With The Warrior heading into cinemas, we’ve got fight movies on the brain. Not necessarily the best movies about fighters – Fat City, Rocky and Raging Bull are nowhere to be found here – these are the movies which have the most brutal or unforgettable fight sequences. They’re movies for when you want to watch some damned fighting, and real fighting too… Not that heavily edited or CGI-assisted crap you see nowadays. There’s some many good fight movies that we know we missed a bunch of good ones, so let us know your picks for The Best Fighting Movies in the comments below.
10. BLOODMOON (dir. Kuang Hsiung, 1997)
This just-plain-awful Straight-to-Video movie doesn’t belong on many Top Ten lists, but we made room for it anyway because it’s a fight movie, pure and simple, with stunning choreography that flies right in the face of its pathetic production values. Gary Daniels of The Expendables stars as a serial killer profiler/martial arts master tasked with taking down a homicidal maniac who only murders the best fighters in the world… who all happen to live in the same town (damned convenient). Perfect for a beer-swilling night with the fellas, with plenty of laugh-out-loud dialogue and wooden performances (except from Daniels’ partner, who does his best Eddie Murphy impression, although not a good one, as a homicide detective/martial artist/magician), but also a cast of genuine fighters who know exactly what to do once the fists start flying.
9. UNDISPUTED III: REDEMPTION (dir. Isaac Florentine, 2010)
The whole Undisputed franchise is fight movie gold, but it really picked up once Scott Adkins joined the series. Adkins played the bad guy in Undisputed II: Last Man Standing, but graduates to the hero role in Undisputed III as a humiliated, half-crippled former champion with one shot at freedom: an underground prison fighting tournament. Incredibly manly, powerful fight choreography and some good old-fashioned oppressive prison movie tropes combine to create an exceptional B-Movie that deserves to be mentioned along with the best fight movies ever. Not the most dramatically powerful fight movie ever (that’s a very different list altogether), but it will make you want to put up your own dukes. Just don’t pick a fight with Scott Adkins. He’ll clean your @#$%ing clock.
8. BLOODSPORT (dir. Newt Arnold, 1988)
Jean-Claude Van Damme had his first big starring role in Bloodsport, one of the best American fighting tournament movies (which is admittedly not much of a list). Based on the true story of Frank Dux, Van Damme joins an underground fighting tournament (there sure are a lot of those) called Kumite and gets more than he bargained for when the fights turn deadly. Bolo Yeung plays his main opponent, and he’s such a badass that we’ll see more of him before this list is through. Solid bare-knuckle brawling from start to finish, it’s easy to see why Bloodsport made Jean-Claude Van Damme a household name.
7. MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE (dir. Yu Wang, 1976)
Technically a sequel to 1972’s The One-Armed Boxer, the martial arts classic Master of the Flying Guillotine finds Jimmy Wang Yu pulling his one-armed schtick again (he also starred in The One-Armed Swordsman, another kung fu classic) as he takes on an assassin at a fighting tournament, where his enemies have such unusual weaponry as super-long forearms and the titular flying guillotine, which was the inspiration for the Yo-Yo’s famous weapon in Kill Bill. Tremendous fun from start to finish, with fight scenes that you couldn’t try at home if you wanted to. A little most special effects-driven than the rest of our list, but the actual fighting is as real as it comes… even with the extend-o-arms.