The 7 Best And 7 Worst Dave Bautista Movies

The professional wrestling business has served as an underrated breeding ground for Hollywood actors. This is because wrestlers aren't just athletes — they're actors themselves who perform scenes in front of the camera and live crowds. Some have become so good at acting that they transitioned their skills from the ring to the big screen.

Wrestlers like Sasha Banks and Triple H have made appearances in movies and television shows while still making time for wrestling. Others like Hulk Hogan and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper have been the stars of feature films. And greats like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and John Cena have completely made the transition from wrestler to Hollywood action stars.

One wrestler who has successfully transitioned from wrestler to full-time actor is Dave Bautista. Going by Batista in WWE, he gathered a ton of accolades between his 2002 debut and the end of his first stint with the company in 2010, winning the Royal Rumble, WWE Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, various and tag team championships. Bautista made returns to the ring in 2014 and 2018, but ultimately became a full-time actor after receiving a role in the 2014 Marvel film, "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Making a name for himself in Hollywood meant taking on as many roles as possible, including roles in subpar movies. That's okay, because paying those dues later led to huge film roles for Bautista. The following list is a compilation of Bautista's seven best and seven worst films in which he has held significant roles.

Best: Guardians of the Galaxy

This was Bautista's breakout role. Director James Gunn took a chance on casting Bautista, who was still relatively unknown in Hollywood. Gunn noted in a virtual Q&A (via GameRant) that he chose Bautista to take on the role of Drax the Destroyer in the 2014 film "Guardians of the Galaxy" because of his comedic timing. "No one else who auditioned was that humorous," Gunn said.

So who is Drax? Based on the Marvel Comics character, he's a buff alien warrior who is completely literal — as in, he and his people don't do metaphors. These characteristics create a hilarious combination of badass and silly, which makes the Drax character a fan favorite with plenty of quotable lines and moments. "Guardians of the Galaxy" is one of the better-rated films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, holding a 92% on Rotten TomatoesReviewing the movie for /Film, writer Germain Lussier gave the film a 9 out of 10, praising Bautista's performance as Drax as "the perfect straight man."

Worst: Escape Plan 2: Hades

This is one of those movies actors take for the experience or paycheck. For Bautista, it was at the very least the former.

A sequel to the 2013 action thriller "Escape Plan," the 2018 film "Escape Plan 2: Hades" replaced a big name in Arnold Schwarzenegger with Bautista, who had already established himself in Marvel films. Despite already making a name for himself in Hollywood, Bautista decided to take the role of Trent DeRosa so he could work with legendary action star Sylvester Stallone.

"I wasn't crazy about the job, but I took it because I wanted to work with Stallone," Bautista said on the "Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum" podcast. "Our first scene together, I got in and sat with Stallone, and I said 'Look man, I'm not going to be a fanboy today. But tomorrow, I'm probably going to ask you a hundred questions.' And before we finished that scene, I had already contradicted myself, and I just wanted to ask question after question."

"Escape Plan 2" ended up with a measly 8% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the review aggregator summarizing its consensus with a simple, three-word review: "Do not enter."

Best: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Marvel Studios followed up "Guardians" with a bigger and more heartfelt sequel, and Bautista was given a chance to again show his comedic prowess. In the 2017 film "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," Bautista reprised the role of Drax, who was given more backstory, motivation, and hilarious lines to deliver alongside his band of misfit friends.

The film was more ambitious and had a larger scale than its predecessor, but didn't sacrifice action for emotional weight, with a powerful story about family and fatherhood. Not all the jokes in the film work and some of the plot bits are uneven which may make the film rank slightly below the original, but it still holds up as a Marvel classic.

The film holds an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, and received an 8 out of 10 rating from /Film writer Jack Giroux, who praised the chemistry between characters and called the film a "satisfying sequel."

Worst: Escape Plan: The Extractors

What should you do when you made a poorly received video-on-demand sequel to a film that was slightly less poorly received? Make another one, apparently.

"Escape Plan: The Extractors" is a 2019 sequel to "Escape Plan 2: Hades" and the second film to feature Bautista as Trent DeRosa, a friend of Sylvester Stallone's main character Ray Breslin. Like the second one, the main characters are tasked with breaking people out of prison instead of breaking out themselves. The film took just 17 days to make, which tells you how much effort was put into it.

This threequel surprisingly has better reviews than the sequel, but not by much. It still holds a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes with many calling it "just another VOD actioner." Bautista did receive a little praise for his performance at least, with Noel Murray of the Los Angeles Times calling him "especially entertaining as Breslin's resident gunslinger."

