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Dancing With Death

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Mark Kermode | 17:37 UK time, Tuesday, 15 May 2012

There's a fantastic new action movie out this week called The Raid.

The fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed - what for you are the best examples in cinema?

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  • Comment number 1.

    I would say the Warriors has the best chorographed fight sequences,. As the violence in those sequences could just turn into michael bay crunch, pown, slug sequences. However Walter Hill reigns himself in as nwhen they are fighting the other gang you get to focus on the characters you have come to love and care about. Escpecially in nthe sequence when they fight nthe baseball team

  • Comment number 2.

    I watched this scene again on Youtube to make sure it fit your criterion, and boy howdy, it sure does. I am referring to the hallway fight scene in Chan-wook Park's "OldBoy". The whole film was wonderful, but what makes this scene so brilliant and unique is that instead of a frenetic sequence filled with shakey cameras and techno music, it is slow, violent dance number, with sad music that fits the tragic tone of the story. Our hero becomes wounded in the fight too which is not something you see often in action scenes like this, and yet he defeats tens of thugs in a tight hallway. The sequence is designed to be done slowly so you can follow who is hitting who and where they are coming from, making it part of his journey rather than a gratuitous bloodfest.

  • Comment number 3.

    The one-shot marvel in the middle of Warrior King. Tony Jaa takes on all comers in an uninterrupted glide through carnage. Like a Muay-Thai Russian Ark.

  • Comment number 4.

    Most definitely has to be the hallway fight scene from Oldboy. The fact that it is one-take and lacks CGI really shows how beautifully choreographed this scene is. The music fits perfectly as Oh Dae-su struggles to fight his way through the crowd, and when encountering the last few of the gang you can sense their fear to fight him, and feel Dae-su has overcome a struggle. This scene all beautifully crafted with a nod to old beat 'em up arcade games.

  • Comment number 5.

    I will second any mention of the corridor fight in Oldboy. But I'd always put Jackie Chan at the top of the list when it comes to beautifully choreographed fighting. The man moves like fluid through his scenes, incorporating both the layout of the locations and props seamlessly as he does.

    My personal favourites are the bicycle chase in Project A, which is basically an extended silent comedy style scene. The chair and ladders fight from First Strike, the sheer imagination involved is truly stunning and the final fight in Drunken Master 2/Legend of the Drunken Master, this one builds and builds, like any good song or dance does until he takes a huge drink and tips it over the edge, bringing it to a glorious crescendo, four months worth of shooting pays off in spades.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Indiana Jones is running through the streets of Cairo. He's hot. He's tired. He's not in the mood for choreography. And he shoots the big man with the fancy swordplay.

    Next, please.

  • Comment number 7.

    Undoubtedly its the corridor fight with the clawhammer in Oldboy. Because we can see it all, with the camera pulled back, and no headache inducing shaky cam. Its beautiful to watch and means something, it isnt just violence for the sake of it.

    Several scenes from The Matrix also are a visual treat, and i wouldn't overlook some of the fighting sequences in Lord of the Rings. Helm's Deep has some great choreographed fighting and Aragorn's fighting scenes in the battle for Gondor at the end of Return of the King are magnificent.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hard Boiled - 3 minutes, 2 corridors and 1 impressive shootout all done in but a single take. Almost impossible to top.

  • Comment number 9.

    The "Singing in the Rain" of fight sequences has to be the chaple shoot out from John Woo's The Killer in which candles explode, bullets fly, white doves get spattered with blood in lyrical slow motion all as the liturgical music swells. Whilst violence may not be the answer, it certainly looks great.

  • Comment number 10.

    Grosse Pointe Blank. Starts as a fight does, posturing; ends like a fight does, messily on the floor. Very quickly. About as realistic as a fight between two trained guys would be. Love it.

  • Comment number 11.

    The fight sequence at the end of Jet Li’s Fist of Legend is the best fight sequence I’ve ever seen. It is impressive not only because of its length and complexity, but because Yuen Woo-ping was able to embody both characters in their fighting styles. Jet Li’s smooth, fluid fight style is contrasted against Billy Chow’s powerful, robotic movements.

    What’s best about the scene is Jet Li uses his opponent’s hubris to beat him in the end, rather than simply punching him to death. The scene is terrific.

  • Comment number 12.

    Though not technically a 'fight scene', the greatest piece of choreography in a film has to be the final chase sequence in the Wallace and Gromit film "The Wrong Trousers".

    The scene would have been impressive enough in a live action film, but to create such a tightly-choreographed and flawlessly paced sequence using clay animation must have taken several agonizing months to design and create.

