Film: The Boondock Saints
"And shepherds we shall be, for Thee, my Lord, for Thee. Power hath descended forth from Thy hand, that our feet may swiftly carry out Thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to Thee, and teeming with souls shall it ever be, In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti."The Boondock Saints
— Connor and Murphy McManus, delivering the family prayer before executing someone.
is an independent film directed by Troy Duffy in 1999 about two Irish Catholic
brothers from South Boston
, Connor and Murphy McManus (played by Sean Patrick Flannery and Norman Reedus
), who become vigilantes
on a "Mission from God
" after they are almost killed by Russian mobsters following a barroom brawl on St. Patrick's Day.
The brothers kill the mobsters and then turn themselves in to the police, though they are quickly released on their self-defense plea. They learn the location of the syndicate's leaders, then kill them all. They are quickly joined by their best friend David Della Rocco (played by an actor who shares the name
), a package boy for the local Italian mafia, who enlists their help in taking down his former syndicate after he is sold out by his bosses Papa Joe and Vincenzo.
FBI Agent Paul Smecker (played by Willem Dafoe
) is on the case of the vigilantes, and as the bad guy body count continues to rise and the brothers become local heroes, Smecker has to decide whether he wants to catch the killers or join them.
Everything comes to a head when the Italians, tired of being picked off like flies, call in the mysterious hitman Il Duce (played by comedian Billy Connolly in one of his rare dramatic roles) to kill Rocco, who they believe is responsible for the killings. When the three Saints and the Duke collide, all hell quickly breaks loose; and when it is finally learned just who Il Duce is, the stage is set for a final reckoning that will bring the South Boston mob to its knees.The Boondock Saints
ran for all of a week in only a few theaters because no major distributor would touch the film after Duffy's falling out with his initial executive producer Harvey Weinstein. (The recent crackdown on violent action and horror movies and media in general following the school shooting at Columbine
High School earlier that year didn't help things either
.) But when it was released several years later on FOX DVD, the movie became a massive cult success
. Fans compare the film to Quentin Tarantino
's classics Reservoir Dogs
and Pulp Fiction
, and Robert Rodriguez
. A sequel called The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day
was rumored for years (the first film ends on one hell of a cliffhanger) and was finally released on October 30, 2009.
The film Overnight
details Troy Duffy's inflation of ego
during the making of the film. He kinda went off the rails
, a bit. While he has tried to apologize for his past behavior
, if you watch the doc you'll get a better idea of why we had to wait ten years
for the sequel.
It is especially popular for St. Paddy's Day drinking games, where if you sip every time someone curses, you're hammered by 30 minutes in. Because of this, some people have never seen the whole movie, nor seen it sober.
Has a Character Sheet
that is in desperate need of more love.
Not to be confused with The Boondocks
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Examples Contained In Both Films
- Audience Participation: Mostly for the first one, but its cult status has led to some fan screenings, including a few in 2009 on the tenth anniversary of the film's release.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: The McManus brothers occasionally do this.
- Badass Boast: "We will send you to whatever God you wish."
- Badass Creed: The Family Prayer (see the page quote).
- From the end of the first movie: "Never shall innocent blood be shed, yet the blood of the wicked shall flow like a river. The three shall spread their blackened wings and be the vengeful, striking hammer of God."
- Badass Grandpa: Il Duce. Turns out to be the Saints' daddy. Technically, he isn't a grandpa though.
- Badass Longcoat: Il Duce and Rocco. The McManus twins are Badass Peacoats; which, considering Boston in March, is a lot more practical. Detective Eunice Bloom in the sequel imagines herself as a Gun Twirling cowgirl wearing a duster during one of her summations of the Saints' hits.
- Berserk Button: Go on. Just try to bring harm to either of the brothers. Chances are the last thing you'll see is a toilet crashing down on your head.
- Bilingual Bonus: Particularly in the sequel, not all of the foreign languages are subtitled.
- If you're curious, the last line of the prayer is Latin for "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit", with the gunshot substituting the traditional last word of "Amen."
- Billing Displacement: Willem Dafoe is not the main character.
- Bromance On The Set: Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus remained friends throughout the eight-year gap between movies. This is especially obvious in interviews, where Norman is often the subject of much fraternal ribbing.
