Top Ten Movie Fights

Alright, I think it’s finally time I made this list. A while back I made a list of my Top Ten Movie Gun Fights, but now it’s time for my list of the greatest fights in film. By fights I mean anything other than guns, whether that be swords, bats, rocks, or yes, fists. For most of the fights I tried to keep it to mano a mano, but I made some exceptions I felt I needed to. I also tried to keep it so a film could only make the list once even though things would slightly change otherwise. I wanted to make a definitive list that shows exactly how I feel about fights in film. These are the ones I love…

10. Oh Dae-Suh vs. Henchmen (Oldboy)

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In a work of tour de-force filmmaking, Chan-wook Park crafts one of the greatest fights in film. Our protagonist on a gritty journey of vengeance is trapped in a tight hallway with a number of heavily armed henchmen whom he does battle with single handedly. The camera never takes it’s eye off the action and never changes it’s shot as we venture down the hall through all the carnage. It quenches blood thirst and showcases truly great filmmaking.

9. Jake LaMotta vs. Sugar Ray Robinson (Raging Bull)

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Raging Bull is Martin Scorsese’s raw and brutal masterpiece of man, a boxer no less. Where his violent tendencies are helpful in the ring, the same can’t be said about his life outside of what he was born to do. The greatest scene in the film takes place between the protagonist Jake LaMotta and his boxing rival Sugar Ray Robinson. In their final fight Robinson may be announced the winner, but after seeing this brilliant scene, I leave it up to you. Who really won?

8. Rick Deckard vs. Roy Batty (Blade Runner)

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Rick Deckard is a Blade Runner who loses his gun and falls prey to the powerful and philosophical replicant, Roy Batty. Roy toys wit him the whole time before showing him the value of life. Who is Deckard to take it away? What makes a human a human? Roy delves into this after proving his worth over Deckard’s. Their final meeting in the rain on the rooftops is what makes Blade Runner the glorious and profound masterpiece that it is.

7. Maximus vs. Commodus (Gladiator)

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Gladiator takes it’s viewers on one of the most epic and satisfying journeys ever filmed. We follow Roman General Maximus as he falls into slavery eventually making his way into the Colosseum as gladiator. The climax of Maximus’ beautiful quest comes in form of a sword fight between the heroic gladiator, Maximus and the pretentious scum that is the Emperor of Rome, Commodus. It’s impossible not to love Maximus and hate Commodus. To see them finally clash swords is breathtaking.

6. King Kong vs. T-Rex (King Kong)

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In order to protect Ann Darrow, the mighty Kong does battle with a troupe of ferocious T-Rex. This is just a beautiful realization of the magic of movies. We feel for this giant ape and his character, he’s a protector here and we root for this mighty beast to conquer over these flesh-craving fiends. The scene is just awesome. It grabs hold of you and puts you in that theater again as a kid, a kid just sitting back and taking it all in. Peter Jackson’s King Kong is an unspoken epic and this moment is a testament to its excellence.

5. Arthur vs. Projections (Inception)

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Inception is one of the most memorable and fascinating movies ever made. You’d be hard pressed to find a moment in the film as memorable as the now classic hallway scene. Arthur is left to fend for himself in the second level of dreams and he’s very able to hold his own against Fisher’s trained projections. Fighting becomes an interesting task when you’re not only fighting on the ground, but on the ceiling, the walls and in the air. Christopher Nolan holds no punches in his reality-bending, science fiction masterpiece.

4. Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Vader (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith)

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The Star Wars saga doesn’t particularly hold a special place in my heart. I enjoy Star Wars and I always will, but I’ll always be more of a Lord of the Rings man myself. My favorite Star Wars movie is actually Revenge of the Sith and the reason is this scene. This is far and away the greatest lightsaber fight ever filmed. Not only is it an extravagant action scene that thrills with every passing second, it also has the emotional gravity. This is a master and an apprentice fighting for their lives. It was all leading to this and the spectacular scene makes Revenge of the Sith the only redeeming quality of the atrocious new trilogy.

