For a while now, many have deemed RoboCop to be popular culture’s most recognisable crime-fighting characters of all time. In line with its Limited Edition Blu-ray Steelbook, Blu-ray and DVD release on June 9 from STUDIOCANAL, we count down not only the 10 most recognisable crime-fighters, but the best 10 the entertainment world has had to offer...
Appearances... Dirty Harry (1971), Magnum Force (1973), The Enforcer (1976), Sudden Impact (1983), The Dead Pool (1988)
Played by... Clint Eastwood
It’s quite impressive that Eastwood has played Harry Callahan, his defining cop not afraid to cross ethical boundaries to serve justice, a total of five times over his illustrious career. An inspector with the San Francisco police department, his primary concern is to protect and avenge the victims of violent crime by any means necessary.
Appearances... The French Connection (1971), French Connection II (1975)
Played by... Gene Hackman
Based on real-life New York City police detective Eddie Egan, Hackman’s portrayal of the character Popeye Doyle is deemed one of the genres best characters, the actor winning the Best Actor Oscar for his efforts. A tough detective, Doyle is not afraid to cross the line to catch the criminals who deserve to get caught, dedicated to catching drug dealers littered throughout the city.
Appearances... Die Hard (1988), Die Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), A Good Day to Die Hard (2012)
Played by... Bruce Willis
If you were to ask every uncle the world round who their action hero is, they would probably provide Willis as an answer – in no doubt down to the fact he is John McClane. Fighting megalomaniacs ranging from German terrorists to AWOL US mercenaries in locations ranging from skyscrapers to aeroplanes, McClane is the dependable force that will no doubt save the day – a legacy so strong that not even the somewhat poor fifth outing, A Good Day to Die Hard, could taint it.
Bruce Wayne AKA Batman
Appearances... Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), Batman and Robin (1997), Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Played by... Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger for the DC comic strip, Batman bears no introduction. While his alias Bruce Wayne becomes the heir of Gotham after the murder of his parents, his caped crusading counterpart fights devilish villains ranging from The Riddler, The Scarecrow and The Joker. While Tim Burton's and Joel Schumacher’s films embraced the more fun aspect of this character, it was Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the franchise in 2005 that really translated the real-world murky crime underworld to Gotham, a feel that truly benefits Batman’s crime-fighting capabilities.
Appearances... Bad Lieutenant (1992), Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
Played by... Harvey Keitel, Nicolas Cage
Keitel depicts the eponymous Lieutenant in Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film, an extremely debauched law enforcer who takes drugs, engages in threesomes and lets petty thieves away with their crimes. As the film continues, his behaviour spirals out of control, with his efforts in catching the criminals ramping up to unethical degrees. Cage played the character in Werner Herzog’s reimagining, Port of Call New Orleans.
Appearances... Judge Dredd (1995), Dredd (2012)
Played by... Sylvester Stallone, Karl Urban
Originating as a comic book character, Judge Dredd is an extremely recognisable character largely thanks to the helmet that he wears. A law enforcement officer in a violent dystopian future, he is judge, juror and executioner all in one who seeks out crime scenes to lay down the law as he sees fit. Stallone played an incarnation of the character in a badly received 1995 film (many were disappointed by the character removing his helmet...) but a fresh version starring Urban as the titular Dredd wiped the slate clean, providing the crime fighter with a lease of cinematic life.
Appearances... 24: Seasons 1-8 (2001-2010), 24: Redemption (2008), 24: Live Another Day (2014)
Played by... Kiefer Sutherland
24 pretty much altered the way network television was viewed, enhanced even more so by Sutherland’s role-of-a-lifetime as Jack Bauer, an agent who mostly works for LA’s Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). Throughout the series, which has just returned to screens after a four year absence, Bauer fights terrorists from around the world to prevent attacks on America, ranging from the political, the biological and the personal. Appearing in all 194 episodes to date, Bauer is one of TV’s greatest heroes, working alongside the White House and employing questionable tactics to acquire the information he needs. Altogether now: "Dammit!"
Appearances... Training Day (2001)
Played by... Denzel Washington
Washington plays LAPD narcotic detective Alonzo Harris in David Ayer’s critically-acclaimed Training Day; winning an Oscar for Best Actor, Washington plays the crime-fighter as a hard-core justice seeker, who is a master manipulator and somebody who the criminals would be afraid to cross. Engaging in illegal actions to seek justice, such is Harris’s status that some of these are sanctioned by higher authority making Harris an even more dangerous force.
Appearances... The Raid: Redemption (2011), The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)
Played by... Iko Uwais
Having now played Rama in two films, Uwais’ character has become something of an icon, participating in authentically-choreographed fight scenes (some of which take place for extended amounts of time), like nobody has before. A loving husband and father-to-be at the beginning of the first film, Rama is shown as somebody who views survival as key and will do all he has to in order to fulfil his orders as a rookie police cop. By the time of Berandal, he is a rookie SWAT officer who integrates himself into a crime family to uncover corruption within the police force.
Alex Murphy – RoboCop
Appearances... RoboCop (1987), RoboCop 2 (1990), RoboCop 3 (1993), RoboCop (2014)
Played by... Peter Weller, Robert John Burke, Joel Kinnaman
When dedicated cop Alex Murphy is killed in the line of duty, he is transformed into a cyborg entity known as RoboCop by mega-corporation OmniCorp. His aim? To rid Detroit of its rising crime levels. Leading to scenes such as RoboCop proving he can out-fight a room filled to the brim with criminals, he is not only an imminent force in the films but in the history of cinema, perhaps proving one of the most recognisable crime-fighters of all time. Memorably, he is programmed to follow three prime directives: serve the public trust, protect the innocent and uphold the law. Comply or die, indeed.