- Butt Monkey: Greenly and, to a lesser extent, Dolly and Duffy. Rocco and Romeo have their moments too.
- California Doubling: Both films are set in Boston, but apart from the flyover establishing shots, were filmed in Toronto. The CN Tower and Toronto Dominion bank locations can be seen in various shots.
- Catch Phrase: The McManus family prayer, as well as Greenly's "Thanks for coming out!"
- Cerebus Syndrome: Both films refuse to take themselves seriously... until Il Duce gets called in.
- Chekhov's Gun: While gearing up, the brothers mock each other for getting some rope and a large bowie knife, just in case. Both items end up getting used during the hotel scene, the knife while they are carrying out the execution of the Sick Mob Man and killing one of Yakavetta's men after they get free. The rope even makes a reappearance in the second movie.
- In the first movie, Rocco returns in a panic after the Lakeview Restaurant shooting, telling the brothers to "Pack your shit!" so that the three of them could flee. One of the items Rocco packs (after brandishing it at Connor while shouting) is the iron that they later use to cauterize their wounds.
- When Rocco asks the brothers to teach him the prayer that they always use when executing mob dudes, Connor refuses, stating that it's a family prayer, "my father's father before him, so that's our shit". This sets up the biggest reveal of the movie, where Il Duce walks in on the brothers saying the family prayer over the fallen Rocco and finishes the prayer himself.
- In the second movie, Russian Roulette.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Justified, in that almost all of the characters who are shown to be religious are Irish, Italian, or Mexican.
- Completely Different Title: In Spanish, the movie is known as Los Santos del Infierno, or "The Saints of Hell". In German, it's "Der Blutige Pfad Gottes", meaning "The Bloody Path of God".
- Development Hell: The second film took ten years to make due to a lack of funding and Troy Duffy's ego. The third film, thus far, seems to be in the same position. Duffy has said if negotiations go through, the story may be continued in a TV series, but the progress seems to be going slowly.
- Due to the Dead: Played straight for the most part, particularly with the Saints' victims.
- Hilariously averted in the sequel when the Saints visit Rocco's grave and see that they used his mugshot for his memorial.
- Fast Roping: Lampshaded by Connor and ends up being accidentally invoked by the Saints. In the sequel they play it straight... in an over-the-top way.
- Faux Affably Evil: The Saints, concerning their actual targets. When dealing with innocents they fall under Affably Evil or Anti-Villain.
Rocco: We could kill everyone. (meaning, everyone in the South Boston Mafia)
Murphy: What do you think of that?
Connor: I'm strangely comfortable with it.
- Floating Head Syndrome: One of the most awkward examples ever.
- Freudian Slip: "Fag man" instead of "fat man," though Smecker takes it in stride. During a pep talk, Rocco has one during his Rated M for Manly speech.
Rocco: You think that the men who built all this had it easy?
Murphy: Hard men!
Connor: Doing hard shit!
: And that gives me a hard-on! *Record Scratch
* But not in a gay way or anything like that.
- Friendly Sniper: Connor and Murphy would be friendly even if they weren't on a mission from God to shoot evil people in the head.
- Guns Akimbo: The McManus brothers, Rocco, and especially Il Duce. In the sequel, almost everyone uses this trope.
- Hero of Another Story: What we see of Il Duce's past heavily alludes to this, though it took place roughly twenty-five years prior.
- Hiding Behind the Language Barrier:
- In the first film, Murphy needs to ask Connor a possibly incriminating question in front of Agent Smecker, so he does so in Irish Gaelic.
- Then, after Smecker's done with their interview, Smecker asks if they know any other languages apart from Russian, since part of their story included taunting a Mafiya thug in his native tongue. They proceed to show off by speaking French, Italian, German, and Spanish in front of Smecker, by having a quick conversation wondering how he figured most of their story without having to talk to them. To Smecker's credit, he seems to pick up on the conversation by the time it finishes up.
- In the second film, this gets subverted: Romeo asks his uncle in Spanish not to embarrass him in front of the McManus brothers. He doesn't realize they know Spanish too.
- Hitman with a Heart: Il Duce, who has a very Leon-esque code about "no women, no kids."
- The brothers as well. Fitting, seeing that they are his sons.
- Holy Hitman: The twins always recite their family prayer before executing someone.
- Hollywood Silencer: The Saints almost always wield silenced pistols.