  • Comment number 13.

    @Oklahoma Kid: I totally agree, a hillarious and brilliant take on fight scenes in movies.

    However one of my favourties would have to be the finale between Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) and antagonist Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey) in the first Lethal Weapon film. The incorporation of such fighting methods as 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu' against the wet mud drenched and rain pouring terrain of suburban L.A. was very unique and a masterstroke not only in screen fighting, but in cinematography and editing.

  • Comment number 14.

    The fight scene that springs to my mind, is not from any action movie. Instead I'd like to suggest the swordfight from The Princess Bride; it's fast, gymnastic and witty, with killer dialogue and a cracking punchline to boot. I'm not left-handed either, by the way...

  • Comment number 15.

    The Legend Of Drunken Master has two spectacular fight sequences with the incomparable Jackie Chan. The fight under and around the train near the beginning is impressive. Later when he (and an ally or two) take on practically an entire army, it just goes to ridiculous levels. Sure, it's not a 'great' film, but the fight scenes make the film a must see for anyone who loves action films.

    Some other movies with somewhat unique fight sequence... House of Flying Daggers, which made fighting beautiful... And The Musketeer which had some of the more interesting sword fights you'll ever see. And realizing I could go on and on with this, I'll just stop there (The Bourne Movies, Ash vs Henrietta in Evil Dead 2... Rowdy Roddy Piper trying to force Keith David to put on a pair of Sunglasses in They Live... Wow, there are too many good ones out there).

  • Comment number 16.

    Jackie Chan is the absolute Master of beautifully choreographed scenes. His quasi "I don't know what I'm doing" style is unprecedented and will be very hard to top.

    The best fight I can remember is the final fight in "The Legend of Drunken Master". It's an amazing scene that seems to take forever.

  • Comment number 17.

    For my money, the Chateau fight in Matrix Reloaded. With the electronic opera music, opulent surroundings, multiple weapon play, more brutal action with Neo actually bleeding, it makes for a very theatrical setpiece.

    Shame the rest of the fights were overlong and self-indulgent slogs.

  • Comment number 18.

    Think what you will of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (problem-reaction-solution in space) as a whole, the three-way lightsaber duel - or Duel of the Fates, if you prefer - is superb... the series' best, even.

  • Comment number 19.

    The hotel corridor fight from Inception was the first time I had genuinely been blown away by seeing two people hitting each other. The choreography is great, but when you take into account the fact that it was done on a giant rotating set, it's hard to deny that its greatness.

  • Comment number 20.

    I really enjoyed the action sequences in Kick Ass particularly those including Chloe Moretz and Aaron Johnson. Their action sequences were excellently choreographed and had a great visual style that made them stand out from the action sequences from other comic book action movies that were head ache inducing rather than thrilling.

  • Comment number 21.

    Charlie Chaplin boxing in City Lights, wins gloves down for me. It certainly has the best music in a fight, have a listen - you'll be whistling it with joy for days...

  • Comment number 22.

    Tony Jaa in the Protector, a beautifully choreographed butt kicking ascension up a staircase filmed on a steadycam camera mount and done in a single take or any fight that Donnie Yen has been a part of, see Ip Man for his efficient take down of 10 black belts in around 3 minutes!

  • Comment number 23.

    Too many to mention but here goes:
    Bourne Supremacy: Bourne v Jarda- great, vicious improvising on both sides. No flashy high kicking or jumoing though the air, just crushingly painful and efficent attack from both parties.

    The Princess Bride: Dread Pirate Roberts v Inigo montoya- excellent fencing match, look for the part where Roberts/ Wesley throws his sword from one hand to the other (behind his back!) and block an attack in one fluid movement, just genius.

    Scaramouche: André Moreau v Marquis de Maynes: Final fight in the theatre, again just brilliant fencing, a classic.

    The Prodigal Son: Leung Jan v Lord Ngai Fai: the final fight, absolutly stunning. Every punch looks like it hurts and the coriography and camera work is excellent.

  • Comment number 24.

    Among recent such fight sequence choreography, I love what Joe Wright brought to the table with the single take fight scene with Eric Bana in "Hanna" just last year. Whatever anyone says about Wright as a director, he certainly knows his way around an extended tracking shot (the brilliant battle of Dunkirk sequence in "Atonement") and adding that sensibility to an action scene was very refreshing. Also, the way it was choreographed to the Chemical Brothers score in that scene added to the pulsating energy of it all.

  • Comment number 25.

