Disposable Heroes

There's the legends of the action world. Arnold, Sly, the Bruces, Jackie, Jet, so on and so forth. The stars whose status is secure. Then there's the guys whose star has faded. Maybe they've experienced a come-back in recent years, like Van Damme or Dolph. Maybe they haven't, like Seagal. Either way, they probably are still making movies. And then there's these guys. The hanger-ons, also-rans, rip-offs, the flashes in the pans. Action heroes who aren't even B or C-list. Disposable heroes. Somebody's got to love them.
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1.
Daniel Bernhardt
Daniel Bernhardt was born on the 31st August 1965 in Warblaufen, Bern in Switzerland. After finishing high school, he studied architectural design for four years and graduated in Bern. At the same time he opened a martial arts school with his brother. After completing his studies, Daniel moved to Paris and started to work as model...
“ The finest Van-Damme rip-off, Mr. Bernhardt looms above all other disposable heroes. He truly is the master of crappy action movies. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
2.
Loren Avedon
After graduating from Beverly Hills High School in 1980, while attending college Loren Avedon signed up at the Jun Chong Tae Kwon Do Karate school in Los Angeles. He received his first "break" while training late one night at the Karate school. Producer Roy Horan was looking for an actor/martial artist to be the star of No Retreat, No Surrender 2...
“ American martial artist seemingly chosen at random by Hong Kong action directors to star in a few films, including the latter half of the "No Return, No Surrender" franchise. Lots of schlock and TV guest spots followed. Last seen getting kicked in the face by Olivier Gruner in The Circuit III. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
3.
Billy Blanks
7th Degree Black Belt Billy Blanks had one of the greatest karate fight records in the sport's long history. Blanks was a 7-time world karate champion, the first Amateur Athletic Union Champ in 1975, the 1984 Massachusetts Golden Gloves Boxing Champion, and the Tri-State Golden Gloves Champion of Champions...
“ Billy Blanks' career path: Obscurity - Action bit player - Star of crappy B-action flicks - Tae Bo - Obscurity. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
4.
Brian Bosworth
Former NFL Seattle Seahawks linebacker, the always controversial Brian "Boz" Bosworth only played three seasons in the NFL but during that period he made plenty of headlines for a mixture of reasons, however he was forced to retire due to a chronic shoulder injury - which then saw "Boz" pitched as a new action star in the cinema...
“ It's not uncommon for hunk-of-meat football stars to try and transition into action cinema. Without fail, they almost immediately wind up in films best suited to the Blockbusters used-DVD cheap bin. Having said that, "Stone Cold" is actually awesome. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
5.
“ Mr. Bradley is the most unlikely of creatures: A Michael Dunikoff rip-off. His many fantastic credits include "American Ninja 3," "American Ninja 4," "American Ninja 5," "American Samurai," and his magnum opus "Cyborg Cop." ” - Bonehead-XL
 
6.
“ Well known for his manly war-cry and total inability to appear convincing as an actor, Reb Brown has become a cult favorite for his unintentionally hilarious action films. AHHHHHHHHHHH! ” - Bonehead-XL
 
7.
David Carradine
David Carradine was born in Hollywood, California, the eldest son of legendary character actor John Carradine, and his wife, Ardanelle Abigail (McCool). He presided over an acting family that included brothers Keith Carradine and Robert Carradine as well as his daughters Calista Carradine and Kansas Carradine, and nieces Ever Carradine and Martha Plimpton...
“ Throughout his entire career, David Carradine awkwardly hovered between genuine cult icon and disposable herodom. Every "Death Race 2000" beget a "Deathsport." "Kung Fu" made him famous and "Fatal Secret" made you wonder why. "The Long Riders" was met by "Future Force." Before "Kill Bill," there was "Warlords" and "G.O.D." We loved him but Mr. Carradine clearly didn't care about the quality of his scripts. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
8.
