Features
12 best R-rated comic book movies


Date Posted: 25 February 2017


Hugh Jackman in R-rated "Logan".

Over the past few years, comic book movies are either family-friendly (read: Marvel Cinematic Universe) or dark and intense (that would be the DC Extended Universe).

Both movies are largely confined by a strict rating system, but 18-rated (or R-rated for Hollywood rating system) comic book movies have its own place as well. Typically, an 18-rated comic book movie means the filmmakers are able to show edgy scenes such as graphic violence, sex and profanity.

Now, with "Logan" about to slash its way into cinemas soon, we have compiled our 12 best 18-rated comic book movies based on the year of release.

1. "The Crow" (1994)

The late Brandon Lee as the vengeful Eric Draven in "The Crow".

James O'Barr's comic book series "The Crow" may have inspired a movie franchise and even a short-lived TV series, but the best of the lot still belongs to Alex Proyas' first cinematic adaptation in 1994. Headlined by the late Brandon Lee who tragically died from an accidental gunshot wound during its production, "The Crow" is one of the prime examples on how to craft a darkly gothic movie.

2. "Blade" (1998)

Wesley Snipes and Stephen Dorff in a scene from "Blade".

Long before Wesley Snipes' career went downhill after being sentenced to prison for tax evasion in the late 2000s, he used to be a promising action star in Hollywood during the '90s. His finest hour, of course, would be the first "Blade" back in 1998. Created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, "Blade" is a stylish blend of vampire-horror and violent comic-book action. Snipes truly owns the role as the titular half-human/half-vampire hybrid. In fact, he is one of the main reasons that contributed to the surprise success of "Blade". Although the movie paved the way to a more successful sequel directed by Guillermo del Toro in 2002, the "Blade" franchise quickly hit rock-bottom by the time David S. Goyer made the much-maligned "Blade: Trinity".

3. "Oldboy" (2003)

Choi Min-Sik (left) in a scene from "Oldboy".

Adapted from a Japanese manga series of the same name created by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, "Oldboy" is a groundbreaking South Korean revenge thriller unlike anything you've ever seen before. Directed with a distinct style by Park Chan-Wook, the movie is notable for its bleak storyline about a drunken loser (Choi Min-Sik) who ends up mysteriously imprisoned in a windowless hotel room for 15 years. Upon his sudden release from captivity, his quest for searching the truth grows increasingly twisted and disturbing. From the infamous live squid eating scene to the memorable tracking shot of Choi Min-Sik's character engaging in a hammer fight and fisticuffs against a small army of thugs in the narrow corridor, "Oldboy" is one of the best genre movies ever made in Asian cinema.

4. "Sin City" (2005)

Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba in a scene from "Sin City".

Film noir has never looked this ultra-cool and stylish as it is with "Sin City", a cinematic adaptation based on Frank Miller's celebrated graphic novel of the same name that's also co-directed by Frank Miller who is joined by Robert Rodriguez. Like the graphic novel itself, "Sin City" successfully translates its page to screen with arresting visuals of largely black-and-white imagery and a subtle hint of primary colours of red and yellow. If you are a huge fan of film noir, "Sin City" covers everything here from anti-hero protagonists to femme fatales as well as the subjects of murder and betrayal. The all-star cast including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba and Benicio Del Toro are all perfect for their respective roles. Not to forget a "special guest-directed" segment by Quentin Tarantino during one of the movie's memorable scene in a surrealistic conversation between Clive Owen's Dwight and Benicio Del Toro's chatty dead guy Jackie Boy in the car.

5. "V For Vendetta" (2006)

Hugo Weaving as V in "V For Vendetta".

If there is one thing that made "V For Vendetta" a major part of today's pop-culture reference, it would be the iconic Guy Fawkes mask worn by Hugo Weaving's titular masked character. Acting behind a mask is hardly an easy task, but Weaving pulls off a tour de force performance that expresses his character's motivation with telling body gestures and excellent verbal delivery. "V For Vendetta" may have been heavy on the dialogue for a comic book movie, but the Wachowskis' (yes, the famous siblings from "The Matrix" trilogy) adapted the screenplay successfully as it covers thoughtful yet timely hot-button issues including terrorism, religion and a totalitarian government. As for the action scenes, the slow-motion bloody knife fight between V and a squad of armed enforcers in the tunnel is among the movie's top highlights.

6. "300" (2007)

Gerard Butler as King Leonidas in "300".

