Honorable Mention: Neo vs. Hundreds of Agent Smith’s – “THE MATRIX RELOADED”
Some may think this scene was pretty ridiculous when it came out but I was one of the people in the theatre that got pissed off when it ended. It was so much goddamn fun watching Neo knock the living shit out of the Smith’s one after the other with various weapons and his own bare fists. And the fact that not one person in the entire scene lost their sunglasses even with all the explosions, punches, kicks and throws just proves the awesomeness of what is happening. From the praise I’ve just given the scene, you’d expect that it would be part of my top 5 but one thing I always including when rating my fight lists is the brutality involved. Neo may be fighting a lot of Smiths but everything is so fast and clean that there’s nothing really brutal or bloody about it. It’s still a great time!
5) Blade vs. Vampire Guards & Frost – “BLADE”
Out of the entire BLADE trilogy, the first still remains my favourite as it was an amazing introduction to the character and Snipes was at his best. Granted the sequel was f#cking amazing under the helm of Guillermo Del Toro but the first just edges it out a little bit for me personally. Placing number five on my list, the final onslaught at the end of the first film is by-far one of the greatest one vs. many fight scenes ever as it’s incredibly brutal, very fast and featured some amazing choreography. You had stabbings, laying the fucking boots, neck snaps, decapitations, ripping the skin off a vampires neck and throwing it so hard it knocks another vampires off his feet, etc. What I love the most about the fight obviously though is watching Snipes as the brutal anger that Blade carries while fighting is just so genuine, especially with his grand entrance. FROOOOOOOOOOOOST!!!!!
4) Jet Li vs. the Japanese School – “FIST OF LEGEND”
I’ve juggled with this choice a little bit because I’m a little hesitant to include a movie that has a premise SO CLOSE to one of my favourite Bruce Lee films ever called FIST OF FURY. It involved Bruce returning to his Chinese school in order to seek out his master’s killer and avenge his death no matter the consequences. However, FIST OF LEGEND did feel like a very different film and features what I believe to be one of the most kick-ass one on one fights of all-time. For this film though, I’m referring to the now classic confrontation between a young and prosperous Jet Li and the students of the Japanese school who Li has more than a disagreement with. Choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping and featuring the lightning fast moves of Li, you can’t help but sit in your chair with your jaw-dropped watching him kick the living piss out of these students without even breaking a sweat. Just don’t ask him to take off his shoes.
3) Tony Jaa vs. the Guards – “THE PROTECTOR”
I remember seeing this clip before I actually saw the movie and feeling a sense of fulfillment. I felt this because after watching this scene, I was convinced that anything in film could be achieved if you just co-ordinate your time, resources and skills properly. This fight scene by the still hugely underrated Tony Jaa is without question one of the greatest single-take choreographed scenes in film history and will be inspiring filmmakers for the next generation without question. It inspires me so much because I can’t imagine the level of preparation and memory needed in order to make it work right. On top of the choreography, the fighting and performed stunts are also breathtaking and Tony just looks like a minotaur as he rampages through those sorry f#cks. Top recommendation to all!
2) Beatrix Kiddo vs. the Crazy 88’s – “KILL BILL”
What more can I say about this scene that hasn’t been said before by countless thousands? If you told me ten years ago that Quentin Tarantino was going to be responsible for one of the most viciously brutal and bloody sword battles of all-time, I would have damn near pissed myself laughing from thinking how gullible and short-sighted you are. I remember having to sneak into the theatre to see KILL BILL – PART 1 as I wasn’t “of age” yet with a friend of mine and I literally had tear of joy running down my cheeks from the fury that Uma unleashes on these sorry Kato imitators. I still never truly understood why the MPAA figured that this scene was any less brutal in black & white as opposed to colour because I get the exact same reaction from either version. To be honest, I prefer the B&W version and always will mainly cause it hides some of the ridiculous practical blood FX that they used but also because all you focus on is the violence and not the imagery. A classic for all-time!
1) Bruce Lee vs. Hans’ Island Guards – “ENTER THE DRAGON”
I don’t know why but this is by-far one of the most underrated and unspoken about fight scenes of all-time and in my opinion, it was Bruce Lee’s greatest out of all the films he made. This scene reminds me every time of the great loss that the human race as a whole suffered when Bruce died so suddenly because there was no greater fight performer than him and there may never be. Sure Jet Li and Jackie Chan are amazingly fast and would snap my neck like a chop-stick in about 6 microseconds but Bruce could do the same thing while he’s folding laundry plus reading a bedtime story for his kids with one hand tied behind his back all at the same time. This particular fight in ENTER THE DRAGON stands out considerably from all the others both for the lethality of the individual fights he has with the guards plus his lightning fast speed in disposing of each poor soul that gets in his cross-hairs. For me, this scene laid the foundation for all future “one vs. many” fights and stands out as the greatest of them all. We miss you Bruce…more than you could ever know.
– Nick Bosworth