In cinema, few things get the adrenaline going better than a well-choreographed fight sequence.
Back in the days of Golden Age Hollywood, fights usually consisted of the hero punching the villain harder than he was punched.
These days, fight scenes are more sophisticated, intricate, and complex. And it's all thanks to improved fight designs!
Here are our picks for the best movie fight scenes with excellent choreography that really stand out.
10. The Alley Fight Scene (They Live)
Director John Carpenter made one of the most iconic films of the 1980s when he made They Live, an allegorical sci-fi horror movie that critiques the dangers of extreme capitalism.
However, just because it has commentary doesn't mean he skimped on the action. In fact, They Live features one of the most entertaining brawl scenes in cinema history.
As our protagonist Nada (Roddy Piper) is attempting to convince a fellow construction worker (Norman Alden) that the world is run by malicious aliens, neither wants to capitulate.
The solution? A heavy, well-choreographed punch-up. And why not? Roddy Piper was, after all, a famous WWF star! Carpenter allowed the duo to produce their own fighting sequence—and they delivered!
9. The Street Fight Scene (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Before we knew who the Winter Soldier really was, we only knew him as the knife-flipping badass that stood his ground against Captain America—something we hadn't seen up to that point.
After Black Widow takes a bullet, it looks as though it's over for her as the Winter Soldier closes in. But Steve Rogers saves the day just in time, even if he almost loses his own head.
The technical, strategic fight may be over-the-top at times, but once you remember that they're all superheroes, you can appreciate it for what it is: a superbly crafted fight between top spies.
If you ask me, this fight scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best fight scene in the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe.
8. The Church Fight Scene (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
After watching this scene from Kingsman: The Secret Service, who could ever listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" the same way again?
With this awesome and iconic fight sequence, director Matthew Vaughn created one of the most high-octane, fast-paced, and frenetically edited fight scenes in movie history.
With the pumping guitar solo in the background, we watch as secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) jumps over pews, sidesteps knife-wielding baddies, and uses any weapon at his disposal.
With a big budget of almost $100 million, why not make something memorable? And that's exactly what Matthew Vaughn did.
7. The Armory Fight Scene (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum)
John Wick has participated in his fair share of impressive fist-fights, using judo throws to send his opponents flying and taekwondo kicks to knock them senseless.
But in the armory in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, his fight was nothing more than a battle for survival. While the John Wick franchise made a name for its style, it isn't always so classy.
Here, John Wick finds himself trapped in an armory, and as soon as they all realize they can be using knives, axes, and swords instead of their fists, the intensity is immediately dialed up to eleven.
The John Wick franchise rejuvenated the action genre in many ways, and this fight sequence is just one of the many bits of proof. Get ready for some of the most impressive fight stunts of the last ten years.
6. The Crazy 88 Fight Scene (Kill Bill: Vol. 1)
Quentin Tarantino is over the top in most things that he does, and action is no exception. In Kill Bill: Vol 1, we open with a fantastic fight starring Uma Thurman and Vivica A. Fox.
However, it's the fight later on that gets our attention today. Just as The Bride has finally tracked down O-Ren Ishii, she's forced to deal with a swarm of 88 katana-wielding henchmen called The Crazy 88.
And because it's Tarantino, there's a lot of blood—so much that it even seems comical at times. (The amount of blood in this sequence is so excessive that Tarantino was forced to make part of it black-and-white in order to avoid an NC-17 rating!)
Though he excels most clearly in his dialogue, Tarantino's action sequences are stylish and second to none, with this scene from Kill Bill: Vol. 1 proving that he can effectively do it all.
5. The Corridor Fight Scene (Oldboy)
Directed by Park Chan-wook, Oldboy is the second film in his highly regarded trilogy of revenge movies. (The other two films are Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance in 2002 and Lady Vengeance in 2005.)
The corridor fight scene from Oldboy stands out in a film full of standout moments, so it's no surprise that people still talk about this scene to this day. It's technically impressive and captivating to watch.
Finding himself at the end of one long corridor, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) must reach the other side, and that means he has to bulldoze his way through the group of assailants waiting for him.
All he has as a weapon is a hammer. It's more than enough.
Filmed as a single continuous take, Park Chan-wook directs this scene with incredible choreography, cementing it as one of the most memorable sequences in the history of action cinema.
4. The Hallway Fight Scene (The Raid)
Perhaps drawing inspiration from Oldboy's iconic corridor fight, director Gareth Evans gave us a masterclass in hallway fights with this scene in The Raid.
When our hero Rama (Iko Uwais) finds himself trapped in a building full of drug dealers and drug users all trying to kill him, it leaves him with few options if he wants to survive.
As he's escaping a group of machete-wielding psychopaths, he ends up in a hall with no exits. He can't escape and he can't talk his way out. The only thing he can do is fight.
Starring Iko Uwais, this film features many well-choreographed sequences of pencak silat, the Indonesian martial art.
Of the many fast-paced fight sequences in this film, this particular scene is easily the most impressive, especially because it features the Indonesian martial art of pencak silat.
3. The Bathroom Fight Scene (Mission: Impossible – Fallout)
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the best action movies ever made. Once we saw this bathroom fight sequence, we knew this one would top every prior M:I film.
Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his new beefy co-worker (Henry Cavill) are tasked with subduing a secret agent in a bathroom. Unfortunately, that's going to be easier said than done.
As soon as they bring out the needle, their target not only proves to be impossibly fast, but also very good with his hands.
The resulting fight sequence is one of the best of all the big blockbuster movies in recent years.
2. The Prison Yard Fight Scene (The Raid 2)
We already saw how well Gareth Evans could direct fight scenes from The Raid, but when he directed The Raid 2, we really got a taste of what he could do when he had a proper budget to work with.
The prison yard fight sequence from The Raid 2 is vast and stunning, packed with awesome choreography and some of the best fight staging in any movie since the turn of the millennium.
Our hero Rama (Iko Uwais) stands in a prison yard beside the man he's been tasked with protecting. Meanwhile, he awaits the approach of several assassins, knowing they're coming.
What follows is a fantastic prison brawl involving guards, prisoners, and a whole bunch of brilliantly choreographed pencak silat fights.
1. The Tea House Fight Scene (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
Of course, there can only be one choice for the best choreographed fight sequence in cinema history, and if you ask me, that honor goes to the tea house scene in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
First of all, it's important to abandon any attachment to realism here. Ang Lee uses a combination of magical realism and wuxia to create his uniquely superlative fight sequences.
Using her superior magical powers, Jen Yu (Zhang Ziyi) stands against a legion of foes who attempt to take her secret weapon: Green Destiny. She won't go down without a fight.
Also starring Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-fat, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon remains one of the most influential films of all time due to its impressively choreographed fight scenes—and of them all, this one in the tea house is the most impressive.