The Best Fight Scene. Ever.

I’ve been watching a lot of martial arts movies lately. I plan on making martial arts movies. (Every time I watch a movie, it’s research. I love researching. Work is play and play is work. 🙂 )

Last night I watched Drunken Master 2. (Hong Kong, 1994. Released in the U.S. six years later as “The Legend of DrunkenMaster.” Six years! And Hollywood cut out the end of the movie! I’m still pissed about that.) After (and during) the final fight scene, I thought “Holy crap, this has to be the longest, most intense martial arts fight scene ever in the history of cinema.” The guy who plays the villain opposite Jackie Chan, Ken Lo, was Jackie Chan’s personal bodyguard. Think about it. To be Jackie Chan’s bodyguard, you’ve got to have some serious fighting chops. And he does indeed. I kept wondering if they sped up the footage or if that guy can really kick that fast in real life…

After watching that and coming to the conclusion on my own that it had to be best fight scene ever, I did some digging online and found that Roger Ebert (of Siskel & Ebert fame), said this after watching Drunken Master 2:

“When I did a seminar at the Hawaii Film Festival several years ago, comparing the physical comedy of Chan and Buster Keaton, martial arts fans brought in their bootleg Hong Kong laser discs of this film and told me that I had to see the final 20-minute fight sequence. They were correct. Coming at the end of a film filled with jaw-dropping action scenes, this extended virtuoso effort sets some kind of benchmark: It may not be possible to film a better fight scene.” (emphasis added. see whole article here.)

There you go. Synchronicity in action. Great minds think alike. 🙂

What say ye? What is your favorite fight scene of all time?

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7 comments

  1. Great post. I’m definitely adding Drunken Master 2 in my queue. This sounds fantastic.

    Unfortunately, I can’t really think of a good fight scene that I’ve watched. I more into art house films, but I occasionally get around to action. The downside is that modern action films monopolize the shaky cam, which actually shows no action and makes it impossible for the viewer to grasp what is going on and the intense badassery of the characters. I’m sure you feel similarly. If you’ve got any action recommendations, with great fight scenes, I’m listening.

    1. Steven, sounds like we are into similar stuff. I’m a big art cinema fan. I especially love the nouvelle vague (French New Wave) and German Expressionist movements.

      I totally agree with the shaky cam thing. It gets annoying. Especially when the entire freaking movie is shot that way.

      Drunken Master definitely does not have any shaky cam shots. The cinematography is very solid and the editing and everything is very smooth. The fight scenes are amazing, Jackie Chan at the top of his game. I also highly recommend the first Drunken Master (1978). Again a very solid movie, and amazing performance by Jackie Chan. And from a stylistic standpoint, I think I like it overall even better than the second one. It’s just got that iconic feel as if two gods are clashing on screen. Very powerful stuff. Also Enter the Dragon is an absolute must see (as well as all Bruce Lee’s stuff.)

      As far as non-martial arts action films, probably my favorite action movie of all time is The Killer by John Woo…absolute must must must see. That is perhaps the one movie that has had the greatest impact on all action film directors for the last two decades. All the Hollywood action film directors (Rodriguez, Tarantino, Wachowski bros, etc etc) revere John Woo. And I feel that The Killer is John Woo at his finest.

      1. I’ll definitely include John Woo’s work in my queue. I’ve wanted to see some of his flicks for a while.

        I think my favorite nouvelle vague picture so far is LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD. There’s something new to see in every re-watch. Also, I just love the tone. After that, I have a special place for ALPHAVILLE. I think it’s a great mysterious turn for sci-fi.

        As for expressionism, Fritz Lang has to be one of my favorite directors. M astounded me when I first saw it and I love his noir THE BIG HEAT.

        I’ve recently gotten interested in silent film, and I’m devoting the next few days to Abel Gance in preparation for seeing NAPOLEON at the Oakland Paramount on Saturday.

      2. Wow, sounds like you are getting access to a lot of great film! Way to go! One of the best things about going to film school for me was opening my eyes to a world of film that I had never known before. You’ve definitely given me some ideas for my film queue. Thanks! Btw, Italian Neorealism is awesome too. So real, and so powerful. Gets to the heart of filmmaking–making it real and emotional, without all the big sets and big budgets which often ironically cheapen the quality of the message

      3. I need to get back into Italian Neorealism. I’ve been meaning to see UMBERTO D for awhile. BICYCLE THIEVES was the first picture I saw in my film class and I was captured. After that I went out and watched PAISAN, which I thought was stunning.

        No problem on the recommendations. You’ve give me a few as well, so thanks to you also. I look forward to hearing more from you.

      4. Awesome! Love picking a fellow film buff’s brain! 🙂

  2. […] okay, so I already made a post about the best fight scene ever, so how many movies can I say that […]

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