Total Recall: The 20 Greatest Fights Scenes Ever


The long-awaited showdown between Jackie Chan and Jet Li in The Forbidden Kingdom got us thinking; what are the greatest fights ever filmed? We sifted through quite a few battles, and came up with a list that celebrates the finest in hand-to-hand combat. Back to Article



Ivan Velasco

1. I didn't think the Charlie's Angel scene was so crappy. For what it was - a stylized, somewhat tongue-in-cheek remake of an already campy TV show from the 70's - I thought the movie AND the fight scene were actually very good.

2. I do agree that there's some serious inconsisetncy going on here, though. And certainly, it must be very difficult to put together a list like this. I think that it may be important to better define the list's parameters and set those out along with the list, so as not to leave readers confused. Also, aside from some fight scenes that are bookended by gun use, are we supposed to ignore the use of the garotte in From Russia With Love and the pool cue in Road House, or are these not considered weapons?

Apr 18 - 12:34 PM


Drew Stanecki

i agree with everything that's on the list (especially kareem abdul-jabar vs. bruce lee), but where's the bride vs. the crazy eighty eight? that should be #1.

Apr 18 - 12:37 PM


Drew Stanecki

although i guess if it's just hand to hand combat that wouldnt count.

Apr 18 - 12:38 PM


Matt Atchity

Hey Sputnick,

(Still reading the comments - the flames go with the territory)

You raise a good point, and one could definitely call this an "iconic" list. Using the word "best" is admittedly very provacative, and pretty subjective for that matter. But we also ended up coming to the conclusion that the most iconic fight scenes have to be placed high, simply because of their impact on pop culture. So, in some respects, the more people recognize a particular fight, the more impact it's probably had, and that gets considered in the qualitative analysis.

But that's not the only consideration, otherwise the scene from The Protector doesn't get to #2. The stunning level of martial and technical mastery that's demonstrated in that scene make up for the fact that not a lot of people have seen the film. But show the average person that clip and they just gape. By contrast, some of the fight scenes we considered don't hold up as well when you take them out of context - the final scene from Martial Club, for instance. From a martial arts standpoint, it's pretty technically impressive, but it just didn't quite make the cut.

Ultimately we had to make some really tough decisions to cap the list at 20. For instance, "the no weapons" rule DQs the Oldboy corridor scene, anything from the Star Wars trilogy, Gladiator, the Kill Bill fights (we DQ'd the Beatrix/Elle scene because they both have swords), even though those are all awesome fights. When we do a list of great sword fights, a lot of those will come up. (The Matrix and Charlie's Angels fights stay in because all parties end up unarmed very early in each fight).

Also, I realize I'm probably just feeding the flames here, but we did consider that Bruce Lee/Chuck Norris fight, but it's really not that great. Chuck pretty much gets his *** handed to him, and we kept out some of the other seriously one-sided beatdowns, such as Norton/Leto in Fight Club, or Lee/Ohara in Enter the Dragon.

We spent a long time looking at a lot of fight scenes, and but for one exception, we really did consider all of the fights that people have been bringing up (we probably should have expanded the "honorable mention" list).
But as I see the passion here, I'm thinking we'll do a countdown of the 50 or 100 greatest fights at some point (probably in the fall), and let the community help determine the rankings.

Apr 18 - 12:41 PM


Zac Wenzel

Van Damme vs Van Damme in Double Impact. Or Van Damme vs the African in Bloodsport (5 second KO). Or VD vs Bolo Yeung in ANY MOVIE THEY'VE EVER BEEN IN TOGETHER, cuz there's a few. He may be burnt out but he was definitely the king of karate flix in the 90's.

There is another Jackie Chan movie called Gorgeous in which he fights this short white guy who does a lot of stunt-work in JC's movies. 2 great fights in that movie.

Apr 18 - 12:42 PM


Dr. Gonzo

I can't believe you forgot to mention one of the most classic fight scenes ever! Who could forget the epic battle between Matrix and Bennett at the end of Commando!!?? (or even him beating up an entire platoon of mall security guards earlier in the film) Now I know there are some knives used and even a pipe, but I think it qualifies after looking at some of the other fights on this list. Besides, Arnold's ridiculous upper-cut combo with only his left arm at the end is a sight to behold.

"How's it feel to be a dying man? You're a dead man John!"


Apr 18 - 12:46 PM


Daniel Klein

I believe the Schwarzennegger phrase you're looking for from that movie was


And in response to Matchity, I didn't find the list as sacriligious as some--hell, I agreed with a couple of them--but the fight between Kirk and Dude-in-budget-Godzilla-Costume belongs on a gag reel somewhere rather than this list.

