"The Raid 2" International Theatrical Poster
Movies are often remembered for their action scenes, which can transform even the most pedestrian scripts. All movies want moments that viewers will retain in their memory, and the best action scenes are guaranteed to do that. Keep in mind that this list isn’t just about fight choreography, it’s also about stunt work. Here’s a handful that spring immediately to mind:
Casino Royale (2006)
There are many scenes in Casino Royale that capture the attention of the viewer. The movie sees Bond playing high stakes casino games to prevent terrorist attacks and the action scenes in this terrific movie signalled that Bond was back to its best.
In one of the best action scenes; Bond, played by Daniel Craig, chases a Parkour-skilled bomb maker Mollaka through a building site in Madagascar. Fighting hundreds of feet up in the air, both men come within inches of falling to their deaths in this classic chase scene.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a film that, from its title, evokes memories of great action scenes. One of the best moments is the desert chase which sees Indiana Jones trying to keep pace with a Nazi convoy. Providing one of the most iconic images from the whole Indiana Jones series, this chase lasts approximately six minutes. The hero, on horseback, stays with the convoy despite being shot at, beaten and clinging onto vehicles for dear life. Most, who have seen the scene, will still be able to recall it many years on.
Way of the Dragon (1972)
Though this film has been criticised for the script and storyline, it has nevertheless attracted praise, notably for its action scenes. In particular, some of the fighting scenes are wonderfully choreographed, building up the tension and the intensity of the action perfectly.
One of the best involves Bruce Lee fighting with Chuck Norris, while attempting to protect his family from a Roman mafia. The fight comes to a head in the coliseum and, though Norris gets the upper hand, Lee fights back brilliantly in a scene that keeps the tension right through to the end. The movie was made in 1972 and so, while some may feel that the martial arts fighting seems a little dated, it does see Bruce Lee at his best and is justifiably a martial arts classic.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
James Bond is often featureed in lists of the top action sequences. Another Bond classic; this movie was derided by some for what they felt was an attempt to jump on the martial arts bandwagon, which was at its height in the early to mid 1970s when this movie was made and released. Featuring Roger Moore in his second film, it has a great car stunt owing something to Evel Knievel, who was also popular at this time.
It was a stunt that Knievel would have been proud of with Bond driving towards a rickety looking wooden bridge at high speed, launching off and the car doing a somersault before landing perfectly on all four wheels on the other side.
Tom Yum Goong (2006)
Almost ten years later (has it really been that long?), fans of martial arts cinema still speak of Tony Jaa’s Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector) with bated breath, particularly its infamous ‘one take’ fight scene. As Thai sensation Tony Jaa lays the smack down on a bunch of thugs in a black market restaurant, the camera fluidly follows Jaa – and all the bone-breaking action – without a single cut. This sequence remains a prime example of how a little daring behind the camera can enhance any fight scene!
Wheels on Meals (1984)
This 1984 film featuring the ‘Three Brothers’ – Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Yuen Biao – is generally regarded as their finest hour, in large part due to the action-packed finale. In this breathtaking conclusion, Jackie Chan faces off against American kick boxer Benny ‘the Jet’ Urquidez in a fight scene for the ages. The two opponents move at such blistering speeds, viewers will be surprised the camera can keep up with them. It’s hard to believe that the movie was nominated for Best Action Choreography at the ’84 Hong Kong Awards but did not win; then again, it lost to another movie featuring the Three Brothers, Winners and Sinners, proving that perhaps Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung’s only competition is themselves!
The Raid: Redemption (2012)
After Tony Jaa became a Bhuddist monk and momentarily left the acting world, many martial arts buffs were waiting for a new star to step onto the international scene. Their prayers were finally answered by Indonesian sensation Iko Uwais and his finest showcase yet, 2011′s The Raid: Redemption. Though the movie is stuffed to the gills with jaw-dropping Silat encounters, the finest in the film might just be its infamous three-way closing battle, in which Iko Uwais and his character’s brother square off against the indomitable ‘Mad Dog’ (played by Yayan Ruhian). Thanks in large part to the intricate choreography and director Gareth Evans’ stylish camerawork, The Raid’s finale delivered a bloody battle for the ages.
The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)
After the release of the The Raid: Redemption, audiences were were wondering if Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais would be able to top the fight scene mentioned below. As epic as it was, the odds were against them. In its sequel, The Raid 2: Berandal, Uwais goes toe-to-toe with “The Assassin” (played by Cecep Arif Rahman) – to most, this sequence not only matched the “Uwais and Brother vs. Ruhian” fight, it straight up dominated it. The scene goes on and on, and with each passing second, it gets more energetic and more insane! By the time the fight ends, you’ll feel so overwhelmed with satisfaction that there’s a possibility that you’ll never have to watch another action movie ever again…
Fist of Legend (1994)
Jet Li had already been making movies for over a decade at this point, but it was 1994′s Fist of Legend that cemented his status as a martial arts icon. The film is a remake of the classic Bruce Lee movie Fist of Fury and, really, you gotta hand it to Jet Li for having the stones to step into Bruce’s shoes. Regardless, Jet proved himself more than worthy of the role; the movie is consistently ranked among the best works of both Jet and his director/action choreographer Yuen Woo-ping. While Fist of Legend has plenty of fight scenes to recommend, it has to be Jet Li’s final encounter with the intimidating Billy Chow that steals the show. At nearly six feet tall, Chow towers over his opponent and counts as one of the few foes who’s given Jet Li a run for his money. Props must once again be given to Master Yuen Woo-ping: the duo’s fight rages for over ten minutes and there’s not a dull moment in the entire stretch!
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Quentin Tarantino is highly noted for his hip dialogue, non-linear story lines and his extreme glorification of violence. In 2003, Tarantino proved that he also had the chops to be one of the best action film directors of our time. With the martial arts choreography guidance of Yuen Woo-ping (yep, same guy we mentioned above), the “House of Blue Leaves” fight sequence was born. It’s The Bride (Uma Thurman) vs. The Crazy 88 (one of them being Shaw Brothers legend, Gordon Liu), Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama) and O-Ren (Lucy Liu). Intensified by Ennio Morricone’s Death Rides A Horse score – in addition to The Human Beinz’ cover of Nobody But Me – the “House of Blue Leaves” action scene is a natural high filled with visions of beauty, brutality and blood!
Hard Boiled (1992)
No “memorable action scenes” list is acceptable without a John Woo movie. If it’s true that certain people “get off” on violence, then this movie is the equivalent of hardcore porn for the NRA. Of particular interest is the segment in which Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung, in a disgusting attempt to corrupt our children, blast their way through the hospital’s hallways, opening fire on anything that moves. It has a certain DOOM (yes, the video game) quality to it that would make those fascist “concerned parents” groups sh*t their pants.
There’s obviously about 50 more films that need to be in this list, but like I said, these films sprung to mind without a second of thought. Feel free to comment below for your suggestions. Until next time, thank you for reading!