Best: Avengers: Infinity War

In a film loaded with larger-than-life characters and A-list movie stars, Bautista shined again in his role as Drax in the 2018 film "Avengers: Infinity War," despite having just under five minutes of total screen time. Drax's "why is Gamora?" line has been meme'd to no end on the internet, and the fact that the line was ad-libbed makes it even that much more hilarious and impressive from the former pro wrestler.

"Infinity War" was a massive cinematic feat as the culmination of an 18-film series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has gone down as one of the best superhero films in history and holds an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Part of its success is due to its shocking ending when (SPOILER ALERT for those who haven't seen — but if you haven't seen it yet, why?) half of all life across the universe disintegrated, including Bautista's character, Drax. Of course, Drax's character (spoiler alert, again) returned in the equally-awesome 2019 follow-up "Avengers: Endgame" where Drax received about one minute of screen time.

Worst: Heist

Before Bautista's zombie-heist film "Army of the Dead," there was the 2015 casino heist film aptly named "Heist."

Bautista joined an excellent cast for this flick, but unfortunately the generic thriller did not live up to its impressive ensemble. Starring Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Kate Bosworth, this one is about a casino heist gone awry and those who try to escape from the immediate repercussions of said heist. Bautista's character, Jason Cox, works both as an "inside man" and "muscle man" on the casino heist.

The plot and cast make for a potentially interesting popcorn flick on paper, but this one ended up being cliché and run-of-the-mill. The movie holds a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, with most criticizing the writing and squandering of its notable cast. Chuck Bowen of Slant Magazine gave it two out of four stars, noting "'Heist' is a moral shambles, and everyone involved here can do much, much better, but that's the point: It serves as a bit of unruly, disreputable pulp recess."

Best: Blade Runner 2049

If the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films showed off Bautista's skills as an action star, then the 2017 film "Blade Runner 2049" showed that Bautista could do much more on screen than just action or comedic relief.

Bautista's character Sapper Morton only appears for about five minutes in the sequel to the 1982 classic "Blade Runner," but his performance leaves a lasting impression. Sure, there's a small action bit involving his character, but that's not the main focus — instead, it's the interaction and tension between Bautista's character and Ryan Gosling's character, K, that sells the movie in the opening scene. Bautista's performance in the prequel short film "2048: Nowhere to Run" brings home his emotional performance as the gentle but deadly Morton. Bautista looks back on the role fondly, telling Uproxx that the role caused people to see him in a different light as an actor.

"Nobody was offering me roles like that," Bautista recalled to Uproxx. "It was kind of that small, little role in 'Blade Runner' that just opened up some eyes and people started looking at me differently."

"Blade Runner 2049" holds an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and its critical success has led to a planned sequel series.

Worst: House of the Rising Sun

Bautista was the leading man for a couple of small films before breaking out with "Guardians of the Galaxy, one of which was 2011 flick "House of the Rising Sun."

In this action drama, Bautista plays Ray Shane, a former cop who is framed for a shooting at a strip club. There's not much plot in the synopsis, and unfortunately the movie is not much better. The film doesn't even have a score on Rotten Tomatoes with only two official reviews, and both reviews listed are negative. In a review for The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, Mike Scott notes that "there's potential for a by-the-numbers underworld detective story. Unfortunately, that potential never is realized in Miller's film, a flaccid and convoluted tale of double-crosses that never inspired in me the energy to try to figure it all out."

Scott does praise Bautista as having "one of the more believable performances in the film," although at the time he didn't think Bautista had "enough charisma to carry a feature-length movie." Turns out the charisma part was wrong, but it was early in Bautista's career and difficult to gauge his talent in such a forgettable film.

Best: Dune

Bautista established such a great rapport with "Blade Runner 2049" director Denis Villeneuve that he was brought on for another sci-fi adventure led by Villeneuve: "Dune." Based on the classic 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, the 2021 film is a two-and-a-half-hour epic with a stunning cast. Bautista plays Beast Rabban Harkonnen, one of the film's main antagonists, allowing Bautista to show off his more angry, villainous, scary side on the big screen.

The film has an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, with most agreeing that its massive scope and impressive visuals are the strongest points of the film. In a review for /Film, writer Marshall Shaffer gives the movie a 9 out of 10 rating, saying, "the effects work of 'Dune' thunder with the full bellow of thematic resonance. Everything from the film's sandworms to spaceships looks and feels unlike anything else put on-screen."