3. Batman vs. Ra’s Al Ghul (Batman Begins)

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Like slot number four, this scene also follows a fight between a master and an apprentice, but it’s far more beautiful here. Ra’s Al Ghul is personally responsible for the training of the warrior that would become Batman. Ghul believes in a less merciful brand of justice than Batman does and their differences lead them to a train and the greatest scene in Batman Begins. Ra’s Al Ghul is a fantastic character and the relationship between him and Batman is established flawlessly. It all culminates to their final confrontation and it is miraculous.

2. The Bride vs. Bill (Kill Bill)

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Kill Bill is Quentin Tarantino’s perfectly epic, blood-soaked and gorgeous tale of revenge. There is one thing that our protagonist needs and it’s in the title of the movie. A bloodlust drives our deadly hero and she will stop at nothing to accomplish her goal. As I said before I didn’t want to use two different fights from the same movie and take up two spots. If I had I certainly would’ve had the Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves on this list, but it’s basically just tied for the second slot of the greatest fights in film with the fight the entirety of the four-hour epic is leading to, The Bride’s confrontation with Bill. Like all brilliant Tarantino scenes, tension is built through dialogue and the payoff is extraordinary.

1. Batman vs. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)

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There are two fights between Batman and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises that exemplify the war that is waged between these two titans throughout the entire movie. The two fights themselves represent the two greatest fights in film. If I had to pick one, I’d lean towards the beautiful war in the snow in which the stakes are made clear and hope triumphs over despair. Don’t get me wrong however, the scene in which Bane breaks the Bat far surpasses any movie fight I’ve seen, but as I said I would I choose one. Their first encounter is drawn out and brutal as Bane inflicts as much pain and damage on Batman as he can before literally breaking him (physically and mentally). When Batman conquers over Bane in the end, Batman doesn’t have that time. It’s a battle of efficiency and realism. Batman has faced this monster of a man before, he’s gone through a journey since and it’s the result of this fight that decides the fate of Gotham. It’s the greatest fight in all of film.

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Top Ten Quentin Tarantino Scenes

Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest filmmakers to have ever graced the silver screen with art. He is arguably the greatest writer of film ever and he writes and envisions perfect scenes which he executes with prowess. Making this list was like making a list of short films because that’s what a great scene is. It tells a story. It has a beginning and it has an ending. They ways Tarantino gets to those endings are always breathtaking. This is my list of the greatest scenes Tarantino has constructed.

10. Django’s Revenge (Django Unchained)

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It’s a solemn image that begins the scene. Silhouettes of a group of people walk away from a funeral, they finally make it to Candyland where they find Django. He offers them their comeuppance. The scene offers a perfect end to a perfect movie. After all the blood and carnage, it’s a happy ending, an ending where bad people are triumphed over and love prevails. It’s fun, it’s cool and it is glorious.

9. Stuntman Mike Meets His Match (Death Proof)

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When you watch Death Proof, what you’re watching is a slasher movie. The killer at it’s heart doesn’t use a knife, a chainsaw or an axe however, he uses his car. The film just builds and builds to its explosive ending, arguably the greatest car chase in film. Quentin Tarantino has a way with villains and Stuntman Mike is one hell of a villain. He gets quite the unexpected surprise when he chooses his latest victims.

8. Sicilians (True Romance)

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True Romance wasn’t directed by Quentin Tarantino, but he did write it. The movie as a whole, and especially this particular scene, have Quentin’s brilliant dialogue written all over it. Tarantino has a way of creating these almost one-act dramas with some of his scenes. In this scene, the tension rises at perfect pace as it always does and the characters take hold. Both Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper perform off of each other flawlessly.

7. Showdown at House of Blue Leaves (Kill Bill)

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Kill Bill is one movie and story told in two volumes. Volume 1 has quite the satisfying conclusion in House of Blue Leaves. This is where she’ll find the first name on her Death List, Oren Ishii. The samurai sword fight between the two of them is epic but it’s the lead up to their fight that makes this scene amazing. Alone and vicious, The Bride cuts her way through Oren’s personal army, The Crazy 88s. The scene is one of Tarantino’s most incredible undertakings and one you can’t take your eyes off.