Apr 18 - 01:27 PM


Kevin Allen

Charlie's Angels over Bruce Lee??????

Apr 18 - 01:07 PM


Chris Lucich

Props for putting Drunken Master 2 and Fist of Legend on there... Every fight in both of those movies is awesome!
What about:
Jet Li in Hero (Whole Movie)
Jackie Chan vs. Benny the Jet in Meals on Wheels
Jackie Chan Rooftop Fight in Who am I?
Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (nunchucks vs everybody)
Michelle Yeoh vs. Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
The Bride vs. the Crazy 88's in Kill Bill 1
Steven Seagal in Above the Law - store fight - it made him famous.
Spartans vs Persians in 300 - beach
Ripley in Mechanical Loader vs Queen Alien in Aliens
Darth Maul vs 2 Jedi in Phantom Menace
Scotts vs English - Battle of Sterling in Braveheart
Where is CHUCK NORRIS on this list?!?!?! How can you not have Chuck Norris?! I'm gonna tell him and he's gonna get you.

Apr 18 - 01:16 PM


Dan Hartman

I have to agree with #2 "The protector" fight scene is awesome, but Where's the hallway fight scene from "OLDBOY"?

Apr 18 - 01:17 PM


Hank Smith

This may be a little older than any film discussed here, but I'll never forget John Wayne and Victor MacLaglen's fight in The Quiet Man

Apr 18 - 01:24 PM


Daniel Klein

I believe the Schwarzennegger phrase you're looking for from that movie was


And in response to Matchity, I didn't find the list as sacriligious as some--hell, I agreed with a couple of them--but the fight between Kirk and Dude-in-budget-Godzilla-Costume belongs on a gag reel somewhere rather than this list.

Apr 18 - 01:27 PM


william mccloskey

Neo vs hundreds of agent smiths from the matrix(one of the sequels) should be #1, that scene is f@cking crazy!

Apr 18 - 01:52 PM


kevin strawn

The undisputed best fight scene ever is the hammer fight in the hallway in Oldboy. I'm surprised it didn't even get mentioned.

Apr 18 - 02:10 PM


kevin strawn

Oh, I'm sorry. Didn't realize its a "no weapons" list. Whatever, Oldboy should be #1 on the weapons list then.

Apr 18 - 02:18 PM


Biji Badness

yo gangsta G fresh, why not go 2 and quit complaining, word

Apr 18 - 02:18 PM


Betsy Wong

Road House..wth!! Is this for real? Yes I'm a 21 yr old female, and I feel like I just read a top 10 list written by a 12 year old girl..seriously road house?!
My top 10 in no particular order would be

Lisa Raye Vs other stripper- The Players Club
Tony Jaa vs Everyone - Ong Bak The Warrior
Bruce Lee Vs Kareem Abdul Jabar- Enter The Game
Rocky Vs Apollo Creed- Rocky
4 Vs Blind Musicians- Kung Fu Hustle
Bruce Lee Vs Chuck Norris- Way Of the Dragon
Optimus Prime Vs Megatron- Transformers
Beatrix vs Crazy 88's Vs Gogo Yubari- Kill Bill VOl 1( Great homage to Bruce lee in The Chinese Connection)
Borat Vs Fat Manager- Borat (funniest fighting scene ever, I might add)
Bruce Lee Vs Mr.Han- Enter The Dragon

and I guess you can tell I'm a HUGE Bruce Lee fan

Apr 18 - 02:19 PM


jonathan ramirez

of course!!! if the list was this umm....diverse (hugh Grant in a top ten fights list is like saying larry the cable guy in the cover, or any page, of GQ), they shouldve included the epically hilarious scene in Borat!!!

Apr 18 - 02:29 PM


dethburger hates Flixster

Cary Elwes vs Andre the Giant in "The Princess Bride" was fun.
The end fight in "My Bodyguard" was pretty good too.
"Pulp Fiction" w/Ving Rhames and Bruce Willis.
How about "Rocky Balboa"?
"Waynes World 2"?

These may not be top twenty material but they ARE good fights! (if not always the most serious!)

Apr 18 - 03:24 PM


Eric Stewart

Anyone forget Unleashed?

Apr 18 - 03:54 PM


Nat Phil

There is very little that is correct about this list. I feel that a list that is called "The 20 Greatest Fights Scenes Ever" should include only action flicks, not chick flicks like "Bridget Jones' Diary" or comedies like "Happy Gilmore". Clearly, classics like "On Deadly Ground" or "Over the Top" would have been superior choices. This list, along with highly generous ratings for movies like "Steel Magnolias", has made me lose all faith in this website.

Apr 18 - 03:54 PM

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