Let’s face it, when we walk into an action movie, we don’t want realism. We want our hero to be “10 feet tall and bulletproof“. We want him/her to know tons of bone crunching self-defense, walk through a battle unscathed and maybe, just maybe, if we’ve suspended all our disbelief, our hero will be able to walk on water. Now as action films go, pushing the envelope is a requirement, nay, obligation and most times, despite the lunacy of what happening on-screen, we always think bigger and better is the way to go…except in Transformers 2.
Yet for as long as films have had that genre defining high action content, you’d think filmmakers would have come up with every conceivable way to “off a guy”. Well that’s what makes going to the movies so much fun, isn’t it? To see how someone did something never done before. While there are long droughts of unoriginal battle scenes, sometimes a film comes along with truly new, inventive, and completely illogical way to dispose of said baddies which makes it a joy to see it in the theater.
So I’ve visited my Sacred Shelves, consulted with our nearly non-existent editors, and come up with 5 purely outrageous melee scenes that get high points for style, originality and (to some degree) lethality. Submitted for your approval (and comments are highly encouraged), in no particular order, here are the G-S-T Quick 5 – Best Action Melee Scenes:
Equilibrium – In the wake of that film involving something called “The Matrix”, Equilibrium had some big shoes to fill. Being released not long after the adventures of Neo, Equilibrium stood out with a great story, a slick (albeit dismal) looking future about a legion of Clerics protecting the newly minted (post apocalyptic) utilitarian government. No one could touch these warriors as they, having studied hundreds of recorded gun fights are history’s most lethal and efficient peace keepers. The film sports some serious, non-wire fighting ass-kicking but the hallway scene at the end earns this film the top spot for its melee overload!!
Wanted – In the world of cinema, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Wanted takes the best gun scenes of our number 1 spot and actually expands on them to create its own brand of stylistic shoot-em-upery! Yeah, I made up that term but if they can make up curving a bullet, then I can take creative liberties too. The 10 minute action scene at the end was one of the quickest, most adrenaline packed sequences I’ve ever seen…except for Equilibrium of course.
The Matrix Reloaded – As The Matrix had nothing but incredible melee scenes (specifically the lobby scene at the end) but if you want an all out slug fest, look no further than the fabled 100 Agent Smith fight. Some would claim that this scene’s cuts to a purely CGI environment aren’t as successful in selling the impact of the fight. To those people, I ask “does it matter??”. When it was in theaters, the CGI was so convincing that most people didn’t notice the switch until the movie was out on DVD…and I saw it on IMAX and still couldn’t tell! Just because the really complex stuff was done with CG models, all of it was still choreographed by Yuen Woo Ping and the result was 6 plus minutes of AWESOME! Also, those “brace yourself” slow-motion slow downs (before each succeeding Agent Smith was thrown, sent flying, or used as a weapon against the other 99 Smiths) just enhanced the already epic battle. Woah, indeed!
Also, the badass Chateau fight is 1000% dope as well…check it out too!
300 – Wow, just wow. This movie was a feature-length music video of melee and metal (the music and the armor that is). Having the wildly popular graphic novel to use as source material, the comic’s plot only served to communicate a narrative between the truly jaw dropping fight scenes. Leonidas will go down as one of the greatest film heroes and his following 299 Spartans will be right there with him. A ballet of blood, and broken bones, the entire Battle of Thermopylae is both awe-inspiring and action packed. From the very first scuffle with Xerxes’ weakest minions, the movie let the audience know what kind of movie they were in store for. Again, slow motion used to heighten the scenes, the multiple dances of death in 300 should be viewed with incredible reverence. So Leonidas, tonight you dine in hell,huh?…tell me, is that 3 or 4 course meal? Sign me up, I’ll be right behind you:P
Watchmen – Another Zack Snyder masterpiece (and the 3rd Warner Brothers property here) Watchmen found new ways to make opponents pay in brawl after brawl. Compared to the others on this list Watchmen may appear a bit tame with much less action overall, but the severity of the blows given are enough to make the viewers hurt just by watching this. Granted Watchmen was more about story than stylized action (though it had a good amount of it), but just thinking about the beatings doled out in that jail fight (and the alley scene too, omph) still makes me wince.
Honorable Mentions – It was hard enough keeping this list to a select 5, I do have to call attention to the cringe-inducing and flat-out crazy hammer scene in Chan-wook Park‘s Oldboy. To this day it hurts just thinking about the damage in that sequence. To make it all the more impressive, it was done real-time, without wires, CGI and all in one take. More like “Oh Boy” if you ask me:) Also, for Liam Neeson getting up there in age, he was just amazing in pretty much every scene of Taken…even doing most of the convincing fight scenes himself!
So that’s what I like and love to watch…especially when it is one continuous ass-whooping unfolding on screen. How about the rest of you? What are your favorite bone-crunching, kick-ass, all-out melee scenes??