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 Movie Performances

Sometimes in film there are performances that prove that performance isn’t just an aspect of the art form known as film, but also an art form on its own. This is a list dedicated to that art form. Its a list that perfectly exemplifies the idea of performance as an art form. These are the performances that will be remembered till the end of film itself. These are the performances that, just for a split second, make you forget you’re watching a movie because of how much raw emotion is encapsulated in a single movie character. Each and every one of them deserves endless amounts of praise.

10. Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List)

Ralph Fiennes doesn’t get nearly the praise he deserves. He’s one of the greatest actors and deserves to be held right up there with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Marlon Brando. If you don’t believe me, take an in depth look into the antagonist of the masterpiece, Schindler’s List. Truly look at every choice Fiennes makes and you’ll see that the man became Amon Goeth, Ralph Fiennes take on nazi Amon Goeth is nothing short of the most realistic portrayal of evil and hatred ever put on screen.

9. Robert De Niro (Raging Bull)

Robert De Niro’s work in Raging Bull is the kind of performance you look at and say, “that’s not Robert De Niro, that’s Jake LaMotta”. There are so many moments where you’re watching Raging Bull and you just stop breathing at risk of missing a single line De Niro utters because everything is so real. Robert De Niro is one of the greatest actors there ever was and this stands as his greatest performance. He threw every piece of talent he has into it and it shows.

8. Kevin Spacey (American Beauty)

It’s simply common knowledge that Kevin Spacey is a genius when it comes to acting. He’s brilliant in everything he’s in whether its a limping cripple in The Usual Suspects or the voice over of a villainous grass hopper in A Bug’s Life. You’ll find his greatest performance in the fascinating film, American Beauty. American Beauty studies one of the most interesting characters ever put on screen and in order to have an amazing film, which it was, it needed a brilliant performance. Spacey managed to give more than just that.

7. George C. Scott (Patton)

George C. Scott has had a very illustrious career and he’s very well known for the way he gives the middle finger to the award shows, but for some reason always still managed to win them. The reason is because no one, especially the academy, can deny that the man is one of the greatest actors known to film. You’ll find his greatest performance as american rebel and hero. General George S. Patton. Patton was a man who knew war and war alone. Patton extensively looks looks into this brilliant General and Scott plays the character incredibly.

6. F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus)

Until the end of the art of performance you’ll see actors playing great artists, whether that be Beethoven, Shakespeare or even Michelangelo. Rarely will we see actors play mediocre artists and never will we see one played as well as F. Murray Abraham played Wolfgang Mozart’s rival, Composer Antonio Salieri. The movie touches on every spectrum of the character and Abraham relentlessly plays it with such spectacle that at times your heart skips a beat. What you’re watching when you watch Abraham in Amadeus is pure art in every way.

5. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)

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Whether he’s Johnny Cash or a despicable emperor of Rome, it’s almost disturbing how gloriously Joaquin Phoenix is able to envelop the characters he portrays. Paul Thomas Anderson manages to get the career-best performance out of at least one of his actors and that’s the case with Joaquin Phoenix’s turn as Freddie Quell. Quell is a very confused man, a drifter looking for his way after WWII. He knows drinking, fighting and sex. He’s lacking in purpose and compass and Joaquin Phoenix dives into the character with astounding results.

4. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

At one point in auditioning for the character Col. Hans Landa, Quentin Tarantino literally thought that he might have written an unplayable character. He told himself that he wasn’t going to make the film if he wasn’t able to get the perfect actor for the part. Luckily he found Christoph Waltz who managed to give cinema one of the greatest performances of all time. What you get in the character Col. Hans Landa are so many intricate layers that its understandable that Tarantino had a hard time finding an actor to not only understand every aspect of the character, but also to perform it to perfection. Waltz did just that and more.

3. Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest)

After many trials, finally in 1975 one of literature’s most treasured books was finally put on screen. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest is one of the greatest films ever made and one of the main reasons that is, is because in it you’ll find the greatest performance from one of the greatest actors known to cinema. Everything Nicholson does in the movie is so human and real. That makes the character all the more likable and relatable as he rivals my most hated character in cinema history. Nicholson holds nothing back and throws everything he had into a performance that desperately needed every single bit of talent an amazing actor could give. Jack Nicholson is always brilliant, but him as R. P. McMurphy is perfection in every sense.

2. Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)

There Will Be Blood is arguably the most extensive character studies into the mind of one the most despicable basterd’s ever depicted on screen. Daniel Day-Lewis is not just one of the greatest actors known to cinema, he is the greatest actor known to cinema and his portrayal as oilman Daniel Plainview proved once and for all precisely what a performance can be. And what a performance can be, I would never be able to put into words, but the best way to put it in one word would be to say masterful.

In watching There Will Be Blood, we’re not watching Daniel Day-Lewis, we’re watching Daniel Plainview. Its almost magical that someone can truly be as fully engrossed in a character as Daniel Day-Lewis is when he acts. We get to learn every aspect of character that is Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood and with Daniel Day-Lewis’ acting he makes almost all performances before it seem like child’s play in comparison. Daniel Day-Lewis is the greatest actor known to cinema and what he achieves in There Will Be Blood is nothing short of one of the greatest performances of all time.

1. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

The true art of performance was never truly as prevalent as it was when Heath Ledger played the villain in the greatest movie of all time. Never, and I mean never, was pure evil encapsulated as well as it was in the character The Joker in The Dark Knight. Every movement, gesture, nervous tic, and  line is calculated and made memorable by a truly brilliant performance. Heath Ledger deserves every bit of praise he gets for his portrayal as The Joker, not because of his unfortunate death, but because Heath Ledger played the greatest character ever put on screen to literal perfection.

