Jesse’s Top 5 Movie Fistfights

Written by Jesse Gelinas September 14, 2013

Rocky fights the Soviet Union embodied in one manFight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

We are a primitive beast. You can’t really deny it; it’s inside all of us. When the smell of blood is in the air… the scent of sweat and anger all boiling over into a cathartic act of physical aggression. The struggle for dominance, the yearning for pride in one’s own prowess. When a fight just becomes inevitable and for whatever reason something just has to get hit. We love it. Someone wins. Someone loses. Wise men say violence never solves anything? Well, here’s five classic cinematic fights that seek to prove that violence is the only thing that solves any fucking problem permanently.

5. John McClane vs. Karl (“Die Hard,” 1988)

McClane fights a vengeful German terrorist

“Gonna fuckin’ kill ya! Gonna fuckin’ cook ya! Then I’m gonna fuckin’ eat ya!”

This one is good because it contains many great examples of people’s desire for one on one conflict. Karl, an enraged and vengeful German terrorist, has every reason to blow McCLane’s brains out (McClane killed his brother earlier). But instead, he opts to throw down his gun and beat the living hell out of him. Why? Because it’ll hurt more, and it’ll feel better! These two go at it like a pair of rabid dogs. It’s a rage-fight, pure and simple. Nothing is off-limits, and every dirty trick is allowed.

4. Riggs vs. Mr. Joshua (“Lethal Weapon,” 1987)

Riggs takes on fellow spec-ops veteran Mister Joshua in this tactical street fight!

Black-Ops Title Fight!

This fight is more about pride and professional dominance. Riggs and Joshua are both ex-Spec Ops soldiers with something to prove to each other. At this point, Joshua is already in custody. But he’s not cuffed. He’s let loose for one round with the champ. Riggs mockingly asks “you want a shot at the title?” And they exercise every combat tactic they learned from their years at war. The two fight like professional killers. This isn’t about rage or hatred. It’s about proving that you’re better than the other guy. Because in the wake of the collapse of a massive drug trade riddled with homicides and kidnappings, THAT is what matters. Also, props to Riggs for utilizing a triangle choke about a decade before MMA became anything resembling mainstream.

3. Doug Glatt vs. Ross Rhea (“Goon,” 2011)

A rookie goon takes on his longtime idol in this grudge match hockey fight.

“Kid, I will lay you the fuck out.”

Much like Riggs and Joshua, this a a grudge match. These two are the best goons in the business, and in the last game of the season (and the last of Rhea’s career), all questions have to be answered. Who is the best? For the most part this plays out like the greatest hockey fight you’ve ever witnessed. It gets a bit cheese toward the end with Doug’s busted ankle miraculously healing, allowing him to continue despite having his ass handed to him multiple times. But know this shit hard; this is a good ol’ fashioned slug-fest on the ice. And it’ll remind you why people will always forgive violence in our (Winter) national sport.

2. Indiana Jones vs. Nazi (“Raiders of the Lost Ark,” 1981)

Indiana Jones takes on an oversized Nazi in this surprisingly bloody brawl
An oldie but a goodie. Who doesn’t love watching young Harrison Ford throw fisticuffs? No one, exactly. And when he goes toe-to-toe with a giant Nazi next to a running propeller plane, shit. Gets. Real. It’s David and Goliath, if Goliath was a mechanic, and David’s slingshot was a buzzsaw on the end of a plane. Indy has to use all his cunning (read as: cunning ability to not die until luck saves him) to hold off long enough for nature to take its course and technology to come to his aid, literally tearing his opponent apart for him. Dirty? Sure. We let it slide since the guy was a Nazi? Of course.

1. Nada vs. Frank (“They Live”, 1988)

This is a no-brainer. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and Keith David lay it all out in this one. It’s five minutes of two tough-as-shit men beating the hell out of each other. To put it in perspective, Piper and David agreed to just go at it, only pulling back on face punches (they had to be able to film after all). That’s hardcore. It all could’ve been avoided if Frank had just put on those wicked sunglasses. But hey, who the hell is Nada to tell him what to do? Frank is a man! Men don’t take orders! They hand out beatings! This fight is gritty, dirty (countless nutshots), and exhausting. In the end, one man stands, as it should be. This is violence at its peak. This is a brawl!

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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