Today marks a joyful anniversary for action movie fans and a rather unpleasant one for gun control advocates. Exactly 90 years ago, Mikhail Kalashnikov, the man who invented the AK-47 assault rifle, was born in a small Siberian village. If we can, though, let us put aside the AK's bloody legacy on the battlefield and focus on all the badassery the weapon has unleashed on the big screen.
Whether they're battling Russians, trading in black market goods or bang-bang-banging their way through the city streets, movie characters have embraced the trusty AK or later variants like the AKM or SKS. And we, in turn, have embraced those bullet-spewing beauties. Here are some of our cinematic favs (click the image above to check out our AK-47 flipbook gallery)...
"Rambo III": The tagline says it all: "God would have mercy. John Rambo won't!" Over the years this ex-Green Beret has rained down fury with M60 machine guns, bowie knives, crossbows with exploding-tip arrows, Molotov cocktails and truck-mounted machine guns. But when 'Bo gets called into Afghanistan, he finds himself popping off a good ol' Russian-made automatic weapon to get the job done.
"Red Dawn": The Reds invade Middle America. Patrick Swayze and a bunch of his buddies decide to fight back. How do you think they're gonna do it, when rocket launchers are blowing up school buses and the biggest thing on a kid's mind is no longer who he should take to prom? They grab some of the enemies' AK types and fight back for the American way in all it's McDonald's-eating, freedom-loving, teen hanky-panky-allowing glory.
"Pineapple Express": Shooting guns and taking names ain't just for warriors. Sometimes a baked-out pot dealer must take the law into his own hands. When James Franco and Seth Rogen end up in a grow house throwdown, Franco grabs an AK and screams, "F--- the police!" as he charges a unformed Rosie Perez. Alas, that happy-go-lucky stoner can't handle the kickback – and, aw man, forget to load the freaking thing – so it's not too long before he's going punch-for-punch with Rosie.
"Lords of War": You know you're a seriously bad dude when you revel in (and profit from) the fact that there's one gun in the world for every twelve people – and the only thing you wonder is why every man, woman and child can't also have a warm firearm by their side? Nic Cage brags that he can get an army any of the weapons from the "Rambo" movies, so you just know the AK is going to show up. And of course it does, when Cage hooks up an African warlord with some of Russia's finest.
"Rocky IV": Okay, not one of the AKs sported by the Soviets is fired in this flick, but the fourth "Rocky" is amazing and it simply must be on the list. As the Italian Stallion saws wood, pulls ox carts and grows a beard to train for his big fight, that godless commie Ivan Drago shoots steroids, fastens fancy electronics all over himself and never once stops to wipe the sweat off his skin. And who wins? Or, put another way, what wins? Democracy, ya'll! The lesson in the end is that no weaponry – from automatic rifles to nuclear weapons – can stand in the way of the popular political sentiment drummed up by a couple well-placed uppercuts. Suck on that, nuanced global efforts to combat Communism!