Total Recall: Punching and the Movies -- A Solid Combination
Never Back Down and the art of cinematic fisticuffmanship.Never Back Down, the story of a rebellious teen who channels his rage into underground fighting. With that in mind, we've devised a tribute to that wonderful cinematic element for this week's Total Recall: the punch.
Everyone loves a good sock to the face. It's the one thing that unites the disparate strands of filmgoers like nothing else. From early newsreels of boxing matches to Edward Norton's descent into Fight Club, audiences have displayed little sign of cooling toward the practice of one person striking another. There's no way to whittle down a list of the best jabs, uppercuts, and hooks from the entire history of cinema; with millions to choose from (and that's just Jackie Chan's filmography!) it's an impossible task. Nonetheless, we've compiled a by-no-means-definitive list of the punches we find particularly jarring.
The Wicker Man (2006, 16 percent on the Tomatometer)
Some critics feel there's an undercurrent of misogyny in the films of Neil LaBute. We're not here to weigh in on such matters (we follow the Tomatometer, not the Sexismometer), but we have to admit that this clip from his remake of The Wicker Man gives us pause. Nicolas Cage plays a cop who's investigating the disappearance of his daughter on a mysterious, cult-infested island. During his search, he punches a lot (and we mean a lot) of women in the face. Give LaBute points for originality: Cage delivers one K.O. while wearing a bear suit.
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989, zero percent)
Though boring, sloppy, and all-around reprehensible, the eighth Friday does give us one of the Jason's finest moments. After deciding to stand his ground, teen survivor Julius Gaw (V.C. Dupree) commences landing punches on Jason for two non-stop minutes. Afterwards, he utters these ill-chosen words to Jason: "Take your best shot." Sorry, Julius. And you were doing so well!
Riki-Oh (1991, 78 percent)
Endless bloodletting, strangulation by intestines, and an ending sequence affectionately referred to by fans as "the meat grinder finale:" Riki-Oh is not a post-apocalyptic movie applauded for its subtlety. The movie became a cult sensation for the clip of this thuggie getting his head punched in, which Craig Kilborn played obsessively when he hosted The Daily Show.
Fist of the North Star (1986, 17 percent)
And along the lines of Riki-Oh, we come to the similar Fist of the North Star, one of the most ridiculously violent animes ever. Traveling around a ravaged Earth, Kenshiro protects the innocent with wicked martial arts, including a punch that expands and pops heads like balloons. If you're squeamish, we will definitely not tempt you into pressing play on the clip below. We will also not entice you to fast-forward to the 2:00 mark when the awesomeness starts. We have your best interests in mind.
The Fast and the Furious (2001, 53 percent)
There are a lot of punches thrown in The Fast and the Furious; Vin Diesel and Paul Walker seem to be teeing off on someone every time they're not behind the wheel. But we'd be remiss if we didn't give props to Michelle Rodriguez. In the world of movie punches, it's quality, not quantity, that makes a blow particularly devastating, and at around the 2:50 mark in this clip, Rodriguez brings the pain in a big way.