As an avid fan of film fights here are a selection of some of the best fights from film franchises – everything from gun battles to slugfests to martial arts extravaganzas.
The Matrix – Subway Fight
- Combatants – Neo Vs Agent Smith
- Setting: Subway Station
- Weapons – Briefly guns, then fists
Watching The Matrix again now and you see just how influential it was. So many action films since have similar balletic fight scenes, highly choreographed and done with precision and care but I don’t know if The Matrix has ever been topped. As good as Keanu Reeves is in The Matrix Hugo Weaving is better and in many ways a far more interesting character. Everything about Agent Smith from the way he talks to the way he moves seems like it has been very carefully chosen. Youtube has videos that consist entirely of Agent Smith saying “Mr Anderson”.
Depending on how much you buy into into Neo being The One at this point really effects how likely it is that you think he’ll win. It is specifically said that every person who has tried to fight an agent has died. The fight starts with the infamous bullet-time but quickly becomes a martial arts master class. Agent Smith has a curious conservation of movement and energy and rarely looks like he’s actually trying whereas Neo is battered and bloody and clearly putting his all into it.
The climatic moment of the fight when we think Agent Smith is dead but then steps off the train is genius and also means that in one of the best fights in the history of cinema no one is actually killed.
Body Count – 0
John Wick – Club Fight
- Combatants: John Wick Vs A Lot Of Russian Gangsters
- Setting: A Night Club
- Weapons: Guns and fists
Yes, Keanu Reeves gets two. Obviously, the fight scenes in John Wick are the most important parts of the film and they don’t disappoint – arguably setting the bar for all future action films. There are number I could pick but I often come back to the fight in the night club. This is genuinely a blood bath and I had the body count at around 29 over the space of seven minutes and it showcases all of Wick’s skills – hand-to-hand fighting, shooting, weird kung-fu, all of it. Wick’s prowess at killing people almost seems supernatural but never quite strays over that line. Interestingly despite cutting through so many people Wick doesn’t even win the fight, his target escapes and he ends up being thrown over over a barrier to the floor below. But really with John Wick if he’s not dead you haven’t really won.
Body Count – I counted 29 but I’m not confident in that number.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Elevator Fight
- Combatants : Captain America Vs Various S.H.I.E.L.D Agents
- Setting – A lift (AKA an elevator)
- Weapons – Electric shock weapons, fists.
A brief fight to be sure but perhaps my favourite in all of the Marvel films. I like a fight scene that happens in a place that rather restricts the fighting and makes directors think outside the box and this definitely qualifies. Captain America is set upon by eleven (I think, it’s a little hard to count) men and then for most of the fight has one hand stuck to the wall. So often with fight scenes you feel like you’ve seen it before but I can’t think of another scene quite like this.
Body Count – Nobody dies but I count 11 people on the floor.
Kingsman: The Secret Service – Church Fight
- Combatants – Superspy Harry Hart and various fundamentalist Christians.
- Setting – Church in America.
- Weapons- Guns, knives, grenades, an axe, whatever you can put your hands on
I would go so far as to say this isn’t a good film. This one scene, however, makes it worth watching. Colin Firth is not your typical action hero but he really pulls this off. As all inside the church are essentially brainwashed into an orgy of violence a massive fight breaks out which leaves only one person standing – Harry Hart. Everyone in the church is fighting everyone else with nearly five minutes of utter mayhem in what becomes the Where’s Wally of fight scenes as you search the screen picking out individual confrontations.
Body Count – I have no idea and didn’t even try to count.
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – Plane Fight
- Combatants – Indiana Jones Vs A Big Nazi (with assistance from Marion and assorted Nazis respectively)
- Setting Air Strip in Egypt
- Weapons: Fists, machine gun, propeller
Indiana Jones does not like a fair fight. Not when he’s fighting someone bigger, tougher and stronger than he is. And is a Nazi. In this fight Indy tries every underhand trick he can think of and in the end he doesn’t really win as much the other guy loses. While certainly not played for laughs there are a couple of moments of real humour, the first time Indy is punched by the Nazi soldier he doesn’t just get knocked over but his legs just give way leaving him dazed and on the ground.
Much of the fight in Indy actually trying to avoid his opponent quickly realising there was no way he was going to win and the legendary moment when his opponent does meet his end is surely one of the best conclusions to a film fight.
Body Count – One of the main combatants and a number of other German soldiers who showed up and got on the wrong side of a machine gun.
The Dark Knight Returns – Batman Fights Superman
- Combatants – Batman Vs Superman (each with a few helpful assistants)
- Setting – A deserted section of Gotham.
- Weapons – Superman’s superpowers & Batman’s gadgets
In writing this article I did some reading around “great” fights and I was surprised to see Batman Vs Superman from Batman Vs Superman, in my view a terrible fight. So instead I have included the Batman Vs Superman fight from The Dark Knight Returns, animation but certainly one of my all time favourite fights and a vastly superior movie. This film handles the idea of why the two are fighting so much better than Zack Synder’s film and you also think that Superman might actually kill Batman, something we all knew wasn’t going to happen in Synder’s film.
Weakened from the detonation of a nuclear missile – just go with it – Superman is not at his best already and Wayne brings everything from sonic weapons to a super-strong batsuit to try and defeat him and in the end, well, he wins. A victory of ingenuity and admittedly billions of dollars over the the near-invincibility of Superman.
Body Count – 0
Also Read: Superhero Standoff: Superheros Vs Art