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.

Favorite Movie Fights of All Time – Part 1

Hey, look a non-review/podcast post!

No, in all seriousness, I have been wanting to do some sort of series on here for a while now. While ideas ran rampant in my head, fight scenes always stuck out. So that’s what I’m doing here. This won’t be the only series coming – I’ve got some others stored away – but for now, fight scenes are were its at.

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.

 

SPL/Kill Zone – Ma Kwan vs. Jack

You will see Donnie Yen a lot in this series, and I might as well start with one of my favorite fight scenes he’s been in. SPL (Sha po lang) or Killzone as it was re-titled here in America – sometimes even SPL: Kill Zone – we see Yen’s Ma Kwan going one-on-one against newcomer (at the time) Jing Wu’s Jack. The scene itself leads into the final fight between Yen and Sammo Hung, but we’re here to talk about Yen vs. Wu. The fight itself was treated almost like a sparring match between the two martial artists, and was even a “last minute” addition to production once Yen joined the film.

I honestly love this fight ever since I saw it for the first time. The whole movie did a great job of building up the threat that Jing Wu’s Jack is, and to see Ma go toe-to-toe with him with the music and the moves these two make is a sight to see.

 

The Raid 2: Berndal – Rama vs. The Assassin

The Raid, or The Raid: Redemption in some places, was a ground-breaking and breakthrough action film. Sure the story was simple, but it was the action and fight scenes that put the movie over the top with fans. So when the sequel was announced, we immediately knew that we were in for a fun ride, and oh boy, were we. The Raid 2: Berndal upped the ante with the action, and it was the final two fights that really showed director Gareth Evans was not messing around. That said, I’m just going to focus on the last fight between Iko Uwais’ Rama and Cecep Arif Rahman’s The Assassin.

The scene itself took a reported eight days to shoot, and it shows because this thing is brutal, long and completely worth the wait.

 

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Yu Shun Lien vs. Jiao Long

I doubt there isn’t a list of Favorite Fights Scenes of All Time that doesn’t have the epic sword fight between Michelle Yeoh’s Yu Shu Lien versus Ziyi Zhang’s Jiao Long (or Jen Yu in the Mandarin version). The fight between the experienced veteran fighter against a less experience younger warrior was the perfect mirror in real life with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon being Zhang’s breakout role – and second feature film. Seeing the two different styles, and just a tad bit of humor, definitely makes this one of the best fight scenes in cinema.

 

Hero – Nameless vs. Sky

Like mentioned above, the sword “fight” between Jet Li’s Nameless versus Donnie Yen’s Sky is one of the best fight scenes in cinema – for me at least. I say “fight” because the fight doesn’t really happen, but is instead played out in the minds of Nameless and Sky, while an excellent score plays in the background. The scene itself is only the second on-screen fight scene between Li and Yen – the first being Once Upon a Time in China II – which is odd to think considering how well they work together in the scene itself.

 

The Bourne Ultimatum – Bourne vs. Desh 

The Bourne Ultimatum is, by far, one of my favorite spy action thrillers. What Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon were able to do in the short amount of time they had together – Greengrass didn’t direct the first Bourne movie – was pretty damn great. That said, Ultimatum was the very best of the series on all accounts, and when it came to the action sequences, Ultimatum has them beat by miles. While, the Waterloo Station scene is probably one of my favorite scenes of all time, the fight between Damon’s Jason Bourne and CIA asset Desh, played by Joey Ansah, arguably began the hard-hitting, no score fight scenes in the Americana cinema (that statement could be wrong, but at the time of writing this, the only other movie that pops in my head for fight scenes with no score in them is Haywire. Will correct if I find out, or feel free to tell me). I mean, Bourne beats him with a book, A BOOK!

 

Kingsman: The Secret Service – Harry vs. The Church

No, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this fight is on my list – or any list for that matter. I mean, look at it! Not only does the fight feel like a one take – it wasn’t but that’s fine, one take fight scenes are really hard to make – but it’s got Colin Firth kicking ass to Free Bird. COLIN FIRTH AND FREE BIRD!

