Quentin Tarantino celebrated his birthday over the weekend. As a fan of his highly quotable genre mashups, I feel obligated to celebrate. One of my favorite things to do after seeing a Tarantino film is to ask my friends which character was their favorite. Each film has a wealth of impossibly badass characters. Here’s my list of the ten coolest Quentin Tarantino characters:
Winston Wolfe, Pulp Fiction
He’s Winston Wolfe, and he’s here to solve problems like skull and brain bits all over your car. He can make a thirty minute drive in ten. He keeps all the Lash LaRues of the world from jingling and jangling their spurs. And he does all of it in a tuxedo. I don’t care about that guy from the Dos Equis ads- Winston Wolfe is the true “Most Interesting Man in the World”.
Pai Mei, Kill Bill: Vol. 2
Call him an old fool if you must but you’re liable to lose an eye. He’s the Chinese equivalent of Ralphie’s Red Rider b.b. gun. Worse yet, you might just be the recipient of the Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart technique or the Three Inch Punch.
Jackie Brown, Jackie Brown
She’s smart on her feet and can get out of one jam after another. And like her blaxploitation film ancestors, she is very clearly a woman you don’t want to mess with.
Hugo Stiglitz, Inglourious Basterds
He possesses a frightful reputation throughout the Nazi army. He uses impossibly hilarious dialogue like, “Say auf wiedersehen to your Nazi balls”. He’s borderline unstoppable. And his introduction to the film- complete with loud guitar riff- is one of my favorite character introductions ever.
Jules Winfield, Pulp Fiction
Jules Winfield is one of the coolest characters in film history for many reasons, whether it’s his sinister use of Biblical verses; his very descriptive wallet; some strong feelings about pork consumption or the importance of foot massage; or his penchant for going out on top.
O-Ren Ishii, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and 2
At an early age, O-Ren lost both of her parents in a horrific way. Her reaction to the tragedy was to become an internationally feared assassin and head of the Tokyo Yakuza. May God have mercy on your soul if you dared to question her ethnic heritage or her gender.
Vic Vega, a.k.a. Mr. Blonde, Reservoir Dogs
Nobody embodied the Rat Pack cool of the Reservoir Dogs gang more than Vega. On the brink of torturing a cop, his main concern wasn’t getting caught. It wasn’t getting information from the cop. It was K-Billy’s “Super Sounds of the 70’s” weekend.
Sgt. Donny Donowitz, a.k.a. The Bear Jew, Inglourious Basterds
The Bear Jew was a red-blooded patriotic American. How patriotic was he? He liked baseball. A lot. If not for Stiglitz’s character introduction, I’d be talking about the ominous build-up to our first meeting of Donowitz, with the bat languidly clicking closer and closer on the tunnel wall.
Beatrix Kiddo, a.k.a. The Bride, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and 2
Her badass credentials are rock solid. She survived a coma; survived being buried alive; was trained by Pai Mei; took down four of the world’s most vicious assassins; rocked Hattori Hanzo steel like no other; demolished the Crazy 88’s, including Gogo Yubari; and drove The Pussy Wagon. Her drive for vengeance was unparalleled.
Shosanna Drefus, Inglourious Basterds
Unlike her peers on this list, Shosanna didn’t typically possess samurai swords or guns or even a baseball bat. No, she successfully avenged her family’s death with film reels, a few locks, and a match. And she laughed maniacally at her victims from above, on a gigantic screen. Now that’s how you get revenge.