9) Pik van Cleef (played by Arnold Vosloo) – Hard Target (1993)
A GOOD action movie will no doubt have a good main villain, but a GREAT action movie will have two main villains! In John Woo’s Hollywood debut, he pits JCVD’s Chance Boudreaux, a former marine, against a syndicate who hunt homeless vets for sport, led by Lance Henriksen’s Emil Fouchon and our number 9 honouree, Arnold Vosloo’s Pik van Cleef.
Van Cleef basically serves as second in command to Lance Henriksen’s character, but I thought he well and truly deserved a place on this list. Aside from his lack of empathy and complete devoid of any human emotion for that matter, he is a cold and calculating killing machine. He said it himself: “I don’t get angry, I’m a professional.” You get a good couple of glances into his dark soulless eyes courtesy of Woo’s expert close-up camera work, and it serves to be very unsettling. Let me tell you now, it works.
He isn’t menacing in an overt way, but when he flies off the rails, you better believe he flies off the rails. He uses office scissors to cut off an earlobe of one of his associates just to drive a point home, and maybe it was also punishment for being careless in his dealings. And when he and Van Damme finally face off in the film’s final act, it is as epic as you could expect.