    Frankly, most of these elaborate choreographed fight scenes do little for me. I prefer short and to the point action, especially those that pack (forgive the pun) an emotional punch.

    Take "Back to the Future" for instance. Few things are as satisfying as watching meek George McFly knock out the drunken Biff Tannen with a raging left cross. For those who've experienced bullying, you know what I mean.

  • Comment number 26.

    Has to be the scene in Shaun of the dead where our heroes in the Winchester beat up a zombie with pool cues to the sound of Don't Stop me Now by Queen. Such a brilliant marriage of classic rock and zombie violence will likely never be matched again.

  • Comment number 27.

    One action sequence that I thought was brilliantly choreographed was when Uma Thurman’s The Bride took on the Crazy 88 in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1. That specific fight, to me, was impressively choreographed in every detail, it was one of the most deliriously violent scenes I have seen in a very long time, and her fight, like Bruce Lee, played out like a well choreographed dance of death.

    I was also really impressed by the action sequences in my favourite film of all time, Kick-Ass, particularly those including the amazing Chloe Grace Moretz. What you said about action movies coming very close to the territory of musicals was exactly what I felt about Chloe’s fight sequences. Those scenes turned into song and dance numbers with Banana Splits and Joan Jett playing in the background as she is shooting and slicing criminals down. The action sequences she did were impressively choreographed and had a great comic-book visual style to them that made them really stand out from the other action sequences in the film, or any other comic book action movies I have ever seen.

  • Comment number 28.

    Jason Stathams 'oil fest' in the first Transporter, he moves like a cross between Jet Li and Gene Kelly. With each move making that fantastic swooshing sound to the wince inducing crunch. Like a homoerotic violent ballet, with its tongue so firmly in its cheek it should give you mouth ulcers, Transporter is the singin in the rain of action.........

  • Comment number 29.

    Aye, Shaun of the Dead deserves a mention for fight choreography. They even dance to music in that one!

    And props should be given to the fight scene in "They live". Never have two people fought so hard over such a trivial thing. You'd best agree or start eating that trashcan.

    Finally, I heard a rumour which, if true, is awesome. In the Fellowship of the Ring film, when Aragorn fights the Uruk-hai, at one point the Ork++ throws a blade. It was supposed to miss. Instead, it was thrown pretty much on-target and in a flash of inspiration Viggo Mortensen parried it with his sword. They kept that take in the film.

  • Comment number 30.

    The scenes that come to mind immediately, aside from the ballet of bullets ending to The Wild Bunch, would be the elevator scene from Drive and the Turkish bath scene in Eastern Promises.
    Drive breaks the 180 degree rule beautifully, it ranges from wonderful tenderness to distressing and more importantly, emotionally moving violence in such a short timeframe and epitomises the minimalist power of the film. While Cronenberg manages to give the most tense and perfectly punctuated flow with no artifice whatsoever for a set-piece that stands out dramatically in his whole body of work.
    Also, sticking with Peckinpah, Kris Kristofferson's death in Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid is gracefully musical, although only one bullet is fired, it has a span of depth in the moments from his final smile to when he hits the floor that is crafted absolutely brilliantly and heartbreakingly.

  • Comment number 31.

    One more i forgot, Troy- Hector and Achilles. Seeing Hector actually get tired during the fight and missing oppotunities to land a killing blow because he's worn out is something you don't see often in an action film. Also, it's one of the few fight scenes i've seen where a heroic charater looses just for lack of skill/ ability, most of the time it's because the 'bad' guy cheats in some way.

  • Comment number 32.

    ER ,HELLO, obviously the mirrors scenes from ` Enter The Dragon!` No one, BUT no one beats BRUCE. Suck it up.

  • Comment number 33.

    Iron Monkey and Ip Man:

    The lower budget kung Fu films were the best in my book due to the filmmakers having to concentrate on creating a raw but ingeniously creative set pieces of movement to camera to get around the limitations of budget.

    Expensive wires were great in The Matrix and CTHD - but they lack that rough edged bite of the older stuff

  • Comment number 34.

    content is not currently working but i would say list has to include...

    transporter oil scene, bruce lee enter the dragon, the matrix,

    also if fight/flight are seen as part of the same event District 13 a much underrated modern action classic

  • Comment number 35.

    Aside from all the martial arts classics mentioned plenty of times already. Any fight involving Charlie Chaplin. notable mentions being The Kid and City Lights. His sense of choreography and timing floors me ;) Errol Flynn's had his moments. Danny Kaye in 'The Court Jester' pretty classic piece of comedy swashbuckling too.

