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Worthy Opponent / Live-Action Films

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  • Konig and Vasily have this dynamic in Enemy at the Gates.
    Konig: He's not dead. And do you know why? Because I haven't killed him yet.
  • The original Dracula, with Bela Lugosi, strongly indicates this relationship between Dracula and Dr. Van Helsing. They are very cordial to each other, and Dracula even goes so far as to say to the good doctor, "For a man who has not yet lived one lifetime...you are a very wise man."
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  • In Patton, is a great example of both this and Patton's Blood Knight status:
    Patton: Rommel, you Magnificent Bastard, I read your book!
    (and later...)
    Patton: You know, Dick, if I had my way, I'd meet Rommel face to face; him in his tank and me in mine. We'd meet out there somewhere... salute each other, maybe drink a toast, then we'd button up and do battle. The winner would decide the outcome of the entire war."
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Naval officer Lt. Groves seems to hold this view of Captain Sparrow. At the least, he openly admires the pirate's ingenuity. "That's got to be the best pirate I've ever seen!"
    • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Used on Groves by the Spanish Captain. At a confrontation at the Fountain of Youth, Groves steps forward, brandishing the British flag and proclaiming that the site is under the Queen. The Spaniard immediately shoots and kills Groves, then tells his aides to remember Groves' bravery.
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  • In The Princess Bride, both Inigo Montoya and Fezzik have become bored with curbstomping opponents in their respective fields. They both go out of their way to give the Man in Black the opportunity to fight them at his full effectiveness. He ultimately bests them both. They're so impressed that they join forces with him. The Man in Black reciprocates and tells Inigo that "I hold you in the highest respect".
  • In the World War II movie The Enemy Below, U-boat captain Von Stolberg (Curt Jurgens) is the honorable and worthy opponent of destroyer escort captain Murrell (Robert Mitchum).
  • Star Trek: Nemesis is about an equal and opposite opponent to Picard, a clone of him who grew up in different circumstances.
  • Bill Cutting from Gangs of New York considered Priest Vallon, the leader of the Irish immigrant gang, the last man he could truly respect. After the gang battle in the beginning of the movie ends in Vallon's death, Cutting orders that Vallon's body "will cross over whole", while the other dead are mutilated for trophies, and is himself buried beside Vallon at the end.
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  • The Operative from Serenity, who genuinely respects his opponents for their ingenuity and tenacity: "We should have done this as men - not with fire."
  • In Troy, Achilles eventually comes to feel this way about his nemesis Hector, despite having already killed and desecrated him in vengeance for the death of his cousin. Also, Hector's father, King Priam's attitude towards Achilles himself ("We are still enemies tonight. But even enemies can show respect.").
  • Detective Lt. Vincent Hanna of the LAPD and master thief Neil McCauley in Michael Mann's Heat are excellent examples of this trope; see especially the scene where Hanna pulls over McCauley's car and suggests they go grab a cup of coffee.
  • The Zulu Army in Zulu. They are a Proud Warrior Race who follow The Spartan Way. And in the movies, the Zulus sing their war chants and the Welsh Redshirt Army sing "Men of Harlech", which is a Welsh war song. Thus, they show that "all warriors are brothers." One of the commanders starts to scream at the Zulus after they come back near the end, believing that they are taunting them, only to have an Afrikaaner local inform him, while laughing, that 'they salute fellow braves'.
    • This was also the case concerning the Real Life battle of Rorke's Drift, with the Welsh being impressed by the Zulus charging at them through murderous fire, and the Zulus impressed by the Welsh standing their ground against them, in spite of being cut off, undersupplied and outnumbered.
  • The Irish agent in The Man Who Never Was.
  • Elle Driver from Kill Bill considers the Bride one of these, going so far as to murder the Bride's "killer" in revenge for depriving her of her foe. The feeling is not mutual.
    • She does, however, consider O-Ren Ishii a Worthy Opponent, once they're down to one-on-one combat, and likely the only DiVA she honestly respects.
  • In the 2000s film King Arthur, after Arthur threatens the Saxon leader, played by Stellan Skarsgård, to his face and rides away, the Saxon leader mutters, "Finally! A man worth killing."
  • Kingdom of Heaven features this with the rivalry between King Baldwin of Jerusalem and Saladin of the Muslims. The backstory mentions that they've been warring on and off for at least a decade, with Baldwin winning a smashing victory when he was only 16 before he contracted leprosy. When their armies meet again, after Saladin marches to avenge his sister's death, they meet in the middle of the battlefield and Baldwin promises that Raynald, the knight who raided a caravan under Saladin's protection, will be rightfully punished. Saladin accepts this and offers his physician's services to Baldwin, whose condition drastically worsened due to the forced march. After Baldwin dies and Guy takes over, Guy provokes an open war, marching his army into the middle of the freaking hot desert with no water or supplies, where they are cut to pieces. He is taken captive by Saladin, who asks him, "Were you not in the presence of a great king long enough to learn by his example?" When Saladin reaches Jerusalem, Guy is stripped down, tied to a donkey, and paraded before the city walls to the raucous laughter of the Muslim army.
