Great movie dust-ups come in all shapes and sizes. Asian action cinema has blessed us with balletic beat downs that deliver high-speed martial artistry from legendary figures like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Gordon Liu; the western has chucked a thousand and one window-smashing saloon-bar rumbles into the mix, leaving Tombstone glaziers overworked and our eyeballs in need of ice packs. Then, of course, there’s the big Hollywood action movies, which send valiant heroes into action against evil baddies and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. The hero usually wins, but they’re defnitely going to take a beating first.
To continue Time Out’s celebration of great action movies, we’ve dug through the medium’s greatest fight scenes to pick the best of the best: the wince-worthy smash-ups that keep us coming back for more. But first, a few criteria: improvised weapons – staffs, clubs, arm cannons, hose pipes, toasters, forks, golf clubs, etc – are all fine, but guns don’t quality here (even if one or two firearms do feature). Also omitted are boxing bouts, a whole list in itself, although the dojo is well-represented. What’s left, though, are the most impactful, visceral and spectacular examples of close combat cinema. Find a sofa, hide behind it and prepare for impact.
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