6. Dinner in Candyland (Django Unchained)

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Prior to this scene, Django Unchained is about the loving plight of Django and his friend Dr. King Schultz. This scene is Calvin J. Candie’s show and what a show he puts on. Like all psychotic and sadistic villains, Candie can switch on a dime and that’s just what he does here along with the scene. Everything seems to be going swimmingly for Django until Calvin pulls out a skull and begins to muse about his dead slave, “Old Ben”. We then begin to understand just how despicable this man truly is.

5. La Louisiane (Inglourious Basterds)

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The classic  drama that plays out in the tavern, La Louisiane, is a miracle of a scene. The first three chapters of Inglourious Basterds introduce its the characters that will play their parts in the cataclysmic fifth chapter. The fourth chapter introduces another character, Lt. Archie Hicox. There are a few scenes in this fourth chapter involving Hicox but it’s the scene in La Louisiane that takes the cake. Quentin Tarantino knows tension and as a result, scenes like this are relentless in their excellence.

4. Killing Bill (Kill Bill)

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With a title like Kill Bill, it stands to reason there’s going to be quite the scene involving someone killing Bill. In entirety of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, that just so happens to be the greatest scene in the blood-soaked revenge masterpiece. The relationship between Beatrix Kiddo and Bill is one of love and bloodlust. It’s got the music, it’s got the dialogue and it’s got the emotional baggage. This is the scene with the greatest death in film. The movie builds to this single moment and it’s one of the most satisfying moments in film.

3. Candyland Massacre (Django Unchained)

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As Dr. King Schultz and Calvin J. Candie verbally square off, Django quietly sits on the side lines waiting to burst. This is just another one of Tarantino’s classic tension oozing scenes. It’s a scene dedicated to the three best characters in the movie. Calvin Candie once again proves what scum he is, while Schultz once again proves himself to be a good man, a hero. The scene then escalates into the phenomenal gun fight this masterpiece deserved. It’s the greatest scene in Django Unchained and one of the greatest scenes in film.

2. Diner (Pulp Fiction)

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In Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino literally defines pulp before your eyes and then gives you the fiction and it’s fiction of the literary variety. The final scene in the movie takes place in a diner and it’s easily one of the greatest scenes in film. Jules Winnfield is the best character in the film and the final diner scene utilizes him to exemplify the very idea of a bad man turning good. There’s never a dull moment in this masterpiece, but this is far and away the greatest scene in the film. This final diner scene is what makes Pulp Fiction the movie it is. It may be a cliché, but this is one of the most perfect examples of a story being brought full circle.

1. Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France (Inglourious Basterds)

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Watch Inglourious Basterds and witness Quentin Tarantino’s greatest feat, Inglourious Basterds. The first chapter is a single scene and it’s simple enough, a one-act drama if you will, that consists of a Colonel in Hitler’s Third Reich and his conversation with a cow farmer who may or may not be hiding enemies of the state in his house. This scene unveils one of the greatest characters and villains in cinema, Col. Hans Landa.

The first chapter of Inglourious Basterds is just an example of perfect writing. A central character to the real drama that’s unfolding is introduced and developed as the scene tells a story in and of itself. Denis Ménochet is able to play off a masterful actor in magnificent ways. Christoph Waltz gives a flawless portrayal of a flawlessly written character, Tarantino’s best. The scene exemplifies Tarantino movies as a whole. A beautiful piece of art and always a good time at the movies.

Top Ten Cinematic Enemies

From the very beginning of film there have always been enemies or rivalries at the core of any story. Whether its a cop and a robber in “The Great Train Robbery” or Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in “Empire Strikes Back”. Sometimes these enemies can best be described as good vs. evil, but not all stories are that black and white. Each has a side to root for, each is unique in its own way and this is a list of my ten favorite.