  • Comment number 36.

    Seems that everyone is as impressed with the corridor fight from oldboy as I am. It's the perfect display of the sheer rage and desire for revenge that's driving him.

  • Comment number 37.

    I simply can't not mention the hospital shootout from Hard Boiled. Probably the best ever caught on camera.

  • Comment number 38.

    Eastern Promises. Steam Bath. Knife in the Eye. Brutal and brilliant!

  • Comment number 39.

    Can't see the blog, seems to be broken. Anyhoo no matter I get the jist.

    The tree top sequence of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" rewrote martial arts movies for a decade. Not entirely original but so beautifully choriographed and filmed with shots panning from close up to land scape. Fantastic.

    Others have mentioned Woo. Hard Target had some doozers of fights with slow mo and coats a flappin. Hard Boiled is his best adrenalin fuelled film but "The Killer" tops the list.

    However maybe the ultimate fight sequence is between Tommy Lee Jones and Steven Seagal fighting with knives spec-ops stlye in "Under Seige", truely an excellent end to an iffy at best film.

    Perhaps the only thing that could top that in my humble opinion is the entire film of "Shogun Assassin", all the best bits of six films cobbled together to make the ultimate film. Argue all you like it can't be topped, EVER!

  • Comment number 40.

    Nobody has said it yet so I will.Equilibrium end scene using guns as fists.

  • Comment number 41.

    I loved the fight scenes in Serenity, particularly those between Mal and the Operative. The final action sequence with those two battling it out on the generator platform is brilliantly brutal, graceless and cathartic- and it ends with the most satisfying elbow to the throat in cinema history.

    As for sword fights, how about the final duel in Rob Roy, with Tim Roth's arrogant dandy Archie fighting Liam Neeson as the titular highlander. That's a fight that really tells you everything about the two characters; Archie is the faster, more skilled swordsman and has the lumbering, straightforward Rob Roy completely outmatched, but his egotistical showboating allows the highlander one last chance to get a hold of him. A great example of a tightly choreographed and directed fight scene that's integral to the plot.

  • Comment number 42.

    The scenes from 'Hanna' in which Eric Bana's character travels down an escalator, into an underground train station and fights off several villains. This scene is only over a minute long with the actual combat action only lasting about twenty four seconds! The swift camera work combined with the racing soundtrack and the artistic movements of the fighting left me stunned.

  • Comment number 43.

    The scene from 'Hanna' in which Eric Bana's character travels down an escalator, into an underground train station and fights off several villains. This scene is only just over a minute long with the actual combat action only lasting about twenty four seconds! The swift camera work, combined with the racing soundtrack and the artistic movements of the fighting, left me stunned.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'd have to say the fight scene in John Carpenters extremely underrated 'They Live!' between Roddy Piper and Keith David. Even though the film is highly flawed, I think that the way that the fight scene is edited together so perfectly, it makes the punches and kicks pulled by the characters seem so much more realistic and much more painful than the fight scenes in big budget Hollywood blockbusters.

  • Comment number 45.

    Tony Jaa's tour de force in Honour of the Dragon (saw this scene thanks to YouTube listing it as 'greatest')- he's a one man fighting machine as he goes from floor to floor defeating men attacking him.
    Live action video game in the best possible way - like watching a pro play and being very engaged in it.

    The Bourne Ultimatum's chase across the rooftops followed by that fight scene between two highly trained agents was utterly fantastic as well.

    I have to mention the cartoon Avatar: the Last Airbender has so many great ones, but Toph's intro is one of my faves and how she 'sees' her opponents.

  • Comment number 46.

    Video not working for me either but here are some suggestions anyway, not all serious.
    Ramona and Scott vs Roxy in Scott Pilgrim vs The World, although the hammer should have been labelled +2 against girls.
    I'll second any mention of Jackie Chan, the bicycle scene (in Project A I think) and Police Story 3 with Michelle Yeoh being favourites.
    Iron Monkey with the wire work later to be seen in Crouching Tiger Missing Car Keys has some beautiful sequences, especially the fight when jumping between the poles/upturned logs type training area.
    Tsui Hark's Blade (a remake of The One Armed Swordsman) has wonderfully choreographed sword fights however...
    'Beat' Takeshi's Zatoichi is something a bit special, the simple grace of the blind swordsman is magical.

  • Comment number 47.

    You can say what you like about the film, but the fight scene in the centre of the second Matrix film, where Neo fights the multiple Agent Smith's is a rather astounding piece of choreography.

