Posted by: themoviecheese | February 17, 2011

Top 40 Fight Scenes

As anybody who knows me knows; I’m a huge martial arts cinema fan. However, movie fight scenes aren’t always about fluid fully choreographed martial arts poetry…sometimes it’s just about punching things very VERY hard. So without further ado, here is a list of my personal top 40 favorite fight scenes. This was originally going to be a top 50 list, but I found 41-50 VERY difficult to compile. So you can consider anything above 40 to be literally every other fight scene in the world. Apart from the Burly Brawl in Matrix Reloaded. Seriously, that sucks…

40. Prince Ashitaka vs. Many people on horseback – Princess Mononoke (1997)

One of my favorite anime movies of all time. A weird Hayao Miyazaki movie about discrimination, warfare, and love. The weirdest thing, however, is the fact that this film is rated PG. Seriously, watch the above fight and tell me it should have been rated PG. Prince Ashitaka’s demon arm goes into overdrive as he takes on various idiots on horseback who think it’s clever to shoot arrows at him. They regret it. A lot.

39. Inigo Montoya vs. The Man in the Black Mask – The Princess Bride (1987)

The 80’s fantasy movie that has everything: action, adventure, romance, comedy, horror…and just a “little bit of kissing”. Sure, I could have gone with the more delightfully praised final “My name is Inigo…” etc fight at the end, but in terms of actual fight choreography, you can’t beat this scene. What’s awesome about it is that you don’t know who to root for. Obviously, Inigo is a brilliantly written character and instantly likable, but the mysterious man in the black mask (who we later find out is Westley – like we didn’t already guess), is so mysterious and generally badass that as an audience we struggle to take sides. A fight that takes us back to the days of Errol Flynn, it’s a nice little fight that reminds us that fight scenes don’t always have to be violent or brutal, they just have to be “fun”.

38 Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) vs. Chong Li (Bolo Yeung) – Bloodsport (1988)

“You break my record, now I break you, like I break your friend” snarls Bolo Yeung after flexing his biceps at Van Damme. Yeung is just the perfect villain. He has the face of an evil bastard, with scars to boot. He’s also the sole reason of this fight being in my top 40. Forget the muscles from brussels. The main appeal here is seeing Bolo’s epic charisma. His facial expressions alone merit him a place in this list.

37. Godzilla vs. Zilla – Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Any fan of the original Japanese Godzilla movies will love this short-lived but awesome fight. In it, the much-loved original Japanese rubber-suit version of Godzilla takes on the CGI-laden version from the horrible American remake. The CGI “Zilla” has lots of speed and a longer tail…but the original Godzilla can shoot laser beams out of his mouth. Guess which one wins.

36. Gino (Steven Seagal) vs. Everyone (bar fight scene) – Out For Justice (1991)

(the fight in this video doesn’t start till about 2:20)

Ahh, the days back when Steven Seagal was still cool. The days when Steven Seagal was slim. The days when he could still actually fight. In his hey day, Seagal was actually quite the badass it has to be said. This fight is the best example of him in his prime. In it, he just enters a bar and fucks everyone up with a snooker ball. Brilliant.

35. James Bond (Daniel Craig) vs. Dude with machete – Casino Royale (2006)

Definitely my favorite James Bond fight, and possibly my favorite Bond film. Bond quickly takes care of his first opponent with a swift kick up the arse, but his next opponent won’t be as easy…he has a machete you see, and he’s swinging it around like a mad fucker. Sure, the fight is a little too close to Bourne Identity territory for comfort, with it’s quick take downs and Krav Maga-style choreography; but then they are both highly trained operatives. Isn’t Bond just a British version of Bourne anyway? What’s the fucking problem? It’s a brilliant fight, with a heap of brutality, something that’s always been lacking in Bond’s hand-to-hand fights.

