Saturday, December 13, 2014

What is the Best Action Sequence of All Time?

It's a #HeavyAction kind of weekend.

You don't have to love action movies to have a favorite action sequence in a movie. Maybe it's a fight, like Roddy Piper and Keith David going at it in They Live. Maybe it's a chase scene, like the mine cart chase in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Maybe it's the entirety of Tango & Cash. You'll think of something.

57 comments:

  1. Rocky vs. Ivan Drago, no contest. That whole match is an action scene, right?

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    1. Oh, and James Bond busting through walls chasing the bad guy in Casino Royale.

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  2. The heist and following shoot out in Heat. There are more flashy and technically impressive action sequences out there (any sequence in Hard Boiled comes to mind). But this sequence comes two hours into a crime epic where you have come to know all the characters involved intimately. This sequence is a mini masterpiece. The fact that it was all done for real adds to the greatness. The sound of the gunfire echoing off the skyscraper canyons of downtown LA has stuck with me all these years.

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    1. ...and very little use of music. Only a small "pulsing" track runs in the background. Good one! Love this sequence.

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  3. The truck chase scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

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    1. No question. The truck chase in Raiders is the pinnacle of movie action and some of the most brilliant stunt work and editing ever.

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  4. The leap off of the roof of Nakatomi Plaza. Such an intense sequence, I still remember the feeling of everyone in the (packed) theater collectively holding our breath as McClane jumped.

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    1. I had this one floating in my head before I gave my answer :-)

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    2. Bump. Brilliant, of course.

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  5. If it counts, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) scaling the Burj Khalifa Tower in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is pretty spectacular.

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  6. The final fight scene in "Once Upon a Time in China". Jet Li is at top form and the fight choreography from Sammo Hun is simply amazing. The sequence has been repeated and copied many times.

    Check it out.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUmdC1wxgW4

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  7. Wow, what a tough question. I've always loved the Battle of Pellenor Fields in LotR The Return of the King. Granted, it's sort of a drawn out scene more than a sequence, but it's technically astounding.

    For something a little more choreographed and small, I'll take the bar shootout in Desperado. Banderas is flying by the seat of his pants and doing some of the coolest looking stuff ever thought up. And it's funny.

    Oh and all of Commando.

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    1. The Battle of Pelleor Fields might be my favorite battle sequence. The music and the scope is so epic. I wanna see it on the big screen again.

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    2. They have to give that trilogy another release sometime soon. There's so much money to be made there. Maybe they'll screen the extended cuts, in which case there'd have to be an intermission. If not, port-o-johns would need to be placed in every theater so fan boys wouldn't pee themselves to avoid leaving the room.

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  8. JP is right. The last 20 minutes of Die Hard is near flawless. From the second John discovers it's a double-cross until he swings through that window pane, it's perfect. It's not just what happens on screen, but everything that happens before. The tension just slowly ratchets up for the hour before; Karl's bloodlust, Hans kidnapping Holly, John's cut feet, the cocky FBI agents. Everything comes to a head on that roof. I'm not sure an action movie has ever had a better third act, and I don't know how one would top it.

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    1. Don't forget "Motherfucker, I'm gonna kill you! I'm gonna fuckin' cook you, and I'm gonna fuckin' eat you!" McClane losing his mind fighting Karl! Amazing.

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    2. It's so perfect! I'm celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas this year the best way I know how, 12 straight days of Die Hard. In close to 20 years, and somewhere around 100 viewings, and it's still as great as it was the first time.

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    3. That is awesome, my friend! I'm taking it a step further and heading out to Ramona to watch Die Hard with Cappy Roberts. He retired, you know?

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  9. As a matter of hometown (okay, home area) pride, not to mention a legitimately awesome choice in its own right, I kinda have to go with the car park/city/freeway extravaganza of The Matrix Reloaded. The brief glimpses of Oakland and the East Bay in the city segment, followed by the way the city in the distance winks in and out of being San Francisco's skyline (depending on how time and attention the overburdened CG artists put into the various background elements), on top of all the awesome stunts and sights from the chase itself... it's pretty good stuff, is what I'm saying.

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    1. That's a great choice! Matrix Reloaded needs more love. Revolutions not so much...

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    2. Me too. A great scene and the movie is not as bad as some say. Revolutions might not be good but Mr Smith alone makes it watchable for me

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  10. Chapter 5 of Kill Bill, "The Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves".

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    1. I gotta also mention the truck chase in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the train sequence in Spider-Man 2. Simply amazing.

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    2. The Bride vs the Crazy 88s is on my list, too.

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    3. I love the fight with Gogo
      Bloody brilliant

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  11. My all time favorites have already been mentioned so ill go with Ripley vs the Alien Queen in Aliens, the entire last act of Commando, particularly the 20 seconds when Arnold finds the tool shed and throws the saw at that dudes head and every kick ass sequence in The Raid 2.

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  12. I love some of the answers so far especially Jaws, Raiders and Die hard.
    So Many from Kill Bill but I will go with The Bride VS. Gogo and The Crazy 88's.
    Jackie Chan is the man of course! The bus chase in The Police Story is incredible. And the escalator scene in Mr Nice Guy.
    Pam Grier deserves to be in this discussion. I mean blades in her hair! Don't mess with her - she is the best.
    This one is for Patrick. Zoe Bell - car - Deathproof - 'nough said.
    And one more. Terminator 2 and the escape from the hospital!

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    1. I still think one of my favorite Jackie Chan fights is in First Strike. The fight at the funeral parlor, when he ends by fighting the guys with the ladder.