John Cena
Actor, WWE Raw
John Felix Anthony Cena, better known as WWE superstar John Cena, was born on April 23, 1977 in West Newbury, Massachusetts, to Carol (Lupien) and John Cena. He is of Italian (father) and French-Canadian and English (mother) descent, and is the grandson of baseball player Tony Lupien. When he was in college...
“ A lot of wrestlers think they can easily transition from fake wrestling to real action stardom. (Also see: Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin) But Dwayne "Please Don't Call Me The Rock" Johnson is the exception, not the rule in this situation. John Cena has become a regular in direct-to-video action flicks that spontaneously self-generate on the Walmart cheap rack every Tuesday. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
9.
“ Dacascos probably could have been a great action star, or at least ranked solidly on a Van Damme-type level, but he's been showing up in a lot of Asylum movies here of late, making him a candidate for this list. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
10.
Gary Daniels
Action film star Gary Daniels was a real-life kick-boxing champion. With rugged good-looks, a muscular build and a charming personality, it was a natural for him to move from the world of fighting to that of acting. Born Gary Edward Daniels on May 9, 1963 in Woking, Surrey, England, Daniels was a childhood fan of legendary martial arts film star Bruce Lee...
“ Sly put him in "The Expendables," so I guess Mr. Daniels is one of the highest-profile people on this list. Still, look at his credits. There's a lot of schlock of there. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
11.
“ The Dud, as his fans affectionately refer to him, headlined many late period Cannon action flicks of the eighties/early nineties. However, after the golden period of cheapie action flicks dried up, the American Ninja more-or-less disappeared, his few remaining credits becoming more and more embarrassing. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
12.
Lou Ferrigno
An internationally famous and well respected bodybuilder / actor, Lou Ferrigno first appeared on TV screens in 1977 as the musclebound The Incredible Hulk, the alter ego of meek scientist Bruce Banner. Ferrigno was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1951 and as a child suffered from an ear infection that resulted in permanent partial hearing loss...
“ Cultural icon? No question. Dude was the Hulk! Disposable hero? Without question. Look no further then credits in "Cage" or "Return to Frogtown." Ferrigno has never been able to escape the Hulk's shadow and continues to voice the character in its various incarnations. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
13.
“ Like Reb Brown, Mark Gregory somehow wound up starring in a series of Italian action rip-offs, most notoriously the Bronx Warrior duology, during the eighties before vanishing off the face of the Earth ” - Bonehead-XL
 
14.
Richard Grieco
Richard Grieco was born to an Italian father (Richard Grieco) and an Irish mother (Carolyn O'Reilly). He is a musician and, in 1995, released a CD ('Waiting for the Sky to Fall') in Germany. In 2009, several years after being encouraged by Dennis Hopper, Grieco publicly revealed that he has been painting since 1991...
“ When not starring in Syfy Channel Originals or snorting cocaine off of strippers' cleavage, Richard Grieco spends his time throwing darts at pictures of Johnny Depp. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
15.
Thomas Ian Griffith
Actor, xXx
Thomas Ian Griffith was born on March 18, 1962 in Hartford, Connecticut. His father, Thomas Joseph, was a college professor and his mother, Mary Ann, was a dance teacher. Griffith trained as an opera singer in New York City with Metropolitan Opera star Delia Rigal. He attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester...
“ It's a pretty good rule that intense guys that play villains in big budget action movies that are actually seen by people are almost definitely going to star as the hero in some low budget action movies nobody but movie nerds are going to see. tl;dr: Thomas Ian Griffith's entire career. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
16.
Olivier Gruner
Actor, Nemesis
Olivier Gruner was born on August 2nd, 1960 in Paris. His father is a successful surgeon with his own surgery. His two brothers also made academic careers. When Olivier was 18, he went to an elite force of the french army, where he stayed 4 years. Most of this time he was in Djibouti and Somalia. At this time he already trained karate...
“ In the post-Van Damme boom, seems like any kickboxer with a funny accent could headline at least a few low-budget action flicks. Gruner's main claim to fame is cyberpunk sorta-classic "Nemesis," it's few sequels, and a bunch of other awful crap. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
17.
