one of the greatest movie stars of all time and one of the most recognisable actors in the world. Action movies wouldn’t be anywhere near as enjoyable without his contribution.
Sylvester Stallone – 334 Kills on Screen – 50 Films – 6.7 per film
Most Kills – 87 as John Rambo (2008)
Approximate kills in The Expendables: 60
Although having little screen time in the Expendables, the Guvnor of California will be rightfully represented in the movie and he will forever been known as one of the best and most consistently enjoyable action movie stars that there ever will be. If not for his amazing array of movies, he is memorable for his quotable and trademark one liners or the characters he has portrayed; the man is an action hero.
Arnie started off as a body builder winning Mr. Universe at the age of 22 and entering movies in his debut as Arnold Strong in Hercules in New York. Arnie then went on to get a ‘Best acting debut’ Golden Globe for his role in Stay Hungry (1976) alongside Jeff Bridges and Sally Field but it was Conan the Barbarian that launched him into the Action Movie Hall of Fame which subsequently lead to his role as The Terminator. After dominating the movie business for 20 years he then did the unthinkable and became Governor of California where he has served to this day.
Arnie holds the record for most kills in one film with the awesome Commando where he slaughtered a phenomenal 102 bad guys. It’s the ultimate display of killing but it was no way his greatest moment, most people will instantly say Terminator is his defining moment and it’s hard to argue with that. His turn as the killing machine sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor, then protect her son John Connor in James Cameron’s sequel, is one of the finest in Sci-Fi history and one he will be forever remembered for.
In his prime Arnie made arguably the finest collection of Action movies that have ever been made by one actor, easily beating everyone on this list in terms of variety, enjoyment, cult status and personality in his films, Arnie has proven to be possibly the most popular action movie star of all time. Listing the films just proves this:
Conan, The Terminator, Commando, Raw Deal, Predator, Running Man, Red Heat, Total Recall, Terminator 2 and True Lies that (for me) was his last true classic Action Movie. Arnie is my favourite action movie star of all time and in my opinion, No one comes close.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – 513 Kills on screen – 31 Films – 16.5 per film
Most Kills – 102 as Matrix in Commando
Approximate kills in The Expendables: 0
And finally the winner of the most kills combined and with a staggering 632 kills in an average of 17.5 people per film, it’s Dolph ‘He-Man’ Lundgren.
To be honest I know little of Lundgren’s films, I know he was in Masters of the Universe, Rocky 4, The Punisher, Universal Soldier films and Blackjack but apart from those, the others I’ve never seen or ever really heard of but that doesn’t make his career insignificant. Dolph is a killing machine and has killed almost more people than Rourke, Statham, Willis and Jet Li put together and has a higher average per film to boot.
Dolph Lundgren was born in Sweden and it the largest of the Expendables at 6’5″ who has a third Degree Black Belt. His career in action films started in a small role in James Bond A View to a Kill due to being the real life body guard to Grace Jones, but it was his best and most well remembered role as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV that set him onto the path of becoming a major action movie star.
He followed Rocky with his most high profile role with the live adaptation of He-Man, he played the lead role of Adam Prince of Eternia in a fantasy/action movie that I still have fond memories of seeing, but one that I haven’t seen since the late 80’s, It can’t be that bad…
After Masters of the Universe, Lundgren went on to star in Red Scorpion, The Punisher and Universal Soldier alongside Jean Claude Van Damme that turned out to be his last major movie for many years as he slipped into low profile straight to DVD movies where he has made a living from since including turning to directing in 2004 with the movie Defender.
Lundgren was considered for the role of Ben Richards in The Running Man and was also offered the role of Captain America in the 1980 version but due to doing the Punisher, he turned it down. It’s a shame as he could have easily of had a career like Schwarzenegger, but he made a better villain than a hero and the bad guy rarely becomes the big star.
Dolph Lundgren – 632 Kills on screen – 36 Films – 17.5 per film
Most Kills – 60 as Frank in the Punisher
Approximate kills in The Expendables: 10
THE BLOODY FACTS:
TOTALS: 2149 Combined Kills in 302 Films.
- HOW HIGH – If you laid all the bodies these guys have racked up in their movies and stack em up like a single tower morbid game of Jenga it would be the height of 2149 feet, 655 metres or 0.4 of a mile which is roughly the same size as five London Eye big wheels, Two Eiffel Towers or as tall as 13 Godzilla’s (Japanese 1954 original version)..
- HOW FAR– Alternatively if you don’t fancy stacking you could lay each body-bag head to toe (presuming each guy exterminated was 6 foot tall, which is about right height for your average villain) it will total up to about 12,894 feet, 2.5 Miles or 3,930 metres in Length. That’s 9.8 times around an Olympic track that would take Usain Bolt about six minutes to reach the end of running at full pelt..
- BLOODBATH! – If the average human body contains 5.6 litres of blood and presuming after each life our action stars takes the bodies loses around half that, then there would be enough blood to fill 10,588 pints of beer, 22.3 baths of water and is three times the amount of blood used to blast out of the bed in A Nightmare on Elm Street!
Thanks to excellent site www.allouttabubblegum.com for an invaluable source of information on movie deaths. Check them out, I had almost as much fun reading their site as I did watching the Expendables!