- Iconic Item: The pennies that the Saints place on their victim's eyes, as well as Il Duce's vest full of guns.
- Improbable Weapon User: A toilet in the first film, as well as a billiard ball. In the second, a tattoo pen for minor comic relief.
- Inspector Lestrade: Greenly. Until Smecker arrives.
- Invisible Advertising: As mentioned, the film was all ready to be released, but unfortunate timing meant it had to be released quietly.
- The second movie was set up this way at first, but positive reception among the fans gave it two wider releases.
- Knight of Cerebus: Whenever Il Duce gets called in around the halfway mark, things get serious. Which is very odd seeing as Il Duce is played by Billy Connolly.
- Knight Templar: The brothers definitely don't play this straight, but they do occasionally exploit it to screw with people.
- Lamarck Was Right: This might explain how a pair of multi-lingual Irish twins who spent their lives praying, living in a broken apartment, and working at a meat plant are so good at killing off mobsters with pairs of pistols. The Man Behind the Man in the sequel even lampshades it.
- Lampshading: The brothers and Smecker like to do this.
- Large Ham: Smecker, whenever he is re-enacting one of the shootouts. As well, his protegee Eunice Bloom. Connor, in general.
- Lennon Specs: Badass Il Duce wears them.
- A Lighter Shade Of Gray: "We urge you lesser forms of filth not to push the bounds and cross over into true corruption, into our domain. For if you do, one day you will look behind you and you will see we three, and on that day, you will reap it!"
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Il Duce.
- The Mafia: Italian and Russian mob.
- Malaproper: Doc, the bartender at McGinty's.
- Men Children: When they're not shooting people in the head, Connor and Murphy bicker and tussle like ten year old boys.
- Missing Mom: The condition of Murphy and Connor's mother (and, presumably, Il Duce's estranged wife or possibly ex-wife) is never touched on in the released films. A deleted scene from the first film has the twins receiving an ill-timed phone call from her, but how that scene fits into canon is debatable.
- Moral Dissonance: The brothers' moral compass is a bit loose. They give Rocco a free pass, despite him having a career in the Mafia which failed only because of his own incompetence, because he's a good drinking buddy. And they are perfectly willing to buy all their guns from a man heavily implied to be IRA. Not to mention they seem to have no qualms about stealing from the mobsters they kill even before they receive their Mission from God. Also Connor somehow seems to know what heroin tastes like in the sequel.
Rocco: "Anybody you think is evil?"
Rocco: "Don't you think that's a little weird, a little psycho?"
- Motivation on a Stick: Detective Greenley humorously suggests that the only way they're going to catch the McManus brothers is by "...dangling a potato on a string" — of course, they walk in just as he's saying this.
Murphy: You'd probably have better luck with a beer.
- Never Hurt an Innocent: All the Saints, although they did tase that housewife in the first film after getting access to her husband's poker game (said husband and his poker buddies are all mobsters). But as knocking her out meant she wouldn't get in the way and inadvertently be killed in the crossfire, this is likely justified.
- No Name Given / Unnamed Parent: One is more likely to survive in this film without a name. The brothers' names are Connor and Murphy — which is rarely mentioned in either film while every other character gets a pause and a brief caption that literally spells out their identity. Il Duce their father gets a caption that reveals absolutely nothing and is only addressed by his real name, Noah, in the second film. The Roman as well only gets a proper name during the last third of the second film.
- Ominous Latin Chanting / Soundtrack Dissonance: Many of the beautiful choral hymns play over gorier scenes.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The brothers, often.
- Justified by their Omniglot status; the brothers learned their languages well enough that their accents have been rendered about as battered as Connor MacLeod's.
- By the second movie, it seems their accents are almost intentionally bad. Julie Benz' accent is also overdone for comic effect.
- Omniglot: The brothers speak several languages including English, Irish, Russian, Spanish, Italian, German, and French.
- Overcrank: Nearly every action scene uses this to combine hilarity with Badassitude. When it stops being used, things get serious.
- Papa Wolf: —> Il Duce: Easy boys... Daddy's working.
- Playing Against Type: Il Duce, the stone-cold veteran hitman, is played by Billy Connolly of all people. He's done serious roles before, but not like this.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The family prayer that the brothers recite before executing someone.
