The humble one-liner is a staple of the action genre. When done right, it can enhance the entire viewing experience, giving the ardent fan a catchphrase he may quote for weeks.
When done badly, the one-liner can become a laughable affair, condemning the film to fully lame status.
Join us for a look at the 15 lamest movie one-liners, as we explain exactly what they meant to say, and offer up a superior alternative...
Max Walker (Jean-Claude Van Damme) Time Cop (1994)
The One-Liner: [after kicking a guy into liquid nitrogen] “I guess I should have told him to 'Freeze.'”
The Long Version: “I feel terrible about your recent demise, and that instead of killing you without remorse I should have perhaps asked you to stop what you were doing, though this course of action would have prevented me from using a most excellent pun, which I wrote 5 years ago and have been waiting patiently to use ever since.
Ha. Sucker. Did you believe me when I said that whole bit about feeling terrible yada yada? That was merely my Belgian attempt at humour. Of course I don't feel terrible about your death, I am Van Damme! I kill like other people twitch - without thinking. That's right. I have a list as long as the back section of this modest haircut of puns and quips designed to use in every conceivable death situation.
Unluckily for you, you only get the pleasure of getting killed by me once, and you will therefore only have the esteem of being on the recieving end of one of my delightful witicisms once. No where's that pot of grease?"
What Would Have Been Better : “Now you’re as cool as me… and my mullet!”
Johnny (Rob ‘Vanilla Ice’ Van Winkle) Cool As Ice (1991)
The One-Liner: “Drop that zero and get with the hero!”
The Long Version: “Check me out for a second, I am the coolest person in this town… by far! I’d even suggest I was heroic in my level of cool, putting myself right up there alongside the armed forces, the emergency services and Superman.
The gentleman you are currently with has absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever, he treats you badly, and if I were to give him a score out of ten, let’s just say he’d score below 1. Put that man down and come over here, and let me show you exactly what white-boy novelty rap-acts are all about.
Also, I know what you're thinking, but yes I do speak like this all the time. Please don't let it affect your decision to leave that other, well-educated, well-spoken guy, because you can't judge a book by it's cover, even when that book is a joke encyclopedia parading as an urban drama”
What Would Have Been Better: “That guy is boring - at least you can laugh at me. Hell, we can laugh together, at the fact somebody thought this film was a good idea!”
Next: Ultraviolet, Above The Law [page-break]
Violet (Milla Jovovich) Ultraviolet (2006)
The One-Liner: “Haven't you been paying attention? Killing is what I do. It's what I'm good at. I am a titan. A monolith. Nothing can stop me.”
The Long Version: “In case you didn’t notice, and you probably should have, what with all the excellent killing I have been demonstrating, I’m a completely modest professional life-taker, with absolutely no delusions of grandeur when it comes to my abilities.
If I had to tell you the areas in which I excel, I’d be hard pressed to think of anything I can manage other than killing, which I achieve so well you may want to compare me to an ancient race of Greek Gods who pre-date the Olympians, or a giant ominous black pillar of infinite power and unknown origin as seen in the works of Arthur C. Clarke – not that I would compare myself to these things.
Although I’m sure there is something out there which may result in me no-longer being able to kill things on the scale I currently operate, I have yet to find it, and therefore, I’m reasonably assured that I can continue doing so for some time.
What Would Have Been Better: “Check out this cool sword, totally bitchin’, right?”
Nico Toscani (Steven Seagal) Above The Law (1988)
The One-Liner: “If I find out you're lying, I'll come back and kill you in your own kitchen.”
The Long Version: “I’m not a man who tolerates untruths, and should I discover through my quite excellent detecting skills that you have in fact relayed to me a statement which I later find out not to be entirely true, then I want to leave you in no confusion about the consequences of such an action.
Knowing how much you value your home - a man’s home is indeed his castle - and also knowing that the kitchen is the throne-room in the castle of any self-respecting Italian-American mafia stereotype, a place where he not only spends a large portion of his time cooking, enjoying feasts, and time with his family, but also where he feels the most safe, and the room he uses to represent his personal standard of living to his friends and peers, I will choose this room in which to bring your life to a premature end.
I will not use anybody else’s kitchen for this act, for the display of intense frustration at being mislead, no Sir, for I am a cruel and unusual man who will choose only the kitchen in the place that you call home in order to make my point. Do I make myself clear?”
What Would Have Been Better: “If you lie to me I’ll tear the faces from your children and feed them to your dogs.”
Next: Action Jackson, Nowhere To Run [page-break]
Sgt. Jericho ‘Action’ Jackson (Carl Weathers) Action Jackson (1988)
The One-Liner: [turning a flamethrower on a bad guy] “How do you like your ribs?”