“ So sayeth Seanbaby: "Heavener is a living Tim and Eric sketch, and his fight scenes are violent mockeries of violence. It's often hard to tell if Heavener is trying to punch someone in the face or knock the boom mic above their heads out of frame." ” - Bonehead-XL
 
18.
Hulk Hogan
Actor, Rocky III
One of the greatest, most popular, most hated and charismatic wrestlers of all time, Hulk Hogan is one of the men who helped parlay the circus-like world of professional wrestling from cult following into the forefront of American entertainment. What many people who know about Hogan don't know is he was in the "sport" for several years in virtual obscurity before hitting the big time...
“ Hulk Hogan is, no doubt, a pop culture icon. But have you actually seen any of his movies? It really says a lot about his acting career when "Shadow Warriors 2: Assault on Death Mountain" is the best thing on his resume. (Not counting his cameo in "Gremlins 2," of course.) Most recently seen embarrassing himself on various cable reality shows. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
19.
Matthias Hues
Matthias Hues was born on Valentine's Day in Waltrop, Germany, to the late Dr. Josef Hues and Maria Humperdinck Hues who still resides in Germany. Maria is the niece of Engelbert Humperdinck, composer of the opera Hansel and Gretel. Matthias was very involved in sports from an early age on. By the time he...
“ Matthias Hues: Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Despite frequently playing bad guys, sidekicks, henchmen, and bit parts in lots of low budget action flicks (many of them starring other people on this list), Mr. Hues never reached full action hero maturity. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
20.
Martin Kove
Martin Kove was born on March 6, 1947 in Brooklyn, New York. Strong-featured, narrow-eyed actor who has portrayed a mixed bag of both good guys and bad guys! First turned up on screen in several minor roles, and got himself noticed as the villainous Nero the Hero in the low-budget road race Death Race 2000...
“ Kove was already an experienced character actor by the time he appeared in "The Karate Kid" and "Rambo: First Blood Part II." After that, he started head-lining great example of Disposable Heroes-type flicks like "Steele Justice," "Shootfighter," and countless others. He continues to act and keep busy, even if his action hero days are far behind him. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
21.
Lorenzo Lamas
Lorenzo Fernando Lamas was born in Santa Monica, California, the son of actors Arlene Dahl and Fernando Lamas. His father was Argentinian and his mother was American, of Norwegian descent. Lorenzo was raised in Pacific Palisades, California. In 1968, his family moved to New York. He attended private school...
“ Best known by fans of nineties nostalgia and crappy syndicated TV shows as the dude from "Renegade," it's a bit surprising to read that Lamas' B-action credits actually pre-date that show. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
22.
Joe Lara
Joe Lara was born in San Diego, California to parents of Native American Indian, Polish, and Spanish heritage. Joe is a model, actor, producer, and country music artist. Joe has starred in more than twenty films. Most notably, he was cast to play "Tarzan" twice: once in a CBS pilot, "Tarzan in Manhattan," and in 22 episodes of "Tarzan: The Epic Adventures," which he also produced...
“ Mr. Lara combined the best/worse? qualities of both Christopher Lambert and Adrian Paul, while somehow actually avoiding the "Highlander" franchise completely. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
23.
“ Another supporting player of 1990s DTV action flicks and martial artist of minor renown, Lurie has appeared along side other disposable heroes like Jeff Wincott, Bolo Yeung, Cynthia Rothrock, Wings Hauser, David Bradley, Jalel Merchi, Joe Lara and Don "The Dragon" Wilson. Like a lot of these other guys, he completely disappeared before the start of the new century. Has had an unexpected second career as a film composer. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
24.
Ronald L. Marchini
Ronald Lee Marchini (aka Ron Marchini) is an American martial artist who is a champion at renbukai. He wrote books on karate and renbukai with Leo Fong, a martial artist known for renbukai and Power training in Kung-Fu and karate. In May 1964, at Takayuki Kubota's All-Stars Tournament in Los Angeles...