Behind the masks and make-up of The Dark Knight, it is unquestionably the greatest example of good vs. evil that any story ever written or told has ever offered. Batman is good for the sake of being good and The Joker is evil for the sake of being evil. They need each because one is nothing without the other. Truly look into the stories of Batman and you’ll see that The Joker is just as important to the mythology as Batman is. The are the perfect example of enemies that other films aspire to have, but never will.

The Joker is a part played many times in the past, from Mark Hamill to even Jack Nicholson. He is the most important villain, not just in cinema, but in literature because he encapsulates the very idea of evil itself. Heath Ledger had a lot of work to do. In being asked to play The Joker, you’re being asked to give a truly magnificent performance or else its nothing we  haven’t seen before. Heath managed to give the greatest of all time due to the use of every single ounce of ability he had. Every emotion is the purest of all evil is felt due to a man showing as that performance is an truly an art form. All I can do is thank Heath Ledger and say that I undoubtedly feel that with The Joker, he gave us the greatest performance known to cinema.

Top Ten Martin Scorsese Movies

If you know anything about film, you know the name of Martin Scorsese. He’s god’s gift to cinema and one of my favorite directors of all time. Scorsese has literally been making masterpieces since the 60s and hasn’t stopped since. When looking at his illustrious works, everyone has certain films they latch onto and they’re often very different and that’s because he has so much versatility.

He loves what he was born to do and that is making movies. Here is a list that celebrates his magnificent works of art. Here is a look at my favorite films of one of the most marvelous filmmakers of our time.

10. Bringing Out the Dead

Martin Scorsese’s character study of an ambulance driver driven to near insanity is nothing short of breath-taking. It’s incredibly fast-paced and filled with a adrenaline. From a surprsingly great performance from Nicholas Cage to his outrageous partners, rarely are you not entertained.

9. The Color of Money

I’m not a Tom Cruise fan in the least bit, but I can say with out a doubt that this is his best role. He is over shadowed by the great Paul Newman though, but that goeas without saying. The Color of Money is a highly engrossing look into the lives of pool hustlers. I’m not going to lie. I actually enjoy this sequel better than the classic original (“The Hustler”).

8. Casino

If Martin Scorsese could be considered to have a forte, it would with out a doubt be the Gangster genre. No one makes them better than he does. The first one you’ll find on my list would be the fantastic tale he weaves of crime in the city of Las Vegas. It’s one you won’ be able to take your eyes of, but it pales in comparison to some of his other excursions into crime.

7. The Aviator

The Aviator is a down right fantastic biopic about the life and times of Howard Hughes. The movie can be considered long, but every moment is meaningful and a film about someone’s life deserves a good length. I think Leonardo DiCaprio is a fantastic actor and this is the performance of is career. I doubt he will be able to top it.

6. Gangs of New York

Gangs of New York is a fantastically woven tale of vengeance set in a criminal-run New York city in the 1800s. Leonardo DiCaprio is great as the leading man, but the real praise belongs to Daniel Day-Lewis as the sadistic Bill “The Butcher” Cutting. Its a story told on an epic scale ands its truly impossible not to get enjoyment out of it.

5. Shutter Island

Shutter Island from start to finish is a dark and emotional roller coaster ride that never lets up even after the credits role. From the second the movie begins, the mood sets in and you both love and are a bit scared at what you’ve gotten yourself into. It’s a film that’s almost draining because of how intense it is. This is Martin Scorsese’s take on a psychological thriller and its the kind that every film lover has dreamed of being able to see.

4. Raging Bull

Raging Bull is a work of true art showing the raw and emotional life of the boxer Jake LaMotta. Its a poetic look into a life of brutality and pride. Scorsese holds no puches (pun intended) and Robert DeNiro gives the greatest performance he’s ever given. Raging Bull is truly a masterpiece for the way that it tells the tale of man whose not a hero or a villain, but just a man, no more, no less.

3. Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver is an unconventional tale told and acted to perfection. Its a character study of a sociopath dealing with the decay of the world around him. Taxi Driver unprecedented in the way that it tells a horrific tale through the eyes of a terrible person. We get a full examination of a mind that is unlike our own in almost every possible way. What is found is disturbing, cruel and above all, interesting. Robert DeNiro gives an amazing performance. I stand by my comment about the performance of his career would be found in Raging Bull, but I believe Taxi Driver surpasses Raging Bull as a film.

2. Goodfellas

Goodfellas is a movie that can best be described as a crash-course in absolutely everything you’d ever want to know about mobsters. You learn of every in and out of the mob through the telling of the tale of Henry Hill, a young man who had one wish, “to be a gangster”. Most would consider The Godfather to be the mobster movie, but I believe Goodfellas even surpasses that work of genius. Goodfellas is one of those films you can watch over and over and still get enjoyment. It truly is an unforgettable achievement in film and I’ve only seen one other movie Scorsese made that was able to top it.

1. The Departed

The Departed is nothing short of a flawless film. Its work of pure and incredible entertainment. A gritty piece of art that I consider to be one of the greatest films of all time. Each quote, character and scene is another brush stroke in an epic masterpiece of cops and robbers. Every single aspect is well thought out The Departed is the movie that got Scorsese his Oscars for both Best Picture and Best Director. Some would argue that the awards were given to him in recognition for his entire career and maybe that’s true, who knows? All I know is that The Departed is one of the greatest movies of all time and Martin Scorsese’s best work.