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.
Recently, my best friend took some time, thought for a while, and eventually performed the liberating task of making a list of his top 25 favorite movies. I made one a while ago, Top 25 Movies. It’s quite the experience to establish to yourself exactly what movies you love and just how much you love them. My friend made his list and I thought it would be fun to post his list of favorite movies just to show a differing opinion. Part of the fun of movies is discussing them and what they mean and it’s all subjective so why not look into someone else’s cinematic opinion?
25. The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs is a modern classic. It’s a dark and thrilling movie about murder and the mind. The Silence of the Lambs tells the tale of an ambitious FBI in training as she tracks the whereabouts of a psychotic killer. However, the killer you become more fascinated by is the intelligent, charming, and sinister, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In order to catch her killer, Clarice Sterling gets into the mind of a one through Anthony Hopkins’ chilling Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter.
24. The Shining
The Shining is a masterpiece of a horror movie and an epic as only Stanley Kubrick could make. It’s a fascinating haunted house story that makes you feel as isolated and uneasy as its main characters. As the evil that is The Overlook Hotel subtly consumes a family, you can’t help but be enthralled by the madness and the drama. The Shining offers an unreal and completely memorable experience that makes for arguably the greatest horror movie ever made.
23. Schindler’s List
It’s a hard task to deny that Steven Spielberg is an incredible director. There may be movies he’s made that you don’t enjoy, but the man has made many movies. Schindler’s List is “the beard’s” greatest feat. It’s a dark and poignant masterpiece that tells a story as inspiring as they come while enveloping a definitive story of the darkest point in history. It’s some how able to be realistic and operatic. It’s a flawless and prominent film that was crafted by a man who knows how to make good movies.
Amadeus is just one of those classic art house films. It has all the makings a masterpiece in it’s beautifully epic tale of rivalry, obsession and artistry. Structured to perfection, an old, bitter rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart recounts the “murder” of Mozart himself. It’s a vast excursion into music through mystery. It’s also about a devotion to one’s craft. Behind this dark drama of murder, there’s quite the witty side to Amadeus, but more importantly a thrilling side. You really become consumed by the magic of it all.
21. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the most inspirational pieces of cinema ever crafted. The futile, yet necessary battle between the free spirited R.P. McMurphy and the tyrannical Nurse Ratched is a thrilling one. It is very much a story about freedom and a fighting the want to simply conform. Randle McMurphy is quite the fish out of water when it comes to the tight shift the Mildred Ratched runs. He sure as hell isn’t going to stand idly by and let the man get him down and change him or his new friends from the fun-loving people they are.
Skyfall is tells the greatest story that will ever be told about one of the most iconic characters in all of fiction, James Bond. This is, in part, due to the fact that Skyfall touches on so much more than just a story about 007. Skyfall tells a beautiful constructed tale of duty and betrayal, past mistakes and future consequences, the old and the new, but in its simplest form Skyfall is a movie about a hero and a villain. Daniel Craig’s raw and perfect turn as a grizzled Bond proving his worth even after so many missions really meets his match against the slithery and savage, Silva (Javier Bardem in another flawless portrayal as a villain).
19. Kill Bill
Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is one the most memorable epics ever filmed. It’s a blood-soaked masterpiece about love and revenge. Any chance he gets as he tells his most epic tale of all, Tarantino pays homage to the samurai, kung-fu and even spaghetti western movies that he loves and respects to no end. Kill Bill is exciting and poetic. It’s a simple enough tale of vengeance and it’s told to perfection. We are brought on a very hectic journey and we know where it will lead but it’s hard not to enjoy the ride until you get there and when you do get there, there aren’t that many movies that are as satisfying.
Ridley Scott is often associated with the science fiction genre. He has defined and redefined the genre with some of the masterpieces he’s made. Scott’s sword and sandal epic, Gladiator, is arguably his greatest feat. The general who became a slave, the slave who became a gladiator and the gladiator who defied an empire is quite the striking story. Maximus is the kind of hero you want to watch prevail while his nemesis, Commudus is the kind of villain you want dead. Gladiator is a through and through a story of not just revenge, but justice.
17. Boogie Nights
Through a timeless tale of rise and fall, Paul Thomas Anderson explores the porn industry (70s through 80s) and its own rise and fall. It was with Boogie Nights that Paul Thomas Anderson began his reign of masterpieces. Boogie Nights was the first of five flawless, and very different, films. Boogie Nights is filled to the brim with vivid characters and memorable moments. It’s a colorful, yet dark film that’s hard not to be consumed by. Paul Thomas Anderson is just a man who knows how to make extraordinary movies and Boogie Nights is a perfect example of his expertise.
