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Fighting over fight scenes

Posted at 2:51 PM on March 1, 2006 by Euan Kerr (3 Comments)

There are times when the Movie Maven's usually serene visage cracks and she reveals her truly diabolic nature. A couple of days ago she said to me in passing, "You know, we should do something on the blog about the best fight scene in a movie. And then something about the silliest, too. We should each think of something, write it up and then see what other folks think."

It was just a passing remark, a whisper rustling through the radio cube-farm, but it calcified in some way and has been rattling around my brain ever since. Best fist fight? Sword fight? Marshmallow hurling? Can you compare a western with a kung fu film? Can you compare special effects battles with straight ahead punch ups? So many questions, and so little time.

And then this morning, she comes back and says she wants me to kick it off. Typical!

So after combing through the dank recesses of memory, these are what I came up with:

Best fight scene Fight Club: One of the problems about fights on film is they are often one-dimensional, when there is so much going on in any physical confrontation. A fight usually contains elements of fear and elation, or at least a release of brain chemicals to carry the combatant through the horrors of the experience. On-screen you usually see just grim determination. In "Fight Club" Brad Pitt and Ed Norton are both freaked and fascinated. The pain of the blows is evident, but so is the desire to keep going, a desire which shows how logic has long flown out the door. It's horrifying, and if you are honest about it, extremely easy with which to identify.

Silliest Fight Scene John Wayne (with Maureen O'Hara nearby) in "The Quiet Man" and/or "McLintock!" I am a great fan of silly and so the huge mudbath fight in "McLintock!" is marvelous fun. Pretty much an entire cowboy town gets involved in a rumble at the top of a mudslide, and everyone ends up caked, slippery, and headed downhill. The Duke and O'Hara take more than a few spills themselves.So that's "Silly-good." For "Silly-bad" there's the epic fight between John Wayne and Victor McLaglen in "The Quiet Man" rubs me the other way. The two pummel each other across several miles of Irish countryside over the issue of who decides Maureen O'Hara's future. It's played for laughs, but when you get past the one-liners, there's not a lot funny here.

What do YOU think?

Comments (3)


I am still pondering what is the best...but I know what I consider the silliest. The whole reason I thought about fight scenes is the memory of Jason Statham at the end of the Transporter donning bicycle clips and dancing around like a fool in an oil slick. There are fight scenes that are more poorly executed, ridiculously fake or gratuitously violent, but the filmmakers are so smugly sure of this scene's cleverness and originality that I deem it the silliest.

Posted by Stephanie Curtis | March 1, 2006 3:18 PM

Fight scenes. They always make me sigh. How could anyone possibly believe half of them? Their duration, the ease at which the hero recovers from shocking blows...but OKAY, I'll play!

Best?! Best is hard especially considering the range of fight scenes. There's structured ones, like Raging Bull, expertly done CGI ones like in The Mummy (1999 version 'natch) and ones that are almost too real to watch.

Silliest is another thing. Does the food fight scene in Animal House count? How about nearly any of the fighting scenes in Moonraker?

Posted by Julia Schrenkler | March 2, 2006 11:14 AM

Man, oh, man! I am going to have to read that list just a few more times. Thanks for the thought-provokers.

Posted by Euan Kerr | March 7, 2006 9:12 AM

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