34. King Kong vs. Vastatosaurus Rexes – King Kong (2005)

Say what you want about Peter Jackson’s (admittedly overlong) King Kong, but this fight scene was simply amazing. Everything added to the overall effect of it. The fantastic score/music, the amazing CGI work (which unfortunately isn’t given much justice in the above video). It’s a real hero’s scene with Kong roaring victorious at the end. Fantastic.

33. Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) vs. Random hitmen (nude bathhouse fight) – Eastern Promises (2007)

Please note, if you are offended by the site of a penis, do not watch this video:

Yep, this is the scene that everybody who went to see David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises talked about. It is the sight of a naked Viggo Mortensen taking on two hitmen in a fist fight. But despite the constant shots of Mortensen’s flacid wang, the fight is actually very well choreographed and extremely brutal. Most notable is the excellently executed defensive kick that Viggo does at 1:32 in the above video. Hats off to Mortensen for this, he’s the only actor I can think of who’d gratefully have his tackle dangling on screen whilst committing so much violence.

32. Sing (Stephen Chow) vs. Axe Gang – Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

American film critic Roger Ebert said of Kung Fu Hustle; “Imagine a film in which Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton meet Quentin Tarantino and Bugs Bunny”. He’s very correct. The film is a wacky mix of dancing sequences, slapstick humour and kung fu craziness. Stephen Chow’s main character doesn’t get any shining moments throughout the whole film until this very final moment. The whole fight is actually choreographed by Chow’s close friend and mentor Sammo Hung. It’s a big insane sequence, especially when bodies start flying left and right, and the main villain turns into a human toad. Yep, you read that right.

31. Toby Wong (Mark Dacascos) vs. Enhanced Hitman (Kato Masaya) – Drive (1997)

“We’ll kick his ass and take his coat!” yells Kadeem Harrison. If only it was that easy. Mark Dacascos is one of the most underrated actors in the film industry. Not only is he an exceptional martial artist, he’s also a damn good actor, giving off an awesome physical pressence and emotion through his facial features. This fight is the perfect example of his physical prowess. He spends this whole movie owning ass and not getting hit ONCE, and yet now he fights this guy and he has some serious trouble. They match each other blow for blow, but in the end, Dacascos’ character is much more intelligent.

30. Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) vs. Dream projections (rotating hallway fight) – Inception (2010)

Inception, the masterpiece of 2010, and don’t let anyone ever tell me otherwise. It’s a blockbuster that has successfully achieved what no other blockbuster can even come close to achieving. It’s a “smart” blockbuster. A mindmelting masterpiece that delves into your psyche and asks “Which is better, the world of the dream where you can anything you want? Or the real world where that which you have lost is gone forever?” This fight is a hugely technological triumph. No CGI at all. It was done with a single rotating set and an extremely clever cinematographer.

29 Yoda vs. Darth Sidious – Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Forget the pointless, tacked-on fight with Dooku in Attack of the Clones, this is the real Yoda fight we all wanted to see. The two oldest characters in the Star Wars movies going toe to toe.  Sure, it’s incredibly CGI heavy, but what it lacks in grounded real combat, it makes up for in spades with the emotional heft that comes with finally seeing these two beasts fight. The bit where Sidious just starts chucking podiums at Yoda is just priceless.

28. Achilles (Brad Pitt) vs. Hector (Eric Bana) – Troy (2004)

Simply the greatest spear and shield fight scene ever. Pitt’s charisma oozes through the screen. He’s a wanker, but an incredibly likable wanker, mirrored by Hector’s heroic yet tragic pressence. And by the end of this fight, both roles are left emotional. Fucking emotional.

27. The Bride (Uma Thurman) vs. Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama) – Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003)

I’m going to be blunt here; Chiaki Kuriyama + Schoolgirl outfit + Ball and chain = my wet dream. I’m not ashamed of that. Not one bit. This is literally one of the hottest girl fights of all time. There’s also a pretty awesome drinking game to be had here: take a shot every time you see up Chiaki Kuriyama’s skirt.

