We begin our journey through 2011’s scene awards with the fight of the year. Fight scenes are all about melee combat between two individuals or an individual against multiple combatants, but not a battle scene involving groups of multiple individuals going up against one another. Swords, knives, clubs, or bare fists are all options. Choreography is a factor but so is creativity, overall execution, dramatic impact within a film, and general audacity.
- Sir Francis Haddock Vs. Red Rackham- The Adventures of Tintin: Midway through Spielberg’s adventure film we get this unexpected flashback to the high seas exploits of Sir Francis Haddock as he gets into a big sea battle with Red Rackham. This is a large scale sword fight that takes place in a number of different stages, but the most fun part comes when Haddock starts to ignite a powder fuse and needs to fight Rackham off in order to keep it lit in order to destroy the ship. I suppose it’s a bit of a spoiler to say this ends with a bang, but… it does.
- Driver’s Foot vs. Elevator Guy’s Skull- Drive: Calling this a “fight” might be a bit of a stretch, but what it lacks in elaborate choreography it makes up in sheer fucking brutality. In the scene the Driver is in an elevator with the woman he’s been trying to protect, he knows that the man with them is likely an assassin and when that man strikes he’s ready to take action. We expect a Hollywood style fight, but instead we witness the driver graphically stomp the guy’s fucking face in. The result was one of the year’s most discussed scenes.
- Garage Fight- Hanna: The high concept of Hanna is that it’s about a teenage girl kicking ass, but the most interesting fight scene involves her father played by Eric Bana. In the scene Bana fights off four or five government agents that are trying to take him down. It’s a short scene but notable because it’s done entirely in one shot, and not in a distractingly showy way either. The choreography is spot on and it ends with a cool knife throw that acts as a really good cap on the whole thing.
- Car Murders- I Saw the Devil: This is a scene that sees Drive’s graphic murder that sort of counts as a fight, raises it a victim and puts it into an even more cramped location. You can cut the tension with a knife seeing serial killer Kyung-chul sit in a taxi cab before finally seeing him pull out a knife and brutally murder the driver and a fellow passenger in a very bloody manner. You can see the victims struggle to react to this sneak attack and fight back in a frighteningly realistic manner and the fact that Kim Ji-woon was able to film it so effectively in such a small location speaks voumes.
- Xavier vs. Magneto- X-Men: First Class: Taken on its own this scene probably lacks the scope or the length to really compete in this category. At the end of the day it is just a couple of guys having a tussle and throwing a couple ungraceful blows at one another. However, this is a fight that holds a major place in the overall mythology of this series and the fact that they’re ultimately fighting over the fate of humanity (or more specifically the missiles heading toward the ships) gives this fight a symbolic and emotional weight that is larger than the fight itself.