“ It would be easy to make fun of Ron Marchini but I don't want to. A martial artist who acted in, wrote, produced, and even directed many of his movies, most of which have the word "cop," "warrior," or "karate" in the title. He did most of it independently and on his own. His movies may have been low-rent but the Karate Cop is cool in my book. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
25.
Jalal Merhi
Jalal Merhi is recognized worldwide as a premiere action-film producer / director after successfully delivering over 20 films worldwide within a decade, and numerous short film projects. Born in Brazil from to Lebanese parents, Jalal emigrated to Canada to study and eventually built an extension of his family jewelry business...
“ Star of the "Tiger Claws" and "The Circuit" series, Merhi is yet another castaway from the time when Van Damme was king, the video rental stores were full of cheap action flicks, and all you needed to be a movie star was the ability to kick really high. When not starring in low-budget action films, he is frequently directing them. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
26.
Sasha Mitchell
Sasha Mitchell joined the cast of Step by Step in 1991. His role of Cody Lambert reunited him with former Dallas co-star Patrick Duffy, with whom he worked for two seasons playing James, J.R. Ewing's illegitimate son. He made his television film debut in Pleasures. He modeled...
“ When not remembered for his reoccuring part on sitcom "Step by Step," Mr. Mitchell is best remembered for filling Van Damme's shorts in several "Kickboxer" sequels. He was at his best playing an emotionless robot in "Class the 1999 Part II: The Substitute." ” - Bonehead-XL
 
27.
Miles O'Keeffe
Attended the Air Force Academy Prep School after high school. He quit and switched over to Mississippi State to play football, but was forced to quit when he broke his hand. He then transferred to the University of the South, and graduated with a B.A. in psychology. He worked a year as a counselor at the Tennesse State Prison...
“ After playing Tarzan in notorious flop "Tarzan, the Ape Man," Mr. O'Keeeeeffffffe became a main-stay of low-budget action rip-offs, playing Ator, Sir Gawain, Dracula, and machine-gunning hundreds of faceless bad guys. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
28.
Michael Paré
Michael Kevin Paré was born on October 9, 1958 in Brooklyn, New York City, to Joan (Moroney) and Francis Paré, who owned print shops. His father died of leukemia when Paré was five, leaving his mother to raise their large family of children. Paré was working as a chef in New York City when an agent...
“ So how did Eddie, as in "and the Cruisers," become a star of so many B-budget, DTV action, crime, and horror films? No idea. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
29.
Adrian Paul
Actor, Highlander
With over 30 films and 200 hours of television experience, versatility, discipline and a solid work ethic have been the underpinnings of Adrian's very successful 30-year acting career. Internationally recognized for his role as Duncan Macleod, in Highlander-The Series", Adrian has also produced and directed both film and television projects...
“ Well remembered by fans of nineties nostalgia as the star of the "Highlander" television series. After that franchise died a slow and painful death, so did Adrian Paul's career. Aside from several Syfy Channel originals, he has most recently been seen getting fat and bald. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
30.
Roddy Piper
Actor, They Live
Roddy Piper was born Roderick George Toombs on April 17, 1954 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. He was a pro wrestler from 1973-1987 in the NWA, Pacific Northwest, California. He was a longtime mainstay in the WWF, and was one of the biggest "bad guys" in the WWF during the early '80s, before becoming a fan favorite in the late '80s...
“ I love "Rowdy" Roddy. "They Live" is a masterpiece. Sadly, Piper has had a hard time finding other films suited to his charisma and has the dubious honor of playing sidekick to both Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Billy Blanks. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
31.
Ted Prior
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Ted Prior and his two siblings were raised in a middle-class neighborhood. His father was a stand-up comic and his mother was an on-stage assistant to magician Harry Blackstone When Ted was five his parents divorced and his mother soon remarried. The family later decided to settle down and relocate to Baltimore...
“ Prior's brother actually started a production company just to make low-budget action and horror films starring Ted. Prior starred in a hilarious Rambo rip-off called "Deadly Prey" which launched him into a career full of similarly low-brow action schlock. God bless this man. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
32.