The Long Version: “I find the idea of using a flamethrower - perhaps one of the most inhumane ways to take human life ever invented, a device so notoriously dangerous, sadistic and brutal that it has been removed from battlefield for ever more - so hilarious and uplifting that I’m going to try and be as jovial about the outcome as possible.
In situations such as this, many men of my position choose to use an amusing or hilarious quip to punctuate the event, the irony of rhetoric lost somewhere between the testosterone overload inherent in steroid abuse and the adrenaline spike caused by taking human life, and I believe I have had the fortune to think up such a statement.
Taking into account the fact you are being burned alive, cooked some might say, and disregarding the fact you’re probably too busy suffering to listen, I’ve decided to draw a witty analogy between you and a commonly eaten meat, one which is often barbequed, and one which has parallels to a part of your body that is now being roasted by flames, so when I ask your preference on how you like your meat prepared, I’m actually referencing the fact that you are now, for all intensive purposes, being cooked. Quite hilarious I’m sure you’ll agree”
What Would Have Been Better: “What’s cooking, good looking? Oh, it’s you”
Sam Gillen (Jean-Claude Van Damme) Nowhere To Run (1993)
The One-Liner: [after shooting the bad guy] “Au revoir, fucker!”
The Long Version: “I’m not sure if you are aware, perhaps you heard my accent, but I’m actually of European descent, being born and raised in Belgium, meaning English is in fact my second language. Flemish, my mother tongue, closely resembles French, and shares many of its words.
I like to remind myself of home from time-to-time by saying phrases which I’d ordinarily use there everyday, though few people in this part of the world will actually understand what I mean. Whenever I’m directly responsible for someone ceasing to exist, which if you’ve seen my films is well above the national average, I always make sure to add a universally understood word to my foreign ramblings just to make the person on the dying end of the equation more comfortable.
In this case you may have noticed that I am not really a fan of yours, I’d perhaps go so far as to say that I quite dislike you, and the word I’m choosing to sign off with will represent, in fairly contrasting and harsh terms, exactly how I feel about you, and the fact that you are now dead, with the statement as a whole designed to enhance and reinforce the fact that not only am I foreign, but hey, I’m also one really cool dude.”
What Would Have Been Better: “If I seem unduly angry, it is because I’ve been persuaded to cut off my mullet.”
Next: Hard To Kill, Passenger 57 [page-break]
Mason Storm (Steven Seagal) Hard To Kill (1990)
The One-Liner: (Senator Vernon Trent: You can take that to the bank!) “I'm gonna take you to the bank, Senator Trent. To the blood bank!”
The Long Version: “You may have noticed, Senator, that I am in fact not operating any mode of licensed public transport, nor am I a tour guide, so when I offer to take you somewhere please make sure you understand that I’m not speaking in geological terms, because thinking that will completely spoil the effect of any threatening statement I may make towards you.
You see when you told me I could take ‘that’ to the bank, I, of course, took that to mean a financial institution offering service to members of the public, but in finding a characteristically witty retort to your remark, I wish to subvert the meaning of the word bank that you intended in order to show not just how much I aim to kill you in the next few minutes, but also the magnitude of my ability to turn around a statement made by someone else for the purposes of looking considerable bad-ass.
You may be aware, Senator, of health institutions where members of the public can choose to go and be offered a small financial compensation for donating some of their blood in order to help others live, well just to make it perfectly clear to you, this is the type of bank I am offering to metaphorically take you to, in the sense that I am going to ensure that you bleed, a lot. I hope this is now clear to you, and if so, I’d like to move forward with the procedure.
What Would Have Been Better: “My bullets are like my cheques, they never bounce”
John Cutter (Wesley Snipes) Passenger 57 (1992)
The One-Liner: (John Cutter: Charlie, ever played roulette? Charles Rane: On occasion)
“Well, let me give you a word of advice. Always bet on black!”
The Long Version: “I am a proud African American. In colloquial language, I may be described as black, which although descriptively inaccurate, as the widely accepted adjective for darker skin tones. You may therefore, for the purposes of this statement, consider me black.
Further to that previous statement, there is a game found in gambling institutions known as roulette, a game which allows you to bet on a series of numbers located around a spinning wheel, but also on one of two alternating colours; red, or black.
What I have am going to do in this instance is liken myself to the colour present on a roulette wheel, and attach to that suggestion the fact that because of the skills inherent in my possession of this colour, which may or may not be any better that those associated with any other skin colour, that if you were to be a gambling man, I’d confidently suggest that you always bet on me, that is to say, to put your money on black.”
What Would Have Been Better: “People of all colours are equally able to achieve great things, but I feel in this instance, my colour will help me excel.”
