I love a good action scene. A lot of people think I can be a bit of a snob, but I really do have a deep respect for those who can put together a great scene of visceral action. That’s why I have three categories dedicated to action scenes and this is the first of them. We’ll look at best shootout and best chase shortly, but this is the category for melee combat. Guns can be present in the scene, but for the most part this needs to be about mano-e-mano clashes either with fists or bladed instruments.
- He vs. She- Antichrist: From a straight up choreography standpoint, this isn’t going to match up to what the action movies have, but it makes up for it through perverse inventiveness. The tension in the film’s central relationship mounts throughout the movie, and then it all reaches a pinnacle as the movie breaks into reverse-domestic violence. Literal ball busting ensues. Not for all tastes but it had to take some courage to make something this sick so highbrow.
- Jake and Neytiri vs. Colonel Miles Quaritch- Avatar: With all the talk of motion capture and third dimensions, it’s easy to forget how much of an achievement Avatar is simply as an action film. The climactic scene which solidified this happens after a mech-suit wearing villain chases the Na’vified Jake and a full on knife fight ensues. Both combatants are distanced by technology: a surrogate body in one case, and a suit of armor in another, but the fight is still pretty personal.
- Christine Vs. Mrs. Ganush in the Car- Drag Me to Hell: Fought in the confines of a car, this fight is the culmination of Sam Raimi’s horror-meets-slapstick aesthetic. Of course the absurdity of having a fight between a young blonde and a sixty-six year old gypsy is wild enough, but to have them go at each other with everything they’ve got (including a stapler), turns this joke into high art… or at least high kitch.
- The Comedian Vs. The Spoiler- Watchmen: In comic book form, the opening scene of Watchmen was able to keep the identity of one of the combatants secret simply by making the fight short and confined to a few frames. Because this is a Zack Snyder film, a lengthier fight scene was needed. I don’t necessarily agree with the decision to turn the scene in a long drawn out fight, but I admired how they could take this brutal fist fight and keep one of the fighters’ face off screen through the whole affair.
- Wolverine and Victor Creed vs. Deadpool- X-Men Origins: Wolverine: There was a lot to dislike about this summer’s X-Men prequel, but I do think it delivered on some of its promise during a couple of actions scenes, and this was one of them. Fighting a strange hybrid of multiple mutants on top of a nuclear reactor, these two foes with a common enemy must employ unconventional tactics to persevere. It’s not perfect but I quite enjoyed the final kill shot… even if it was pretty stupid.