Movie fights can create a gamut of emotional responses from audiences. From inspiration to disgust, a well-choreographed fight can be both memorable and sometimes shocking. It gets the adrenaline pumping or can often make you wince in empathetic pain. These are the best brawls that involve fisticuffs and/or melee weapons in some manner and often end in bloody and brutal finales and coup de graces.
10. Terminator 2: Judgment Day – The T-800 vs. The T-1000
Two terminators are sent back in time. Through the plot of the film the T-1000 hunts John and his protector to a steel mill. The T-800 gets his arm stuck in some machinery requiring him to tear his own arm off to free himself. The T-1000 then proceeds to beat him in the face with an I-beam tearing most of the skin off his cybernetic skeleton. The T-1000 finally stabs the T-800 through the torso with a metal pole seemingly causing him to no longer function. It is a nasty fight that shows how uneven the combatants are and just what the heroes need to overcome to survive.
9. Gladiator – Maximus vs. Tigris
Gladiator tells the story of a Roman general named Maximus who is betrayed by a new Emperor and is made into a Gladiator. In one of his many battles he faces a champion Gladiator named Tigris. As soon as the match begins, men rush on to the arena and pull at chains to release tigers into the arena. The tigers snarl and attack at Maximus and are pulled away when Tigris is close. The battle is hard fought but in the end Maximus defeats Tigris but spares his life defying the wishes of the tyrannical Emperor.
8. Rocky Balboa – Rocky Balboa vs. Mason “The Line” Dixon
In Rocky Balboa, the sixth installment of the Rocky franchise, Rocky goes up against Mason “the Line” Dixon. Rocky has an uphill climb as he is much older than his opponent. The fight that takes place is possibly the best filmed in the Rocky series. It is filmed to look as real as a legitimate boxing match. The punches look real which means that the characters start to look like they are taking a beating. The endurance match that Rocky puts up with is a worthy way to end his story.
7. Enter the Dragon – Lee vs. Oharra
Lee enters a fighting tournament with the motive of vengeance on the man that he blames for his sister’s death. Oharra tried to rape Lee’s sister and, rather than be a victim, she killed herself. Lee faces Oharra first in the competition. He then proceeds to beat Oharra in a way that only Bruce Lee can. Oharra is clearly outmatched. Even when he loses he tries to play dirty by breaking a bottle and attempting to cut at Lee. Lee coolly dispatches Oharra and then stomps him to death.
6. Road House Dalton vs. Jimmy
Road House is absolute 80s schlock at its finest. Dalton, played by Patrick Swayze, is a bouncer at a bar with a PhD and a zen outlook on life. What we know is that Dalton is supposedly the best bouncer ever and that he killed a guy once by tearing his throat out. This creates a setup that pays off at the end when Dalton faces off against Jimmy, one of the thugs of the villain, Brad Wesley. They get into a brawl that ends when Dalton strikes Jimmy with the same killing move that made him an urban legend.
5. They Live – Nada vs. Frank
In They Live the character of Nada, played by wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper, finds a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see the reality of the world. The world has been taken over by aliens that hypnotize the world with propaganda. When Nada attempts to explain what he has seen to his friend, Frank, he sounds like a crazy person. Frank wants nothing to do with Nada. What ensues is an insane and oddly realistic street brawl that goes on for much longer than you’d expect. The combatants go for broke, pummeling one another in submission using any method at their disposal.
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service – Harry Hart vs. The Kentucky Hate Group
British secret service agent Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth, tracks a target to the church of a Kentucky hate group. Once there, the SIM cards in the phones cause a tone that make everyone to go into a murderous rage. What ensues is a fantastically shot battle that is punctuated by “Freebird” on the soundtrack. Harry uses the butt of his gun, sharpened wood, knives, and all of his spy gadgets at his disposal to kill everybody in the church. It is hard not to be impressed at how the fight was edited so well that the pace feels like a roller coaster of action that barely has a moment for a breath.
3. Kill Bill Volume 1 – The Bride vs. The Crazy 88
The Bride is on her way to kill O-ren Ishii, a Yakuza boss. She controls a gang called the Crazy 88 which is a bunch of people in domino masks and black suits wielding swords. The Bride wields a Hattori Hanzo sword which is vastly superior to all the others. She cuts through the Crazy 88 and when she is done with the gang it looks as if a blender has been run through the room. There are body parts all over the place and puddles of bloody gore everywhere.
2. Old Boy – Dae-su Oh vs. Thugs in a hallway
Dae-su Oh is a man who is looking for answers regarding his imprisonment. He has trained his body to be tough so he can handle pain and take a lot of damage. Armed with a hammer, he comes face to face to a hallway filled with thugs. He charges them, taking a lot of hits and stabs, but he remains determined and strong. He gets beaten down but keeps hammering them until they are all laying on the ground clutching themselves in pain. The scene was shot to appear as one long shot and it is an amazing action scene that is thrilling to behold.
1. Eastern Promises – Nikolai vs. Hitmen.
When Nikolai, played by Viggo Mortensen, is in a bath house he is approached by two hitmen. They pull out curved knives and are about to cut him but he fights back. Nikolai gets stabbed and slashed multiple times. Nikolai manages to get the upper hand and stabs one of the thugs. He then forces one of the knives into the back of the skulls of the other hitmen. Then the fight seems over and the hitman he stabbed earlier starts to choke Nikolai. He fights a knife away from him and jams it in his assailant’s eye, killing him. It is a brutal fight that is choreographed, filmed, and acted beautifully.
Whether the movie depicts an epic beat down or kung fu match, you have to appreciate the work that goes into making these scenes thrilling. We should all appreciate the effort that goes into piquing our emotions and keeping us on the edge of our seats. These beatdowns have become the things that glue our eyes to the screen and should be seen by any fan of action movies.