Favorite Fight Scenes of All Time – Part 2

Everyone loves a good fight scene, right? I know I do. Hell, I LOVE a good fight scene. There’s something about a fight scene that just gets me going. Not to the extent that I’m going to start picking fights with strangers – at least not anymore – but seeing the hard work of training and filming for months and weeks just for our enjoyment is awesome to watch. So here is where I’m going to shout out some of my favorite fight scenes of all time. Obviously, this is my list and purely my opinion, so if there is a fight that I missed, it’s probably because I simply forgot. This is also, most likely, the first installment of many articles to come.

However, before we get to the list I want to say how I will approach this, at least fight wise. I’m not including battle scenes, which pretty much excludes anything from The Lord of the Rings or the great opening from Saving Private Ryan (another post maybe?). The fights will range from one-on-one or one-on-two, or something along those lines. Also, despite the order, I’m not ranking them. Finally, some of these fights, could be final fights so SPOILER WARNING!

Alright, let’s get cracking…bones…too much? Too much.

 

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy – News Team Street Fight

Oh, you thought this series was going to be just serious fight scenes? Oh no. Although, this arguably breaks my battle rule, this fight is too good to pass up on the list. It is fun and over the top in the right way possible.

 

The Raid 2: Berndal – Rama vs. Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man

I briefly mentioned this fight in Part One of the series, and I thought I’d talk about it here considering this is a great lead-in to that final fight. Berndal really builds up the threat of Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle) and Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman) – yes, those are their credited names – throughout the entire movie on more than one occasion. So when it came down to them versus Iko Uwais’ Rama, the threat is very real.

Behind-the-scenes it’s cool to find out that Julie Estelle, who had no background in martial arts, trained for six months before starting to shoot, and all her effort really showed. Of course, it helped that she had some great teachers. Also, expect to see her name pop up again in the future.

 

The Matrix – Neo vs. Agent Smith (Subway)

When The Matrix came out, it was groundbreaking on every level; from the story, the visuals, and the characters and, of course, the fights. While it’s easy to remember the building shootout, the thing I remember the most about the movie is the fight between Neo and Agent Smith in the subway. The fight proves the Neo could go face-to-face with an agent, and hold his own, despite the lack of real training. Also, it was a chance to show off the tremendous work on every level behind the camera.

 

Atomic Blonde – Lorraine vs. Thugs & Solider (Daniel Bernhardt)

David Leitch is now become a household name thanks to his work in John Wick, and the man has been going nonstop since then. The former stuntman, now director, obviously has an eye for directing action, and after seeing John Wick, it should have come as no surprise that Atomic Blonde would have great looking, hard hitting action and fight scenes. The highlight for me is the final big showdown between Charlize Theron’s Lorraine going up against kill squad and a character simply known as The Soldier, played by Daniel Bernhardt – another well-known or at least recognizable stunt man. The fight is made to look like a one-take, and it is seamlessly done.

 

Ip Man – Ip Man vs. Ten Blackbelts

Hey look, its Donnie Yen again! Anyway, throughout all of Ip Man we see Donnie Yen’s titled character show a tremendous amount restraint during his fights, but it was at this part of the movie where he finally cuts loose, and shows the deadly side of his character and of Wing Chun. The sight is masterful, brutal and a sight to see.

 

The Protector (Tom yum goong) – Kham vs. Madam Rose’s Men (Finale)

Tony Jaa made a name for himself here in the States with the success of Ong-Bak, which we’ll see later in the series, but I’m going to focus on his second movie The Protector (or Tom yum goong). More specifically, the massive finale when Kham lets loose after seeing his whole purpose throughout the movie is gone. The rage he lets out against Madame Rose’s men who dare cross him is almost cringe worthy to watch, but so damn good to not turn away (so if bone crunching or snapping is hard for…maybe don’t watch this one).

 

The Man from Nowhere – Cha vs. Henchmen (Finale)

The Man from Nowhere is a South Korean action thriller that stars Won Bin as Cha Tae-sik, a quiet pawnshop keeper who gets befriends a young girl, but when she gets kidnapped, his violent past and abilities come back out. It’s a really worthwhile film that you should check out – it even got a Hindi remake called Rocky Handsome – and was rumored to get an American remake (still in developmental-hell). One of the great things about the film is it’s a slow-build action film. There are action bits throughout the film, but it saves the big moments for the finale that sees Cha take on dozens of guys after they mess up pretty bad.

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‘Hacksaw Ridge’ Review

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Director: Mel Gibson

Writers: Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffths, and Vince Vaughn

Synopsis: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Directed by Mel Gibson, his first since Apocalypto in 2006, Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of a real-life hero during World War II in Desmond Doss, whose story I’ve personally never heard of, and it’s unbelievable that his story isn’t told more. The film isn’t a full look into Doss’ life, nor is it his full time in the war, but only a small part during the Battle of Hacksaw Ridge. Gibson himself said that he took some liberties with some parts of the battle and didn’t including everything because he thought some audiences wouldn’t believe it, which if and when you watch the film, it hard to believe that Doss did even more than what was shown.

