At the heart of every great movie, there’s a great fight scene. Some, like “Pride and Prejudice” may involved people in crinolines arguing over the state of Lizzy Bennett’s dress. Others involve nunchucks. If you prefer the latter kind of fight, we have some treats for you! Hand-picked below are what we believe are the ten greatest fight scenes of all time. Everyone has their favorite, and if yours isn’t here I apologise now. But for drama, skill or just pure comedy here are our choices of the Top 10 Greatest Fight Scenes.
10. The Karate Kid: Daniel Larusso vs Johnny Lawrence
Here’s a classic of the “films about fighting” genre. The eponymous kid is facing off against Johnny, a fighter from the Cobra Kais, a karate gang that have been hassling Daniel all through the film. He’s fighting on a part-injured knee, after another Cobra Kai dealt him a low blow and left his trainer to mystically heal it. A tense fight ensues, during which it looks like Daniel is being walked all over by Johnny as onlookers threaten him with body bags and mean things like that. But then the stirring music starts, Daniel takes up the crane position and ker-pow! He wins! So very 80s, but I would challenge anyone to watch it and not be a little bit stirred.
9. The Princess Bride: Westley vs Inigo Montoya
Now, this fight has a little bit of everything – snappy dialogue, some fancy swordwork and even a couple of twists. Oh, and a remarkably fake looking backdrop. From the opening gambits ( “You seem like a decent fellow, I hate to kill you”, “You seem like a decent fellow, I hate to die”) it escalates into a full-on, jumping, swooping, twirling duel. Halfway through, they both reveal that they are fighting deliberately left-handed in order to make it more fun and once they swap hands, the action ramps up again. The eventual outcome is perfect – Westley wins, but refuses to kill an “artist” like Inigo. Instead, he just knocks him unconscious and runs off. Sheer brilliance.
8. Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith: Anakin Skywalker vs Obi Wan Kenobi
Now, don’t dismiss me for giving any credit to any of the Star Wars prequels. I can mock Jar-Jar with the best of them, trust me. But there are good moments in the pre-trilogy trilogy, such as this confrontation between Anakin (soon to become Darth Vader) and his former mentor, Obi Wan. Sparks fly (literally), there’s a lot of fast-paced lightsaber action, and there’s a great moment about 3 minutes in where they both jump onto a gas-pipe thing and wobble there for a bit, not really doing anything, before jumping back off.
That’s an unusual bit of realism in a fight that takes in lava lakes, collapsing structures and Ewan McGregor just looking damn manly a lot. It also seems to go on forever, but it’s not a bad use of 8 minutes or so. As you’d expect, there’s also some very stirring music and, yes, some painfully wooden dialog. It may not be a classic film, but it’s a classic scene.
7. Rocky:Rocky Balboa vs Apollo Creed
It’s another classic “fight” movie, and this showdown was often aspired to, but never bettered in the subsequent films. The “Italian Stallion” took on the “Count of Monte Fisto” in a classic underdog challenge. Balboa seems to be knocked down at one point, but he gets up again….and still loses in the end. But don’t worry, there’s a rematch or two.
What made this fight classic was not only the unexpected ending, but also the stirring music and the palpable tension. And also the way that both men gleam in an almost unreal way. But before you worry that it’s glamorizing violence, consider that Rocky emerges with eye damage and Apollo with internal bleeding. It’s not all shiny sweat and stars and stripes shorts you know…
6. The Matrix Reloaded: Neo vs Agent Smiths
The Matrix was ground-breaking in many ways that we just don’t remember nowadays. Many of the effects, such as the slowed-down fight sequences, have been copied hundreds of times but in 1999 they were extraordinary. So when the sequels came out back-to-back a few years later, the Wachowski brothers had to come up with something new. Neo’s main enemy had been established as Agent Smith, so what could be scarier than a whole army of Agent Smiths? There’s some kind of plot device to set it up, but the resulting fight is pacey and cool, as the Agents just keep coming. Neo looks confused, as he is prone to do, but takes them down with some awesome flying kicks and a pole. Another fight won against the odds.