Fight scenes have been around since the beginning of films. However, given their frequency, it is difficult for many to stand out among the crowd. Nonetheless, when done correctly, they can become legendary and downright awe-inspiring for audiences and filmmakers alike.
While the title of the greatest martial artist is often debated, the recognition is most often awarded to the legendary Bruce Lee. As the precursor to many of the action scenes audiences see today, Lee has served as a source of inspiration for directors ever since the talented martial artist hit the screens.
Lee has several iconic fight scenes, but his most famous has to be in “Enter the Dragon,” where he beats up way too many people to count. Using various weapons, Lee takes on countless opponents and shows off his admirable skills. While he does this in many of his films, no fight scene is as iconic as the one in “Enter the Dragon.”
Although foreign films and martial arts films often do not receive worldwide acclaim and recognition, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is definitely one of the few that have managed to prove otherwise. Having been nominated for 10 Academy Awards and winning four, this film certainly amazed audiences with its plot, setting and, specifically, its fight scenes.
While “beautiful” is rarely a word used to describe an action scene, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” somehow manages to pull it off in the iconic sword fight between Michelle Yeoh and Ziyi Zhang. The clash seems graceful yet flashy, and aggressive yet controlled.
Ang Lee certainly brought foreign films into the limelight with this masterpiece, as the director blended enviable martial arts skills with a relatable story about forging one’s own path and the power of love.
A love story in its own way, “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” gives audiences nonstop fight scenes from start to finish. However, director Quentin Tarantino manages to pull this off so well that viewers are always eagerly anticipating the next action scene.
In this two-part film series, a woman, known as The Bride, is on a revenge-spree, hunting down everyone who has wronged her until she finds her former love who left her for dead in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2.”
In the first installation, Tarantino directs several iconic fight scenes, primarily with his showdown between The Bride and The Crazy 88. Bloody and campy, this unrealistic and almost humorous scene finds a way to remain legendary and extremely well-executed and serve as an homage to the martial arts king himself, Bruce Lee.
Similar to the campy style seen in “Kill Bill,” “The Matrix” manages to do the same but in a game-changing way with Neo’s fight against Agent Smith. Filled with slow-motion, fast-motion and extremely exaggerated punches and kicks, “The Matrix” showed the world a new type of fight scene still imitated and referenced in more modern films — including some of the scenes in “Kill Bill.”
Not only is this fight a major turning point for the rest of the movie and the rest of the series, but its special effects remain awesome nearly 20 years later. It is undeniable that “The Matrix” was revolutionary in its seminal cinematography, direction and editing, most evident in its many enjoyable fight scenes.
Although some movies become famous for their elaborate use of special effects, sometimes simplicity is key — as seen in “The Bourne Ultimatum.” The third in the “Bourne” saga, this film gained much recognition for Bourne’s bathroom fight.
Extremely dynamic and action-packed, the fight scene has Bourne jumping through a window to fight his opponent only to later defend himself with a book and a towel. Through its meticulously choreographed action sequence and first-person cinematography, this fight scene makes “The Bourne Ultimatum” stand out among all of the films in this series.
Evidently, while fight scenes are common, they are very difficult to pull off right. Although they are extremely choreographed to prevent injuries, they cannot seem too rehearsed to the point where they seem unrealistic. This, combined with an original way to convey the action to audiences, are key to creating a fight scene that will go down in fame.