Hacksaw Ridge follows Desmond Doss (Garfield), a religious man who is the son of a World War I vet, Tom (Weaving), who decides to enlist into the army to be a medic and help save his fellow soldiers. However, his beliefs of not picking up a gun puts him into a headstrong battle with his military superiors and fellow soldiers, who see him as a coward, and after getting through a Court Marshall hearing, is sent into war without a weapon to defend himself with, becoming a Conscientious Objector. What follows is an incredible heroic story of what Doss was able to do and how many lives he saved during that horrific battle.

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Doss’ life is certainly one that will make you question his beliefs, which is reasonable and it’s something that Gibson doesn’t shy too much away from, especially at the time this film takes place. However, Gibson and Andrew Garfield’s performance do bring humanity and reason to Doss’ beliefs, and his convictions keeps us invest throughout the film. We almost have no choice but to root for him, especially when the army tries to punish him.

His heroism is put on full display during the war scenes. Of course, we know that Gibson can direct war battles, and this was a real event were many men lost their lives, so walking in we already knew that this was going to be brutal to watch – and it was. The constant bombs going off with bullets whizzing by makes you feel that sometimes you’re running with the men on Hacksaw Ridge. The battle sequences are brutal, but not as brutal as Gibson’s other films, especially since the film relies a bit of CGI for some scenes – you can’t go blowing people’s face off now can you?

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Despite this being a war film, the film is carried and driven by the performances. Garfield is terrific as Doss, playing him at first as the off-beat character from Virginia, so harrowing hero in the midst of death surrounding him. Teresa Palmer plays his future wife, Dorothy, who brings levity to the film, but once Doss goes to the war, she is never seen again, which is kind of a shame but makes sense. Luke Bracey’s Smitty Ryker is one of the antagonistic soldiers to Doss, but has a great scene with Doss near the middle of the film that makes you forget he was in the Point Break remake.

Vince Vaughn pops in as Sgt. Howell, and while it is a little hard to believe him as an army sergeant at first, but Vaughn plays the role well enough. Sam Worthington play Captain Glover, who leads the charge to get Doss to quit the army. Worthington has been great since taking a break from mainstream big studio films, and he continues the trend here. Hugo Weaving as Doss’ father, Tom, has a great arc in the film and even with minimal screen-time he does what he has to do. The rest of the cast do well too, but most of them have only small amounts of screen time and once we get to the battle scenes it’s a bit hard to really recognize them.

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The most important thing about this film is that it doesn’t go straight into the war battles. We really get to know Doss before and after he registers, and see who he is before he’s thrown into war. The film does introduce someone close to Doss’ life that suddenly disappears without reason, and while you can say “that’s a little thing,” when you look at the film with a wider lens, it would have been nice to see that character mentioned or seen again.

All in all, Hacksaw Ridge is a great look into a hero that I don’t think many people knew about. Andrew Garfield brings Desmond Doss to life and shows us the hardship he went through to save others during World War II. Filled with some great action, and some surprising humor, Hacksaw Ridge has me waiting to see what Mel Gibson does next.

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Hacksaw Ridge

4.5 out of 5

‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ Review

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Dir: Peter Jackson

Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee and Cate Blanchett

Synopsis: Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness.

 

 

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review. As much as a spoiler free review goes on a movie based on a popular book and a prequel to popular series.*

 

 

Peter Jackson has done it. He has bought the world of Middle-Earth that J.R.R. Tolkein created to life on the big screen. Of course, he added in another whole movie that really seemed unnecessary but, hey what the hell right? The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies should have felt – and for some part does – as a grand finale to another ambitious trilogy that we could have only originally only imagined. The film has great moments but after a while the final film of The Hobbit series is slightly an underwhelming one.

 

Hobbit Smaug

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug left things on a cliffhanger with Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) flying toward Lake-town to cause havoc. The Battle of the Five Armies picks up right after that as we see Smaug raining down fire upon the citizens of Lake-town. It’s a great set-piece to start off but judging how short the scene was I really couldn’t see why they decided not to put it in as the finale in the last film. Yes, more money, but even so, I really couldn’t see any reason they couldn’t have squeezed in an extra ten minutes.

 

The “real” beginning of the film would have been a great start, which is the rescue of Gandalf (McKellen), by Galadriel (Blanchett), Elrond (Weaving), and Saruman (Lee). The scene is cool because it gives Blanchett, Weaving and Lee more to do than just sit around a table and talk about the “Darkness that is coming.” Also, the scene is a bit anti-climatic, which can be said for the whole film series in some way. It is a prequel after all, and while I’m good at suspending disbelief, I couldn’t help but have the thought in my mind: “they’re going to be okay!”