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  13. You know the opening gunfight in Hard Boiled? The one in the Tea House? Yeah, that one.

    And there is something horribly visceral in that battle at the end of Rambo. I mean, when you actually someone go so far as to create a splatter effect to show what would happen if you fired a 50 cal at close range. That bit is something.

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  14. Can I also give a shout out to the alley fight in Sho Po Lang?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZs48lJXhxM

    Donnie Yen in a hallway always makes for a good fight actually. The end of Once Upon a Time in China 2 and the end of Seven Swords both have him in great hallway fights.

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  15. Can't choose just one!

    --The Raiders of the Lost Ark truck chase, agreed.
    --The skeleton battle from Jason and the Argonauts.
    --The train fight from Spider-Man 2
    --The assault on Blofeld's lair in You Only Live Twice
    --The Raid 2: Two guys meet in a kitchen, and...

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  16. The truck chase scene, of course, is a great answer (as is the train fight in Spider-Man 2).

    But I'll also add in the final 20 minutes or so of Blues Brothers, which is simply insane on every level.

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  17. Not a movie but the fight between the Viper and the Mountain in Game of Thrones was absolutely incredible.

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  18. I gotta give Predator some love.

    Dutch & his crew's raid on the compound with Blain (Jesse Ventura) debuting "Old Painless". When Dutch ignites the fuel truck, it's 80's action at its best.
    The rain forest destruction scene after Mac sees the Predator.
    The entire Dutch vs Predator one-on-one right after Arnold's famous battle scream.

    I got two for Casino Royale

    I agree with Mikko on the opening foot chase between Bond & the Parkour bomber. It was so clever how they had Bond find different options to catch up to his suspect.
    The foot/truck chase at the airport with a great payoff that earned the Bond smile at the end.

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    1. Let me preempt this with that I think Casino Royale is the best Bond movie and I think the action in it is amazing. I have a problem with the Parkour intro though (and did at the time as well) because I had just seen District B-13 not long before Casino Royale came out and was shaking my head at that intro because they were clearly capitalizing on that fad at the moment. Not to mention, Although the scene is fine, it doesn't come close to the spectacle of B-13.

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    2. Yep, the village assault in Predator is amazing. The way the revving engine/rotors build the tension until they incinerate that poor helicopter pilot, well, it's beautiful.

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  19. I like the Kill Bill and Aliens references above. Also add the lobby shootout in The Matrix. With respect to car chases, the traditional choice is Steve McQueen in Bullitt, but I prefer the Mustang chase in Drive and the the Paris chase in The Bourne Identity

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  20. Love the picks. Just a few that haven't been mentioned yet:

    - Jet Li against General Fujita the end of Fist of Legend.
    - Jackie Chan taking on all comers at the end of The Legend of Drunken Master.
    - the car chase in the middle of Ronin.

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    1. "- the car chase in the middle of Ronin."

      Indisputably the best car chase ever. Yes, better than French Connection, sorry. (Fast and Furious movies don't count)

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  21. They Live (1988)

    Roddy Piper vs. Keith David

    http://youtu.be/c9rrgJXfLns

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    1. ha… you just made me change my mind about mine...

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  22. I thought about this all weekend. Being that I am the current manager of Nakatomi Plaza, my obvious choice would be something from Die Hard. But after re-reading the intro where you wrote "Maybe it's the entirety of Tango & Cash" that made me think again. Based on that line the best action sequence ever is from the time they breach the building in "The Raid" and then you can breathe 75 minutes later.

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  23. Kind of impossible to answer, there are so many subgenres. For martial arts, maybe the end fight in a movie called Dragons Forever, or the final epic battle in Ong Bak II.

    For American action, I find Aliens to be pretty breakneck from the whole dropship insertion to the final dropship crash. On the cheezier end, Commando has that final battle where Matrix explodes an island.

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  24. Jaws has already been mentioned, so I'll offer up the JGL rotating corridor fight, it was mindblowing in IMAX.

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  25. I know it's been mentioned at least 3 times already, but it has to be the truck scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's 100% a REAL guy on a REAL truck and a great homage to the classic stagecoach scenes from the past.

    I know the movie played a part in popularizing the shakey cam/rapid cutting stuff, but I have to give an honorable mention to the car chase in The Bourne Supremacy. There have been a ton of well choreographed car chases, but this was the closest I've felt to being IN a car chase before.

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  26. All of these are fine choices - Die Hard and RotLA belong at the top.
    Three more I'd mention:
    - The Battle of Yavin. ESB is the best movie, but nothing beats Luke flying down the trench.
    - The final chase of The Road Warrior is the definition of insanity.
    - Hard-Boiled has bigger set pieces, but I think John Woo's finest hour is the church shoot out at the end of The Killer.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. The original Star Wars trench run is fantastic but it is actually a shot for shot copy of the bombing run in "The Dam Busters" (1955). And I don't mean inspired by, literally shot for shot, even much if the dialogue.

      I don't want to take away from Star Wars however, I really love it.

      Here is a link to the Dam Busters scene.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCRIsjJFRNo

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    3. Yeah, I caught up with Dam Busters long after I knew all of ANH by heart. Point well taken. Maybe I should have said Battle of Yavin / DB run. It's. A great sequence in both!

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  27. Jeff, that trench run was a huge part of my love for movies. I saw the 97 special editions in theaters and that scene lodged itself in my memory. True movie magic. It still looks awesome today.

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  28. That is my fav film!

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