26. V (Hugo Weaving) vs. The Government – V for Vendetta (2006)

With his knives flying this way and that, the enigmatic anarchist known only as “V” takes on a future British fascist government. The whole film (and the original graphic novel from which it is adapted) is like a “what if” of controversial political parties such as the BNP and UKip. In the final fight scene, V takes on an entire police force and Detective Creedy. He gets shot about 50 times but still manages to survive long enough to kill every man in the underground sewer. Before you start making any “suspension of disbelief” complaints, he was actually wearing a bullet proof vest…and does indeed eventually die. The fight itself it incredibly majestic, with director James McTeigue utilizing the slow motion techniques he learnt from his mentors The Wachowski Brothers.

25. Neo (Keanu Reeves) vs. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) – The Matrix (1999)

Forget the big spectacular, CGI laden fight from Matrix Revolutionsthis is where the magic’s at. Easily the best fight Neo has with Smith, it’s a nice grounded fight with very minimal CGI and wire-work. The opening of the fight is the best bit, very reminiscent of the old western stand off. The shot of Smith pummeling Neo into a wall is a personal favourite.

24. Tommy Lee (Phillip Rhee) vs. Dae Han (Simon Rhee) – Best of the Best (1989)

One of many martial arts guilty pleasures. Admittedly, the rest of the fights in the movie are pretty ho hum. Of the main cast (including Eric Roberts and Chris Penn), the only one with an actual martial arts background is the film’s writer and producer Phillip Rhee. In the big finale of the movie’s tournament, Rhee’s character Tommy takes on “the most feared Korean man EVAAR” Dae Han (played by Rhee’s real life brother Simon Rhee). It’s the fact that these two are brothers that makes the fight so enjoyable. They are both incredibly skilled martial artists, but watching the fight it’s clear that they required very little choreography. For a start, Rhee choreographed all the fights in the film himself, so this fight was just pretty much made up as they went along. It’s a stunning display or grounded hard hitting karate combat, with some spectacular aerial brilliance thrown in the mix. A personal favourite of mine is the evasion into a kick to the crotch in the above video.

23. Jackie Chan vs. Jet Li – The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

It’s the fight that all martial arts cinema fans were waiting for. Wushu master Jet Li versus everything master Jackie Chan. Granted, it is a ridiculous notion…Chan would annihilate Li in a real fight (commence shitstorm). However, it’s still an fantastic grounded and aerial display. Almost every single Chinese fighting style is here; wushu, tiger-style, praying mantis, shadow boxing, drunken boxing…it’s all here. I fucking love the bit where Chan starts fighting with his alcohol flask!

22. Donnie Yen vs Collin Chou – Flashpoint (2007)

Director Wilson Yip is proving himself to be a powerhouse in Hong Kong martial arts cinema. With Flashpoint, SPL, and the Ip Man movies under his belt, his collaborations with Donnie Yen are fast becoming the films of choice amongst martial arts aficionados. The final fight in Flashpoint is one of the best mixed martial arts fights in film. Yen takes down his opponent with some mean fucking grapples as Chou (you may remember him playing Seraph in the Matrix sequels) commits to his signature wushu styles. On a side note, Donnie Yen…he’s just fucking awesome isn’t he? I mean, this guy has a serious passion for all forms of martial arts. The whole grappling thing is a western style derived from wrestling and he even respects that enough to put it in his movies. He truly is the new Bruce Lee in terms of his unmatchable passion. Unlike people like Jet Li making bullshit claims like “This is my final wuxia movie” – We’ve all seen Warlords, Fobidden Kingdom and The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate Mr Li!!

21. Tony Jaa on fire vs. Anyone within 30 feet of him – Ong Bak (2003)

Unfortunately I can't find a video of this fight on YouTube

Tony Jaa is one crazy bastard. His breakthrough film Ong Bak is still his best. The way the movie builds up (hardly anything happens for around 30 minutes) to the first fight scene is spectacular. But the real meat on the bone here are the madfuck stunts that Jaa performs throughout the movie. The center piece chase sequence is simply astounding, but it’s not necessarily a fight scene per se. My favourite fight in the movie is definitely this sequence. With his legs filled with lighter fluid and outnumbered, Jaa takes on the option of setting his own legs on fire and knee-kicking everyone in the face/chest/crotch/back etc.

