Fight scenes are awesome. They’re meticulously crafted stimuli that trigger baseline Neanderthalish delights in the same vein as the smell of a steak or the sight of a boob/one of Taylor Lautner’s twenty ab muscles. It’s one thing to have an extremely well choreographed fight scene with trained professionals, exceptional wire work and/or fantastic stunts. It’s another to have a fight scene that simply forces you to proclaim “That was badass!” While this list may not focus on the climactic brilliance of Way of the Dragon, you should definitely check out these flicks if you’re a movie Neanderthal (like me).
The Warriors – The Warriors vs. That douchebag roller-skating gang
Nearing the latter half of the movie, The Warriors regroup with Swan at another subway terminal, only to realise he’d been tailed by another gang’s scout (trying his darnedest to make roller-skates look intimidating). They retreat into the bathrooms. The scout glides in. His gang follows. Suddenly, The Warriors burst from the cubicals, ass-kicking the gang right out of their matching denim suspenders. What seemed like a fish-in-a-barrel trap quickly flips into a piranha-in-the-pool ambush. Doors collapse, mirrors shatter, skulls are bashed in this very brutal, very well cut gang fight scene. It’s gritty, it’s raw and it’s totally badass.
Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock Holmes vs. some geezer
Sherlock Holmes is already a badass (as is Robert Downy Junior). He’s incredibly quirky, predictably unpredictable, viciously intelligent and addicted to opium (opium’s cool, right?). Throw in an uncanny ability to crack some craniums and you’ve got one hell of a cool cat. What’s more impressive is Guy Ritchie’s careful treatment and ability to pull off numerous fighting scenarios while keeping it strictly Holmes. The fight pit scene in particular exemplifies this quality. Analysing, deducting and predicting every move and outcome before he even strikes is solely Sherlock. The actual beat-down that he delivers proceeding his analysis is solely badass.
Oldboy – Dae-su vs. EVERYONE!
Korean filmmaker Chanwook Park is notorious for the limits of cinematic ruthlessness he transcends. Oldboy’s hallway scene is no exception. Armed with only a hammer, Dae-su takes out an entire army of thugs by himself in what can only be described as a badass ballet of beautiful brutality. The scene is done in one shot, making it even more impressive. Dae-su takes some heavy hits himself, including a knife to the back. Yet, he fights on, busting faces and dodging (admittedly wimpy) punches. And, with a wake of bodies on the floor, he retrieves his hammer and leaves. Bad. Ass.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – Scott Pilgrim vs. Lucas Lee’s stunt crew
Michael Cera can’t fight. Seriously, he’d probably get his ass handed to him by a gang of girl scouts, an agoraphobic paraplegic or even a stiff breeze. This is partly why Scott Pilgrim’s fight against Lucas Lee and his stunt crew makes the list. Lucas, Ramona’s second evil ex, flings Scott fifteen meters into the air and into the side of a building. After a shaky recovery, Pilgrim proceeds to beat down a number of Lucas look-alikes before making his way to the real deal. Seeing a twig like Cera effortlessly pummel that group of doppelgangers is, admittedly, pretty badass.
Once Were Warriors – Jake the Mus vs. guy who loves his jukebox
Amongst your local crowded gang pub, a sweet girl singing slightly above karaoke level is downed out by a tough-looking Maori dude piloting a jukebox. Jake strolls up to the Polynesian tank, complementing his physique. The monster turns to Jake, asking rhetorically “You wanna f**k with me?” Four punches. Three upward knees to the face. Jake floors the guy. OK, so this “fight” was more one sided than a Sonny Bill charity match. Nevertheless, it’s a scene that told us “Jake the Mus is a total badass” (as well as being a wife-beater, child-neglecter and a big ol’ jerky jerk).
S.P.L. – Donnie Yen vs. Sammo Hung
S.P.L. (aka Killzone) is kind of like Streets Of Rage: The Movie in a way. It’s also unique for the fact that Sammo Hung plays the part of a criminal overlord, one of the few times, if not the only time, he plays a baddie. The movie has its number of merits, but it’s the final fight scene with Hung and the talented Donnie Yen that really makes this movie memorable. I won’t spoil anything, but try to imagine a fight between Bruce Lee and a grizzly bear with a black belt. In an empty nightclub. A flaming empty nightclub.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie – Spike vs. Vincent
As far as fight choreography goes, the end scrap between Spike and Vincent is absolutely first class for any film, let alone an animated one. What makes this particularly fight scene badass is the way it’s stylised, with appropriate use of shaky cam (unlike The Bourne Supremacy), brilliant use of lighting (unlike J.J. Abram’s Star Trek) and fantastic use of an Eifel tower (unlike G.I. Joe). Animated fight scenes are often not given the praise they deserve, and Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is an example of that (if I could add the opening to Batman: The Animated Series, I would).
The Lion King – Simba vs. Scar
Two lions fighting on a flaming mountain of rock. How is that not badass?
Crank: High Voltage – Chevzilla fight
The two Crank films are well known for their chaotic pace and creative absurdity, but in High Voltage, it destroys the last withering strand of plausibility with it’s breakout Godzilla-inspired fight scene in the power generator field. With his suspect cornered, Chev and his opponent suddenly transform into giant caricature costumed versions of themselves, swiping at each other, demolishing buildings in their wake. There’s no explanation as to why this occurs. They make no apologies for it. It’s simple there because the filmmakers thought a giant costumed ’zilla fight would be stupidly badass. And you know what? They’re absolutely right.
Ong Bak – Tony Jaa vs. “Pearl Harbour”
Tony Jaa’s breakout hit Ong Bak has a number of excellent, well choreographed fight scenes. However, the fight club is where you first see Jaa fight which, in turn, affirms his badassness. As a simple “peasant” looking for his bag of money, he just happens to stumble into the middle of the fighting area the very moment they ask for a new challenger. The fight begins before he even knows what’s happening. His opponent charges at him. Jaa responds with a lightning-quick knee to the jaw. Game over. The crowd halt into silence, simmering in Jaa’s powers of radical bodaciousness.
There it is, 10 movie fight scenes that have personally received my official approval for being totally…
Perhaps you agree with my choices (because I’m right). Perhaps you disagree. But so what? Big whoop. Wanna fight about it?