Next: In The Line Of Fire, Out For Justice [page-break]
Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) In The Line Of Fire (1993)
The One-Liner: (Mitch Leary: I have a rendezvous with death, and so does the President, and so do you if you get too close.)
“You have a rendezvous with my ass, motherfucker!”
The Long Version: “I may be the oldest guy on active duty, but that hasn’t stopped me being the only one smart enough, fast enough, and crinkly-handsome enough to work out your game, now hs it, sonny?
I may also be completely unaware of modern homosexual references, lexicon and innuendo, but in order to counter your statement about a rendezvousing with death, I’m trying to think fast, something which doesn’t come so easy these days, let me tell you. Now where was I? Yes, in my day a phrase like ‘my ass’ referred only to oneself in the whole, and when I tell you that’s the only place you’ll be having any sort of rendezvous, I’m not in fact, speaking of the part with any sexual connotation I hope you understand, sorry if you got your hopes up for a second there.
Besides, if I were talking about 'my ass' as 'my ass' and not in order to represent my leathery-awesome self as a whole, I would be still using it as a threat, because let’s face it lad, have you ever seen the ass of a guy my age? It isn’t pretty, and well, that ought to be persuasion enough that your current course of action ain’t gonna fly on my watch. Of course, I didn’t mean it that way, but if I did, that’s the way you should interpret it, and not in any fruity limp wristed kinda fashion. Got it?”
What Would Have Been Better: “You have a rendezvous with my ass, handsome!”
Det. Gino Felino (Steven Seagal) Out For Justice (1991)
The One-Liner: (Vinnie Madano: You wouldn't say that shit if Richie was here)
“Yeah, but Richie ain't here! Know why? 'Cause he's a chickenshit fuckin' pussy asshole!”
The Long Version: “Hey, I’m pretty pissed off over here. Look at this face, if this ain’t the face of a guy that’s pretty pissed off then I don’t know what is. In fact I’m so pissed off I can barely even think for all the testosterone I’m spewing right now. Damn I’m pissed, you better recognise.
What’s more, your statement concerning the whereabouts of Richie has only served to intensify the anger with which I was previously attempting to intimidate you, and now I’m doubly, nay, tripley pissed off – look at my face and tell me I’m not the most pissed off person in the room right now. That’s right, I’m that guy.
The fact you even had the nerve to bring up the name Ritchie in my presence, and the sheer cajones to suggest that I, Gino Felino, would not act and speak in my current highly pissed off manner were Ritchie present in the room, has made my piss boil to the point where coherent phrasing has escaped me entirely, and I’m going to demonstrate this to you now by stringing together every curse word I know in one super-awesome highly pissed off sentence designed to make Ritchie look as small and insignificant as possible. So there.”
What Would Have Been Better: “Richie ain’t here, know why? He’s banging your wife and your mom. How d’ya like them apples, bitch”
Next: X-Men, xXx [page-break]
Storm (Halle Berry) X-Men (2000)
The One-Liner: “Do you know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else.”
The Long Version: “Check me out, seriously, have a look. I work hard for this body dammit, and you better be ogling me in the sleaziest way possible, because I didn’t wear all this tight leather for nothing, sugarlump.
I work out hard. I know you hear a lot of women talk about being able to eat what they want, but not me, I have to fight for this body, I do cardio on top of cardio to make sure I’m all taut and toned and sexy as a motherfucker. Now I know you’re all about this, and I don’t blame you, I’d be all over me like a rash if I weren’t already me, which I am – and a damn fine me I make – but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to have to hurt you.
Which brings me to my final point, bare with me - try not to drool - but do you honestly think that someone who obviously spends as much time focused on their own deal, who puts every minute of every day into looking this fine, has time to come up with a witty one-liner with which to dispatch you? No. You’re damn right. So when I electrocute yo’ ass two seconds from now, you better not expect any clever statements in your honour. Just consider yourself lucky you got to set eyes on this at all. You dig?”
What Would Have Been Better: “I’m gonna light you up like Broadway”
Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) xXx (2002)
The One-Liner: [A cop fires a heat-seeking missile, kills Kirril]
“I told him that cigarettes would kill him one day.”
The Long Version: “I, Vin Diesel, star of movies, told that gentleman that smoking was bad for his health and yet he chose, in the most ignorant of actions, to disregard my statement and continue his filthy habit. How can this man not be aware of my omniscience?
My qualifications for diagnosing and predicting his downfall are well founded, I mean, I starred in The Fast and The Furious for goodness sakes! Is the man a fool? Does he not know who I am? Here I am, star of what will surely be the first in a magnificent franchise of box-office shattering monster hits, and he chose to ignore me, Vin fucking Diesel! Ha! I laugh in his general direction.