20. Donnie Yen vs. Sammo Hung – Saat Po Long/SPL/Kill Zone (2005)

Seriously, look at the fucking size of Sammo Hung. Also, think about his age (almost 60). Just look at the motherfucker move! At the time of filming this movie Donnie Yen was at his physical prime in both age and ability, and yet Sammo successfully matches him blow for blow kick for kick. The guy is simply amazing. The fight is almost like a dream sequence. Like watching a martial arts master at their physical peak fight Mr Blobby. The fight really reaches epic status when they just start throwing each other into fucking desks, tables, bottles, bars, walls anything they can fucking see. It’s just fucking madness. The sequence was choreographed by Donnie Yen himself (he usually hires Sammo as choreographer), and the sheer determination to not let his mentor Sammo down in terms of sheer fighting scope really shows.

19. Takeshi Kaneshiro vs. Andy Lau – The House of Flying Daggers (2004)

Donnie Yen may be my current favourite martial artist, Andy Lau is completely unbeatable in the acting department. Zhang Yimou’s House of Flying Daggers is a much better film than his Jet Li starrer Hero. Sure, Hero has some gorgeous painting-like visuals, but so does Flying Daggers. Plus, it’s never boring…which definitely gives it the edge over Hero. The whole movie builds up to this final fight, two once great friends fighting over a woman. It’s a classic set up. And the fight is fucking brutal. By the end of it, they’re ripping the shit out of each other with their swords.

18. Jason Bourne vs. Desh – The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)


Definitely the best fight in the Bourne trilogy. Incorporating several different fighting styles seamlessly mixed together including Israeli Krav Maga, Filipino Kali and Brazilian Capoeira. Paul Greengrass’ signature shaky-cam style works brilliantly on this fight, putting the viewer straight into each punch and kick. The best part of the fight is after Bourne has dispatched Desh…when he just looks up at Julia Stiles, stares into her eyes blankly, his face shaking. In any other spy movie (James Bond for instance), this would have been the perfect chance for some comedic quip, after all he has just killed his opponent with a hand towel…but in a Jason Bourne movie there are no words, they don’t need words, Bourne has just killed a man and that’s the end of it. It’s a sublime piece of actor directing.

17. Jet Li vs. Donnie Yen – Hero (2002)

The very first fight scene in Zhang Yimou’s Hero is one of magical wonder. It’s like a dream world. Jet Li soars through the air to reach his opponent Donnie Yen. As they fight a Chinese man plays a strange instrument in the background. It’s the kind of fight that you loose yourself in and start to act like your being read a story, rather than watching a story unfold on screen. The only downer in this scene is the laughable notion of Jet Li winning a fight with Donnie Yen. Still, they way he does win is stunning. Shooting through the air spinning his blade, falling water splashing on his face, it’s the stuff of wonders.

16. The Bride (Uma Thurman) vs. Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) – Kill Bill: Vol 2 (2004)

Easily the best fight scene in the Kill Bill movies. Grapples, flying kicks, sword fighting, throw downs, it’s all here. It’s also just fucking brutal. My personal favourite part of the fight is the epic showdown segment at 4:35 in the above video. In these shots, Tarantino’s love of the western genre pours through the screen.

15. Mani (Mark Dacascos) vs. Random thugs – Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

One of my favourite films of all time. Brotherhood of the Wolf is the best film from one of France’s most elusive directors/writers Christophe Gans (director of Crying Freeman and the Silent Hill movie). The brilliance in the movie is how it fuses together genres that you would never imagine to see together. It’s a ye olde period piece that features a demonic wolf, martial arts, eroticism and romance. The whole film just oozes originality and it just so happens to star a certain Mark Dacascos as a kung fu expert Indian. The opening fight in the movie is amazingly shot. Rain soaked fields serve as the backdrop to Dacascos kicking some serious fucking ass. Brilliant slow motion shots, staff fighting…it’s superb. Special note has to go as well to the costumes that Dacascos and his co-star Samuel Le Bihan are wearing.

