Top 10 Movie Fight Scenes

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Aug 05, 2014


Top 10 Movie Fight Scenes
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  • >> CineFix Host: Say what you will about action movies but
  • there is something special about two people trying to beat the [BLEEP] out of
  • each other on screen.
  • These are the top ten fight
  • scenes of all time.
  • >> [MUSIC]
  • >> Trinity: Run Neo, run.
  • >> [MUSIC]
  • >> Trinity: What is he doing?
  • >> Morpheus: He's beginning to believe.
  • >> CineFix Host: Starting us off at number ten, the original Matrix.
  • While you gotta love the Trinity fight, and Morpheus' Kung Fu lesson,
  • nothing can quite beat the subway standoff between Agent Smith and Neo.
  • >From bullet time gunplay, to knockout kung-fu brawling,
  • this fight blended sci-fi special effects with hand to hand choreography.
  • To create an action format that Hollywood had never seen before.
  • >> Agent Smith: You're empty.
  • >> Neo: So are you.
  • >> CineFix Host: And while the Wachowskis deserved big praise for The Matrix,
  • the credit for the fight scenes rightfully belongs with a man named Yuen Woo-Ping.
  • Known by his work if not his name,
  • Yuen is one of the most influential figures in Hong Kong action cinema.
  • He's helped launch the careers of greats like Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen.
  • And revolutionized action choreography in both Hong Kong and Hollywood.
  • >> [MUSIC]
  • >> CineFix Host: When you think of boxing scenes,
  • it's probably the iconic final bout of Rocky that first comes to mind.
  • And don't get us wrong,
  • the fighting in Rocky was awesome, in all four original Rocky's and Rocky Balboa.
  • We don't talk about Rocky V.
  • But for our number nine slot, we got to hand it to Raging Bull.
  • Scorsese's masterpiece portrait of boxer Jake Lamotta gave us artful fight poems,
  • more expressionistic and subjective than real.
  • But nothing hits quite as hard as the final Sugar Ray Robinson fight.
  • Scorsese reacted against the spectator point of view cinematography of
  • boxing films like Rocky, by putting his camera in the ring.
  • Choreographing cinematographer Michael Chapman like a third fighter.
  • As for De Niro, he trained with the actual Jake LaMotta.
  • Putting in months of work and thousands of sparring rounds.
  • He fought in three actual Brooklyn boxing matches, two of which he won.
  • LaMotta even told De Niro, he was even good enough to make a career of it.
  • Fortunately, for us he stuck with acting, but
  • not before treating us to one of the most brutal boxing scenes of all time.
  • >> [SOUND] >> Boxing Announcer: [INAUDIBLE] his shot,
  • how he can survive, nobody knows.
  • >> CineFix Host: If you paid any attention to action films recently,
  • you may have noticed a trend for
  • greedy, brutally real fight scenes coming from places other than Hong Kong.
  • Most recently The Raid,
  • turned Americans on to the insanity coming out of Indonesia.
  • And left us with a final fight between the brothers and
  • Mad Dog that had us fooled for the real thing.
  • But our number eight looks back a little further to another gritty final fight,
  • with Ong Bak.
  • >> [MUSIC]
  • >> CineFix Host: The crazy mix of acrobatics and
  • martial arts electrified audiences.
  • And introduce the world to action star Tony Jaa, choreographer Prachya Pinkaew,
  • and the art of Muay Thai itself.
  • Tony Jaa's, Muay Thai is all elbows and knees, but in the best way possible.
  • As he and his team completely avoided wires and effects for his fights.
  • And it all leads up to a full throttle conclusion that see's Jaa prove once and
  • for all that, there's more to the martial arts than Kung Fu.
  • >> [SOUND]
  • [MUSIC]
  • >> CineFix Host: Next up we're looking at Jason Bourne.
  • And while he's got some killer moves in Identity and
  • Supremacy, our number seven goes to his fight with Dash, in The Bourne Ultimatum.
  • You know any fight that keeps up its intensity without any music is going
  • to be vicious.
  • And Jeff Imada is the man to thank for this one.
  • Choreographing it with a combination of Filipino Kali and
  • Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee's martial arts invention,
  • that Imada learned from train with Lee on Brandon.
  • But it's the ruthless efficiency and
  • practical use of props that makes this scene great.
  • And while some people have criticized the fight for
  • relying too heavily on shaky cam, it only takes one quick look behind the scenes to
  • realize that these actors are hardly taking it easy.
  • >> CineFix Host: Love it or hate it wire fu is one of the most dividing
  • subjects when it comes to fight scenes, and when it's bad it's awful.
  • But when it's used to elevate brilliant martial artists instead of substituting
  • for them, it can be absolutely incredible.
  • The pole fight from Iron Monkey, the bamboo fight from House of Flying Daggers,
  • but what better martial artist to elevate than Jet Li in Hero.
  • If you haven't seen Hero, is Hong Kong's biggest budget film to date, and
  • for good reason.
  • Each set piece fight is a story told between Jet Lee's nameless and the King.
  • Each story with it's own eye candy color scheme.
  • There's red, yellow, blue, green, white.
  • But our number six goes to the gray fight.
  • >> Speaker 7: [FOREIGN]
  • >> [SOUND]
  • >> CineFix Host: Director Yimou Zhang and
  • choreographer Ching Siu-tung bring us one of the most incredible examples of
  • weapon work ever shot on film.
  • The only catch is that the entire fight takes place inside their minds.
  • The two fighters battle viciously with sword and spear back and
  • forth, vying meditatively for the upper hand.
  • But when the music stops,
  • the imagined fight resolves itself in just one fateful strike.
  • >> [NOISE] >> Speaker 8: Aah!
  • >> CineFix Host: Next up, at number five, Kill Bill.
  • While Volume 2 has a great fight between the Bride and Elle Driver,
  • we've gotta hand it to the slaughter that is the Crazy 88 battle in Volume 1.
  • Although an honorable mention goes to the Gogo Yubari fight immediately before it.
  • Tarantino's loving send up of the 70s Kung Fu flick is all kinds of awesome and
  • the Crazy 88 fight is campy in all the best ways.
  • >From the eye pluck, to the sound as they run up the stairs,
  • to the very notion of the Bride fighting so many bad guys at once.
  • But the fighting itself is top notch and
  • that's thanks again to Yuen Woo-Ping's world class choreography.