Inception is a masterpiece through and through. With a fantastic cast on his side, the brilliant Christopher Nolan tells a beautiful story of grief and redemption all while crafting an exhilarating science fiction setting where true reality is always in question. The setting for Inception is that of dreams and this world that Nolan has confidently explored is one that’s hard not to visit and revisit over and over again. Inception is a beautiful drama filled with vibrant characters and perfectly executed action sequences. It’s a compelling film that both entertains and makes you think from beginning to end.
15. The Social Network
2010 was an incredible year in film and arguably the greatest movie to come out of that year was The Social Network. Using the story of Facebook, David Fincher delves into broad themes of morality and betrayal what is easily one of the greatest films ever made. The Social Network tells a compelling human story that’s unmissable. Fincher defines a generation of technology and punks. It’s a film that manages to establish itself as a classic before it even passes the test of time. There’s no question I’ll be watching this movie in years to come. The Social Network is masterpiece in every way.
14. The Godfather (Part I +II)
The character arcs of the father and son that make up for the masterpiece that is The Godfather (Part I + II) are two of the greatest in film. The Godfather just tells this perfect story about family, while The Godfather Part II is more about character and the tragedy of Michael Corleone is fully realized. It utilizes the gangster genre, yet it’s so much more. Francis Ford Coppola was just ahead of his time in terms of how good he could make a movie, he proves that with this dark and operatic drama. The story is a powerful one and worthy of every bit of praise.
13. The Departed
Martin Scorsese is simply one of the greatest filmmakers to have graced this planet. He’s made countless masterpieces and The Departed is his greatest feat. The Departed tells a flawless intertwining tale of cops and criminals. It’s completely gritty, it’s relentlessly enjoyable and poetic. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an extraordinary performance while Jack Nicholson chews through every scene he’s in. Martin Scorsese has told many stories of crime, but never did he tell one so masterfully. The Departed is an unforgettable masterpiece through and through.
12. Apocalypse Now
Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic is the greatest film he’s ever made. Captain Benjamin Willard is a sent to kill Walter E. Kurtz, a rogue Colonel who has fancied himself a god among the aborigines in Cambodia. We’re brought down the river with Willard and we learn more and more about Kurtz along the way, the anticipation to his first appearance is palpable as we go deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. Apocalypse Now is a masterpiece about life’s journey and madness.
11. There Will Be Blood
The dark, emotive and gorgeous There Will Be Blood just barely misses his top ten movies of all time. There Will Be Blood was created by a movie mastermind. Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t made that many movies, but every time he does he manages to make completely captivating masterpieces. He also manages to get the best performances out of his actors which is quite the accomplishment when your main character in this case is played by the great Daniel Day-Lewis. There Will Be Blood is a beautiful and archaic excursion into greed and the american nightmare as it studies the ruthless and despicable oilman, Daniel Plainview.
10. American Beauty
Kevin Spacey expertly portrays Lester Burnham, the father and center-piece of American Beauty. As he goes through a midlife crisis he slowly begins to realize how beautiful life is and how it deserves to be appreciated. Lester is just one in an assortment of characters that make up for a fantastic story of the lives of others. The film opens and you learn that Lester will die by the end, but it’s the journey that matters. The film got a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar back in 1999 and it lives on still as one of the greatest films in history. American Beauty asks you to look closer and what you find is something quite beautiful indeed.
9. Pulp Fiction
Told through vignettes, Pulp Fiction offers a mosaic of the lifestyle of criminals. Genius in its execution, Quentin Tarantino offers up the greatest gangster movie ever made. Whether you’re watch diner thieves, hitmen, a prized boxer or a crime boss’ coveted wife, it’s hard not to find endless enjoyment in the oddity of it all. Tarantino has crafted a puzzle piece of a movie filled with imagination and innovation. Many have attempted what he did, but nothing ever came close to Quentin’s vastly original and gorgeous masterpiece.
8. Fight Club
Fight Club defines a bored generation and the insanity that can result from that boredom. Our narrator needs something more out of life. He can’t just go through the motions anymore, he’s lifeless and he can’t take it anymore. Thus begins Fight Club and a chance meeting with the charismatic Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is chaos incarnate. What begins as brawling to release angst eventually leads to rising anarchy. There’s a Tyler Durden in all of us and to attempt to hide that fact is futile and only serves to drive yourself crazy. Fight Club is cerebral, pertinent and entirely fascinating.
7. Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino can do no wrong. With his seventh directorial outing he makes what he was always meant to make, a spaghetti western. Django Unchained also happens to be a rollicking and epic excursion through the south when slavery was still at large. The film follows a freed slave on a journey to rescue the woman he loves, now tell me that’s not a story everyone can get behind. Props also goes out to Leonardo DiCaprio for his first and riveting performance as a villain, a sadistic and slimy plantation owner. With Django and his new friend, Dr. King Schultz, Tarantino has crafted a pair of heroes of mythical status. We’re just left to enjoy the ride as in their wake the bodies pile up, villains who represent clear symbols for exactly what was horribly wrong with that point in American history.
6. The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is the ultimate in fantasy. It has dragons, wizards, goblins, magic, a giant flaming eye on a tower and an evil ring that can only be destroyed in the dark fires of Mt. Doom where it was forged. The epic journey that unfolds and the vivid characters you meet along the way leave you awe-struck and breathless. There’s just so much to the film to appreciate; the friendships, the battles, the countless inspirational moments, the creatures, the monologues, etc. The Lord of the Rings is simply one of the greatest stories ever told and it’s told masterfully and with grace.
5. Inglourious Basterds
With Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino takes the darkest period in history and tells an epic fantasy filled with blood and bullets. Every moment is so important to the story as a whole, while each scene just commands your attention. We get to know three very different characters before their adventures culminate in a glorious final chapter that solidifies Inglourious Basterds as one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s a movie made by a man who knows what a movie can be and what a movie can be is whatever the director wants it to be. It’s a story that deserved to be told and it was told to perfection. Inglourious Basterds is just as much a piece of art as it is one of the greatest times you’ll ever have at the movies.
4. Barton Fink
Barton Fink is the unspoken Coen Brother masterpiece. Most think of Fargo, No Country for Old Men or The Big Lebowski, but Barton Fink deserves to be held right up there as one of their masterpieces. As Barton’s writers block consumes him in the Hotel Earle a friendship begins to take shape between Fink and his next door neighbor. Charlie Meadows offers a little distraction in the form of innocent conversation. This is that everyman that Barton tries to capture in his writing. Little does Barton know that there’s more going on than he initially thought. Barton Fink is a thought-provoking masterpiece.
3. No Country for Old Men
A man finds drug money, while another man pursues him. It’s a simple story of cat and mouse that used to touch on important ideas of violence and malevolence. Llewellyn Moss attempts to get away with the money, while the cunning and emotionless killer, Anton Chigurh, is hot on his trail. Wise, old Sheriff Ed Tom Bell feels helpless on the sidelines as he watches this onslaught of blood unfold. No Country for Old Men is the Coen Brothers’ magnum opus. It is directed flawlessly, every choice made with such purpose. Nothing is out of place; each shot, line, performance, scene, etc. All of them are simply perfect. No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
Drive is proof that the way you tell your story is just as important as the story itself. It’s just this perfect clash style and substance. It’s honest, it can be brutal and it’s consistently satisfying. Our nameless and quiet protagonist progresses along in stylishly sleek and cool tale. Drive is a spectacular film about what it means to be a hero and about what drives a man to do the things he does. Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks steal the show, but everyone is on their A-games and the includes off screen. Nicolas Winding Refn hasn’t done much, but he could’ve only made Drive and it would be hard not to consider him an extraordinary director. Drive is a masterpiece and one of the highest caliber.
1. The Dark Knight Legend
The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is the greatest movie ever made. It’s filled to the brim with characters of the elemental variety to tell a vibrant, exciting and deep tale about heroism, villainy, legends, good, evil, despair, but above all else, hope. If I had to describe this single story in one word, that’s what it would be; hope. At the end of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight there is still much work to be done, but there is hope for a better tomorrow. In The Dark Knight Rises, hope in the form of the greatest hero in existence, triumphs in the face of despair.
In Batman Begins, you get the perfect hero’s journey with a tale of how Batman became Batman. In The Dark Knight, you get the perfect story of good (Batman) and evil (The Joker (Heath Ledger gives the greatest performance in the history of film)). Then the trilogy is defined flawlessly in its last chapter as, like I said before, hope triumphs over despair. This icon is utilized to perfection to tell a real story with so much meaning and emotion. What Christopher Nolan and friends have crafted isn’t just the greatest movie in existence, but the greatest story ever told.
