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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.