Phillip Rhee
Phillip Rhee is a master martial artist, actor and filmmaker best known for creating the "BEST of the BEST" film franchise with his producing partner and mentor Peter E. Strauss (Executive VP and Mandalay Pictures) and Frank Giustra, a Canadian Billionaire and founder of Lions Gate. The first "Best of the Best" starring academy award nominated actors...
“ Star of all four (Four!) "Best of the Best" movies, one of the franchises of the nineties DTV cheap-action market. Rhee also wrote and directed two of those films, in addition to appearing in a few other low-budget martial art flicks. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
33.
“ It's not really fair to Ms. Rothrock, one of the greatest woman martial artist to ever live, to put her on this list. Many of her Hong Kong-lensed films are genuinely decent actioneers. However, she's definitely done some real crap, the notorious "Undefeatable" chief among it. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
34.
James Ryan
Ryan James originally burst onto the movie scene as a sinewy and lean martial arts hero via two low budget South African financed martial arts movies titled Karate Killer, and the sequel Kill and Kill Again. Both films were rather shoddy, mechanical productions...however the acrobatic Ryan had a certain appeal...
“ Maybe the most obscure actor on this list, James Ryan starred in low-budget karate programmer "Kill or Be Kill" as well as its creatively entitled sequel, "Kill and Kill Again." An assortment of super low budget action credits follow here and there. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
35.
“ Former underwear model and soap opera star, Mr. Sabato Jr. has turned to the Syfy Channel and the Asylum for performances. His dad did some low budget action movies too. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
36.
Scott Shaw
Born in the filmmaking capital of the world, Hollywood, California, Scott Shaw spent the early part of his youth growing up in South Los Angeles. He then returned to Hollywood for his teen years. Though living at the center of the film industry, Shaw was not drawn to acting or directing in his early years...
“ Writer/director/star of some of the worse action/sci-fi garbage to ever creep onto the market. His films' stunning incompetence is almost charming. Almost. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
37.
Marc Singer
A production of the William Shakespeare's "Richard III" with Sir Laurence Olivier that Marc's dad took him to see as a boy made a lasting impression, though he didn't start acting himself until a teacher recruited him to fill a suddenly vacant role in his junior year of high school. However, as the son of musicians...
“ Oh yeah, "Beastmaster," that was a big hit back in the day. And what else has Marc Singer done, besides "Beastmaster 2" and 3? Exactly. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
38.
Kevin Sorbo
Kevin spent 3 years traveling around the world, modeling for print ads and appearing in over 150 commercials, before landing in his breakout series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Kevin David Sorbo was born in Mound, Minnesota, on September 24, 1958, to Ardis (Thompson), a nurse, and Lynn Nain Sorbo, a high school teacher...
“ "Hercules: The Legendary Journey" made him something like a real star at one point. However, Sorbo always had trouble crossing over from TV to film and most of his post-"Hercules" flicks were of the low-budget, straight-to-video variety. Most recently, he has become a fanatical Christian and has started appearing in "Faith-based" films that make his action credits look inspired in comparison. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
39.
Jeff Speakman
Jeff Speakman was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where he became a All-American springboard diver in high school. He broke records in his school's district and conference all without ever having a coach. Determined to go to college, he worked for six years and graduated with honors from Missouri State College...
“ The last of the Cannon Film Group action stars, I think Jeff Speakman and his agent were hoping he'd become the next Steven Seagal. Not quite though Speakman is more likable then modern Seagal. (Then again, so is a patch of moss.) ” - Bonehead-XL
 
40.
Tim Thomerson
Tim Thomerson rates highly as one of the best, most prolific, versatile and dependable character actors to ever grace both the big and small screens alike with pleasing regularity since the mid 70s. Although often cast as laconic rough 'n' tumble macho guys, Thomerson has proved on many occasions that he can essay comic roles and more substantial dramatic parts with equal skill and conviction...
“ Veteran character actor who, in the late eighties and nineties, started working with Full Moon Entertainment, purveyors of delightfully cheesy direct-to-video horror films. Thomerson starred in two of Full Moon's sci-fi action franchises, the long-running "Trancers" series and the not-so-long running "Dollman" series. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
41.