  • If you notice the glaring absence in our list of incredible wuxia wire fu mentions,
  • it's probably because we picked it as our number four.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
  • The one hundred foot high bamboo fight is gorgeous, but
  • the face off that lead up to it, is even better.
  • Moving from Kill Bill's one kick ass chick to two others, and
  • a another entry from legendary choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping,
  • we've gotta be talking about the fight between Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh.
  • Crouching Tiger,
  • Hidden Dragon saw Ang Lee bring wuxia action to the Hollywood mainstream.
  • Breaking records for foreign film earnings, foreign film Oscar nominations,
  • and the only martial arts film to ever be nominated for Best Picture.
  • And watching this fight scene, it's not hard to see why.
  • Michelle Yeoh throws everything she has at Ziyi Zhang and her Green Destiny sword,
  • which cuts down Yeoh's attempts and every weapon imaginable in rapid succession.
  • But ultimately, Yeoh's superior abilities overcome Zhang's Weapons,
  • leaving us with one of the best wuxia fights of all time.
  • >> [SOUND]
  • [MUSIC]
  • >> CineFix Host: Counting down our top three, there's only room left for legends.
  • And while you probably have some good guesses, our number three goes to
  • a legendary fighter who isn't so well known in America.
  • We're talking about Donnie Yen.
  • If you know him it's probably from Ip Man where he beats on fellow masters,
  • northern challengers, Japanese generals, and even ten black belts at a time.
  • Or you might know him as Jet Li's opponent from our previously
  • mentioned number six best fight ever hero.
  • Or their other incredible face off in Once Upon A Time In China 2.
  • You could remember him from his work in Iron Monkey.
  • Or his turn as a villain in Shanghai Knights.
  • And you might even recognize him from a small role in Blade 2.
  • But you probably haven't seen the incredible work he does
  • in his breakout film, Killzone SPL.
  • The final fight sees him and his mix martial arts style squaring off against
  • Hong Kong action choreography legend Sammo Hung.
  • But that's not our pick either.
  • Our pick goes to the fight right before it,
  • between Yen and Wu Jing, that Yen both fought in and choreographed.
  • Many fights on this list took days or even weeks to stage and shoot,
  • not including the weeks or months it might have taken to learn the choreography.
  • But this fight from SPL was filmed in only one night and was largely improvised.
  • Intimately familiar with each others fighting styles, having trained in
  • martial arts together, the two competed on set over who could hit the other first.
  • With Yin allegedly breaking three of his batons over Wu Jing's forearms.
  • The result is a fight that doesn't just look like a string of impressive
  • dance moves, but two fighters sizing each other up.
  • Working hard and reacting, leading to one of the most kinetic and
  • dangerous flurries of action ever captured on screen.
  • >> [NOISE] >> Speaker 9: What the?
  • >> CineFix Host: With two spots left at least one of them
  • has to go to Jackie Chan.
  • Now we could fill this entire top ten with Jackie Chan fights and
  • still feel like we've left some out, but for our number two there can be only one.
  • But how to choose.
  • There's the early Jackie Chan, just discovering his new brand of action
  • comedy, as choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping, like Drunken Master.
  • Or the brutal one-on-one duel staged by Sammo Hung,
  • in movies like Wheels On Meals and Dragons Forever.
  • Of course, Chan is best known for his invented use of props with his stunt team,
  • like in the ladder fight from First Strike, or
  • the warehouse fight from Rumble in the Bronx.
  • But our number two goes to the final factory fight from
  • Jackie Chan's masterpiece, The Legend of the Drunken Master.
  • >> [SOUND] >> Wong Fei-hung: What the hell is that?
  • >> Speaker 11: What does it mean when there's a picture of a skull?
  • >> Wong Fei-hung: Good stuff!
  • >> [MUSIC]
  • >> CineFix Host: The fight goes on for over ten minutes, and
  • includes Jackie's signature comedy fighting, ridiculous use of flaming props,
  • and most hilariously, his drunken boxing style.
  • Which sees him gaining strength from booze like some kind of alcoholic Popeye.
  • This scene was choreographed and directed by Jackie himself, after firing
  • another legendary choreographer Lau Kar-leung, for being too traditional.
  • And we're kinda glad he did,
  • because this fight stands as the most iconic fight in the career of hundreds,
  • thanks to Jackie's incredible skills and limitless creativity.
  • >> [SOUND] >> Lee: You
  • have offended my family and you have offended a Shaolin temple.
  • >> CineFix Host: And finally, at number one, who else could we pick but Bruce Lee?
  • Without the master himself, we probably wouldn't even have this list.
  • Bruce Lee is responsible not only for
  • originally introducing Hong Kong action movies to American audiences, but
  • for elevating the style to a new level in inspiring today's greats.
  • He took on a whole dojo in Fist of Fury, fought Kareem Abdul Jabbar in Game of
  • Death, and even Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon.
  • But our number one is Bruce Lee's fight against every Hong Kong kung fu extra
  • ever, in Enter the Dragon.
  • >> [SOUND] >> CineFix Host: Not only is this
  • fight a perfect example of Bruce Lee's landmark kicking,
  • his nunchuck skills, and his ridiculously ripped abs, but
  • it's also one of Jackie Chan's earliest roles.
  • And well Lee's choreography certainly isn't as intricate or
  • as polished as his successors, there's a trademark lethality to his every move that
  • makes them look like they could actually kill you.
  • And they probably could.
  • Lee is famous for knocking over men twice his size with a one-inch punch,
  • fighting any person on set who would walk up to him with a challenge,
  • and inventing his own martial art.
  • He's truly one of the greatest artist martial artists of all time, and
  • we have him to thank for a tradition of incredibly talented fighters kicking
  • the crap out of each other for our entertainment.
  • >> [NOISE] >> CineFix Host: So what do you think?
  • What are some of your favorite fights that we left out?
  • Did you think some of our picks were less than impressive?
  • Let us know in the comments below, and
  • subscribe to Cinefix for more IndieWire movie list.
  • >> [MUSIC]

