Ever since apes discovered that twatting eachother over the head could impose their own dominance and will on others; fighting has been a very important part of man’s culture. Some choose not to fight, citing moral reasons  for their lack of balls. It just so happens that some who do fight, fight hard. Here are 9 unforgettable pugilists, and their best bouts to boot.

#9: Narrator -vs- Narrator (Fight Club, 1999)

There’s always one friend who punches himself when drunk. It just so happens that the narrator of Fight Club takes this to the logical extreme – beating on himself repeatedly,  and convincingly too.  Fight Club is believable because Ed Norton plays the role as a true underdog and geek – at times coming across as a pathetic loser who is there for the taking, others as a raging beast who will fight anything. It’s the times when his true animal comes out that are the most memorable, and him beating himself up in front of his boss is the most brilliant and original of all.

(^Awful quality video, but you get the picture)

#8: Luke Skywalker -vs – Darth Vader (Star Wars Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back)

Star Wars

As a young movie fan, was there ever a more epic moment in film? Probably not, this symbolised the gutting realisation that we have the capability of massive evil in all of us, and only by consciously choosing good or bad can we hope to make a rational and worthwhile moral decision. Death is a more preferable end than the evil that has befallen his once proud father. Luke is not so much fighting his own dad at this point, but the rising possibility that he too could become as evil and twisted as Darth. But still, he is fighting Darth Vader, and it is bloody brilliant.

 

#7: The Warriors -vs- The Punks (The Warriors, 1979)

More than probably any film on the list, the Warriors could be accused of  glamorising and glorifying violence. Every character you are made to sympathise with is a violent thug, and the only thing that seems to separate ‘good thugs’ from the bad ones is a bizarrely double sided sense of honour (not stealing from shops, not using guns or weapons in fights). But still, the Warriors is an extremely entertaining and well shot film that details one gang’s (the Warriors) desperate struggle to get home, despite every rival gang’s efforts at stopping them, all set amidst a backdrop of 70’s disco and questionably homosexual leather outfits. I still love it though. The best fight scene is a Clockwork Orange style toilet brawl against mullet’d dudes in rollerskates. Ah the 70’s!

 

#6: Jake LaMotta -vs- Sugar Ray Robinso(Raging Bull, 1980)

In this much parodied scene, LaMotta takes an absolute pummelling from Sugar Ray, slow motion blows reign down on Jake’s head and spit and blood flies everywhere. Sugar Ray appears out of a fog like a possessed banshee and lands blow after blow on an awestruck LaMotta. If ever a fight scene in film were to denounce the supposed glory of pugilism, this is it, at it’s ugly, raw and unbelievably painful best.

 

#5: John Matrix -vs- ‘Bennett‘ (Commando, 1985)

In Arnie films there is an unspoken precedent. The hero must be muscly as hell, and the villain must be either wily, or slightly less muscly. In Commando, the main antagonist (Australian, Bennet)  is both. Harbouring an anger for Matrix (Arnie) from a former job gone wrong, Bennett will stop at nothing to bring John down. Literally attempting to take him on with a knife. You and I both know that to attempt to take on Arnold Schwarzenegger with a knife is a bad idea, but Bennett seems to assume everything will end up fine. Check out the manliest fight ever, they hit eachother with pipes and steel doors of furnaces and shit!

 

#4: George Nada -vs- Frank Armitage (They Live, 1988)

For anyone who’s seen it, They Live contains the single most ridiculous and most unforgettable fight scene ever, but what is in all honesty, probably a lot more realistic than any on this list. George Nada (played by wrestler, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper) tries to convince his friend that the world they live in has been taken over by aliens posing as humans, Armitage doesn’t believe it, and thus a SIX MINUTE fight sequence occurs. It is brilliant, if not a bit over the top, and definitely enjoyable. It was recently paid homage in South Park’s ‘Cripple Fight’ episode.

#3: Lee -vs- Han (Enter the Dragon, 1973)

There’s no doubt that Enter The Dragon is somewhat of a cash in of the ‘kung-fu’ craze of the early 70’s, but it’s a very entertaining one, and probably Bruce Lee’s best performance in film – he is in peak condition and some of the stunts (which he did himself) are astoundingly complicated, and breathtaking. In it he travels to a (‘Tekken’ style) fighting tournament in China to investigate charges of corruption. He finds them – big time, and ends up having to beat on one of the most insanely determined martial arts villains ever in the shape of Han. In the final fight apparently Bruce Lee broke a few of Kien Shih (Han’s) ribs as well. Nice of him.

 

#2: Alex and his droogs -vs- Billy Boy and his droogs (A Clockwork Orange, 1971)

A Clockwork Orange is an extremely violent film, and this scene is one of the most violent of all – two gangs beating the shit out of eachother to Rossini’s ‘The Thieving Magpie’.  It’s not only an extremely well choreographed fight, but it’s also intentionally very funny, juxtaposing brutal violence to the sounds of late era romantic piece. As in all of Kubrick’s films, there is something to be said about some people’s opinion of the beauty of violence. Alex especially likens the chaos of a symphony to the chaos and unpredictability of a fight. It is a perfectly shot and symmetrical bout, put to gloriously uplifting and slightly quirky classical music – but does that make it a beautiful act? As chairs are smashed over heads and bottles are constantly being thrown – the answer is a resounding ‘no’.

(^ You will have to watch the link in Youtube, embedding has been disabled for all the versions of this video)

 

#1: Oh-Dae Su -vs- 12 Men in one corridor (Oldboy, 2003)

As I have stated many, many times, Oldboy is one of my all time favourite films, something which is only strengthened due to the insane and memorable fight scene where protagonist Oh-Dae Su takes on a corridor of angry henchmen, armed literally with a hammer and his self-taught martial arts knowledge. Great fight scenes should be both believable, and wildly unrealistic – there is nothing worse than seeing a fighter take on a swarm of enemies that seem to go on for ever, and that is the beauty of the fight scene in Oldboy, there are the same antagonists, and the same main character, and they just brawl for four minutes straight. The fight itself is absolute carnage, and however ridiculous it may seem, in film it comes across as extremely believable. Dae-Su is stabbed between the shoulder blades at one point and visibly exhausted, he attempts to escape the scene, still throwing weakened punches at his visibly embarrassed foes. He does well though, and it is a credit to the actors involved, and the director, that it was  shot as one continuous piece of film. Astounding, breath taking, ugly, brutal but absolutely genius in it’s choreography, it’s performances, and it’s ability to stick right in your mind for months after watching it, Oldboy’s fight scene is the most memorable ever.

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