14. Jackie Chan vs. Teenager – New Police Story (2004)

Only Jackie Chan would think of filming a massive kung fu battle in a fucking Lego toy store. Only Jackie Chan. In the latest Police Story movie (incidentally no relation to the original series), Jackie spends majority of the movie drunk and out of his mind. He also gets totally owned in a fight with a load of teenagers. Then, when he finally gets his shit together, he decides to have another go at one of those teenagers. They meet in a Lego store and the kicks and punches begin. What’s amazing about this fight is that Jackie was around 50 years old at the time of filming it and yet he moves just as fast (possibly even faster) than his opponent who is about half is age.

13. Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita) vs. Everyone – The Karate Kid Trilogy (1984, 1986, 1989)

As a massive Karate Kid fan, it’s literally impossible to choose my favourite Mr Miyagi fight scene. So the video above is just a montage of the main fights from all three movies, one after the other. If you put me on the spot to choose one, it would probably be the fight from the third movie. Why you ask? Simple; just fucking look at that back kick that Miyagi does at 2:42 against Sensei Kreese. That’s amazing. Pat Morita was around 57 years old when he filmed that scene, but he looked a lot older to be fair. And yet he did all that shit himself. What most people don’t know as well is that Pat Morita has no martial arts background outside of the Karate Kid series. How he was able to pull off some of these moves I’ll never know. A simply amazing man.

12. Bruce Lee vs. Kareem Abdul Jabar – Game of Death (1978)

In Bruce Lee’s final film Game of Death, he enters a dark room after finishing off a group of badguys. He sees before him a incredibly tall, incredibly skinny man, twice his size. Any average person who turn the other way, but this is Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee is no average person. He simply licks his thumb and readies a battle position. And what does his opponent Kareem Abdul Jabar do? Well…he sits down. As Bruce attempts to rush his larger than life opponent, he is kicked to the ground each time. Possibly the most famous Bruce Lee fight scene is from a film that he is hardly in because he sadly died half way through filming. Most of the rest of the film (including the fights) are filled in by digital restoration and stunt doubles. However, this particular fight is all Bruce. In fact, Bruce himself actually directed the scene (with some uncredited help from Sammo Hung). This fight is all about what Bruce (and his fighting style Jeet Kun Do) was best at…adapting. Lee is forced to adapt to his opponent’s size and use his intellect to take his opponent down. Sylvester Stallone recently paid homage to the fight in his movie The Expendables during a fight between Jet Li and larger than life Dolph Lundgren.

11. Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Definitely the best fight throughout all six Star Wars movies (yes, even the original trilogy). Admittedly it’s the only good scene in Phantom Menace, but hey…that’s one more than Attack of the Clones. George Lucas’ samurai/anime/Japanese culture influenced really shine through here: the swords, the martial arts prowess of actor Ray Park (Darth Maul), the apprentice avenging his master’s death, the robes. People have always debated how powerful Darth Maul actually is in comparison to the characters he didn’t get to fight (Yoda, Mace Windu etc), but one thing’s for sure…it was a massive mistake to kill him off. Why do I say this? I say it because it would have made Attack of the Clonesgood movie if Maul was in it. Count Dooku was shit. It would have been much better to keep Maul alive through the second movie. The ending could have been changed so that Obi Wan Kenobi takes on and kills Darth Maul while Anakin takes on Dooku. Forget Yoda showing up for the pointless fight with Dooku, save it for the MUCH better fight with the Emperor. Alas, George Lucas can’t write for shit.

10. Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris – Way of the Dragon (1972)

The fight that everyone talks about. The best thing about Way of the Dragon is that it shows Bruce Lee’s incredible talents as a director. This scene is the best example. What I love about this scene is the cat in the background. What does that mean? Lee has put it there for a reason. Regardless, this is another of Lee’s fights where he has been forced to adapt to his opponent. Lee’s Jeet Kun Do has real trouble matching Norris’ furious Karate style. He adapts though, and beats his ass in spectacular style. My personal favourite moment is when he grabs Norris’ hairy chest and rips a handful of hairs out!

9. Neo vs. Morpheus – The Matrix (1999)

Definitely the best fight throughout the Matrix movies. It’s the classic mentor versus student set up. In terms of choreography, the fight is simply flawless. Yuen Wo Ping is a sheer genius, nobody could ever doubt that, but in the Matrix movies he really shows his incredible talents. With these movies, he had to practically invent an entirely new fighting style, working around The Wachowski Brothers’ inventive “bullet time” techniques. Also the fight has an awesome shift in balance. Starting off as just “fun”, Neo rushes his mentor recklessly only to get totally owned each time. But pretty soon the mood changes as Neo starts to get somewhat frustrated in his determination to prove to his mentor.

8. Tony Jaa vs. An entire brothel (continuous fight) – Tom Yum Goong/Warrior King/The Protector (2005)

This scene is simply directing genius. All shot in one continuous sequence with no cuts, it is one of the greatest martial arts set pieces of all time. First of all note the fucking body count, cos I get 32. Fucking 32! In four minutes! With just his fists and feet! Tony Jaa is just a beast. One of the best things about this fight is just how effortless the whole thing seems. The amount of work that went into choreographing it must have been fucking insane and yet it all seems effortlessly flawless. Also take note of how by the end of the fight, Jaa has spooled his way through 30-odd people and yet he’s barely breaking a sweat, in fact he looks ready to take on 30 more!

7. Spike vs Vincent – Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)

My favourite anime fight scene of all time. It’s a proper, real, grounded, brutal, Krav Maga-style fist fight. It’s just fucking epic. You just don’t get this level of choreography in anime all the time. You feel every hit, and the brilliant background music lends itself to its enjoyability. Perfect.

6. Jackie Chan vs. Benny “The Jet” Urquidez – Wheels on Meals (1984)

Jackie Chan’s best fight is with possibly the greatest non-Asian martial artist on the planet, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. Benny The Jet is a real fucking bastard of a man. A relentless powerhouse for pure force and unfathomable speed. He’s so fucking crazy that one of his spinning heal kicks in this fight manages to put out a row of lit candles just by sheer force alone (happens at around 1:20). No trickery at all. But he’s still fighting Jackie Chan. And the fight is anything but one sided. Both these bastards are at their physical peak in this fight. They endure so much pain on each other and yet try their best to hide it. Chan fought Benny The Jet once again in the movie Dragons Forever (see that fight here). That fight is also awesome, but the original is always the best.

5. Li Mu Bai (Chow-Yun Fat) vs. Jen (Zhang Ziyi) – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Unfortunately the above video features the horrible English dub, but unfortunately it’s the only video I could find. Regardless, this is still the most majestic fight scene of all time. It’s less like a fight scene and more like visual poetry. Many other Chinese directors have tried to imitate it, but there’s only one. Li Mu Bai (Chow-Yun  Fat) takes on the thief of his Green Destiny sword (Zhang Ziyi) in Ang Lee’s wuxia masterpiece. It’s notable that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the first ever foreign film to reach the $100million mark in the US. It’s a traditional story about love and betrayal. This bamboo fight is just stunning, like a painting in motion. Li Mu Bai and Jen zip through the bamboo with infinite grace. At this point in the film, Jen has already stolen Li Mu Bai’s sword countless times, and yet he still just wants to “train” and “help” her. Personally, I think he should have stabbed the bitch in the face, but that’s not what this film is about. It’s about a young girl who has lost her way mentally, and the master who wants to help her. Chow-Yun Fat’s role was originally to be filled by none other than Jet Li, but he dropped out to make the *okay* Hollywood movie Romeo Must Die…literally the biggest mistake of his career.

