Channing Tatum’s latest film Fighting will hit theaters. It’s a film by Dito Montiel, who also directed the actor in the 2006 indie drama A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. The story focuses on a young man who hustles and participates in underground street fights to score extra cash. After watching the aggressive trailer for the flick I began thinking about some of my favorite fight films and how this one would compare. I’ve compiled a list of what I consider the Top Ten Greatest Fight Movies of all time. Take a look, discuss, and most importantly enjoy!
10. Gladiator (2000)
Gladiator is a bare bones type of fight film. It takes you back to one of the earliest examples of fighting as a sport. A cruel sport, but still a sport. Russell Crowe gave an Oscar winning performance as an army general turned slave who fights to avenge the death of his wife and son. Although the best part about this scene is Joaquin Phoenix’s tongue. Where did that thing come from?
9. 300 (2006)
Speaking of old school fighting. 300 is a live action war film adapted from the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same name. It features a lot of stylized action sequences but plenty of gore. In the film a group of 300 Spartans go up against several armies more than 10 times their size. Sure this movie introduced us to Zack Snyder’s slow motion obsession, but it also taught us a valuable lesson. If you plan to dine in hell, you’ll have to fight to get to the table.
8. The Streetfighter (1974)
Oh Sonny Chiba. The Asian action star who some regard as the “not so pretty” version of Bruce Lee, is one of my favorite martial artists. I quickly acknowledged him for his own fighting style when I saw him in The Streetfighter. He’s lean, mean, and very angry… all the time. He’s definitely no Lee because when Chiba fights, he fights dirty.
7. Bloodsport (1988)
Bloodsport was the film that introduced me to Jean Claude Van Damme, and his infamous split kicks that he faithfully does in every movie. In the film he starred as Frank Dux, an American martial artist who travels to Hong Kong to participate in a deadly underground tournament called The Kumite. I loved the fact that Van Damme was playing an American, yet once again he spoke with a perfect Belgian accent. But the film isn’t about acting, its about fighting. In this case he fought, he won, and most importantly he lived to tell about it.
6. Drunken Master II (1994)
This film is probably one of Jackie Chan’s most famous in both the U.S. and overseas. His use of the famous “drunken boxing” fighting style is popular in Chinese lore, and has been imitated in several films. How many people do you know can drink the ”joy juice,” and turn into a martial arts master? In the sequel to the 1978 original, the fight at the end between Jackie Chan and Ken Lo always sticks out like a sharp kick to the face.
5. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarantino teamed up again in a big way with the Kung Fu homage, Kill Bill Vol. 1. Thurman stars as The Bride, a woman who survives a murder attempt by her lover Bill played by David Carradine. Consumed by anger she goes through strenuous training in martial arts so she can successfully knock off everyone who had a hand in the plot have her killed. And of course at the top of her list, is Bill. The best part about this scene. The music and the close ups. Thank you Tarantino.
4. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)
Another movie that has strong female characters is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This film was directed by Ang Lee and starred Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh and a then unknown Zhang Ziyi. With some of the most beautifully choreographed fight scenes I’ve ever seen this film had to make the top five. I love the fact that it shows two strong women with athleticism that can rival any man in the action genre. In typical fashion Yeoh shows why she has been a mainstay in action films for nearly 20 years.
3. The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix is a major marker in for sci-fi, action films. Before it’s release in 1999 audiences had never seen the combination of extensive wire work, traditional martial arts, and rotating camera angles used in such a capacity. What’s not to love in this film. The fight scenes are in a league of their own. This movie made being a computer geek, bad ass! With several breathtaking action sequences to choose from the most notable one features Neo (Keanu Reeves) and the infamous back bend that left us breathless.
2. Enter the Dragon (1973)
Let’s give credit to where credit’s due. Bruce Lee was the pioneer who taught American filmmakers what choreographed fight scenes should look like. If it wasn’t for Lee we would be stuck watching stiff fist fights, hoping at some point a kick get’s thrown in. All of Lee’s films are dear to me, but I have a special place in my heart for Enter the Dragon. It was the first Kung Fu filmed produced by a major Hollywood studio and it featured bit appearances by Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung.
1. Fight Club (1999)
I know the first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about it, but I have too! When this film was released in 1999 it blew audiences away by introducing them to Tyler Durden. Directed by David Fincher, the film stars Edward Norton as a dissatisfied white collar worker who joins an underground fight club with Durden (Brad Pitt). What happens when a generation of men feel suffocated, and conflicted by society? They go back to the basics. They destroy, they attack, they fight!
What’s so great about this scene is how simple it is. No tricks, fancy footwork, or special effects. Just men being men.
What films do you think should or shouldn’t have made this list?