Show Me How To Fight
March 17, 2019 8:40 AM   Subscribe

The scene in Fury Road where Max fights Furiousa is one of the best fight scenes I've ever seen. It's in broad daylight, with multiple characters and agendas, yet it's always crystal clear who's doing what and why, while the various personalities of the characters and their motivations make perfect sense. Show me other fight scenes with such clarity please.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Margaret Sixel is a fucking genius. The only comparable scene I can think of is the put the fucking glasses on scene in They Live.
posted by stet at 9:37 AM on March 17, 2019 [9 favorites]


This kind of clarity is rare in modern Hollywood fight scenes, with directors usually favoring quick cuts, tight shots, and lots of camera motion to create an illusion of action and impact.

The first one that came to mind is actually from TV - the fight between Dan Dority and The Captain in HBO's Deadwood. It's physically and psychologically authentic and it's really brutal as a result.

Pixar films (and other animated films) have some of the better Hollywood fight scenes of recent years. The family and Frozone vs the robot in the first Incredibles movie is a good example with multiple characters involved.

Some other not-exactly-recent ones from movies that quickly come to mind are the hallway fight from Oldboy, Jason Bourne vs Desh in The Bourne Ultimatum and Michelle Yeoh vs Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
posted by theory at 9:57 AM on March 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


Seconding theory on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon--I recently rewatched it and a lot of the fight scenes scratched this itch for me.
posted by pepper bird at 10:31 AM on March 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


The one that springs to mind to me is the fight scene from Eastern Promises (NSFW!).
posted by saladin at 10:35 AM on March 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


The guys are kind of faceless thugs, but the stairwell fight in Atomic Blonde is otherwise reasonably good for this, largely because people take actual damage so it slows them down.
posted by praemunire at 11:09 AM on March 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


'Red Beard' (1965) has a stylized circular fight sequence. Toshiro Mifune (playing a doctor) singlehandedly takes on a gang of criminals, while he dryly mutters: "All this violence is very bad..."
posted by ovvl at 12:19 PM on March 17, 2019


John Wick's club scene comes to mind.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:20 PM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


The different Marvel series produced by Netflix have unusually good fight choreography. The only big exception is the Iron Fist series, where even though the show is supposed to be about martial arts experts, the choreography and editing had to work around the actors varying skill levels. (Finn Jones, in particular, had only been training for about two months before filming started.)

In one of the behind the scenes videos, the fight director for Daredevil commented that the difference in those fights was that, due to the nature of Matt Murdock's powers, he's never surprised from behind or attacked unexpectedly -- he knows where everyone in the room is before he even walks in.

One standout from the first season is the hallway fight, which was shot in a single take having Charlie Cox and his fight double swap back and forth whenever he ducks out of camera view into a room.

In the second season, they doubled down with the elevator/stairway fight. This really serves the part of your question about characters serving multiple agendas -- Daredevil is trying to extricate an unconscious Frank Castle from the roof of a building, but the biker gang Castle just shot up is coming upstairs for revenge. DD also has an unloaded gun heavily duct-taped to his right hand (Castle's idea) so he's a bit limited. So he plops Castle in the elevator and sends it to the ground floor, and now he has to outfight all these guys and beat the elevator to the bottom.

The reason I prefer this one is because you can tell DD is using his senses to full advantage -- there are moments when he appears to punch or kick at nothing only for a mook to come in from off-screen at that exact moment. It puts the viewer in the same position as the mooks, of realizing how this one guy can outfight a small army because he is constantly aware of them.

There's also this EXTREMELY BLOODY fight scene from Season 1 of The Punisher, which shows the serious, focused savagery of how Castle fights, and is more brightly lit than the other two.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 1:59 PM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also, since you mention Fury Road specifically, you might want to read this Cracked article by Internet hilarity/actual MMA enthusiast Seanbaby, which specifically highlights and picks apart good and bad fight scenes in Hollywood history.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 2:39 PM on March 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Jackie Chan fight scenes are always very clear. Every Frame a Painting did a video explaining some techniques that goes into why that's so.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 6:14 PM on March 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


The matrix reloaded chateau fight is the ne plus ultra of clear, timed soundtrack stylized fighting.
posted by lalochezia at 7:34 PM on March 17, 2019


Soderbergh’s Haywire (2011) has some superbly choreographed fight scenes. It helps that the lead, Gina Carano, was an MMA fighter before acting in the film.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:58 PM on March 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also, since you mention Fury Road specifically, you might want to read this Cracked article by Internet hilarity/actual MMA enthusiast Seanbaby, which specifically highlights and picks apart good and bad fight scenes in Hollywood history.

Warning, this article is absolutely chock-full of jokes about disabled people.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:26 PM on March 17, 2019


What, still no love for Donnie Yen?
posted by flabdablet at 9:54 PM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


The fight scenes in The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2 are superbly choreographed. The first movie is a masterclass on how to film action fight scenes.
posted by alchemist at 10:59 PM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


theory: "Pixar films (and other animated films) have some of the better Hollywood fight scenes of recent years. The family and Frozone vs the robot in the first Incredibles movie is a good example with multiple characters involved."

Director Brad Bird developed a keen eye for movement, blocking, pacing, and physical comedy working on animated projects like this, and his first live-action movie -- Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol -- ended up being one of my all-time favorite action movies because it was so visually fluent and fun to watch. For example: juggling an agent vs. assassin fight, the death of a key witness, and a hot pursuit into a sandstorm, which morphs into an excellent (if claustrophobic) chase sequence. It also features a darkly funny climactic scene where Cruise and the main villain beat each other increasingly senseless as they scramble to obtain a nuclear launch device inside a constantly-moving automated parking garage.

Some other sequences that meet this bar off the top of my head:

- the fight through the automated car factory from Minority Report (similar to the aforementioned parking garage scene, in a good way)

- all the main characters from Guardians of the Galaxy attempting to capture each other in a sunlit plaza
posted by Rhaomi at 12:55 AM on March 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


I thought the fight scenes in Alita: Battle Angel were atypically great. Big action sequences these days generally have me looking at my watch. Terminator 2 is pretty damn good for that, too.
posted by rikschell at 10:56 AM on March 18, 2019


Wesley and Inigo Montoya's sword fight when they first meet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:57 PM on March 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Tibetan bar room fight in Raiders of the Lost Ark is perfectly choreographed as are most other Indiana Jones /Spielberg fights. I would argue in favor of the hallway fight scene in Oldboy (Korean original, didn't see the remake).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:33 PM on March 19, 2019


Banshee! has some great scenes.
posted by callmejay at 2:29 PM on March 20, 2019


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