I have taken great satisfaction in being proven correct on this occasion, in fact I always take great satisfaction in being proven correct, and as I’m always right, I’m in a constant state of great self-satisfaction, and so, in order to keep in line with the rest of this magnificent endeavour - in that we borrowed all the worst bits from every bad action movie for the last ever, and recycled them to make this gem - I will cap off what is sure to be an Oscar-winning performance with what I believe to be the most witty and quotable one-liner in the history of action films.
You should all now consider yourselves lucky that you had chance in your miserable lives to hear me speak.”
What Would Have Been Better: “Should have done 2 Fast 2 Furious . I miss Paul Walker.”
Next: Suburban Commando, The Condemned [page-break]
Shep Ramsey (Hulk Hogan) Suburban Commando (1991)
The One-Liner: “I WON’T be around when this check clears!”
The Long Version: “Let’s take a second here, a breather. Now you seem to be a man in charge of all your faculties. Bearing that in mind, would you be so good as to take a look at me – you may need to take a couple of steps back – and tell me what strikes you as a little out of the ordinary about my appearance.
Let’s start with this headband, shall we? How about these shoulder pads, and the rest of my cumbersome and ill-designed body armor. How about my ridiculous blonde mullet, or this fetching ladykiller moustache – I mean what am I, a professional wrestler? Hardly. Please, don’t make me laugh.
I, sir, am an intergalactic bounty hunter type who is only here on Earth for a short period of time. Despite the fact that your currency means absolutely nothing to me as a non-indigenous Earth species, I find it highly offensive that you should offer to compensate me with a cheque, if we’re spelling it correctly like those loveable English types, a most outdated and tiresome payment method which can take up to five days to clear into an account, which I do not possess I’ll have you know. Five days from now I could be chasing tail of the tip of Saturn, so if you want to show your appreciation of my services, either get me an alternative form of payment, or next time, don’t bother.”
What Would Have Been Better : “My career expires in exactly three minutes – I require cash!”
Jack Conrad (‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin) The Condemned (2007)
The One-Liner: (Ian Breckel: Where abouts in the States are you from?
Jack Conrad: Alaska.
Ian Breckel: Where abouts in Alaska?)
“A little fishing town about 80 miles north of Anchorage. You've probably heard of it. Its called Fuck Your Momma.”
The Long Version: “Let’s face it, guy, I’m hard as nails. I’m tougher than a Teflon tipped titanium something or other. You know how they use diamonds on drill-bits to cut through the toughest materials on the planet – ever wonder what they use to cut the diamonds that cut through the toughest materials on the planet? Yeah? Well whatever that is, that’s how tough I am. I’m a bad-ass, really.
I’m sure you can infer from my tone of voice, my body language, my general appearance and my overall acting ability that I’m not really one for small talk. If you feel you really must engage me in pointless dialogue about nonsensical topics, then I hope you won’t be offended when I simply lose all ability for polite conversation and descend into the most basic slanging jargon I can think of, which as I’ve said, based on what you know about me so far, is hardly going to be the most incisive, witty or cutting of remarks.
So let’s just quit while we’re ahead shall we? We’re here on this small island to kill each other to death and the winner gets to go home. Unless you plan to go to my home should you win, which you won’t as I’ve already told you precisely how tough I am, then you never need to know exactly where I’m from, what my name is or how good a conversationalist I am. All you need to know is I can kill you more ways than I know words and I’m going to start as soon as I finish this sentence.”
What Would Have Been Better: “Your Mom’s house.”
Next: X-Men: The Last Stand [page-break]
Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
The One-Liner: “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the juggernaut, bitch!”
The Long Version: “As badly thought out, last-minute, wholly pointless additions to the expanded, and then somewhat diminished cast of mutants in this latest X-Men instalment go, I am the epitomy of every wrong decision made by the jokers who put this cattle feed together.
To highlight this point I’m going to use the miniscule amount of dialogue I’ve been allocated to introduce myself, to reference a highly obscure internet meme which only roughly one percent of the audience will understand, which the producers and director of this circle-jerk have probably never seen, and which someone convinced the powers behind this punch to the nuts that it is what the fans want to hear.
Of course, being that I’m not the same voice actor as the quite hilarious joker who made the original statement in that most amusing youtube clip, and I in fact speak in a London-English accent, it will result in the entire episode sounding like the garbled, ill-advised shambles of an embarrassment that it actually is, and will prove yet another nail in the coffin of this feature-length corpse.”
What Would Have Been Better: “I signed up before Ratner got here, and I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks for nothing, asshole. Way to kill a franchise.”
Any one-liners you love to hate? Let us know in the comments.
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