  • Comment number 48.

    For me it's either the end fight sequence in 'The Prodigal Son' or the fight between Jackie chan and Benny Urquidez in 'Wheels on Meals'. I think the 'Prodigal Son' takes it but it's worth noting both films were directed by Sammo Hung. The man knows his craft well.

  • Comment number 49.

    It has to be the final battle in "Seven Samurai"

  • Comment number 50.

    Has to be the Eastern Promises bath scene and the Oldboy corridor scene!!

  • Comment number 51.

    'Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World' would seem the most obvious answer to this question but I just watched 'Sanjuro' last week as it happens and what struck me the most about it, other than how complex the plot is, was the fight scenes with Toshiro Mifune. I saw the prequel, 'Yojimbo', a couple of years ago so cannot remember if the action scenes did the same thing but what I couldn't help but notice was that the fighting happens in a limited amount of cuts. Sanjuro faces off against Muroto's men in fabulously choreographed swinging of blades and dodging out of each other's way and one or two or three guys jumping into the fray and then Mifune battling his way past them! Bloody climax aside, these scenes, I think, will stick in my memory for a long time.

  • Comment number 52.

    I'd say Tony Jaa and Jackie Chan have this category pretty well sewn up, it would have to be one of the following:

    Warrior King - the big break scene
    Ong Bak 1 & 2 - most of it
    Police Story - the playground fight
    IP Man - Final scene

  • Comment number 53.

    The first time I remember noticing a fight scene being played out in time to the accompanying music was in The Fifth Element.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm not sure if this counts as a 'fight' but I was always impressed with the choreography of the LA sootout in Heat, the moves were so precise, and the camera angles spot on, to gve the entire scene an epic quality.

  • Comment number 55.

    I remember a couple of great sequences in the little seen Drive (starring Mark Dascascos, Kadeem Hardison and a just starting out Brittany Murphy). One was set in a tiny motel room, where Mark fought 10 swat-like suited goons armed with shock sticks. The other is the finale set-piece set in a space-themed bar/diner where he fights many goons (some on motorbikes), Kardeem even gets involved.

    I also concur with the people who mentioned Ong-Bak (1 & 2), and of course the brilliant garage fight in The Transporter where The Stath fights on motor oil.

  • Comment number 56.

    A number of scenes spring to mind.

    The first were the fight scenes from The Bourne Identity, which felt like they were really doing something new at the time. The focus on getting the fight over with quickly while managing to be as brutal as possible in the confines of a 12A certificate movie was in stark contrast to what came before, with the likes of James Bond and The Matrix taking their time to draw out these scenes as long as they could. This style can very much be seen in many recent films, particulalry the more recent James Bond and Mission: Impossible films.

    Also, with relation to the idea of dancing and fighting being closely related, the bar brawl from Serenity is a perfect example. Summer Glau is a trained ballet dancer, and so she performed most of her own stunts in this scene. The influence of her dancing is obvious, with the choreographers even going so far as to change certain parts to suit things that she could do.

    Finally, I would also like to support the suggestion of The Warriors which really feel like ordinary people hitting each other, rather than expertly choeographed scenes.

  • Comment number 57.

    "That nice chicken outside gave me this coupon".

  • Comment number 58.

    There are a couple of examples I can think of:
    - The apartment fight in the Bourne Identity
    - The end of The Wild Bunch
    - The shootout in Heat
    All of these scenes pack real intesity and excitement, and it is becasue they are so well choreographed. It just goes to show that fast, up-close and personal action and violence will always hit closer to home than any special effects.

  • Comment number 59.

    I would say all of the fight sequences from Jackie Chan's directorial debut, The Fearless Hyena. I feel as is this film is often overlooked by The Drunken Master. The Drunken Master is obviously a great film but the fight sequences don't flow quite as masterfully as they do in The Fearless Hyena.

    Particularly in the fight sequence towards the end of the film, where Jackie takes on the 3 henchmen simultaneously. They're all armed with double ended retractable swords, with which they're constantly swinging and stabbing.

    The timing in this sequence is near to perfection and there is so much happening that you have to admire the choreography and amount of time it must have taken to complete.

  • Comment number 60.

    For me it has to be Spencer Tracey and Ernest Borgnine fight in 'Bad day at Black Rock'. The townsfolk realise that the laid-back John J. Macreedy is someone not to be messed with.

  • Comment number 61.

