We all enjoy tthe adrenaline rush provided by actions films, and forget all about the fact that violence is not a solution. There are plenty of quality action films out there worthy of your time; while a strong story can vault an average fight scene into greatness simply by capitalizing on our emotions, some stand on their own with expert choreography and devastating finishing blows.
Bruce Lee said it best when he explained the nature of fighting: “When you fight, if it is a real fight, use every tool that you have, use your whole body. Use your fists, your legs, your fingers, your head if you have to, and hit them in every vulnerable spot, the balls, the eyes etc. to win.” True story, but what about the directed fight scenes? Which are the best? Find out below.
15. Lu Yan vs. The Silent Monk, The Forbidden Kingdom
Jet Li taking on Jackie Chan sounds dreamy, and it is. That happened with the release of The Forbidden Kingdom. The fight scene between Lu Yan and The Silent Monk justified the price of admission alone; it lasted several minutes and had the two of them trading blows as they ran up walls and unloaded their best spin kicks and chops.
14. Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed, Rocky
Who needs defense when you can absorb a stream of punches in the face? Rocky doesn’t display much technical skills in this bout, as per usual, but it’s an entertaining watch. Much of the 10-minute fight is spent watching Rocky get his butt whooped and being pushed to his limit, proving that winning isn’t always everything if you learn from your low points.
13. 300 vs. Xerxes’ Minions, 300
King Leonidas roars as a wall of Xerxes’ minions close the distance between them. Heavily outnumbered, the Spartans utilize their strategic battle formations to methodically pick them apart, making each strike a calculated one. Leonidas then decides to go lone wolf and just spanks his attackers in a series of slow motion deaths. Good movie!
12. Jason Bourne vs. Desh Bouksani, The Bourne Ultimatum
Jason Bourne vs. Desh Bouksani is just a memorable fight scene and one of the best I’ve ever seen. Watching Bourne leap across an alleyway from several storeys high and into another apartment is thrilling, especially with the camera firmly placed behind his shoulder as he emerges through the window.
11. Neo vs. Merovingian’s Henchmen, The Matrix Reloaded
This fight scene would have been the showcase of most action films, but not in The Matrix Reloaded. While it’s true it doesn’t quite match the high-octane, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pace of the Neo vs. Agent Smiths fight, this battle is unequivocally one of the highlights of this sequel. What ensues is Neo making a fool of his attackers and even wielding a blade as if he were an Olympic swordsman.
10. Blade vs. Deacon Frost, Blade
Don’t get me wrong, this is a great sequence, but is it worthy? It’s fun, and it ends with blade slicing off Deacon Frost’s arm before splitting him in half. But Frost uses his crazy blood powers to connect himself whole again. There’s an impressive array of kung fu moves, and then we have the finale. Not bad!
9. Harry Hart vs. Churchgoers, Kingsman: The Secret Service
This fight scene from Kingsman: The Secret Service is seriously good. What makes it so entertaining is that it is essentially a series of one-on-one battles that last a few seconds each. People get their necks snapped, eyes impaled, faces shot and everything in between. And we’re talking both men and women.
8. Wong Fei Hung vs. John, The Legend of the Drunken Master
Part of what makes this fight scene so entertaining is that you know Wong Fei Hung got blitzed right before the showdown. What a badass. His unorthodox fighting style is completely untethered here as he unloads of flurry of unpredictable strikes at John. He seems to defy the laws of gravity as he drunkenly but methodically stumbles around firing off head-butts and lightning speed kicks.
7. Danny the Dog vs. Pit Fighters, Unleashed
Scouring several lists of this sort, I noticed a distinct lack of Danny the Dog. This is a shame, because the moment he is unchained after feverishly defending himself for minutes as pit fighters beat him senseless is one of Jet Li’s best fight scenes. When he finally does go on the offensive against four other fighters, he mercilessly dismantles them one by one.
6. Tang Lung vs. Colt, The Way of the Dragon
Bruce Lee had to be a part of this list. His tilt against Colt, played by Chuck Norris, is just too entertaining to exclude here. Rather than having the two of them unleash a flurry of attacks at a blinding pace, this fight is slower and allows the viewers to absorb every drop of martial arts goodness. It’s simply epic!
5. Neo vs. Agent Smiths, The Matrix Reloaded
Neo vs. Agent Smiths is one of the best fight scenes in film. It truly encapsulates the limitless potential of Neo’s power when you consider that a single Agent Smith would demolish anybody else in The Matrix. It’s a lengthy and well-choreographed fight sequence that somehow raises the bar when Neo decides to play whack-a-mole with a steel pipe.
4. The Bride vs. Gogo Yubari and The Crazy 88, Kill Bill: Vol 1
This fight holds a special place in my heart because it truly has it all, whether you like one-on-one or group battles. The Crazy 88 are a group of elegantly dressed swordsmen who foolishly decide to take on Beatrix Kiddo as she wields her weapon of choice, a katana. What ensues is a remarkable loss of limbs, blood spraying in every direction and lots of fighting while standing on railings.
3. Hector vs. Achilles, Troy
Seeing Achilles juke his way into close quarters showcased his incredible fighting prowess. While Hector puts on a good show, Achilles’ perfect form and technical skill proves to be too much for him handle as he eventually succumbs to his injuries. While predictable, the pounding of bongo drums providing the only background sound made this battle a tense one, and one of the best in movie history.
2. Kham vs. Everybody, The Protector
Kham breaks an obscene amount of bones in this fight scene. It starts off innocuous enough, with Kham simply shoving aside his opponents as they attempt to tackle him down. But when one of them catches him on the side with a knife, he loses it. Tony Jaa successfully made his mark on the action genre with this one.
1. Neo vs. Agent Smith, The Matrix
Neo squaring off against Agent Smith in the subway is one of the defining moments of The Matrix trilogy. After Trinity manages to escape without a millisecond to spare before Agent Smith unloads a bullet into the phone, Neo is faced with a dilemma: battle his pursuer or flee via the stairway behind him. Thankfully for viewers, he chose the former.