The other day I was having a lunchtime discussion with a couple of friends about who would win in a fight, Superman or a Jedi. The conversation inspired what I'm hoping will become a regular thing on Action Direct, where we pit two characters from different action movies against each other, and discuss who would win in a fight. Pretty straight forward. So, to kick things off, who would win in a fight, Bruce Willis as John McClane from the original Die Hard (1988) or Bruce Willis as Joe Hallenbeck from The Last Boy Scout (1991)?
Casey: Here's the thing, John McClane is NYPD and Joe Hallenbeck was once a Secret Service agent. So basically, they both know how to throw down. But if you were to put them both in a concrete pit with nothing but their wits and ask me to choose the last man standing, I'd have to put my money on Joe Hallenbeck. This is the guy who once said, "touch me again and I'll kill you" and then followed through with an open palm to the nose of his captor. He is clearly capable of inflicting no frills deadly force without blinking an eye.
Another thing that gives me confidence in Hallenbeck is the fact that he clearly has nothing to lose. He's a deadbeat whose wife cheats on him and whose daughter hates his guts, both for good reason (namely, he's a little psychotic and a lot alcoholic). Hallenbeck doesn't survive through The Last Boy Scout because his life-preserving instinct is strong. No, Hallenbeck kills the bad guys because they pissed him off. It would have been all the same to him if he'd died in the process, as long as he got those bastards. In fact, Hallenbeck would kick McClane's ass and then climb out of the pit and own me for making him kill a guy like McClane, who he otherwise would probably have gotten along with just fine.
That being said, McClane has always demonstrated a knack for innovation in a tight spot (i.e. icicle in the eye in Die Hard 2). You never know what kind of trick he might pull out of his hat. While I think that Hallenbeck would win, he's hardly a shoe-in. Needless to say, it would be a brutal fight. What do you think, Chris?
Chris: While my head agrees with Casey for the same aforementioned reasons, my gut wants to go with John McClane on this one. While both characters can obviously take a hit and have worked their way out of numerous tight spots, McClane has to take the award for most shit thrown at him (bullets, explosions, hostage situations, glass raining down on his bare feet, etc.) and come out not only in one piece, but still able to continue throwing down with terrorist big boys.
Let's just take a look at the kill count shall we? While McClane has gone head to head with a number of well trained mercenaries, specifically the blonde behemoth from Die Hard (I believe his name was Karl?), we also know that he later goes on to take down a number of men in hand to hand combat who are much better trained than himself, ie Col. Stuart in Die Hard 2. I don't know if the reference to a later movie violates the term of the "Who would win in a fight" or not, but I think that it is worth mentioning that John McClane can fight beyond his skill level through the sheer ability to take a lickin' and keep on tickin'.
Now don't get me wrong, Hallenbeck gets his ass beat in full throughout The Last Boy Scout, and his battle with Milo was pretty vicious (not to mention he can kill a man with a single blow), but I don't think he's got as much heart as McClane. And when you're putting two evenly matched opponents in a pit, I think heart goes a long way.
*Casey thinks that the Jedi would own Superman, but its hard to say how the Man of Steel would fare against the Force.