    Someone has already astutely mentioned the awesome tree top sequence from 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', but I'd also like to add the earlier sequence in which Jade Fox steals the Green Destiny sword, and the fabulous Michelle Yeoh pursues her across the rooftops, with fantastic wuxia fight interludes interspersed along the way. I remember watching this scene mouth agape in the cinema! The choreographer, Yuen Wo Ping, of course went on to choreograph the fight sequences for The Matrix trilogy...

  • Comment number 62.

    Having followed a lot of martial arts stars such as the intensity of Bruce Lee to the triumphant choreography of Donnie Yen. One fight still stands head and shoulders above all others (in my opinion) and that is Jackie Chan Vs Benny the Jet in the finale of meals on wheels. Kudos to all martial arts stars in keeping this great genre alive by adding greater intensity and action, that resonates the prowess of a pre-CG fuelled time.

  • Comment number 63.

    if it's "martial arts" films you are referring to have no clue whatsoever, as i haven't seen really good ones. The best choreographed fight sequence would be the swordfight at the end of Rob Roy. Two very good actors fighting what seems to be a fight to the death in a manner that can almost be described as dancing.

  • Comment number 64.

    In the interests of balance, I'd like to point out that all fight scenes should ideally have Michelle Yeoh in them. Particularly noteworthy are her epic stand-off with Zhang Ziyi in 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' and, on a lighter note, her battle with a bad guy and a tray of tofu in 'Wing Chun'. Oh, and as a guilty pleasure, the sight of her and Cynthia Rothrock seeing off armies of goons in 'Yes, Madam!' aka 'Police Assassins'.)

    On the same subject, let's not forget Gina Carano doing serious damage to Michael Fassbender in 'Haywire', and just about any fight in 'Chocolate' in which Jeeja Yanin hospitalises most of Bangkok's work force. The climactic punch-up on the outside of a building remains hair-raising even after several viewings.

  • Comment number 65.

    Thunder well and truly stolen for the earlier shouts for the Bourne no nonsense fisticuffs, and for "Serenity", but the fight scenes that I first remember catching my attention, for a variety of reasons, were "The Quiet Man", with John Wayne and Victor McLaglen; 'Rambo' taking on the entire police station after the threat of being shaved in "First Blood"; "District 13" - numerous amazing set pieces.
    ... and I struggle to admit this, but Jason Statham seems to deliver in most of his movies.

  • Comment number 66.

    Definitely agree with Old Boy and Ong Bak - but what about the fight scenes in Zatoichi?

  • Comment number 67.

    I think that the choreography in John Woo's Hard Boiled is stunning. The single shot which covers numerous corridors on various floors of a hospital is mesmerising sequence, and the choreography is quite astonishing. Otherwise, I agree with all who have suggested the memorable hammer fight from OldBoy, as that too was brilliant.

  • Comment number 68.

    @ 57 FarleyFlavors very funny, 'I'm sorry this has expired' 'You son of a.....'

  • Comment number 69.

    For me it can only be the corrider fight scene from the outstanding Oldboy. It took three days to film, is all one contiuous take and contains no CGI. The fighting style may not be as beautiful as that of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but instead is incredibly realistic and dare I say poetic. The addition of the hypnotic soundtrack and that unfilmable platform game style shot really tips the lid to make this the best fight scene on film for my money.

  • Comment number 70.

    Probably all of the fights in "Saving Private Ryan". Otherwise, "They Live"!!!!!

  • Comment number 71.

    One that stands out in my memory is the ten minute, one-take fight scene in Tony Jaa’s Tom-Yum-Goong (The Protector) where Jaa fights his way up a multi storied building past large numbers of henchmen.

    Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury (Particularly the final fight against the giant with the red bread.) Nuff said.

    Jackie Chan has done many superbly choreographed fight scenes, often with some very creative use of props.

    The sword fight between Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (not a film I like much otherwise). The sword fight stands out simply for the way they really appear to go at each other hammer and tongs.

    Hero is a film I liked only in part; stunningly beautiful and with a number of dreamlike sword fights (but OMG ~ that ending!).

    Errol Flynn vs Basil Rathbone at the end of Robin Hood and Kirk Douglas vs Tony Curtis at the end of The Vikings

    People above have mentioned Warriors. Fights in small enclosed spaces are difficult to stage and film and Warriors has a brilliant one set in a toilet.

    The Bourne movies obviously set a recent benchmark.

    But for my money one of the best is the gladiatorial contest between Kirk Douglas and Woody Strode in Spartacus.
    It doesn’t end in the way the audience expects and is superbly intercut with scenes of the Roman generals plotting and scheming above them ~ for them the fight to the death below is just incidental entertainment.
    A sequence where the fight really helps both develop character and develop the plot. Brilliantly scripted, superbly shot (by Kubrick) and with great scoring by Alex North.