Zack Snyder may have been an inconsistent filmmaker who made critically-divisive blockbusters like "Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice", but let's not forget he can be really good if given the right material. That movie in question is none other than "300", a swords-and-sandals epic based on the comic book series by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. The movie, which focuses on the dramatisation of the Battle of Thermopylae, is noted for Snyder's stylish visuals shot entirely on green screen. Apart from successfully replicating Miller's comic book panels to vivid life, "300" is also famous for its slow-motion orgy of violence and of course, Gerard Butler's signature performance as King Leonidas.

7. "Wanted" (2008)

Angelina Jolie in a scene from "Wanted".

Based on the comic book series of the same name by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, "Wanted" made cinematic gunfight look amazingly cool since the first "Matrix" movie in 1999. Russian director Timur Bekmambetov, best known for helming "Night Watch" and "Day Watch" in his native country, is impressive in his Hollywood debut here. Thanks to his unique visual styling, he sure knows how to stage hyper-stylised and imaginative action scenes. Of course, none of this would have worked if it wasn't for Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy's solid performances.

8. "Watchmen" (2009)

Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) in "Watchmen".

Once upon a time, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' groundbreaking "Watchmen" comic book limited series was deemed "unfilmable". Directors like Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky and Paul Greengrass all came and gone until Zack Snyder finally took over the project. His hyper-stylised direction fits well with the source material and he even successfully brought most of the iconic characters to life with spot-on performances including Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian, Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach and Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II.

9. "Kick-Ass" (2010)

Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) in "Kick-Ass".

True to its title, "Kick-Ass" is seriously a kick-a** movie that lives up to the movie's 18-rated territory. Adapted from Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s comic book series of the same name, writer-director Matthew Vaughn (who would later helm "X-Men: First Class" and "Kingsman: The Secret Service") does a great job subverting the comic-book genre inside out that walks a fine line between satire and realism. The ultra-violent action scenes are among the highlights here, while both Chloe Grace Moretz and Nicolas Cage steal most of the show as Hit-Girl and Big Daddy.

10. "Dredd" (2012)

Karl Urban as Judge Dredd in "Dredd".

Forget about the Stallone-led "Judge Dredd" back in 1995. The iconic John Wagner/Carlos Ezquerra character from the "2000 A.D." comics anthology was thankfully given a second chance with Pete Travis' appropriately violent and gritty version simply titled as "Dredd". Thanks to Alex Garland's faithful script to the source material as well as captivating visuals (the "Slo-Mo" sequences) and top-notch action scenes, the movie is also largely remembered for Karl Urban's pitch-perfect portrayal of the titular character. Best of all, Urban doesn't make the same mistake of taking off the helmet or sounding awkward like Stallone badly did in the much-maligned 1995 version.

11. "Kingsman: The Secret Service" (2015)

Colin Firth and Taron Egerton in "Kingsman: The Secret Service".

Ever wonder what an 18-rated James Bond movie would look like? Meet "Kingsman: The Secret Service", an espionage action comedy adapted from Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons' comic book series of the same name. Writer-director Matthew Vaughn is no stranger to 18-rated comic book movie, given his experience with the well-received "Kick-Ass" five years earlier. Here, "Kingsman: The Secret Service" is packed with well-staged violent action scenes (who could have forgotten the church massacre set-piece?) and ultra-chic production design that pays homage to the 1960s Bond movies. Then-newcomer Taron Egerton is perfectly cast as Eggsy, the streetwise teenager-turned-young recruit for the titular spy organisation. But the real deal here is Colin Firth, who made a successful transition from a normally dramatic actor to an unlikely action star.

12. "Deadpool" (2016)

"OMG! I can't believe I was chosen as well!"

2016 was best remembered as the year of superhero movies with the likes of "Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice", "Captain America: Civil War" and "Suicide Squad". Then, there was this little movie called "Deadpool". Armed with just US$58 million (a significantly lower budget if compared with the usual bigger-budgeted superhero movies that usually cost between US$150-US$250 million to make), "Deadpool" turned out to be a huge surprise hit at the worldwide box office. Grossing over US$750 million was no easy feat, especially given the movie's restrictive 18-rating. But "Deadpool" accomplished it pretty well, thanks to staying true to the source material and also a spot-on casting of Ryan Reynolds as the eponymous Merc with the Mouth character. Director Tim Miller even made the right choice of filling in the screen with lots of stylised violence and colourful F-bombs. Besides, you have to thank "Deadpool" for both of its critical and financial success that prompted Twentieth Century Fox to release an 18-rated "Logan" movie this year.

"Logan" opens in cinemas nationwide on 2 March 2017.

Writer: Casey Chong



Related Movies
Logan (02 Mar 2017)
Deadpool (11 Feb 2016)
Kingsman: The Secret Service (19 Feb 2015)
Dredd (20 Sep 2012)
KICK-ASS (16 Apr 2010)


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