Some argue that the film may be too ambitious and yet incomplete, as the story did not cover the entire length of the original novel. Nevertheless, the film's story will be completed when the sequel, "Dune: Part Two," arrives in 2023. Bautista will reprise his role as Rabban for the sequel.

Worst: L.A. Slasher

Early in his career Bautista was thrust into roles as a big guy, and his role in the 2015 slasher film "L.A. Slasher" was one of them.

In the film, Bautista plays "Drug Dealer #1" alongside Danny Trejo as "Drug Dealer #2." Not giving characters actual names was a creative choice by writer/director Martin Owen, and it was fitting since the characters aren't given much time to be anything deeper than their names suggest. The movie instead squanders the potentially-charismatic duo of Bautista and Trejo, alongside with the rest of its cast.

"L.A. Slasher" currently holds a zero percent on Rotten Tomatoes, a feat not many movies can boast. In a review for Slant Magazine, Clayton Dillard criticizes the film's poor attempt at satire, saying "great films like 'Phantom of the Paradise' and 'Taxi Driver' are implicitly alluded to, though the film's intervention regarding celebrity spectacle and postmodern aesthetics remains #bloodless."

Best: Army of the Dead

Tired of being constantly cast in action-centered roles, Bautista almost turned down the main role in Zack Snyder's 2021 film "Army of the Dead." However, Bautista changed his mind after seeing the script.

"I said I wasn't interested," Bautista said to Entertainment Weekly. "Then I read the script and it was a lot deeper and had more layers than I thought. And also, to be quite frank, I wanted to work with Zack."

It turned out to be a solid choice because Bautista was allowed to work the best of both worlds: an action-zombie flick plus an emotional, story-driven film. Bautista was praised for his Scott Ward character, with Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair saying Bautista is "great to watch, proving a slyer and more expressive actor than his other pro-wrestler-turned-movie-star colleagues."

Overall, "Army of the Dead" has more fans than detractors. It holds a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes and an even higher audience score. Many loved the action and humor but some criticized the long length (148 minutes), which seems to be a Snyder film staple. Nonetheless, it's clear Bautista was one of the high points of this action-packed feature.

Worst: Kickboxer: Vengeance

This film isn't nearly as bad as some of Bautista's other "worsts," but it still doesn't hold up to the original.

A reboot of the 1989 film "Kickboxer," the 2016 movie "Kickboxer: Vengeance" is again about Kurt Sloane (played by Alain Moussi) using martial arts to avenge his brother. Bautista serves as the scary and villainous Tong Po, who kills Sloane's brother in this iteration of the classic film.

"Vengeance" earned mixed reviews overall, holding a 41 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Some criticized the films originality and the lead actor's lack of charisma compared to the original's lead, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Others praised the film's action, including Fred Topel of Slashfilm who enjoyed Bautista as the film's lead villain: "Bautista is terrifying as Tong Po," Topel said. "As endearing as he was as Drax in 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' he is using his strength for pure evil here."

Best: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The 2018 film "Master Z: Ip Man Legacy" is probably one of the most underrated movies featuring Bautista. In this Chinese martial arts spin-off of the "Ip Man" film series, Bautista portrays a drug lord and main villain to the lead character, Cheung Tin-chi (played by Max Zhang). Bautista is perfect for the role — he gets to use his size and real-life combat experience to play an intimidating big man who can go toe-to-toe with fast martial arts experts. The role is more on the action side than emotional side for Bautista, but the action surely delivers with one of the coolest fight scenes in Bautista's film career.

"Master Z" holds an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Hoai-Tran Bui of /Film noted that the film has "some spectacularly big and inventive fight sequences," while Bautista "is putting way more effort into lending depth into his role as the requisite Western fighter than his stunt-cast predecessors."

Worst: Marauders

The 2016 film "Marauders" is another example of a generic movie with potential that ultimately squanders its solid cast.

Starring Bautista, Christopher Meloni, and Bruce Willis, this crime thriller is about two FBI agents who investigate a series of bank robberies. Despite Bautista being marketed side by side with Meloni, his special agent character is not in the film nearly long enough, with the main focus on Meloni's special agent character uncovering a conspiracy involving as a shady bank president (Willis). Both performances from Meloni and Bautista have been praised, with Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com saying "Bautista gives a supporting part more than it deserves."

Despite solid performances from the two special agent characters, Willis' acting was panned and the plot was criticized as being too confusing and convoluted. The overall consensus saw "Marauders" as another paint-by-the-numbers cop thriller as the film holds a 24% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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