4. Sonny Chiba vs. Half the population of Japan – The Street Fighter (1974)

Presenting Sonny Chiba: Japan’s answer to Bruce Lee. Using a very snake-like form of Karate, Chiba was the subject of many a debate during the 70s and 80s. Mostly they consisted of people saying “Bruce is better than Sonny” or “Sonny is better than Bruce”. To be honest, myself, I can’t choose. They’re both equal. I think Chiba definitely has more charisma though. His acting is just weird that you can’t look away. Also, he is fucking badass. Like seriously badass. The difference between Sonny and Lee is that Bruce Lee always played a straight laced good guy, a do-gooder who only used his fist when he really had to. Chiba on the other hand never played a straight good guy per se. His signature character Terry Tsurugi (from the Street Fighter series) was just a guy who gets paid to fuck guys up. He’s a mercenary. Hell, there’s even a scene where one of his female employers refuses to pay him so he kicks the fuck out of her. This final fight is 70s Grindhouse brilliance. The whole way it’s edited, the lighting, the cinematography, the EPIC music that kicks in at 8:00, the hilariously abrupt “ending” (seriously, you HAVE TO see how he kills the main villain)…fucking perfect.

3. Bruce Lee vs. O’Hara – Enter the Dragon (1973)

Shocked? Why have I gone for this fight as my favourite Bruce Lee fight? There’s so many others to choose from. Well fuck you, this is his best fight. I don’t care if it’s an American production, I don’t care if it’s his most mainstream movie….this fight is fucking awesome. Bruce’s secret agent character finally gets revenge on the guy who killed his sister. O’Hara makes the fatal mistake of showing off at the beginning of the fight by punching a wooden board. Bruce just stares at him blankly and says “Boards…don’t hit back”. And so begins the ultimate ass kicking. O’Hara doesn’t get a single successful hit in. You could say “Well there’s no tension cos Bruce just kicks his ass”, but this fight isn’t about tension, it’s about satisfaction. We’ve seen this guy kill Bruce’s sister in cold blood and now he’s getting his comeuppance. The real reason I love this fight above all others though is the ending, Bruce’s signature move; jumping into the air and landing on his opponent’s face – and the emotion in Bruce’s face that follows. People often argue who is stronger Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or Jet Li. The truth is…it’s Bruce. Because the simple fact is that nobody can beat Bruce Lee. Not even Chuck Norris. Hell, not even Superman would be able to beat Bruce Lee. If Superman flew at him, Bruce would just jump up into the air shout “WATTAAAAAA!” and Superman would fall down.

2. Martin Blank (John Cusack) vs. Felix La Pu Belle (Benny “The Jet” Urquidez) – Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)

Is it any surprise that my second favourite movie of all time also features my second favourite fight scene of all time. It’s another Benny The Jet fight, but this time he fights John Cusack. Yes, that’s right. John Cusack is a badass. It’s a misconception that Cusack is only known for his romantic comedies and lighthearted everyman performances. After all, that’s why he’s such a fantastic actor…he could literally be anybody. But in truth, and in real life, he is actually a semi-professional kickboxer. One with some serious fucking skills. He has been trained by Benny The Jet himself for years, and Grosse Pointe Blank was the first time he really got to use his skills. Grosse Pointe Blank tells the story of hitman Martin Blank (Cusack) who decides to visit his highschool reunion when he finds out his latest “job” is there. However, he is followed by rival hitmen (Dan Ackroyd and Benny The Jet) who either want him to join a “hitmen union” or die. The film is piss funny. Fucking piss funny. Written by Cusack himself, it oozes his trademark witty style dialogue. The center piece of the movie however is this fight scene. Utterly realistic and grounded, the whole scene is just blistering in it’s execution. It really does lend itself to the soundtrack though, with “Mirror in the Bathroom” by English Beat set as it’s background, it’s fucking brilliant. The best bit in the fight for me is the perfectly executed side-kick by Cusack at 1:00. That is the single best kick I’ve ever seen in a film. Ever. And did I mention it’s John fucking Cusack? Yeah, I know.