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Nothing pumps up the action in a movie more than two (or more) skilled fighters just going at it. Be it a raw combat or CGI-assisted set pieces, every punch and kick in these fights is a step in an intricate dance. Subscribe: http://goo.gl/9AGRm

What did you think of the list? Did you think we picked the right top 10? What’s your favorite action or martial arts movie? what’s the action hero match up (or team up) you’d like to see? What other topics would you like to see in future episodes?

Let us know in the comments!


The Matrix (1999)
Fight Coordinator: Yuen Woo-Ping
This movie was jam-packed with awesome fight scenes, but the Agent Smith vs Neo fight in the subway is a the ultimate combination between special effects and hand-to-hand combat.

Raging Bull (1980)
Director Martin Scorsese made the bold and unusual choice to put the camera inside the ring in the final fight with Sugar Ray Robinson, showing the fight from a boxer’s POV.

Ong Bak (2003)
Choreographer: Prachya Pinkaew
The movie that introduced the world to Tony Jaa, and fight choreographer Prachya Pinkaew, this is a full-throttle, no-holds-barred fight - no wires, no effects, just Muay Thai.

The Bourne Ultimatum
Fight Stunt Coordinator: Jeff Imada
This movie makes the bold choice of shooting a fight scene without music, letting the sense of urgency and action come completely from the fighters (and the props they throw at each other, hit each other with, and crash through, of course).

Hero (2002)
Fight Choreographer: Chium Siu-Tung
The Grey Fight between Jet Li and Donnie Yen is one of the most perfect weapons fights ever filmed, elevated by the fact that it takes place entirely within the two characters’ minds… until the end.

Kill Bill Vol. 1
Fight Coordinator: Yuen Woo-Ping
A nod and send-up of 70s Kung Fu flicks, the Bride takes on an astounding number of bad guys, resulting in gushes and gushes of blood, and a plucked-out eye.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Fight Coordinator: Yuen Woo-Ping
Director: Ang Lee
There’s some beautiful wire work in Crouching Tiger, but for sheer precision and skill on display, we love the training-hall face-off between Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang

Killzone SPL (2005)
Choreographers: Donnie Yen and Wu Jing
Yen is a martial arts legend, and his fights could comprise a list in and of itself, but this largely improvised fight has to be one of the most impressive achievements.

Legend of the Drunken Master (1994)
Choreography: Jackie Chan
A true classic of Jackie Chan’s work, the final factory fight couldn’t be a more pure expression of Jackie Chan’s style.

Enter The Dragon (1973)
Choreographer: Bruce Lee
We couldn’t go any other way with the #1 on this list. Without Bruce Lee’s incredible skills, and this iconic fight, movie fights wouldn’t be what they are today.

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