  • Comment number 72.

    Zatoichi (2003)
    Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
    Anything by Walter Hill.

  • Comment number 73.

    Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Fight scene on roof tops, fight scene between the two leading ladies in the house. Fight scene in the bamboo forest. Pick one - I could go on.....

  • Comment number 74.

    Also, Bourne Supremacy - Fight scene in bathroom in an apartment in Tangiers.

  • Comment number 75.

    Another vote for 'Oldboy',... but worthy mentions go to Tony Jaa in 'Ong Bak', various free running/fighting scenes in 'District 13', and of course many scenes from the Bourne trilogy, in particular the biro in the hand sequence.

    Of course the biggest fight in cinema at the moment, is that 'Iron Sky' are trying to get their film shown, but 'Revolver' have decided it's a one night only showing, on Weds 23rd May, and then it's over. Luckily my local Cinema de Lux in Leics are showing it, and I'll get there, but this SUCKS for the UK, and for those who have waited so very long for this flick. YEARS in the making, and shown on one night? Please everyone go and gripe at Revolver.

  • Comment number 76.

    Got to be ENTER THE DRAGON with BRUCE LEE for two scenes/sections:

    1. The night fight with hundreds of guards when he's exploring the base,ending up with the infamous nunchuka fight. Amazingly performed and choreoraphed. Pure excitement. LEE is also the most charismatic performer of fight scenes that you will ever see (and a former champion dancer, to back up Dr Kermode's point).

    2. The hall of mirrors fight at the end. Just Class.

    Also, POLICE STORY with JACKIE CHAN. Pretty much the whole film is jaw dropping for its stunts and action sequences. Particularly the fight involving a clothes rail. Amazing. Chan was relying on pure skill, not computer fx or fancy editing.

  • Comment number 77.

    ..................ah, also,.......for more modern times..........
    JASON BOURNE armed with nothing more than a biro and (heavily influenced by BOURNE of course)JAMES BOND in the opening scene to CASINO ROYALE

  • Comment number 78.

    Has anybody mentioned Jet Li's Hero yet, nope, good. I just love the scene when Jet is fighting in the rain and the old man is playing a traditional instrument. Amazing. oh I agree with the votes on Oldboy can't beat that scene that everyone is talking about.

    What about West Side Story surely this was the start of choreographed fighting scenes.

  • Comment number 79.

    The chase through the streets in Ong-Bak - Tony Jaa is practically balletic.

  • Comment number 80.

    To find the best fight scene of all time all you have to is type in that exact line into youtube and you'll find a scene from the Cynthia Rothrock vehicle 'Undefeatable'. For once the masses on youtube get something right. Hang on a minute did you say funniest or best choreographed? For me this is the winner of both... actually that ridiculously long fight scene in 'They Live' runs it pretty close though.

  • Comment number 81.

    The Sugar Ray Robinson/Jake La Motta showdown in Raging Bull when De Niro gets his face pummelled into a bloody mess. All of the boxing scenes in Raging Bull are brutal and work well because they are scrappy, it feels improvised, as they should, but the excellent choreography comes from the editing and cinematography which is what really makes them impressive.

  • Comment number 82.

    I agree with dune357. The fight between Achilles and Hector in Troy is fantastic. Pants movie though, made even more pants by Orlando 'soggy' Bloom..

  • Comment number 83.

    I agree with Mechagodzilla, I would have to say the final fight sequence at the end of "Fist of Legend."

    As a kid, I was bewitched by Bruce Lee, and enjoyed the comedy 'n' doing-his-own-stunts of Jackie Chan; but as well as these alluring superstars, I've always been mesmerised by how technically gifted and charismatic Jet Li is.

    Billy Chow and Jet Li are both supremely watchable in that exhaustingly transcendent final scene, set during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

  • Comment number 84.

    The fight between Roddy Piper and Keith David in John Carpenters 'They Live is the most ludicrously brilliant fight scenes of all time. The fact it's over David's refusal to wear some glasses makes it even better. At least in a fight that involves crotch kicks and biting, Piper can stop and apologize mid fight for breaking David's car window. A genius fight scene made all the better by the shot for shot South Park parody.

  • Comment number 85.

    I second Oldboy, Seven Samurai, City lights and Matrix, Lord of the Rings, enter the dragon and Phantom Menace for best fight scenes. Those are all I can really think of at the moment.

