Escapism via cinema reaches its peak when it comes to fight scenes. Mostly because the vast majority of us will never be able to move the way a tightly choreographed action sequence dictates its characters move. Nor will the majority of us place ourselves in such an active path of physical danger. Also, laws ‘n’ stuff.
Here are some of the most memorable fight scenes in cinematic history:
Warrior (2011): Muscle it out
Warrior is a criminally underrated film I will defend with my dying breath. The perfect blend of well-planned fight sequences and emotional resonance, this stands to be one of the greatest sports films in existence. Bonus: Tom Hardy (this one would have been the featured scene if it weren’t for the fact it ends in an aggressive thirty seconds).
Flash Point (2007): Real action with realer hits
Hong Kong action flicks don’t get the attention they deserve from Western audiences. Nor do they fuck around. In the clip above, watch Donnie Yen and Collin Chou deal very real hits. Some of which broke a few real life bones.
SPL – Killzone (2005): Cut-throat till the end
Honouring Hong Kong action cinema yet again, we follow up with another dose of Donnie Yen. This one provokes many winces and cringes, because although we know it’s all make believe, some of these slashes feel all too legit. Excuse the cheesy sound effects.
Old Boy (2003): No cuts, only punches
You will have noticed the recent trend of single take fight scenes. Perhaps in the likes of the Daredevil series, perhaps in the likes of John Wick. Old Boy was where it all started. Or at least Old Boy was the one to popularise it. Many since have tried to recapture the magic. There was even an American remake… but we don’t talk about that one…
The genius here lies in solving the whole question of why bad guys only attack one at a time in movies. The solution being in a narrow hallway, there are only so many assailants that can approach at the same time.
Atomic Blonde (2017): Half as strong, so strike twice as much
One of the aforementioned tributes to Old Boy. This is about as exhausting as it gets. Charlize Theron champions the whole philosophy of striking twice where a man would only have to strike once with beautiful execution.
The Raid (2011): Pace yourself
One more long haul scene, because why not. Brutality takes centre stage in this one, it’s almost as if you can feel every single blow to the vital spots. I recommend exploring both of The Raid films in their entirety.
Kingsman – The Secret Service (2014): Smile, it’s free
Fight scenes are fun, but none are as fun as the scenes from Kingsman. Creative tracking via camera work and a rapid pace that doesn’t leave you time to breathe, let alone blink, this one always brings a smile to my face.
Gladiator (2000): This life or the next
This one is less about the physical actions of Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix as it is about the emotional build-up and gratifying payoff. Revenge is a dish served best by classic era Ridley Scott.
Enter The Dragon (1973): Too fast for the framerate
Bruce Lee is the undisputed G.O.A.T of martial art films. What he did to advance modern action cinema still resonates onto the screens of today. I’ve done you all the courtesy of pinpointing the moment before he displays his fabled speed. A speed so next level, they apparently had to create custom cameras to adequately capture it.
Rocky (1976): ‘Nuff said
Everyone loves a classic underdog story. And Rocky is the underdog story. No further explanation needed.