A few years ago, one of my best friends coined the term “Wrestleution” for a certain type of story beat. He argued that some stories can be brought into land subtly and quietly whilst others, especially stories involving Nazis, cry out for big finishes which involve the two main characters fighting on a bridge, which is, on occasion, on fire.
Captain America: The First Avenger anyone?
In other words, peaceful resolutions are admirable but on occasion, genre fiction movies and TV shows need to throw down. And this week, we’re throwing down with them as the Blogbusters answer the question:
What’s your favorite genre fiction fight scene?
Seconds out, round one!
PigMonkey: The best fight scene ever took place September 1987 in Justice League #5. It lasted a single panel, and comprised Batman’s fist, and Guy Gardner’s face. No one liked Guy; no one was supposed to – he was a huge prick. Unfortunately when Batsy doesn’t like you he lets you know sooner or later. The whole thing was compounded by Guy asking to fight Batman hand-to-hand. As a Green Lantern, Guy needs will power, he doesn’t have to be smart: Gardner did not even get the power ring completely off his finger before this happened.
I have kept that panel in my memory since 1987. Classic.
Troo Topham: So in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, right, a vampire picks up a horse by the ankle and throws it as a ranged weapon.
Every other argument is invalid.
Lee Harris: This one is easy, but as every man and his dog will probably choose the Wesley/Inigo Montoya swordfight scene in The Princess Bride (in my opinion, the best swordfight ever committed to film), I’m going to opt for something a little different – the playground tango in Daredevil. It’s fun, and like all dances, it’s beautifully choreographed. Matt Murdoch and Elektra fight for the first time, but they’re not trying to hurt each other: they’re playfighting; they’re testing each other. They’re flirting. Now, I’m pretty sure that attempting to put the object of one’s desire into a stranglehold isn’t most people’s idea of courtship (although, following the success of Fifty Shades of Meh I could be wrong) but it works for Matt and Elektra, and remains one of the most iconic moments in a film which – though flawed – is full of memorable scenes.
Laura McConnell: As much as I want to go with anything Trinity from The Matrix or the completely irreverent fun of Hit Girl’s introduction in Kick-Ass, with all of its purple-y wonder, I have to go old school. I have to say that it’s Luke versus Vader in Return Of The Jedi. For me, despite the Emperor’s questionable tactics in trying to seduce Luke to the Dark Side (he’s clearly seen too many James Bond films), that battle withstands the test of time. So many facets of it are just fantastic: From Luke losing control and fighting like a real human being who is angry and scared (not some superhuman with all sorts of crazy powers) to the operatic music to the entire point of the Star Wars trilogy being distilled down to the body language* of Dave Prowse in Vader’s final redemption, it is a scene I never tire of.
*For the sake of clarity, I suppose I should mention that said body language is all the dialogue I need for said scene to ring true and most powerful.
(With apologies, readers, if this isn’t the version of the scene you prefer)
Steven Ellis: I recently saw Real Steel and was impressed with the robot fights in that. So much better than the puke-inducing fights in the Transformers films. But I wouldn’t rate them as the best fight scenes ever. The lightsaber duels from Star Wars are pretty impressive. The fight in Return Of The Jedi between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader is a brilliant, emotional tour de force and the Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon versus Darth Maul fight from The Phantom Menace is an excellent example of balletic choreography.
But if we’re talking fists fights, two come to mind. The first is Indiana Jones versus the German soldier, played by the brilliant Pat Roach, in Raiders Of The Lost Ark. It’s a great scene from start to finish. Placing the fight on, under and around a moving aeroplane was a stroke of genius and it adds so much to the action of the sequence; having Marion stuck inside the plane with the threat of an explosion just ramped up the tension. Harrison Ford is always great in a fight scene, you really feel like he’s taking a proper punishing and he’s at his best here. They tried to replicate the fight in Temple Of Doom by bringing Roach back but that wasn’t a patch on the first one mainly because the bad guy wasn’t pulped by a spinning propeller at the end of the fight.
Indiana Jones vs the German mechanic (In Lego. Just go with it.)
The second fight I thought of was the back alley brawl between Nada and Frank Armitage in They Live! It’s a silly,ridiculous fight that just goes on and on for ages. Many people think it’s the best fight scene ever put on film and I think I agree. It’s a 5-plus minute fight that starts just because one good guy refuses to put a pair of sunglasses on when the other good guy tells him to. It’s a really stupid reason for a very stupid fight, and yet it’s just great.
Nada vs Frank Armitage
Either of these could be my winner if I didn’t have a fight-that-isn’t-really-a-fight which I think beats everything else hands down. And we’re going back to Raiders Of The Lost Ark for it.
After Marion is kidnapped by the Nazis and Indy has chased them round and round the streets of Cairo trying to get her back, the crowd parts and Indy is confronted by a swordsman. The swordsman then performs a pretty impressive sword-swirling display and an unimpressed Indy just pulls out his revolver and shoots the guy dead. I know the reason behind it was that Ford had dysentery and wasn’t up to a long fight scene but it’s a brilliant move. Shocking, amusing and a totally unexpected thing for the hero to do, yet it works brilliantly for the Indy character. He’s just too tired to play fair so Blam! Brilliant. Again Spielberg/Lucas replicated the sequence for the sequel but this time Indy, who’d lost his gun, just makes a run for it.
Harrison Ford vs dysentery
So that’s my favourite fight. Indy shooting the sword guy. Does that count?
Matt Risley: This is probably purely because it’s still so fresh in the mind, but the beatdown between Iron Man and Thor in Avengers Assemble was as brutal, visceral and superpowered a scrap as any I’ve seen in the genre. Demolishing forests, cracking cliff-faces and ripping each other a new one – it was exactly what you’d hope to see when two of movie-dom’s biggest and brightest finally get down and dirty.
Alasdair Stuart: The fight between Mal and the Operative at the end of Serenity, not because Firefly’s anniversary panel just happened and I’m getting the warm and fuzzies but because it’s a beautiful piece of fight psychology. The Operative is a violence artist, completely elegant, devastatingly brutal and detached. Mal is an ornery cuss who knows what’s going to happen if he falls and does not know how to quit. This is what it comes down to: a Browncoat vs the embodiment of the Alliance, with nothing less than the truth at stake. Mal’s lost everything to get to this point, his friends, his safe havens, his ship. The Operative has lost face, resolve and just a little patience. He has no idea how much trouble he’s in and the pay off for this fight is pure Mal; brutal, relentless and, on occasion, hilarious.
So there you go, the very best fisticuffs genre fiction can offer.
So next week’s question is:
Who (or what) is your favorite genre fiction couple?