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The 15 Best Character-Driven Fight Scenes In Movies

By Rob Payne | Lists | January 22, 2012 |

By Rob Payne | Lists | January 22, 2012 |

Last week we saw a pretty badass scene from Haywire (opening today, don’t forget to read Dan’s review), wherein star Gina Carano proceeded to beat the everloving spud out of Charming Potato. Some of you guys commented how great the fight was in particular because director Steven Soderbergh presented it without chopping it all to hell in the editing room, allowing us to clearly see Mallory’s character behind each punch, kick, and pistol whip. This prompted a brief interlude in the comments with suggestions of other such fight scenes in movies, those that focused on developing or re-establishing who these people we’re supposed to be rooting for are, as opposed to action for action’s sake. BierceAmbrose claimed it could make a good list, and I whole heartedly agree.

Some of the scenes mentioned in those comments are included below, and if not those specific fights, then other fights from those movies. And this is far from an exhaustive list — for instance, some of you might say its invalid purely because I didn’t include any scene from any Rocky movie, and there’s only three movies listed prior to the 1980s (meaning Douglas Fairbanks is totally unrepresented) — but there’s only so much bandwidth in a day. So, I encourage you to include your own favorite fight scenes below. Just remember, these aren’t merely fun action sequences that blow your individual skirt up, these are moments that indelibly matter to the characters involved, or tell us more about them than a simple description would. This is story told predominantly through motion, which is what movies excell at far better than any other medium. These scenes don’t detract from the narrative like those in a Baynis production, but actually serve to make their films more memorable.

Without further ado, I give you the 15 Best Character Driven Fight Scenes In Movies. Enjoy!

The Princess Bride

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Casino Royale


Kill Bill

Enter the Dragon

Grosse Point Blank

The Bourne Supremacy

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

The Karate Kid

Sherlock Holmes

Could not find an embeddable video, but check out the very Holmesian take on fisticuffs here.


Cool Hand Luke

They Live

The Empire Strikes Back

And now, just for poops and chuckles, here’s Inigo Montoya vs. Count Rugen… with lightsabers!

Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you’re into that sort of thing). He’s certain he probably forgot your favorite scene, and he’s sorry for that, but he also certain that he doesn’t care.

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