Fist fights in movies fall into two main categories – there’s the one on one scenes, favoured by boxers, and then there’s the ‘one guy against many’ fights that really give the heroes a chance to show how skillful they are.
Jet Li – Kiss of the Dragon
One great example of this is in Kiss of the Dragon. Jet Li fights his way through a building to get to ‘The Boss’, and uses his superior thinking and nimble way of fighting to defeat a whole horde of opponents. From his initial assault on a security guard, who is dispatched with one swift kick to the face, Li then takes on an entire class of martial arts students. Singly, in pairs and latterly in larger groups, they attack him from all sides, but Li is never overpowered.
Utilising equipment in the room, but mainly using his own fists and feet, no group of fighters is a match for his prowess. Leaving a room full of groaning invalids behind him, he moves on to fight a guy nearly twice his size, who at first seems to be unbeatable. No matter how many times he is knocked down, he always gets back up and just keeps on coming.
After several minutes of spectacular fighting, however, Li gets him on his knees and delivers a fatal kick to the head, snapping his neck in the process.
Keanu Reeves – The Matrix: Reloaded
The Matrix: Reloaded uses the same ‘one on many’ technique as ‘Neo‘ fights off an army of ‘Agent Smiths’, but utilises modern techniques to dramatise the fighter’s skills. Neo can fly, stop bullets with the power of his mind, and virtually disappear, only to reappear close by and deliver the final blow.
As more and more agents pour into the deserted street and the rain batters them all from above, Neo is still indestructible.
No matter what the agents throw at him, his leaps, kicks and punches seem to come from nowhere, and he dispatches hundreds of agents in a matter of minutes, all the while conserving enough energy to go on and fight the original Agent Smith.
Robert de Niro – Raging Bull
For one on one fights, though, Raging Bull deserves a mention. The sheer brutality of the boxing scenes in this film take ones breath away. Towards the beginning of Jake la Motta’s career, we see him as the undefeated champion of the ring.
In his fight vs. Janiro, his opponent is beaten down in less than one minute, as la Motta pounds unmercifully at his face, spilling blood, sweat and tears across the ring before Janiro finally sinks to the ground, broken and overcome.
Sylvester Stallone – Rocky
Finally, how could we forget Rocky? There is no need to choose a favourite scene, as all the Rocky movies show fist-fighting at its best.
No CGI, no special effects, just some good, honest punch ups throughout – many of the latest movies have tried to emulate it, and one day maybe some will, but for now, Rocky remains the classic example.