  • In The Battle of Algiers, Col. Mathieu pays his respects to a fallen foe.
    • "I will say that I had the opportunity to admire the moral strength, intelligence, and unwavering idealism demonstrated by Ben M'Hidi. For these reasons, although remembering the danger he represented, I do not hesitate to pay homage to his memory."
  • Hannibal Lecter seems to view Clarice Starling this way, if not as her Evil Mentor, at least in the film versions. (Seriously, in the climax of Hannibal he could have just as easily escaped by severing her hand, but chose to do so to his own for some reason. Clearly he has more respect for her than he does for most people.)
  • Near the very end of Smokey and the Bandit, there's a moment where The Bandit and Sheriff Buford T. Justice share a moment of mutual admiration for each-other's tenacity, and Bandit goes so far as to pass up a chance to trick Buford so they can properly continue their chase. It happens again in Smokey And The Bandit 3, with Snow Man/Bandit II explaining that "You can't have a Bandit without a Smokey" as his reason for letting Bufford take the shark. It happens again, at the very end, with Buford giving up the chace to finally arrest Snow Man (who he thinks is the real Bandit) in order to resume the chase, so he won't have to go back into retirement.
  • Hook feels this way about Peter Pan. A large part of the conflict of the movie is Hook's depression at the fact that he feels that Peter no longer lives up to it, and has to wait for him to remember who he really is. When he finally does and defeats Hook:
    Hook: Well done, Peter. Good form.
  • In Red Dog, this is mentioned as a possible reason as to why Red Dog and Red Cat became friends.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr., this is Moriarty's fascination with Sherlock.
    • Likewise, it's also implied to be a big part of the reason behind Holmes' and Irene Adler's mutual obsession.
  • Zatoichi has met several in his long career, but a notable one is the ronin Hirate from the first film. Ichi sheds tears after their inevitable duel to the death, pays for Hirate's funeral and returns to visit his grave later.
  • The 2013 CBC movie Jack shows even Jack Layton's opponents (eventually) admiring his courage and perseverance.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • Magneto and Professor X have this relationship; it helps that they were friends first, and only became opponents because they had different philosophies regarding the future of mutants.
      Magneto: Charles Xavier did more for mutants than you will ever know. My single greatest regret is that he had to die for our dream to live.
    • X-Men: First Class: Downplayed with regards to how Shaw views Xavier. They never have a face-to-face confrontation, but Sebastian recognizes that Charles is a formidable foe, hence Shaw's commission of the telepathy-blocking helmet and his hope to recruit Xavier when he infiltrates the CIA facility. Moreover, after Charles mind-controls a Soviet officer to fire upon the Aral Sea to avert World War III, Sebastian utters in admiration, "That telepath is powerful," which implies that Emma Frost's psychic ability isn't as sophisticated as Xavier's.
    • The Wolverine: Viper is rather impressed by Logan.
  • Averted in Star Trek Into Darkness. Harrison clearly gains some respect for Kirk after witnessing Kirk's grit and guts in the space jump the two share. He still considers regular humans to be inferior, however, and delivers a beatdown the moment he has the opportunity to, and he unceremoniously dumps Kirk back into that same cell he was being held in before he tries to destroy the Enterprise.
  • In The Expendables 2, Jean Vilain views Barney Ross and the rest of his team as fighting men that he can respect... but he also says that respect is something that needs to be taught, and he proves this by killing Billy right in front of them, ensuring that the feeling is in no way mutual for our heroes as they go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • At the end of Hellraiser: Bloodline, Pinhead notes he relished his centuries-long fight with the Merchant family and wished it could continue.
  • Falling Down has By-the-Book Cop Prendergast vs. the mysterious vigilante known only as "D-Fens".
  • The Great Waldo Pepper: Ernst Kessler considered the Allied ace Madden to be one, and eventually comes to see Waldo as one as well.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Shredder was actually impressed by Splinter's skill during their fight, although he didn't think much of his students.
  • Towards the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the bandit Fedora views the teenaged Indy as this. At the very end of the opening sequence, when the Sheriff makes Indy hand over the cross back to Panama Hat, Fedora says "You lost today, but that doesn't mean you have to like it", and he gives him his hat, which becomes Indy's legendary hat.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • The Famous Last Words of Robert Muldoon in Jurassic Park have him acknowledging a Velociraptor as this after she manages to ambush him while he's trying to shoot her comrade.
      Muldoon: Clever girl...
    • A deleted scene from The Lost World: Jurassic Park reveals that Roland Tembo seeks to hunt a Tyrannosaurus rex for this reason, as he has gotten so good at hunting traditional big game across the world that he feels it is no longer sportsmanlike.
    • Jurassic World has T. Rex and Blue the Velociraptor share a look after the Indominus Rex is ultimately defeated. They nod once and then go their separate ways.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail: King Arthur calls the Black Knight a "worthy adversary" after presumably defeating him by severing his arm. The Black Knight simply refuses to accept defeat, even after all limbs have been cut off.