Movie villains are the backbone of the entire art form. Too often villains go unrecognized for just how important they are. Without villains there are no stories, no conflict, no drama, you get the picture. Of course there are exceptions, but I love a good villain. Usually the case is, the better the villain the better the movie. This is a list of my favorite villains in all of film.
There are many cases where the antagonist of the story is actually more interesting than the protagonist and even when that’s the case, I’m a sucker for watching a hero triumph over a villain. I took a lot into account when I made this list, but I’d have to say the order and choices were mainly based on a combination of the enjoyment I have watching the villain on screen and the actual malevolence of the character. Well, here it is.
10. Ra’s Al Ghul (Batman Begins)
Ra’s Al Ghul is the leader of The League of Shadows and the mentor to the greatest hero in existence, Batman. In a way, they both want to save the world. Bruce Wayne studied under the tutelage of The League of Shadows because he was seeking the means to fight injustice. Where Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul differ is in the way Batman, as a hero should, sets himself apart from the villains whereas Ghul believes in necessary evil.
9. Bill the Butcher (Gangs of New York)
Martin Scorsese’s epic about the early remnants of a city focuses largely on one of the most intense and cruel figures in the history of cinema, Bill “The Butcher” Cutting. Daniel Day-Lewis plays the character flawlessly and with fervor. His lust for power is matched only by a love for his country and the freedom it represents. Gangs of New York is a vengeance story and to watch protagonist Amsterdam finally smite Bill the Butcher is incredibly satisfying.
8. Amon Goeth (Schindler’s List)
Never have the senseless and discouraging crimes against humanity performed by the Third Reich ever been more personified in film than with Ralph Fiennes’ portrayal of Amon Goeth in Steven Spielberg’s magnum opus, Schindler’s List. This a film about the ability and will to do good. Amon Goeth represents the contradiction to this idea. He’s commanding, blood-thirsty and completely apathetic towards his actions.
7. Jack Torrance (The Shining)
I say Jack Torrance, but I more so mean the evil pumping through the veins of The Overlook Hotel that eventually forces sane writer/father, Jack Torrance’s transformation into a crazed/axe-wielding murderer. The first sequence in the bar where both Torrance and The Overlook Hotel show their true colors serves as a solemn warning for the horrific oddities that have yet to transpire. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy and one of the greatest villains in film.
6. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)
In a gorgeous performance, Anthony Hopkins supremely captures the essence and soul of an incredibly intelligent serial killer who not only murders his victims, but eats them. The grotesque violence that the character is capable of can only be spotted in a single scene of the film, but even during the moments where he’s only staring, you can still feel the gravity of just how despicable the character at hand actually is. He probably gets the least screen time of any villain on this list, but he is easily one of the greatest in the history of film.
5. Silva (Skyfall)
Raoul Silva (formerly Tiago Rodriguez) is the most sinister and formidable opponent James Bond will ever acquire. This isn’t some cackling, conniving or cat-petting villain bent on world domination. Silva wants one thing and one thing only, M. He’s a former MI6 agent, M’s “favorite” at his time of service before he was betrayed. He loves M if only because she gives him purpose and hates her for what she’s created in him. He’s a showman and he has fun doing what he does and he’s one of them, he knows all the tricks. Silva is a mastermind, he’s flamboyant, he’s malevolent and he’s completely deranged.
4. Anton Chigurh (No Country for Old Men)
Confident, cold, calculating, silent, creative, determined and soulless. These are just a few words that can be used to describe the brutal killer, Anton Chigurh. His weapons of choice are a cattle gun and a sawed-off shotgun fit with a foot-long silencer, but a pair of hand cuffs would do just fine for this man who will stop at nothing to reach his goals. “People always say the same thing” Chigurh says to a young woman who tells him he doesn’t have to kill her. This is a situation he’s been in before and it’s one he’ll be in again. Killing for him is just as easy as waking up. He is death incarnate in the Coen Brothers’ poetic masterpiece of crime and violence.
3. Col. Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds)
Col. Hans Landa is Nazi Officer, but he is so much more depraved than any other member of the Third Reich. Unlike the officers and foot soldiers who whole-heartedly believe Adolf Hitler’s poisonous words, Col. Landa is merely a Colonel of the S.S. because he knows it’s in his best interest. He’s a sly detective and easily earns himself the nickname, The Jew Hunter. At the end of the day however, he doesn’t care about the Third Reich’s plot for world domination. He cares about his own personal gain and if that means betraying his entire country than so be it. He just bleeds malevolence whether he’s drinking a glass of milk or strangling someone to death. Hans Landa isn’t evil because he’s a Nazi, he’s a very evil man who happens to wear a Nazi uniform.
2. Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Bane can be looked at as the absence of hope. A meeting with Bane, let alone a fight with Bane, would result in anyone’s demise. He’s strategic, tactical, he speaks with intelligence and eloquence, but at the same time he is a complete brute. The mask he wears makes it so he can survive an unbearable pain, but it also serves as a signature look and a reminder of how emotionless and inhumanly evil this man can be.
In order to exact his torture of Batman and the city of Gotham, Bane places himself in a seat of power. He’s a revolutionary warlord, he’s his own General and he’s his own greatest soldier. This is a highly demanding performance and not just physically. Tom Hardy plays the character to perfection. Bane is supremely fearsome, intimidating and though he has a strict regiment and plot, there is no denying his admiration for death and destruction.
1. The Joker (The Dark Knight)
The Joker is unlike any other movie character and villain in the way that he epitomizes pure evil. The Joker is always smiling because there is never a dull moment where he is not doing exactly what he wants, instilling evil into the world. As the dark, crusading, creature of the night Batman is good for the sake of being good. The Joker, a gleeful and colorful clown, is evil for the sake of being evil.
The Joker burns a mountain of money just show exactly how much he doesn’t care about the idea of a motive. “Do I really look like a guy with a plan?” he says to the White Knight, Harvey Dent. Even when faced with opportunities to kill the heroes of the story, he instead attempts to reveal their true colors by giving them opportunities to kill him. He would gladly die doing what makes him happy.
Heath Ledger gave the greatest performance of all time as the darkest and most “unstoppable force” ever portrayed. Despite the fact that The Joker is so fiercely evil, he is very charismatic in the way he is also a clown. Ledger utilizes this trait in creating not only the greatest villain, but the greatest character in all of film. There didn’t need to be some kind of origin story or flashbacks to when The Joker was young. All there was in The Dark Knight was a showcasing of the constant battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Anything less or more would have taken away from the perfection.
I pondered for a while about how to preface this list, but its pretty self-explanatory. Death is a pretty beautiful thing when it comes to cinema. There are deaths in film that, when due to great performances, direction and writing, you get unbearably powerful moments. This is a list of those deaths. This is a list dedicated to my favorite deaths in film because of their meaning and power, not necessarily the ones that are remembered in cinema history as classics, such as the shower scene in Psycho or King Kong falling off the Empire State Building. While those are amazing moments in film, they just didn’t affect me like the deaths in this list.
!!!IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ONE OF THE MOVIES LISTED, DON’T READ INTO IT!!!
10. John Doe (SE7EN)
There aren’t many moments that you can truly say, based on their content, leave you gasping for air. The death of the villain, John Doe, in SE7EN is undoubtedly one of those moments. We never see this character until the end of the movie, but nevertheless, we fear him. We get to know the detectives on the case and we keep guessing what the end could be. What we do get is fantastically dark and real. If you’re looking for a prime example of a villain winning, this is it.
9. Ra’s Al Ghul (Batman Begins)
The death of Bruce Wayne’s mentor and eventual enemy is an undeniably memorable one. What makes this death such a spectacular one is in the way that the wise leader of the league of shadows attempts to gain dignity from his death with the line “Have you finally learned to do what is necessary?” He’s trying to show that he’s actually taught the man known as Batman very well. Batman shows the true colors of both characters with his reply, “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.”
8. Lester Burnhum (American Beauty)
What makes Lester Burnhum’s death so awesome isn’t the actual death itself. Lester’s death is made significant based on the events before and the magnificent final monologue of the movie. You find out right in the beginning that this character we’re being introduced to is going to die by the end. It’s not the “what” that we’re interested in because we know what’s going to happen, what we are concerned about are the “who” and the “why”. We get the answers we need and few things in film are as pleasing.
7. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
Fight Club is one of my favorite films in general so it was really a no-brainer when it came to putting the stunning death of one the greatest characters in film on this list. The relationship between the Narrator and Tyler Durden is one of the most special and interesting ever filmed. Throughout Fight Club we get to know these characters and know them well. By the end we know what has to happen and the death of the final scene which results in the death of Tyler Durden completely blows me away every single time.