And so, 39 fight scenes later and after 5323 words, I finally come to my number one fight scene of all time…….

1. Donnie Yen vs. Jing Wu – Saat Po Loong/SPL/Kill Zone (2005)

No real surprise here. Donnie Yen is my favourite martial artist so naturally my favourite fight scene of all time features him on top form. SPL (known as Kill Zone in the US and UK) is one of the best martial arts crime films in the past 20 years. It’s that good. The weird thing about the movie is that there are but two big fights in the film; the one I mentioned before with Sammo Hung, and this one. Both are awesome fights, but the fight with Jing Wu is so blisteringly fast, so gloriously violent, so fucking epicly motherfucking dick harding awesome that it was always destined to number one status. The most notable thing you should know about this fight is that it was not pre-choreographed. Both fighters were just told to “go at it” by director Wilson Yip. The result is a real killer on the senses. Jing Wu is a crazy motherfucker who just swings his arms around like a fucking lion, whereas Donnie Yen wields his baton with snake-like movements. The camera follows it beautifully, swinging around like the cameraman is wielding it in the same way the actors are wielding their respective weapons. And with the strange ambiance music in the background, the fight is incredibly hypnotic. Yep, definitely the best fight scene of all time from Hong Kong’s current best martial artist/choreographer.

So there you have it. My final list of my top 40 fight scenes. Hope you enjoyed reading this beast because it took me a long time to write it. Feel free to add your own favourite fights in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe!!

— Tom


  1. Yay for the huge amount of Donnie Yen – the guy is amazing!
    Also Westly vs Inigo? Win!

  2. Yeah few surprises in here hehe. I constantly talk about how shit Steven Seagal is, but back in his hey day he was actually quite the badass.

    I love the fight between Westley and Inigo because it’s so reminiscent of old Errol Flynn and Zorro movies.

  3. the last fight scene from Fighting should have been on there.

    • You’re serious? “Fighting”?! You are talking about the Channing Tatum movie right? That film was a total bore. I’d have thought that with a title like “Fighting” it would have actually had some…you know…fighting in it.

  4. Sonny Chiba got to play straight good guys in his career (in fact he started his career in 2 superhero shows)

    Still, it was a really good list, loving the amount of love you gave Donnie Yen, he truly deserves the success he’s getting now.

    Props for saying positive things about Andy Lau, he may not be the martial art machine as Donnie Yen or Bruce Lee nor the acrobatic master such as Jackie Chan but he does do convincing choreography and does do some of his stunts (including in his concerts) plus any guy who jumps from a 6 to 7 feet high stage to save a fan from getting beaten by over-reactive security gets cool points in my book.

  5. Also I like the choices you put that you don’t always see on top fight scenes list. A lot of hardcore martial art film fans give the Bourne films a thrashing just because Matt Damon isn’t an action guy, I thought he did a good job with the film. Still I’d prefer most Jason Statham fight scene over any Bourne fight scenes but it’s just my opinion.

    • Andy Lau is just a brilliant actor. Have you seen Warlords? He turned a mediocre movie into a fantastic one with his performance in that. I’m starting to prefer grounded realistic fighting as opposed to the flashy wire-work of Jet Li, hence my love for the Bourne movies and for the Donnie Yen vs. Jing Wu fight. Jason Statham I kind of like, but most of his fights (the ones in the Transporter movies specifically) are choreographed by Cory Yuen and i just don’t really rate him that high as a choreographer. His fights always seem a little too flashy when compared to people like Donnie Yen and Dan Inosanto.

      Cheers for the comments, and keep checking out the site 🙂

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