Sven-Ole Thorsen
Actor, Gladiator
Born in Denmark, Sven-Ole Thorsen has a remarkable sporting background as a champion bodybuilder, champion power-lifter, and karate black belt that made him an obvious choice for movies roles as "muscle for hire." The hulking 6' 5" actor first came to attention as one of Thulsa Doom's bodyguards... The hammer wielding Thorgrim...
“ This guy wishes he had Lou Ferrigno's career. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
42.
Dominiquie Vandenberg
Starring in the award winning indie film The Honorable served to win Vandenberg the lead role in a series of Timex spots for director Tim Burton. Shortly afterward he was hired to train and teach Leonardo Di Caprio in antique knife fighting techniques for Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York. Whilst in Italy filming...
“ If Mr. Vandenberg, an intimidating martial artist with an exotic name and accent, had come to prominence in the late eighties, he would have starred in so many low budget action flicks. Instead, he broke out in the late nineties, leading to bit parts in major movies and a few starring turns in notable low budget flicks. "Pit Fighter" is his crowning achievement. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
43.
Don Wilson
Don "The Dragon" Wilson is considered the greatest kick-boxing champion in the sport's history. A native of South Florida, Wilson began fighting in the late 1970s. In a career which spanned 4 decades, he won 11 world kick-boxing championships, among them the WKA, STAR, WKC, PKO Lightheavyweight World Championships...
“ One of the quote-icons-unquote of the grime bucket, zero budget action genre. They made eight "Bloodfist" movies. Eight! ” - Bonehead-XL
 
44.
Jeff Wincott
Jeff was born in Toronto, Canada and attended Ryerson University for Theatre. He worked on stage in Anne Of A Thousand Days, Play It Again Sam, Romeo and Juliet and in the Toronto Premier of Martin Sherman's play Bent. He moved to New York to study with Stella Adler, Michael Kahn, and Eli Rill. Director Paul Lynch cast him in the horror film classic Prom Night (1980)...
“ The other Jeff! Wincott starred in a string of low budget direct-to-video karate movies during the heyday of low budget direct-to-video karate movies: The mid-nineties. He has since followed his brother Michael's lead and turned to character work to pay the bills. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
45.
Bolo Yeung
Bolo Yeung was born in China. He began his martial arts training at the age of 10. Growing up he took an interest in bodybuilding. Later he became know as Chinese Hercules after becoming Mr. Hong Kong bodybuilding champion. He held the title for ten years. Because of his impressively muscular physique he was chosen for several bad guy movie roles...
“ Probably best known as the huge guy who tried a few times to break Van Damme unsuccessfully and a contemporary of Bruce Lee. His attempts at solo stardom have been pretty forgettable. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
46.
“ Described once as "the poor man's Dolph Lundgren" (ouch), Zagarino nevertheless was a real action star, headlining some better then average B-flicks, many of them sci-fi crossovers. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
47.
Billy Zane
Actor, Titanic
William George Zane, better known as Billy Zane, was born on February 24, 1966 in Chicago, Illinois, to Thalia (Colovos) and William Zane, both of Greek ancestry. His parents were amateur actors and managed a medical technical school. Billy has an older sister, actress and singer Lisa Zane. Billy was bitten by the acting bug early on...
“ Despite co-starring in the most successful film of all time, Zane is now a mainstay of direct-to-video trash. Frequently plays villains, occasionally called on to be a hero, almost always greasy and unlikable. For the record, I think "The Phantom" is a pretty good movie. ” - Bonehead-XL
 
48.
Robert Z'Dar
Robert Z'Dar was born Robert James Zdarsky on June 3, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois. He caught the acting bug while attending Proviso West High School in Hillside. He received a BFA from Arizona State University. Prior to acting Z'Dar was a singer/keyboardist/guitar player for the Chicago-based rock band Nova Express...
“ The Man with the Massive Face, the Maniac Cop himself. ” - Bonehead-XL