 

Hobbit Gand and Gala

 

But this is the problem with prequel series and older fans. We know how the story is going to, so we do have to suspend our disbelief a lot more than fans that maybe don’t know about the original series (I’m looking at you Star Wars prequels!). However, one of the great things that Peter Jackson has done with The Hobbit films is that he has created a series that is some way is new and creates great moments that you forget the previous films. Desolation of Smaug is a great example of that but The Battle of the Five Armies juggles that throughout the whole film. When the film is on full cylinders it’s an amazing experience, but when it starts to slow down and gives the audiences some winks to the future (or is it past, I don’t know) it becomes a little jarring.

 

Hobbit Thorin 2

 

Anyway back to the film. Thorin (Armitage), Bilbo and Company have finally secured their homeland and have gotten the room full of gold. Unfortunately, their celebration is cut short by Thorin, who becomes obsessed on getting the “Arkenstone.” So much that he starts to act like his grandfather before him. The obsession is described by Balin (Stott) to Bilbo as “dragon sickness,” as Thorin starts to turn on his own thinking one of his own people is hiding his birthright. Thorin starts to act brash and when the people of Lake Town come for shelter and some of the gold that was promised to them by Thorin himself in the previous movie, he tells them to leave or else. Things don’t get any better when Thranduil (Pace) comes and wants to claim the mountain as well.

 

Hobbit Thraduil

 

This puts the sides on opposite ends as Bard (Evans) tries to reason with Thorin, but again he’s having none of it. Thranduil sees this as an act of war and the Elvin army is ready to attack when Thorin’s cousin Dain (Billy Connolly) comes to help him. But before any of them can attack each other, the Orc army makes itself known and thus begins the titled Battle of the Five Armies.

 

Hobbit battle

 

Here is where Peter Jackson success and fails. Jackson gave us some great and dare I say mesmerizing battle scenes in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, especially The Return of the King, and while I don’t want to compare the two final films, The Battle of the Five Armies does have title to hold to. Now, I’m all for a good battle scene and while we have to sit through about an hour or so of build up for that actual battle and characters constantly reminding us that a war is coming or about to begin, when the battle actually starts, it is only okay. Again, don’t get me wrong, Jackson is one of the best directors that can put together a grand set-piece like a war (again look at the LotR films) but unlike those previous battles, Jackson relies more heavily on CGI with The Battle of the Five Armies. Of course since casting millions of people, controlling them in just an open space would be a pain in the ass, and there aren’t any huge goblins out there, CG is reasonably the best way to go. However, at the same time it feels like we’re watching an animating film instead of a live-action film, which again sucks because of the great battles Jackson has given us in the past. And yes, I know Jackson used CG in the LotR films, but he was able to hide it more in those films than these.

 

Despite that, it’s certain characters that save (and I used that word very strongly) the film. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo and Richard Armitage’s Thorin Oakenshield character’s come full circle. You can arguably say that The Hobbit movies are as much a Thorin movie as it is a Bilbo movie. Thorin goes from sympathetic and heroic character in the past films to this crazed and troubled character for three-fourths of the movie back to being character we love. Thorin’s arc is touching, heartbreaking and an great experience to watch unfold and Armitage does an amazing job of being able to fill those shoes.

 

Hobbit Biblbo

 

Freeman is also great and while he doesn’t spend so much time on screen the scenes he has are touching and great to watch. Whether it’s a scene of him trying to bring Thorin back to normal or a simple scene of him and Gandalf sitting down not saying a word to each other because at that point there is nothing to say, Freeman has given the character of Bilbo more life than one of could have imagined.

 

The rest of the cast kind of gets thrown at the wayside, which tends to happen when you have such a huge cast. All the actors that play the other Dwarves don’t really have moments to shine expect for Aidan Turner’s Kili who continues and finishes his romance arc with Evangeline Lilly’s Tauriel. Luke Evans has more to do as Bard the Bowman acting as new leader and gets to show off his fighting ability. Lee Pace has about the same amount of screen time he had in last movie as the Elvin king Thranduil but finally gets to show more of his ability to fight. Finally, Orlando Bloom as Legolas is just in the movie for the action as he doesn’t really serve a purpose for the movie other than show how he got on his adventure at the start of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

 

Hobbit Tauriel and Legolas

 

All in all, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is not a bad movie but considering that there was going to be only two movies and the previous Hobbit movies built up to this, it does leave a little bit to be desired and was a bit underwhelming. If anything, The Battle of Five Armies and the other Hobbit movies are all about the adventure and characters, and on that end it succeeds with flying colors. But when it comes to the titular Battle of the Five Armies and a final film of a trilogy, it’s only okay.

 

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

3.5 out of 5

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