 

Banshee – Burton vs. Nola

The last fight in this first installment of Favorites Fight Scenes of All Time comes from a TV series. Cinemax had a great series called Banshee. The show itself didn’t rely on the action its first season, but the characters and the story it was trying to tell – the action was just a nice touch and welcomed. As the series went on the action became more prominent, and awesome to watch. The highlight of that came in the third season of the show – unfortunately the series only last four seasons – where there is an amazing feature film quality fight scene between Burton (Matthew Rauch), the main series villain’s henchman and Nola (Odette Annable), a character who was only in six episodes, including this one, but left an impression.

When I first watched the series, I wasn’t really expecting the fight at all, and fans of the show went crazy when they saw it, because it’s really – from what I can remember – the only fight scene like this. Every other fight is more like a brawl, but this was two fights going toe-to-toe, and man was it great to watch. Warning, not for the squeamish.

 

Like I said, this is only part one of a series, so which one of these are your favorite? What are you looking forward to me possibly talking about? Do you like this new series? What more do you want to see? How many more questions can I ask here??

Mini-Reviews: Headshot, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, & The Handmaiden

Hey everybody!

Welcome to the fifth edition of Mini-Reviews. This is the final installment of mini-reviews of the films I had the pleasure of watching at the Chicago International Film Festival last week. I’ll have another mini-review post up soon with films still in theaters.

 

 

Headshot

Directors: Kimo Stambeol and Timo Tjahjanto

Writer: Timo Tjahjanto

Cast: Iko Uwais, Chelsea Islan, Julie Estelle, David Hendrawan, Epy Kusnandar, Zack Lee, Very Tri Yulisman and Sunny Pang

Synopsis: An amnesiac with a serious head injury whose past comes back to haunt him shortly after being nursed back to health by a young doctor.

 

If you’re a fan of the Indonesian actions film The Raid and The Raid 2: Berandal, then Headshot is a natural progression film for you. The film brings together the same team behind the camera and in front of the camera, for the most part, and it leads to a brutally beautiful film that won’t disappoint any action fans.

Headshot follows a man (Uwais), who is found on a beach and is taken to a hospital where he spends three months in a coma. When he wakes up he doesn’t have any memory of who he is or what happened to him. His doctor Ailin (Islan) tries to help him and gives him Ishmael. However, Ishmael’s past comes back to haunt him as a mysterious and dangerous man known as Lee (Pang) comes back into the picture with his deadly army of assassins. To make matters worse, Ailin gets captured by Lee’s men and Ishmael races to save her and face his past.

Some will find the tonal shifts a bit jarring, and even I’ll admit I was a bit thrown by it at first, but Ishmael’s story and of course the action, keeps you invested through the shifts. The film does take a “breather” at one point as it gives us some backstory on Lee, which is really just an exposition dump, but right after that is when the action level goes up to eleven.

Of course, most people are going to watch this for the action – me too to be honest – and you will not be disappointed. The film gets really brutal and down-and-dirty, which is what we expected, and the film is called Headshot after all. Iko Uwais is one of the best martial arts stars we have working today, and seeing him working again with this Raid 2: Berandal stars Very Tri Yulisman and Julie Estelle is a great sight to see. Although they don’t really reach the same levels of iconic characters like Baseball Bat Man or Hammer Girl, but they do have their moments and are just as deadly.

All in all, Headshot is a brutal fighting film that is wrapped around a drama about a man trying to find out who he really is. While the film isn’t perfect, the action is what most will remember taking away from the film, and it isn’t really a bad thing.

Headshot

4 out of 5

headshot

 

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Director: Andre Ovredal

Writers: Ian B. Goldberg and Richard Naing

Cast: Emile Hirsch, Brian Cox, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton and Olwen Catherine Kelly

Synopsis: Father and son coroners who receive a mysterious homicide victim with no apparent cause of death. As they attempt to identify the beautiful young “Jane Doe,” they discover increasingly bizarre clues that hold the key to her terrifying secrets.