  • In McLintock!, Running Bull and McLintock were on opposite sides of the Indian wars and in their old age are finding that the West doesn't seem to have room for either of them any more.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service:
    • Gazelle briefly sees Galahad as this during the church massacre. She's clearly enjoying the show and believes in contrast of Valentine that Galahad won't go down easily. She even encourages Valentine to watch some of his Crazy Awesome kills.
    • Valentine also sees Eggsy as this moments just before his death, complimenting Eggsy for his Pre-Mortem One-Liner that also doubles as Ironic Echo.
  • Throughout their encounters in the film The Fast and the Furious 7, the antagonist Deckard Shaw always Specifically target first and foremost Dom Toretto, likewise when Dom's group are discussing their plans and strategies for the finale war in their hometown, Dom says he will take on Shaw. Even Mose Jakande told his men to let Shaw take care of Dom when they spotted him in the helicopter.
  • True Believer: District Attorney Robert Reynard considers Eddie Dodd this, speaking admiringly of how he once defeated an entire team of prosecutors that included Reynard while defending members of the Black Panther Party.
  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, while the US army is initially intent on keeping Steve as a test subject and/or USO mascot, the Red Skull recognizes him right away as the One-Man Army he is—one sighting of him on the security cameras and the Skull immediately starts setting the base to self-destruct, matter-of-factly explaining to Zola, "Our forces are outmatched." Because of his fixation on Super Soldiers as the next step for humanity, he keeps this up throughout the rest of the movie; his attempts at Breaking Speeches are all villainous Dare to Be Badass stuff about how Steve "could have the power of the gods" and should stop being so humble.
  • In Man of Steel, Faora begins to see Colonel Hardy in this light after the battle of Smallville, where after using all his bullets on her (more as an act of defiance in the face of certain death than because he thinks it'll have any effect), Hardy pulls a knife, ready to go down fighting. Faora looks genuinely impressed and pulls a knife of her own. The Worthy Opponent feeling doesn't seem to be mutual.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): McGowen, Abstergo's head of security, claims that while it is his job to destroy the Assassins, he admires their commitment to the Creed. He doubts this applies to the mostly neutral Callum.
  • Skinner has this attitude towards Angel in Hot Fuzz. "My, he is tenacious, isn't he".
  • Er Ist Wieder Da: Hitler laments in the film that the old Social Democratic leaders in his time were charismatic, able men much different from then SDP leader Sigmar Gabriel.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, General Chang's introduction is him positively gushing with delight at getting to meet Captain Kirk. While he later tries to get rid of Kirk by framing him for the assassination of the Klingon chancellor and sent to Rura Penthe, he's ecstatic that Kirk escapes and they get to face off in battle at Khitomer. He also calmly accepts his defeat at Kirk's hands with a simple quote of 'To be or not be'.
  • In Yamato Takeru, Prince Ousu is sent to kill the enemy warlord Kumaso Takeru. Even though the two engage in a fight to the death they still express their respect for each others' bravery, cunning, and strength, and it is the latter who gives the former his more famous moniker Yamato Takeru (Brave One of Yamato).
  • Black Panther (2018): Wakanda has within it five tribes. Four of which submit to the rule of T'Challa's tribe. Upon T'Challa's ascension to the throne, any representative of those tribes may challenge him to rule. M'Baku of the Jabari, the isolationist tribe who does not submit, takes up the challenge to test the mettle of this young would-be king. While M'Baku starts it with throwing insults against T'Challa and his family, T'Challa shows strength and wisdom in the fight, even convincing M'Baku to yield rather than die when T'Challa has him beaten because his tribe needs him.
  • In Lonely Are the Brave, cowboy Jack Burns spends most of the second half of the film being pursued by the police of Duke City, New Mexico after assaulting a police officer and then breaking out of jail. The sheriff leading the pursuit, Morey Johnson, finds himself admiring Burns' tenacity, not just in somehow avoiding the every attempt by his men to bring him to justice, but in continuing to live the life of an Old West cowboy in 1962, refusing to let anyone or anything tie him down; the fact that Burns is a Korean War veteran who received the Purple Heart deepens his respect. In the final scene, when Burns is struck by an 18-wheeler and has to be taken to hospital, Johnson finally sees Burns up close for the first time and is asked if he is the man they have been pursuing; Johnson feigns uncertanity.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Despite all of them trying to stop him, Thanos never shows any hate or personal malice towards any of the superheroes he fights. He actually has a great deal of respect for them fighting for what they believe, even if it runs contrary to his own ideals. He particularly gains respect for the heroes who fight him on Titan, Iron Man especially.
    Thanos: You have my respect, Stark. When I am done, half of humanity will still be alive... I hope they will remember you.
  • In Superman, Lex Luthor has a totally and completely one-sided respect for Superman this way, treating him genially and musing about a great challenge for the world's greatest criminal mind; Superman detests him.
  • Salvation Boulevard: Blaylock considers Pastor Dan this after their debate, and proposes they write a book together which discussing their views. Pastor Dan is keen on the idea, but unfortunately then the accident happens.

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