- Rated M for Manly: Both movies. The dream sequence in the sequel underlines this, though most people generally agree that the scene where Connor rips a toilet out of the floor is the best example in the first.
- Reliably Unreliable Guns:
- In the first movie, Rocco emphasizes a point by slamming his hands down on a table, causing the Beretta 92 pistol sitting on the table — which, mind you, is standard issue for U.S. soldiers and designed specifically to avert this trope — to fire, killing the poor pussycat that was laying next to it. Particularly jarring compared to the courthouse climax when the baliffs drop their guns from a mezzanine fifteen or twenty feet up without any mishap.
- In the DVD commentary, it's stated that this scene exists due to a combination of Rule of Funny and a hatred of cats.
- The sequel averts this, however, when the brothers drop their Desert Eagles when surrounded by police and SWAT after the last shoot-out.
- Rule of Cool: Basically the entire franchise relies on this.
- Running Gag: Several, but the most obvious is the oft-compared-to "rocket surgery"
- Southies: Oh my yes. The film is quite inaccurate on the subject, though it doesn't matter. Interestingly, the film's cult fandom is not especially large around South Boston.
- Shirtless Scene: When the twins awaken from the vision/dream they get one of these.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: At key points in parts 1 and 2, the plot gets more serious, the stakes get higher and the joking stops cold.
- Sibling Team: The McManus twins.
- Smoking Is Cool: The Saints all smoke, as do many other characters. Word of God says that during the Il Duce firefight in the first film, they needed to put a cigar in Billy Connolly's mouth because he would not stop smiling.
- Throw Away Guns: Il Duce's signature gun vest.
- Tourettes Shitcock Syndrome: The bartender Doc. There has been some attempt at realism here, though. Doc has motor tics as well as verbal ones, and his verbal tic is preceeded by a period of stuttering.
- Trench Coat Warfare: Il Duce is the current Image Source for this trope.
- Twin Tropes: Connor and Murphy are fraternal twins, though they don't fit many Twin Tropes besides Twin Telepathy (which is the only way they could have the same dream in both the first film and the sequel, and a mild variant of Polar Opposite Twins.
- Ultimate Job Security: Arguably Detective Greenly, who is somewhat incompetent compared to Smecker (and even Dolly and Duffy to an extent). However, he is only shown as being bad at making theories, not at everything. Also, Greenly claims in the second film that he, Dolly, and Duffy have put away half the guys that are in prison. While he was obviously exaggerating, the other characters wouldn't hesitate to take the piss out of him if it was a total lie.
- Vigilante Man: Interesting case in that they try to be this, but come across as hitmen more than anything else.
- Wall of Weapons: The underground storage bunker that they get their stock from.
Examples That Occur In The First Film:
- Actor Allusion While re-enacting one of the murders, Smecker raises his hands up to the heavens, a reference to DeFoe's death in the movie Platoon.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Subverted and Lampshaded - the brothers use an air vent to get into the Russian Mobster's meeting, but get lost. They only end up in the right place because they start fighting each other and cause the vent to break through the ceiling, dumping them right into the correct room. Later, Smecker lampshades this, noting that they're amateurs because Air Vent Escapes only happen on TV and no pro would try it.
- Almighty Janitor: In dealing with the Saints, Yakavetta turns to retired mobster Augustus DiStephano, who works as a bathroom attendant. He is apparently well-connected enough to get Il Duce out of prison.
- Alternate Character Interpretation: Invoked; the end credits show a reporter interviewing people on their wildly varying views on the Saints.
- Amusing Injuries: They tie a Russian gangster to a bar top and set his ass on fire.
- Later, one of the two Russian gangsters (the same one, in fact) gets a toilet dropped directly on his cranium. There are many, many other examples. Let's just say that this film ties with Tropic Thunder in the Hilarious Carnage department.
- Anachronic Order: A subtle one. To judge from the way the priests in the opening church scene react to seeing Connor and Murphy, it has to be set after the main events of the movie.
- Angrish: Loads and loads. Of note is Rocco's reaction to the Copley Plaza massacre is one of these involving a Cluster F-Bomb.
Rocco: Fucking... what the fucking fuck... who the fuck fucked this fucking... how did you two fucking fucks... FUCK!
Connor: Well, that certainly illustrates the diversity of the word.