10. William Munny and Little Bill Daggett

Unforgiven is one of my favorite films of all time. The entire movie centers on the two stories of William Munny and Little Bill Daggett. In the archaic, dying west, a story is told of two men who helped shape the violent worlds around them and their eventual meeting. Its a beautiful film with one of the greatest climaxes in film.

9. Alfred Borden and Robert Angier

At the center of Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece of deception and magic is a rivalry between two magicians. The dark story that unfolds between these two characters is nothing short of breathtaking. These character’s obsession with one-upping each other eventual leads to fatal tragedies. You won’t want to blink at the risk of missing something.

8. Juror #8 and Juror #3

Guilty or Not Guilty? That is the question that 12 Angry Men asks from the beginning, but what drives this tale are two men who will fight for their side till the bitter end. Each character in this film is unique and brings something to the story, but what it all comes down to is a rivalry between one man who argues “not guilty” from the very beginning and one man who will argue “guilty” regardless of reason.

7. The Bride and Bill

The four-hour epic, Kill Bill, would be nothing without its two main characters; Beatrix Kiddo and Bill. What makes the relationship between Bill and Beatrix so unique is that even though they know in their hearts that one of them has to die, they still feel an unconditional love for each other. This relationship leads up to one of the greatest deaths in film.

6. Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Amadeus is one of the greatest films ever made and that’s because of the relationship that it centers on. It’s a tale of the mediocre composer Antonio Salieri and his professional rivalry with world-renowned composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The relationship is interesting in the way that Mozart isn’t even aware of Salieri’s deep-seeded hatred towards him. Its truly an amazing film.

5. The Man with the Harmonica and Frank

Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the greatest tales of revenge ever told. What’s beautiful about this story is that we don’t even come to realize what our hero is attempting to take revenge for until seconds before he gets it. It’s an interesting way of telling a story and it works perfectly. We realize what a cold-blooded bastard Frank is throughout the movie, but we don’t truly understand his menace until he comes face to face with The Man with the Harmonica.

4. Maximus and Commodus

The epic known as Gladiator is driven purely by a tale of deserved vengeance. When watching Gladiator, we went nothing more than for the hero Maximus to succeed in his quest for killing the the ruthless emperor Commodus. What you get in Gladiator is a character you absolutely love and and a character you absolutely hate and when they are mortal enemies it makes for an exhilarating film experience.

3. Daniel Plainview and Eli Sunday

In most films there is a clear cut good guy and a clear cut bad guy. Some of the most interesting rivalries come from films when that’s not so clear. Films such as The Prestige and Amadeus are examples of that, neither of the characters in those stories can be established as the good guy or the bad guy. What makes There Will Be Blood so interesting is the way it tells a tale of the rivalry between two unquestionably terrible people. The story of hatred that unfolds is a truly amazing one to watch.

2. Randall Patrick McMuphy and Nurse Ratched

The heart of the masterpiece that is One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest lies in the relationship between R.P. McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. There is no movie character in the history of film that I feel more hatred towards than Nurse Ratched. And to watch the battle of wits between her and the free spirited Randall Patrick McMurphy is nothing short of one of the greatest film experiences ever. The battle between the two is the battle between being yourself and conforming to the whims of the powers that be and its really quite beautiful.

1. Batman and The Joker

No other pair of enemies has ever been able to give as much poetic justice to the battle of good and evil than the never-ending battle of Batman and The Joker. Batman is pure good, while The Joker is pure evil and they are now and always will be mortal enemies. The genius behind their relationship is in the way that neither will kill the other.

Batman won’t kill in general especially not The Joker, because that’ll be giving The Joker exactly what he wants; for Batman to reach his breaking point. The Joker will kill anyone except Batman because “he’s too much fun”. They need each other in order to have purpose as does good and evil. They “complete” each other as The Joker says. The story of the epic and constant battle between Batman and The Joker epitomizes the term good vs. evil.

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