6. Frank (Once Upon a Time in the West)
It seems that because of Sergio Leone’s brilliant film, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, his other masterpiece, “Once Upon a Time in the West”, is often overlooked. I do slightly prefer “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, but there is one aspect of “Once Upon a Time in the West” that is better and that is in the black-hearted villain, Frank. He’s one of the most despicable villains ever filmed and there are few moments in film that are as satisfying as the realization of the extent of his wrath and his immediate death right afterwards. Truly breathtaking cinema.
5. Maximus Decimus Meridius (Gladiator)
At the heart of the epic film Gladiator is a tale of well-deserved revenge. We fall in love with the protagonist Maximus and we grow to hate the villainous basterd he’s aiming to kill. Now that begs the question, why wouldn’t I put the satisfying death of the villain Commodus on this list? The reason is because the more emotionally powerful death belongs to Maximus Decimus Meridius. Yes, Commodus needs to die and burn in hell, but now Maximus’ mission is complete. His death was necessary because now he can go live in peace with his son and daughter in the afterlife.
4. Little Bill Daggett (Unforgiven)
Unforgiven is a western centered on the two characters William Munny and Little Bill Daggett. Throughout this masterfully crafted film we learn the true natures of both characters and learn that the line between right and wrong isn’t always clear. Not till the very end of the film do the two characters finally meet and the better man is established. “I’ll see you in hell William Munny,” Little Bill says with pure honesty and hate in his eyes and before William Munny fires the final fatal bullet into Little Bill’s head, he replies with a sorrowful, “Yeah”. It’s one of those moments in film that make movies worth watching.
3. Roy Batty (Blade Runner)
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…” is the start of one of the greatest movie quotes ever put one screen and the beginning of the final words of the character Roy Batty. Blade Runner is a film that asks many of life’s big questions, but those questions don’t come to true and beautiful light until the final encounter between protagonist Rick Deckard and philosophical replicant Roy Batty. It’s the most powerful scenes in film.
First, Roy just toys with his advisory and when Rick tries to escape by hopping to another rooftop he isn’t able to make it and nearly dies. The true nature of the character Roy is shown when he is able to make the jump easily and save Rick, but not before he puts Deckard’s mission in life into perspective, with the line “Quite an experience to live in fear isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave. Then he utters his memorable final words and reaches the end of his time.
2. Col. Walter E. Kurtz (Apocalypse Now)
Apocalypse Now is, without a shred of doubt, a staple in the art of filmmaking. While, the death of Col. Walter E. Kurtz is a triumph all its own. The main character, Captain Willard, is sent on a mission deep into cambodia in order to find and terminate a renegade Colonel who has taken command over the locals. We are taken on a journey into the true meaning of madness and on the way our anticipation grows like Captain Willard and all we want to do is finally meet Col. Kurtz.
Because of a truly brilliant performance by Marlon Brando, every single line Kurtz utters is memorable and resonant. That goes especially for one of my favorite movie quotes, his powerful last words, “The horror, the horror.” On my first viewing of the film, right at that moment I thought to myself, “this is one of the greatest films ever made”. And it truly is. From the beginning, Apocalypse Now promises an amazing climax and gives you just that. It was difficult for me not to put this in the number one slot.
1. Bill (Kill Bill)
Look back at numbers 3 and 2 of this list and you’ll notice that they share something with number 1. All three movies have generally simple tales, sure like all great filmmakers they establish deeper meanings, but the structure is simple. Rick Deckard, a retired Blade Runner is sent on a mission to kill four replicants (androids) led by Roy Batty, Captain Benjamin Willard is sent into Cambodia to kill Col. Kurtz and Beatrix Kiddo is out for revenge against her former boss and lover Bill.
From the beginning, we know, if we are to be satisfied that is, that Roy Batty, Col. Kurtz and Bill will die. There are many examples of films where we know what might happen at the end, but we want to know how our hero will get there and how exactly they’ll do the deed, whether its Frodo throwing the ring of power into Mt. Doom or Batman saving Gotham from the evil clutches of the Joker. In this case, we’re talking about deaths in film and no death is as magnificent and significant as the death of Bill in the 4-hour-epic Kill Bill.
What makes Bill’s death profound, innovative and beautiful is the unconditional love shared between the two warriors. Their fight is inevitable and both, Bill and Beatrix, realize that one is going to die, while the other will live on, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t care for one another. And in the end, Bill isn’t stabbed or shot, no, that wouldn’t satisfy. Instead Beatrix perform’s something called the five point palm exploding heart technique, which makes your heart explode from the inside after you take five steps. This allows him to have a few words with the love of his life, take a deep breath, button his coat and walk with dignity to the greatest movie death in film history.