- Apathetic Citizens: "Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men."
- Artistic License – Gun Safety: When he decides to kill Rocco, Papa Yakaveta dramatically snaps his revolver cylinder shut by flipping his wrist. With swing-out cylinder revolvers, doing this can bend the cylinder arm, misaligning the cylinder, and leading to a misfire, potentially blowing the gun apart.
- Artistic License - Mythology: It depends on which region of Greece you're learning from, but Smecker says in Greek mythology, people had to pay the toll to cross the river, and that's where the coins on the eyes comes from. In actuality, only some believed that, while most believed that only the living had to pay to cross the river to the Underworld, and even in those that believed it, the coin went in the mouth, not on the eyes.
- Asshole Victim: Just about every one of the Saints' victims, but Vincenzo, the Sick Mob Man, and Papa Joe himself in particular.
- Bar Brawl: The McManuses throw down with the Russian mob dudes early on in the movie and sets the events of the film in motion.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Papa Joe shoots Rocco, but leaves the McManuses bound. May be justified by him wanting to question the brothers some more and thinking of Rocco as dead weight.
- Bookends: The movie opens with a priest telling the story of Kitty Genovese, while in the trial at the end of the movie, Papa Joe's alibi to an unspecified charge is that he was at the genovese (the butcher shop) with his mother.
- Cassandra Truth: The Butt Monkey detectives of the Boston Police are so wildly wrong in the first part of the movie that when they finally start getting it right later on, Smecker doesn't believe them.
- Cluster F-Bomb: See Angrish, above. According to IMDB, the word is dropped 246 times.
- Nerves of Steel: Say what you will about the "sick fuck" hitman, but he's got balls. His poker and pool party is getting shot up while he's in the bathroom. A bullet punches a hole through the door and shatters the mirror. Does he even flinch? No. He just puts his glasses on, pulls his pants up, takes the towels of the towel rack and folds them neatly, rips the towel rack off the wall, and even when he gets shot, he smashes the gun out of his shooter's hand.
- No Name Given: The contract killer is never named, and is only addressed in the film as "Sick Fuck!" He is credited as "Sick Mob Man". Similarly, Il Duce goes by a Nom de Guerre and his name isn't revealed until the sequel.
- Oh, Crap: After Smecker infiltrates Don Yakavetta's home, and comes across a mook with his throat cut. Il Duce then comes up behind Smecker and gives him a Tap on the Head, having mistaken him for a woman.
- Earlier in the same film, after Yakavetta's men have captured the Saints, and realized that Il Duce, whom they hired to kill the Saints and loves killing Mafiosos isn't going to stop until he's killed somebody.
- Pants-Positive Safety: Rocco.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Willem Dafoe makes as convincing a woman as Bugs Bunny does. And like Bugs, he has extreme good fortune to "seduce" the one guy on earth thick enough to be fooled by his getup.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Played with. Sometimes, the Saints don't really discriminate between Mooks, and sometimes they can come across as too soft on certain bad guys, like Papa Joe.
- Professional Killer: Rocco drives a "sick fuck" hitman to his job, where he proceeds to wipe out a family. The three face another, more Badass hitman in the form of Il Duce shortly after finishing off the first.
- Room Disservice: Rocco's attempted hit on the Russians.
- Shipped in Shackles: Il Duce (who provides the page image for this trope) is moved from his cell to the ground floor for a parole hearing. He is cuffed hand and foot, chained to a rolling platform, and wheeled down to the parole board. The prison is put on high-alert, with shotgun-wielding guards on every floor, all to move one man down a few flights of stairs. Once he's there, they even put him inside a metal cage to protect the parole board. All this serves to establish him as probably the biggest Badass of the movie.
- Shur Fine Guns: Rocco's Beretta 92, which goes off just from slamming his fists on the table it's laying on, with bad results for his sister's cat.
- Spoonerism: "Paul Smecker"? Well, talk about Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- Suspiciously Specific Sermon: A monsignor delivers a sermon referencing the Kitty Genovese case, saying "now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men." The brothers McManus, after leaving the church, comment that "the Monsigneour's finally getting the point". This combines with the fact that the visiting priest is about to object to their coming up past the pulpit to kiss the feet of the crucified Jesus until another priest whispers something to him, at which point the visiting priest's face becomes an expression of shock and awe. It also combines with the fact that no one else in the congregation seems to object to the boys' behavior. All of these elements give the impression that this scene actually takes place after the boys' transformation into the Saints and implies that the sermon is intended to be a veiled approval by the speaking priest of the Saints' agenda.
