Saturday, November 3, 2018

Top 10 Fight Scenes

I like my fight scenes gritty, epic, and unapologetic. Below, I've compiled a list of 10 of the best I've seen in TV and movies. Some are bloody. Some are brutal. Some are straight up gory, so viewer discretion advised. They feature man against man, woman against man, woman against woman, tall against short, two against one, one against many. They span decades of TV and cinema and prove just how real a fake fight scene can actually be.

10. Bruce Lee vs. Kareem Abdul Jabar (from Game of Death - 1978)
In Bruce Lee's final movie before his tragic death, he took on all odds and organized crime. And in typical video game style, at the end, he climbs from one level of a pagoda to another, taking on a different "boss" on each. The final stage featured legendary NBA center, Kareem Abdul Jabar. Their size difference stands out immediately, which is what makes this fight scene so interesting. Bruce had his way with the other bosses, but had a little more trouble adjusting to the height difference with Kareem, whom Bruce trained himself in real life. This is the oldest entry on the list, but it's one of the most epic. Bruce's outfit here was later mimicked in Kill Bill, a movie that later makes this list.

9. Jet Li vs. French Twins (from Kiss of the Dragon - 2001)
This Jet Li gem features lots of fighting, as his Chinese Agent Liu is double-crossed by crooked French agents tied up in a murder and a prostitution ring. Liu has no friends, except for one lowly woman of the night, which whom he strikes up an unlikely bond, and helps protect from the powers that be. Jet is a little guy, but wow, can he fight. The best scene the movie gives us is this one in which he takes on French twins, one who is a martial arts master, and the other who is brawny and big. The fight takes place in the close quarters of an office space, giving the advantage to Jet and his smaller, more compacted strikes.

8. Bjorn Ironside vs. Berserker Viking (from Vikings - 2013)
We move from the realm of martial arts to brutal, winter combat in the hinterlands of Scandinavia. In Season 4 of Vikings, Bjorn Ironside sojourns out into the wilderness on his own in order to find himself and to become a man. He's the firstborn son of the great Ragnar Lothbrok, and little does he know, he's a hunted man. A Viking Berserker is paid to hunt Bjorn down and assassinate him, and while the Berserker is a little less berserk than he would have been in real life, he's still a big, bad, menacing figure to meet in the dead of a Norwegian winter.

7. Spartacus and Crixus vs. Theocoles (from Spartacus: Blood and Sand - 2010)
Spartacus, a Thracian slave turned gladiator, and Crixus, the undefeated Gaul and Champion of Capua, join forces here to take on the legendary beast of a man, Theocoles. The two are sort of frenemies at this point in the show, and do well to fight together while they're being held captive in a gladiator school. Crixus gets the rawer end of the stick against Theocoles, which is the price he pays for his mighty hubris. While he helps to weaken the massive Theocoles, Spartacus finishes the job and brings the rain in a time when the city of Capua was suffering through a drought. This makes him incredibly popular with the crowd.

6. Beatrix Kiddo, AKA Black Mamba vs. Vernita Green, AKA Copperhead (from Kill Bill Vol. 1 - 2003)
Beatrix, whose name we don't even find out until Kill Bill Vol. 2, had Vernita Green as number one on her revenge list. This fight scene comes to us at the beginning of Kill Bill Vol. 1, starting the movie off fast and furious and on a trajectory of bloody vengeance. Vernita has her own family now and has since moved on from her sordid past as a world-class assassin, but that doesn't mean that Beatrix can forgive or forget what happened to her. Black Mamba shows no mercy for Copperhead, not even in the broad daylight thought-to-be shelter of her suburban home.

5. Beatrix Kiddo AKA Black Mamba vs. Elle Driver AKA California Mountain Snake (from Kill Bill Vol. 2 - 2004)
After laying waste to Vernita Green and O-Ren Ishii, Beatrix sets her sights on Elle Driver, the sadistic one-eyed femme fatale who killed her own former associate over a case full of cash. She actually did Beatrix a favor with this, as Black Mamba then had one less person to kill. This epic fight scene takes place in a desert trailer, its walls destroyed and its interior decimated. The loser isn't killed here, but she's left for dead, blind and injured with a poisonous snake slithering around the interior of the trailer.

4. Matthew Weston vs. Keller (from Safe House - 2012)
This is a brutal, gritty fight scene from a movie that didn't seem to get much attention. Denzel Washington is a government turncoat painted as a villain, and Matthew Weston (Ryan Reynolds) is the agent caught in the middle. That centrist position is what gets him into this all or nothing brawl against crooked agent Keller, which reduces a safe house to shards and glass pebbles.

3. Lorraine Broughton vs. the KGB (from Atomic Blonde - 2017)
Atomic Blonde was one of the coolest movie to come out of 2017. It's set in the 1980s against a backdrop of retro music and Cold War tensions that extended to Merry Ol' London. Lorraine Broughton is the toughest female protagonist since Beatrix Kiddo, and in this scene, she's taking on a handful of KGB agents who are no softies in their own right. This fight is brutal and bloody, including guns and household items wielded as weapons. This is one of the best roles Charlize Theron has ever suited up for, right up there with her Furiosa from Mad Max: Thunder Road.

2. The Punisher vs. Prison Inmates (from Daredevil - 2015)
If you thought the last fight was bloody, hold onto your arteries. This one is probably the most brutal fight scene I've ever seen. The Punisher, AKA Frank Castle, is stuck in prison for murdering bad guys, but has had a price tag placed on his head by Kingpin, AKA Wilson Fisk. Frank is a former marine, and after seeing his own series on Netflix following his debut on Daredevil, we know he's harder to kill than an armored cockroach. His character raises the debate of gun violence in the context of corporal punishment, but here, he's without his vast array of pistols and assault rifles and must fight for his life with prison shanks and sharpened sticks.

1. Daredevil vs. Russian Human Traffickers (from Daredevil - 2015)
Netflix's Daredevil was the first superhero vehicle that I could really get into. The acting is stellar, the costumes are organic, and the fight scenes are gritty and believable. Daredevil, AKA Matt Murdoch, takes on more injuries than any other hero I've seen on the scene, which makes his portrayal all the more legitimate. He's still nursing his wounds here when he pulls back on his black outfit and takes on a band of Russian human traffickers in his native New York. He's hurt, but he fights hard and realistically, the epic scene shot all in own take. This is number one on this list because of its rawness and its commitment to authenticity. And also shows Daredevil's commitment to protecting the innocent, constantly placing himself in harm's way.

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