If this blog has shown nothing else I hope it has shown that I love movie fight scenes. Whether it has superheroes battling across the globe or simply a cop and a thug fighting in Hong Kong I love fight scenes. In this entry I want to catalog some of my favorite fight scenes. Now keep in mind these are just my opinion. I’m sure I’ll skip some movies that you love and probably some that I love. This is a wacky little list I’m sure I’ll be second guessing the second I post. More importantly when I say fight scene I’m talking about hand-to-hand, limited weapons combat. By which I mean no guns and no giant epic wars. To me those scenes are their own brand of awesome (and fodder for another list tomorrow). No these are the hard hitting, face to face confrontations that we all love to watch.
Darren McCord vs Iceburgh- Sudden Death
It’s Van Damme vs the Pittsburgh Penguins mascot. VAN DAMME vs A MASCOT. I could go on about how fun the fight is or how the end is Saw levels of brutal but lets be real. You can stop reading at Jean Claude Van Damme fights the Pittsburgh Penguins’ mascot. Just enjoy the insanity of it all.
Obi-Wan Kenobi & Qui Gon Jinn vs Darth Maul- Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace
The Star Wars prequels sucked. Given they got better over time but they were pretty bad, particularly Episode I. But for 5 minutes, 5 glorious minutes they got it right and that’s with the “Dual of the Fates” scene. Throughout the movie we got glimpses of Darth Maul, a mysterious Sith Lord who never spoke. All we knew is that he looked cool and was an evil mofo. He finally appears and unlike every other thing in the movie he delivers. With a great score and perfect choreography it is one of the things in the prequels that has held up over time.
Lets ignore that Darth Maul goes out like a chump.
Rocky vs Ivan Drago- Rocky IV
Picking out a single Rocky fight can be tough. From the first Apollo Creed fight to the fake fight against Thunderlips they all have something fun to them. But I keep coming back to the fight against Ivan Drago. To me it’s the ultimate Rocky fight. Through the power of punching a Russian in the face he ends the Cold War. HE ENDS THE COLD WAR. Add the best training montage of the series and a world uniting speech at the end and you have the best Rocky fight.
Julian vs Chang- Only God Forgives
Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow up to Drive is a very polarizing film and I totally get it. It’s a slow paced art house film and that isn’t for everyone. What does Refn do? Brilliantly he makes a Driveier version of Drive. By that I mean there’s less talking, more atmospheric and ups the brutality quite a bit. This is no more evident than when Julian (Ryan Gosling) takes on Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm). Taking place at Julian’s Thai boxing gym the fight isn’t pretty. Chang absolutely brutalizes Julian who doesn’t land a single punch. By the end he is brutalized beyond recognition. Needless to say it isn’t pretty. Yet like the rest of the film I find myself entranced by this brutally realistic display of violence.
John Matrix vs Bennett- Commando
This is the definitive 80’s movie fight. Finally coming face to face with the man who kidnapped his daughter John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger with the greatest name ever) finally confronts kidnapper Bennett. Convincing him to throw down his gun they two have the rarely done knife fight. Matrix generally wins before electrocuting and then impaling Bennett with a steam pipe. To add the cherry on top Arnold giving the greatest one liner of his career. This is what 80’s action is all about.
Jackie Chan vs Ken Lo- Drunken Master II
It’s near impossible to pick a single Jackie Chan fight. For over 30 years he has made a career out of having amazing fight scenes. But if there is a single scene that personifies Jackie’s fight scenes it would be the final battle from Drunken Master II. This fight between Jackie Chan and long time collaborator Ken Lo is the perfect example of what Jackie can do. A mix of comedy and martial arts it’s Chan’s unique charisma puts this over the top as my favorite Jackie fight. Has he done better martial arts? Sure. Has he taken bigger risks? Absolutely. But to me this is the perfect blending of everything that makes Chan the action star that he is.
Rama vs The Assassin- The Raid 2
I had a really tough time with this. Not because The Raid series has no good fights, quite the opposite. No the big problem is how do you pick a single fight when the movies are nothing but amazing fights? As I went through each fight I kept going back to the final fight of The Raid 2. The final fight of the film pits a beaten and bloody Rama (Iko Uwais) against The Assassin (Pencak Silat trainer Cecep Arif Rahman), a man that beat Rama to a pulp earlier. Taking place in a pristine kitchen this hard hitting battle takes full advantage of the setting and delivers the hard hitting, brutal fight we expect from the franchise. Add great cinematography and Iko Uwais’ always fun fight choreogrpahy and you have one of my favorite fights of all time. the
The Bride vs Gogo and The Crazy 88- Kill Bill Vol. 1
Oh god where to begin with this fight? An amalgamation of old school kung fu tropes it’s everything I love about those older movies. Obviously inspired by Shaw Brothers and Jimmy Wang Yu style violence it’s a perfect love letter to the kung fu movies of old.
Inspector Ma Kwun vs Jack- SPL
No matter how many movies I’ve seen from whatever country and starring whoever I always come back to this fight. Choreographed by star Donnie Yen it pits Inspector Ma Kwun (Yen) against deadly, knife wielding assassin Jack (Wu Jing). Brilliantly shot by Wilson Yip not only is the action lightning fast but also beautiful to look at. From martial arts to weapons this fight has everything you could possibly want. As far as I’m concerned this is the perfect action scene.
Hit-Girl vs Drug Dealers- Kick-Ass
If there is one aspect the Kick-Ass movies has gotten right it is the portrayal of Hit-Girl and Big Daddy. Nic Cage’s off-beat charisma worked perfectly in this pseudo-realistic world and Chloe Grace Moretz absolutely stole the show as Hit-Girl. This is no better demonstrated than in her introductory scene. Short and to the point it’s roughly two minutes of Hit-Girl just massacring nameless thugs with brutally efficiency. Also it proves the theory that children swearing is comedy gold.
Godzilla vs Zilla- Godzilla Final Wars
There have been bigger Godzilla battles. There have been longer Godzilla battles. But there has been nothing more satisfying than seeing the traditional Godzilla beat 1998’s American Godzilla (known as Zilla) like he’s nothing. Set to Sum 41 because why not it’s an absolute massacre. This scene is an absolute blast for any Godzilla fan.
Zombie vs Shark- Zombie
An underwater fight between a zombie and a shark. I repeat, a zombie fights a shark. It may not be a fist fight but I’ll put this up against any Stallone fight.
Tommy vs Brendan- Warrior
Ignoring some sketchy reffing this is, as far as I have seen, the best film representation of MMA. While not the most accurate fight it conveys the emotion and skill you get in the best MMA fights.