- Too Dumb to Live: The two mob soldiers who had been aware of Rocco being set up to be killed, laugh at his face and gloat them not warning him is proof of being reliable for promotion. Keep in mind they do this to a guy who for all they know, killed nine Russian mob bosses with a six-shot revolver.
- Tuckerization: "Yakavetta" is the last name of one of Troy Duffy's best friends.
- Unorthodox Reload: After Yakavetta loads his revolver, he flicks his wrist to snap the cylinder shut. In Real Life, an excellent way to damage your revolver and cause an embarrassing misfire.
- Vigilante Execution: Inside a courtroom no less.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Saints as a whole.
- You, Get Me Coffee: Whenever Detective Greenly says something stupid or mouths off to Agent Smecker, he'll be dispatched to fetch coffee and bagels.
Examples Contained In The Second Film:
- Art Shift: The envisioned attack on the Asian drug gang is shot like a grindhouse film, with an appropriate soundtrack.
- Bad Boss: Concezio Yakevetta, he breaks the jaw of one of his subordinates just because he corrected his pronunciation of a word.
- Billing Displacement: Peter Fonda doesn't appear until the last 20 minutes of All Saint's Day, yet still got billed over Billy Connolly (Il Duce and the father of Connor and Murphy).
- Bittersweet Ending: Il Duce dies, and the brothers get imprisoned, but Smecker and Bloom are going to bust them out.
- Bond One-Liner: Parodied in the second film when Romeo ties up a janitor and threatens him into coming up with a cool thing for Romeo to say when the gunfire stops.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: In the sequel, the brothers get Desert Eagles with modified suppressors while Romeo gets a pair of Colt M1911s with golden silencers and grips that look like the Mexican flag.
- Brick Joke: The cat from the first film walks by when the brothers see Rocco. Also the rope.
- Call Back: Many.
- Camera Abuse: In-universe example: Gorgeous George is having a teleconference (of sorts) with Concezio, who screams at him so much that he covers his camera lens in spittle.
- The Conspiracy: The Roman has been playing the McManus clan against the Mafia to further his own standing for decades. Also, the Catholic Church appears to be taking a more... proactive role in the fight against Evil.
- Dare to Be Badass: Rocco's opening narration, talking about how you are either a Talker, or a Doer.
- Dawson Casting: In the sequel, Judd Nelson plays the son of the Big Bad of the first film (who was played by Carlo Rota). Judd Nelson was born on 1959 and Carlo Rota was born on 1961. Do the math.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Greenly. He's even more retarded than usual around Special Agent Bloom.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the sequel, Concezio's inner circle are all upset and uneasy about his supposed hit on a local priest.
- Face Death with Dignity: Once cornered, Concezio merely crosses himself and says "Vaffanculo" which is Italian for "Fuck you". Not to mention a call-back to his father, who did the same thing before being executed by the Saints.
- Faking the Dead: Smecker
- Fanservice: Connor and Murphy get an outdoor shower scene.
- Feet-First Introduction: For nearly a minute, in slow motion, the camera tracks Eunice Bloom's ridiculously high stiletto heels as she strides to the church.
- This counts as a Crowning Moment of Funny if you think it's going to turn out to be Agent Smecker, who was also introduced foot-first while in drag.
- Forklift Fu
- Freudian Excuse: When Il Duce was younger, his father was murdered by mobsters before his eyes, starting off his vigilante rampage.
- Funny Background Event/Noodle Implement: When Bloom and the Detectives are in the briefing room with the police chief, a beat cop walks in carrying a dog. The Chief immediately tells him to get out.
- Gilligan Cut: After the Saints' hit on the Chinese.
- Greenly says, "They're either on their way here, or they're already here." Just as we're expecting a Bad Ass Entry of the Saints doing the slow walk, we instead cut to them squeezed into a Volkswagon Beetle.
- Gun Twirling: Eunice Bloom twirling a revolver as she recounts the attack on the Yakavettas.
- Hand Cannon: In the sequel, the brothers trade in their Berettas for Desert Eagles but it is also subverted when Romeo asks for a handgun and the brothers give him a tiny pocket pistol.
