?A great fight scene can make or break an action movie. Let’s be honest, going into one of these things, you’re not really interested in the characters’ feelings — you just want to see how they deal with their problems with their fists, feet, and/or swords. Or with the other guy’s arm. We combed our DVD collections, the internet and Netflix’s Instant Watch movies to come up with this list of epic movie throwdowns from everything from action movies and drama to horror and foreign films. All of the movies on this list have fight scenes that last over five minutes, consist of thousands of dollars of collateral damage, break bones, bust skulls and make our eyes bleed from sheer awesomeness.
10) Rocky vs. Apollo Creed, Rocky
Rocky fighting Apollo Creed might not be the most action-packed brawl in the history of cinema, but watching the underdog slug it out with the champ for 10 minutes only to lose in the end? That’s a damn great movie moment. Even better? It’s the only Academy Award-winning script in the bunch, though not the only Oscar winner.
9) The Quiet Man
Another Academy Award winner (this time for John Ford’s directing on this 1952 classic), The Quiet Man stars John Wayne as a former boxer who moves to Ireland and, if this clip is to be believed, he spends his time burning money, talking trash and kicking a dude’s ass clear across town.
8) Freddy Krueger vs. Jason Voorhees, Freddy vs. Jason
Horror fans had been waiting for this one for decades. The two titans of franchise horror finally throwing down and fighting tooth and nail (or machete and claw-glove, as it were). The movie might not have been what fans expected, but how can you complain about a fight that lets Freddy really let loose with his glove and Jason rip Freddy’s glove-bearing arm off and impale him with it? Setting the fight near Crystal Lake which just happens to also be under construction was a stroke of genius. Bloody, violent genius.
7) Nada vs. Frank, They Live
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper offered up the motto of every ass kicker on this list when he uttered the John Carpenter-written line: “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass… and I’m all out of bubblegum.” And kick ass he did. The ass in question that everyone remembers though is a fellow good guy in the form of Keith David’s Frank. Nada and Frank go at it for about six minutes just punching the crap out of each other. And all over eyewear. Go figure.
6) Final Battle, Legend of Drunken Master
Choosing just one fight scene from Legend of Drunken Master wasn’t easy. You’ve got that weird yet rad fight scene with the old man under the train in the beginning. Fighting while crouching can’t be easy. Then there’s the first drunken fight out in the streets. That’s awesome. But the last ten or so minutes pits Jackie Chan against weapon wielding cronies, a guy who kicks like crazy, fire and sobriety. I wonder how many people have watched this movie, gotten blitzed and then tried to fight drunken boxing style. I can tell you, it’s at least one.
5) Neo vs. Agent Smiths, The Matrix Reloaded
So far, the list has mostly been one-on-one match-ups, but this army of Agent Smiths squaring off against Neo in Matrix Reloaded puts them to shame for sheer scope. Sure there’s a fair amount of CGI and wire work, which detracts from the overall awesomeness, but you can’t deny that you weren’t blown away the first time you saw this on the big screen. Story-wise, the Matrix sequels might not have lived up to the original, but the fights were still spot-on awesome. Bonus points for knocking the crap out of everyone with a giant pole.
4) Final Battle, Chinese Connection
Yes, Enter the Dragon is an amazing movie and the end fight scene between Bruce and the claw dude is pretty spectacular. But, it’s not the end all and be all when it comes to crazy Bruce Lee ass kickings. In Chinese Connection, after he takes on a full dojo and his fair share of one-on-one kung fu fests, Lee’s Chen Zhen fights his way through the evil dojo’s best fighters, inclding a white guy in a suit and an old man with a sword. Other bonuses that put this fight over the edge include the sword-in-the-air kill, Lee using nunchucks and that simultaenous flying kick at the end sending the bad guy flying throw a paper wall and halfway out into the courtyard. That’s a bad ass kick and not once are you worried that the awkward claw-hand is going to fall of the bad guy’s hand (cause, you know, that’s a different movie).
3) The Bride vs. O-Ren Ishii and Her Minions, Kill Bill Vol. 1
Quentin Tarantino had been pegged as one of the most savage filmmakers around, but he didn’t really earn it until Kill Bill Volume 1. Yeah, the ear-slicing scene in Reservoir Dogs was intense, but you don’t actually see the ear getting cut off. And yes, the scene in Pulp Fiction where Marvin’s head explodes is fairly graphic, but neither of those hold a candle to the epic, blood-splattered sword fight between The Bride and the Crazy 88 in Japan. Between taking on however many members of the Crazy 88 there actually were, fighting Gogo and her Duncan from hell and the final battle with O-Ren, this is one of the most intense fight scenes in movie history. There’s even that rumor that Tarantino had to cut the color from one portion because it was just too bloody. Now that’s savage.
2) Philo Beddoe vs. Jack Wilson, Any Which Way You Can
When it comes to epic fight scenes, you’ve got two basic kinds. The bareknuckle, one-and-one brawlers and the group fights (one or more people versus a bunch of others). They both have the potential for greatness and the ending fistfight between Philo Beddo and Jack Wilson (in this sequel to Every Which Way But Loose), is the absolute best of the best. Throughout the whole movie, we keep hearing about just how amazing a fight between these two brawlers would be. We even get to see them fight side by side. But it’s only after all the heat dies down at the end of the movie and the spectators are heading home that Clint Eastwood and William Smith finally throw down. And boy, what a fight it is. Starting in a shed and moving through the whole town, you really see these two men beat the tar out of each other as an ever-growing crowd (including Clyde the ape) follow them around. It’s like the fight from The Quiet Man if it was written by the guys who did Crank. To add to the sheer coolness of the scenario, they even stop to drink a beer in the middle of the nearly 11-minute fight.
1) Kham vs. Johnny’s Goons, The Protector
They just couldn’t leave his elephant alone. They just had to have it. Well, what happens when you get between a boy and his elephant? The boy comes to the city and beats the ever living hell out of you. Played by the raddest movie martial artist around, Tony Jaa’s Kham absolutely annihiliates the bad guys at an illegal restaurant for nearly 10 minutes straight. He disables his attackers with kicks, punches and knees solely inteded to crush his attackers bones. Jaa works his way up the spiral shaped building, making mincemeat out of anyone who gets in his way. And the very best part? The reason it takes the number one spot? It’s all one take. Notice how the camera never cuts away once. That means that every move was executed perfectly, all the stuntmen hit their marks (and mats after falling) and there were zero technical glitches. Pretty impressive no?