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of those films that I personally feel the less you know the better your experience will be. The film starts off rather grisly as Sheriff Sheldon (McElhatton) discovers a brutal crime scene, but finds something out of place in a mysterious body. With no visual signs of a cause of death, he sends the body of Jane Doe (played by Olwen Catherine Kelly) to father and son coroners, Tommy (Cox) and Austin (Hirsch). What follows is Tommy and Austin experiencing things they can’t clearly understand, or want to, and soon figure out that it may be connected to Jane Doe.

The film is a hell of a lot of fun, and it also helped that the crowd was also really into it too. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch have tremendous chemistry together as father and son, and really play off the horror elements of the film, as well as the autopsy parts where they seem to be enjoying themselves. If anything, the movie is held together by the always reliable Cox and Hirsch. However, the biggest props goes to Olwen Catherine Kelly as Jane Doe. One, for being a dead body the whole time, but the other is she still pulls off the creepiness of the role while laying on a table stiff. It’s rather impressive.

When the film picks up its eeriness is when the film becomes really fun. I won’t go too into details, but there are some pretty clever stuff that director Andre Ovredal (Trollhunters) and cinematographer Roman Osin pull off here. Also the reveal of what is causing all of this is rather interesting, and while the reveal is only limited to Tommy and Austin, I wish they could have gone more into it.

All in all, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a hell of a lot of fun to watch. It’s funny, scary when it needs to be, and Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch keep you invested from start to finish. The film does a great job of building everything up for its finale, that will probably make you even more afraid of going into a morgue.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

4 out of 5

autopsy-of-jane-doe

 

 

The Handmaiden

Director: Chan-wook Park

Writers: Chan-wook Park and Seo-Kyung Chung

Cast: Kim Tae-ri, Min-hee Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Jin-woong Jo, Hae-suk Kim, and Sori- Moon

Synopsis: A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.

 

Famed, and amazing, director Chan-wook Park has given us some great films in the past like Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance, and Thirst. Now, Park has come back with a somewhat different film in The Handmaiden. Based off the novel by Sarah Waters called Fingersmith, the film is a very exotic, drama thriller that never lets go from beginning to end.

The film is set in Japanese occupied Korea and follows Sook-Hee (Tae-ri), a young theif who is part of a band of thieves, who just landed a massive job. The plan is for Sook-Hee to become the handmaiden of the wealthy Lady Hideko (Kim) and make her fall in love with “Count Fujiawara” (Ha) so they can get married, take her fortune to split it amongst them, and throw her in a madhouse. However, as the days go by Sook-Hee finds it harder to betray Hideko as she’s gotten to know her.

The Handmaiden has a ton more going on than the trailers and even the synopsis has you believe. So much so that the film’s long run time is justified, and to some extent, I kind of wish the movie was a little longer so it can drawn some more things out. Saying that, the film could be one of those films that you have to revisit to see if you can catch things you didn’t notice before.

Also, Park is back to his ways of making his audiences feel just a bit uncomfortable. Of course, most of the scenes involve the exotic scenes that Park does find a way to actually make work for the film instead of just having a random and gratuitous sex scene. It fits the story and even connects to one of the many themes the film has. I know that sounds vague, but like The Autopsy of Jane Doe, the less you know the better your experience will be watching this.

The performances are also top notch. Of course the film is driven and held together by the leads in Min-hee Kim as Lady Hideko and Kim Tae-ri as Sook-Hee, who are amazing to watch together and Kim is especially great by herself as well. Jung-woo Ha as the Fujiwara and the leader of the group of thieves has his real big moments, and Jin-woong Jo appears as Hideko’s uncle Kouzuki plays a major role in Hideko and Fujiwara’s arcs, and one of the things I wish was expanded on a bit.

Finally, one of the things I was not expecting – besides the twists – was the how funny this movie was. Even the weird and uncomfortable scenes had some humor to them, which also the film just a bit, because the film gets a little heavy at times.

All in all, The Handmaiden will definitely not be for everyone, but if you could try to avoid any more information about the film you should. The film is a beautiful, exotic, funny romance story that I was never expecting, and I’m glad I got to experience it.

The Handmaiden

4 out of 5

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