  • Comment number 86.

    I'd have to go with Chia-Liang Liu's Legend of the Drunken Master, more specifically either the final fight scene or the cafe scene where Jackie Chan fights with a broken bamboo chute. But that whole movie gives me the perpetual feeling of falling off a bike.

  • Comment number 87.

    oh, and Gareth Evans previous film Merantau (which also starred Iko Uwais) had some wonderfully choreographed fight scenes.

  • Comment number 88.

    Depends upon what you are after:
    Realism: Haywire, Heat
    Artistry: Wild Bunch, Bruce Lee
    Guilty Pleasure: Transporter, Kill Bill
    Friday Night Fun: Machete, Desperado,

  • Comment number 89.

    Although not strictly a fight sequence - the Peony Pavilion scene in House of Flying Daggers, in which Ziyi Zhang's character performs a dance by repeating a drum pattern with her garment and then proceeds to use the said garment to swipe a sword from its scabbard and slice a spinning bowl into pieces. This is a beautifuly coreographed and balletic sequence that sends me into a trance-like state every time I see it.

  • Comment number 90.

    I meant Zhang Ziyi in previous post..........

  • Comment number 91.

    I think i would say the film "Ong Bak" had the best action and fight choreography i'd seen in a very long time when it was released a few years back, it raised the benchmark of martial arts combat and action to another level. The Raid infact looks like it's cut from the same cloth to a large extent. Looking forward to seeing it upon release.

  • Comment number 92.

    I think that a good choreographed action scene is the amazing concluding gun fight in John Woo's The Killer in the church. John Woo himself was a fan of Sam Peckinpah and loved musicals like Singin' in the Rain and West Side Story, he choreographs his gun fights also like dances. I love the gun battle at the end. I also think that the best choreographed fight scene would definitely have to be Bruce Lee vs Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon, I think it's one of the best fight scenes in cinema history.

  • Comment number 93.

    Hundreds of great action sequences, but I've got to give a nod to G. Evans previous film, Merantau. The final fight in that is an incredible jaw dropping stunt filled sequence that made me immediately see The Raid when it was released here in the states. It was the best choreographed fight since the great films of Jackie Chan (Project A and Police Story being his highpoints). Unfortunately,neither Merantau or The Raid seemed to find an audience here in the states.

  • Comment number 94.

    There are plenty of movies with well choreographed fight scenes.
    The "Bud Spencer and Terence Hill" movies come to minde. They have hilleriously funny but also very impressivly directed fight scenes, expecially because of the lack of cuts.
    Also very interessting lately was "Haywire". It's the same as with the before mentioned "Spencer/Hill" movies: A lack of special effects and cuts show you, what real motion artists are working in those scenes.

    Anyway, I think the best scene has already been mentioned here: It's the hallway scene from "Oldboy". I really don't think that I have to say more about it :-)

  • Comment number 95.

    the closing shoot out scene of State of Grace with the contrastingly slow and haunting Moriccone is superb. Likewise the scene from Kiss Kiss bang bang where the unlikely shooter Robert Downey JNR manages to slaw the villain whilst hanging onto a coffin suspended from a bridge, only when a gun lands in his hand. Great fun.

  • Comment number 96.

    I'd pick the fight from Wong Kar-Wai's film "Hero" between Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Moon (Zhang Ziyi) among the autumn leaves.
    A beautifully choreographed fight (yes, balletic) and gorgeously shot. It proves you don't have to have muscle bound, noisy, male action guys running around knocking six bells out of one another. The women win it for me.

    (Though anything with Bruce Lee would get my vote too!)

  • Comment number 97.

    Ps Anything chreographed Sammo Hung Check out prodigal son, warriors two, pedicab driver and encounters of the spooky kind

  • Comment number 98.

    The fight scene in the corridor in Oldboy, when our hero returns to the scene of his incarceration. Masterfully shot, it renders the violence at once hypnotic, operatic and balletic.

  • Comment number 99.

    okay probably not exactly the sort of fight scene you're after, esp as it is more orchestration than choreography but either way what always always comes to my mind is the opening scene to once upon a time in the west.

    love flying snow vs moon in hero, beautiful and deadly

  • Comment number 100.

    Off the top of my head, the corridor fight at the school reunion between John Cusack and the hit man (his actual martial arts coach). It's confined, scrappy, using judo chops, knees and elbows, all scored to "Mirror In The Bathroom" pumping out from the adjacent assembly hall, where oblivious reunion -ers dance to the ska beat. Nicely finished off with a biro!


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