- Homage: Flashback scenes showing an older character's origins in crime amongst Italians in the early 1900s. Sound familiar?
- Important Haircut: Lampshaded. The brothers wonder why they cut their hair since they now match their police sketches, when previously they looked "like Jesus Christ."
- Insistent Terminology: Special Agent Bloom. Justified, as that's a specific rank in the FBI.
- It Has Been an Honor: Greenly's last words to the Saints.
- Jurisdiction Friction: Played straight.
- Malaproper: Concezio Yakkaveta uses these constantly. God help you, if you correct him.
- Man Behind the Man: The mysterious "Roman" who masterminded the hit on the priest is revealed to be Il Duce's childhood friend Louie. Louie reveals that he was only interested in rising up the ranks of the mafia and was using Noah/Il Duce to eliminate the competition, afterward giving him up to the police when he was done. The mafia cast him out as well, but he helped rebuild the Yakavetta family after Papa Joe's demise, and let the Saints take out the rest of the Mafia so Louie can take control.
- Manly Tears: Romeo is rather prone to these.
- Ms. Fanservice: Special Agent Eunice Bloom, in the Old Western getup.
- The Napoleon: Ottilio Panza. His terminal case of short-man's disease ends up leaving plenty of evidence for the police that otherwise wouldn't have been there. Bloom even calls him Napoleon.
- Nom de Guerre: The Roman.
- Posthumous Character: Rocco and Greenly.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!
Connor: He was kind of a badass though.
Both Brothers: DUKE! FUCKING! WAYNE!
- Replacement Goldfish: Romeo replaces Rocco and does a pretty good job at it.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In the sequel, the brothers avenge the murder of their childhood priest. Then there's Il Duce's case mentioned under Freudian Excuse.
- Russian Roulette: Il Duce combines this with Mexican Standoff and uses it as an interrogation technique. The brothers use this to determine whether or not to let a bad guy live.
- Sequel Hook: The ending of the second film.
- Tap on the Head: When pistol whipping someone, it works better when you use a gun that's bigger then the size of your palm.
- Television Geography: There is an establishing shot of downtown Boston early on in the film. However, it is obviously stock footage because the Central Artery is still going through downtown which the Big Dig replaced long before this movie was made.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Rocco's monologue runs dangerously close to this. Especially the part where he suffers a Freudian Slip partway through.
- Unfortunate Names: Special Agent Kuntsler.
- Unreliable Narrator: Special Agent Eunice Bloom's re-enactment of the bar shootout subtly lampshades this during the slow-mo shot of the guys shooting each other. When she walks past the last pair of guys, she mimes shooting the guy on the right twice as he takes two bullets... before the guy opposite him raises his weapon and fires off the third shot that goes into the him. She even smirks at the camera when this happens.
- Unwitting Pawn: Concezio Yakevetta religiously followed the orders of the Roman, completely unaware that Louie was actually trying to bring the Saints and their father back so they could eliminate the Yakevetta family in revenge for casting him out.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: The attack on the Chinese criminals. In theory, Romeo will knock out a forklift operater via a Pistol Whip to the back of his head with a Hand Cannon, the twins will hide inside the crate on the forklift, Romeo will drive the forklift to the criminals, the brothers will pop out of the crate and shoot all the criminals, and then do a smooth flip over the crate. In practice, Romeo doesn't have a gun so the brothers give him a pocket pistol which fails to knock out the forklift operator. After scaring off the operator the brothers hide in the crate, but start bickering. This, combined with Romeo's reckless driving, causes the crate to clumsily fall off the forklift and smash on the floor right in front of the criminals.
- The War on Terror: Otillio came into the country on a visa signed by a sponsor who didn't exist, two months after the September 11th attacks. Which meant that someone pushed his paperwork through during the highest security alert in the history of the United States of America.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Romeo. An approving pat on the hand from his uncle and clear father figure results in Manly Tears from Romeo as he reflects on it later. Naturally, the brothers tease him for it.
- With Due Respect: Lampshaded.
Eunice: "With all due respect... man, I hate it when people say that because it is inevitably followed by a disrespectful remark. Here let me give you an example: With all due respect, detective, this matter falls under whatever jurisdiction I fuckin' say it does."