Movies are hard to make. From the actors and directors to the script and the effects, making a film is practically a Pandora’s Box of quality-killing issues. Unfortunately, these issues rear their ugly heads more frequently than moviegoers would like. How often do you leave the theater thinking the movie you just saw was as stale as the crappy popcorn you bought beforehand?
Despite this Movie Murphy’s Law, usually a film has at least one redeeming quality. Some even manage to produce a sequence that is worth the price of admission on its own. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five fantastic fight scenes in otherwise terrible movies.
Doom – First Person Shooter
I appreciate that Hollywood attempted to make this movie; it just wasn’t executed very well.
Based on the beloved video game series, Doom hit theaters in 2005 and was met with an overwhelming “meh” from audiences. Most of us all love Dwayne Johnson and Karl Urban, but the duo was unable to lift this movie out of the doldrums of inadequacy.
However, the climax of the movie treats fans to a first person point of view from Urban’s Staff Sgt. Grimm, a delightful aping of the game’s POV. Grimm goes on a bloody and effective rampage, blowing away zombies and the like left and right. It’s ridiculous, but in a gleefully psychotic sort of way that almost makes Doom bearable.
The Matrix Revolutions – Neo vs. Agent Smith
The less said about The Matrix sequels the better. Nothing hurts a cinephile more than awful additions that tarnish a great original. But one saving grace from The Matrix Revolutions is the final battle between Neo and Agent Smith.
The eerie setting of a Matrix populated by billions of Agent Smiths with the original fighting Neo one-on-one earned this showdown its climactic feel. The sheer scale of the fight is damn impressive and despite the movie’s many flaws, it’s clear that the martial arts choreography is not one them. Their sky battle torched with lightning feels epic in a Dragonball Z sort of way and makes you briefly forget that this is one computer-simulation you actually hope gets infected by a virus.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – Darth Maul vs. Qui God Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi
Not much to say about this one that hasn’t already been said. This lightsaber duel is the only universally praised aspect of the first Star Wars prequel. From Ray Park’s impressive martial arts skills to John Williams’ jacked up score, this fight scene provided fans with something they had never seen before in the Star Wars saga. It was kinetic and bold and all around badass.
Die Another Day – Swordfight
007 movies have varied in quality for 50-plus years; we’ve seen the International Man of Mystery up and we’ve seen him down. One of his lowest points was Pierce Brosnan’s fourth and final shaken-not-stirred martini, Die Another Day (2002). The movie was overblown with laughable gadgetry, thinly sketched villains and nonsensical plots.
However, tucked away amongst the invisible cars and face swapping twists was a damn good fight scene between Bond and diamond fetishist Gustav Graves. What’s more, it’s an old fashioned swordfight and everyone loves a good swordfight.
There’s just something innately cool about any dispute being settled by “first blood drawn by the torso.”
Sucker Punch – Samurai Brawl
Say what you want about Zack Snyder—and believe me, we could say a lot—but the guy definitely knows how to stage an action sequence. His visuals invade the eye and his camerawork is sleek.
Sucker Punch is a terrible movie and anyone who says otherwise is either lying, stupid or a blood relative of Snyder’s. Having said that, watching Babydoll defend herself against giant samurai demons is pretty effing cool. The imagery is really impressive as is the juxtaposition in size. The action takes on an anime-like quality, with characters flying through the air and inflicting devastating damage. In terms of pure spectacle, this fight scene gets a 10 out of 10 for its entertainment value.