As everyone knows, there is no easier way to instantly improve the quality of a movie than by including a scene where a character fights a bear. In fact, there's only one thing better than a movie character fighting a bear: a movie character played by a world-famous celebrity fighting a bear.
Let's face it: There's nothing celebrities can't do. They can heal the sick, they can feed the poor, they can end genocide, they can expose themselves in public and not get arrested, and they can come out and basically confess to a murder and still be found not guilty. But most importantly of all, celebrities can engage in personal, hand-to-hand combat with bears in close quarters and escape completely unharmed.
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Of course, if a normal non-famous person like you or I ever engaged in fisticuffs with a bear, the end result would most likely be a less hungry bear. But the sheer power of celebrity can intimidate just about any wild animal. Which is why it's high time we paid tribute to the celebrities that have fought bears in movies and TV and lived to tell the tale. Or, at the very least, went down swinging.
This is the Agony Booth's Top 9 Celebrity Bear Fights, complete with video evidence. Be forewarned, these clips might be too awesome for YouTube, so if any of them get pulled for copyright viol—er, "matching third party content", just sit tight, and I'll get them back online somewhere else just as soon as possible.
Oh yeah, and before anyone emails me: I'm aware that 75% of these bear fights feature the late Bart the Bear, star of a dozen Hollywood films, and the subject of his own documentary. So, in some ways, these celebrity bear fights could be viewed as celebrity vs. celebrity, a battle of pure star power. Let's get to it!
#9: Mr. T vs. a bear, "Case of the Casino Caper"
(Orig. Aired Nov. 26, 1983)
Mr. T's 1980s cartoon show has been carefully documented elsewhere on this site, so I won't bore you with an explanation of the show's premise. Instead, I'll simply direct you to the video clip above of the animated version of Mr. T going up against a trained bear.
I honestly haven't watched this episode in its entirety, so I have no idea how fighting a bear has anything to do with a casino caper. So I'll just throw out a wild guess, and say that in the process of solving this particular mystery, Mr. T and the gang end up in the basement of the Mirage, where they're forced to engage in mortal combat with animals for the inhuman pleasure of a bloodthirsty Siegfried and Roy.
The most amazing thing about this clip is the reaction of the teens in Mr. T's crew: Instead of being terrified at the prospect of Mr. T getting mauled, or actually, you know, trying to help, the kids are content to stand on the sidelines, and even take bets [!] on the bear fight.
Hey, come on, these kids hang out with Mr. T all day. If Mr. T is fighting a bear, it must be Tuesday. And if he's punching a shark, it must be Wednesday.
In addition, this clip proves my personal theory that it's possible to learn something new about Mr. T every single day. In this case, I'm learning via his conversation with the bear ("Nobody talks to me like that!") that Mr. T can actually speak Bear. Which is just one of many things he seems to have in common with Chuck Norris (relax, he's on this countdown, too).
Given how awe-inspiring this clip is, you might wonder why it only registers at #9 on this countdown. But when you get right down to it, it's just a cartoon. No real animals or mohawked ex-bouncers were harmed in the making of this clip. Watch the following eight videos of live-action bear fights, and then come talk to me.
Yes, the Agony Booth's very own Repeat Offender Richard Kiel, Jaws and Eegah himself, once took on a bear singlehandedly. He was the alien on that classic Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man", but what he's serving here is a huge helping of whoop-ass on a bear. But what's even more impressive is that he wrote this movie's screenplay, giving the world a completely unnecessary peek into his demented psyche.
It's the late 1800s, and Kiel is a freakishly tall mountain man, completely misunderstood by the local townsfolk, who all suspect him to be a murderer. But one sweet little girl is able to see through his gruff exterior and his bad '70s cop moustache, and befriend this gentle giant. The locals think Kiel murdered his parents, but it turns out they were actually killed by a bear. Hilariously, this same bear has been stalking Kiel all these years. Which means this is not only an awesome fight scene, it's also Kiel finally facing down the demons that have haunted him all his life.
But for me, the best part about this clip is watching a syrupy bonding moment between girl and giant get interrupted by a huge bear materializing out of nowhere. It's the most hilarious thing ever. If only every saccharine moment in a kid's film could end abruptly with the appearance of a raging bear.
Unfortunately, the ending to this fight is sort of anticlimactic, because it's pretty obvious the big stick Kiel uses to vanquish the bear is made of sawdust. But still, it's a lot more impressive than wearing a bearskin and uttering caveman gibberish and pawing at Arch Hall's girlfriend.
Obligatory Trivia: The little girl in the clip appears in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Imaginary Friend", where her pretend playmate is really a sinister alien bent on destroying the Enterprise. After that, she appeared on 10 episodes of 90210: TOS as Dylan McKay's little sister.
On Deadly Ground features Steven Seagal going up against Big Oil (personified by a sweaty Michael Caine) to protect Eskimo tribal land. To prove himself worthy, Seagal goes on a vision quest. He doesn't call upon the spirit of Hoochiemomma, but he does meet Mother Nature herself, who appoints Seagal with the job of saving the earth from polluters. Yes, the entire earth. I wonder how that's been working out for him.
But more importantly, at some point in his vision quest, he does astral battle with a bear. While the sight of Seagal bum-rushing a bear is indeed hilarious, I have to dock serious points for the fact that the fight barely lasts 15 seconds. Pouring salt into the wound is how Seagal loses. He loses! There's a strong possibility that this is the only fight Seagal ever loses in any of his films, and that's counting his DTV crap of the last 6 or 7 years.
Actually, the time might be right for a rematch, because these days, I'm fairly sure that Seagal weighs about as much as the bear.
Next Page: Leslie Nielsen (Leslie freaking Nielsen!), and a double helping of Ferrigno! >>>