The Rutger Hauer ready reckoner

How's this for a Friday ready reckoner? The great Rutger Hauer comes under Karl's spotlight...

Rutger Hauer. A true geek hero.

Keep your Jean-Claude Van Dammes and Steven Seagals – we don’t want ‘em. There’s only one true king of direct-to-DVD and that’s Rutger Hauer. In a career stretching back to 1969, the Dutch demi-god has made over a hundred film appearances. So, breaking with Den of Geek tradition, today’s Ready Reckoner only includes the subject’s movies that are most worth seeing . These, geeky chums and chumettes, are the 20 Rutger roles you must not miss.

Nighthawks

3 out of 5
Fresh from controversial Paul Verhoeven flick Spetters, Rutger makes his Hollywood debut as a generic but superior Euro-terrorist. Sylvester Stallone channels Pacino’s Serpico as a cop-with-a-conscience tasked with executing Hauer. Explosions, scenery chewage and shoot-outs ensue.

Blade Runner

5 out of 5
Effortlessly stealing every scene he’s in, Hauer’s replicant leader Roy Batty is the real hero of Blade Runner. Check him out being all platinum blonde and philosophical in the new HD transfer when Blade Runner: The Final Cut hits the shops in December.

The Osterman Weekend

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3 out of 5
Though released in 1983, The Osterman Weekend comfortably slots alongside conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s, with its cold war themes and tortuous plot. Rutger’s the bait in a trap set by the CIA to catch a cadre of old friends who may be spying for the Russkies. Though Sam Peckinpah directed, the final and barely decipherable cut was the producer’s. Still, the superlative cast and atmospheric action make it a twisted gem worth digging out of your local VHS rental emporium.

A Breed Apart

3 out of 5
In one of his gentler, more eccentric turns, Hauer is a Vietnam veteran turned ornithologist. Like a cross between John Rambo and Bill Oddie, he guards an isolated island that’s home to a rare eagle and its equally rare eggs. Then, one day, some mountaineer bloke turns up and tries to nick them. Sounds shite; is actually ace.

Ladyhawke

3 out of 5
Enjoyable sword and sorcery romp with Rutger as one half of a cursed couple. The fair Lady Isabeau spends her days as a hawk, while Hauer’s Captain Navarre becomes a wolf as night falls. Matthew Broderick helps the doomed twosome break the spell.

Flesh Blood

4 out of 5
Directed once again by fellow countryman Paul Verhoeven, this medieval epic sees Rutger’s Martin lead an army of mercenaries double crossed by a crooked nobleman. Much slicing of flesh and spilling of blood follows.

The Guinness Adverts

4 out of 5
At a time when the Shake and Vac adverts were the height of advert innovation, Rutger took on one of his finest roles; a pint of Guinness. A metaphorical pint of Guinness, that is. Looking impossibly cool with flowing black coat and blonde locks, Hauer’s character roams surreal landscapes, trotting out the kind of philosophical couplets you can only understand after several pints of Dublin’s finest. Check out YouTube for the entire campaign.

The Hitcher

5 out of 5
Scrub your mind clean of Sean Bean’s piss poor performance in the remake of this B movie classic; Hauer’s take on The Hitcher is the real deal. Also known for giving C. Thomas Howell his only other memorable role besides Soul Man, Rutger is brilliant in this near perfect road thriller.

Legend of the Holy Drinker

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4 out of 5
Before the Guinness gut ruled him out as a convincing action man, Hauer still liked to stretch his acting chops with an occasional art-house outing. If you can track down this melancholy, understated and beautifully shot little movie, you’ll be rewarded with a simple story well told and one of the best performances of Hauer’s career.

Blind Fury

4 out of 5
1989 heralds the beginning of Rutger’s straight-to-video phase. In Blind Fury, he’s a sight-impaired martial arts swordsman on a mission to save a Vietnam compatriot’s family from Vegas mobsters. The bemused tolerance that Hauer adopts as he has fun with the silly script became his trademark style for much of the 90s.

Salute of the Jugger (The Blood of Heroes)

3 out of 5
Halfway through the list, everything goes Sci-Fi in a flick where Mad Max meets Rollerball. This zero budget masterwork sees Rutger heading up a travelling band of Juggers who roam a post-apocalyptic dustbowl challenging toothless locals to a brutal sport that’s a bit like hockey. Played with dog skulls. Violent, odd and action packed, it’s great to see a movie set in the future that doesn’t involve robots, space, time travel or time-travelling space robots.

Wedlock

3 out of 5
In a sci-fi take on a plotting perennial, Rutger and Mimi Rogers escape from a future prison. Linked together by exploding collars that go boom if they venture more than 100 yards apart, it’s a fun and funny action romp well worth a Sunday afternoon rental.Split Second
3 out of 5
I’m almost tempted to give this grimy, London based monster horror anomaly four stars – but it loses one for the presence of overrated harridan Kim Cattrall. Don’t let that put you off though. You’ll miss a classic Hauer action performance in a film rations neither thrills or giggles.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

2 out of 5
Let’s not flagellate the shrubbery here; this movie is a piece of crap. Rutger is by far the best thing in it – and he phones in his performance using two yoghurt pots and a piece of string. Of course, Joss Whedon would later turn the same premise into an ace TV series, which makes this worth watching as a nerdy exercise in comparative analysis.Fatherland
3 out of 5
Rutger’s a Nazi! In a TV adaptation of Robert Harris’s alternate history pulp page-turner, Hauer’s the lead in a surprisingly nuanced tale based on that old chestnut; what if the Germans had won World War II?

Crossworlds

3 out of 5
Rather silly but fun B-movie that’s one part Time Bandits and two parts Sliders with a pinch of The Matrix to finish. Hauer is the gruff old timer helping the annoying college kid end an inter-dimensional war.

Alias “Phase One” (Episode 13, Season 2)

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4 out of 5
J J Abram’s Alias reached its apogee with this fine episode from the spy soap’s best season. Rutger replaces mole-featured malcontent Arvin Sloane as head of SD-6, the evil espionage agency Jennifer Garner’s Sydney Bristow is working for as a double agent. Pivotal changes to the entire premise make this a telly event to remember. The fact that you have to watch the preceding 34 episodes to know what the hell is going on is no bad thing.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

4 out of 5
In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him turn, Hauer is a little fish in a cast packed with big names playing it small. A fine movie, nevertheless.Sin City
4 out of 5
In cinema’s best comic book adaptation ever, Rutger is the murderous, prostitute scoffing Cardinal Roark – whose final fate provides one of this superlative flick’s most memorable scenes.Batman Begins
4 out of 5
Hauer’s bit part turn as Richard Earle, the caretaker manager of Wayne Enterprises, is almost incidental to the plot – but Rutger plays it perfectly.

The RestAs we compiled this list, we decided we’d stick to twenty of Rutger’s best – which meant leaving off enjoyable tat like Blind Side and Wanted: Dead or Alive. We can’t comment on much of Hauer’s earliest work either because we don’t speak Dutch, though Soldat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange), showing World War II from a Dutch perspective, is critically acclaimed.

Of course, in a career as long as Hauer’s there are bound to be a few turkeys. Some might say his entire 90s output falls into this category, but those people have no sense of irony and should be forced to watch The Battleship Potemkin on an endless loop…

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Next Friday’s ready reckoner: Harry PotterThe week after: David CronenbergLast week’s: Kurt Russell***

Rutger Hauer’s official website can be found at www.rutgerhauer.org

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