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Violence and movies are natural bedfellows. While we all admit to being civilised, we do like our films with something potent added into the mix, something to hold our interest, and violence, within reason, can fill that hole. We can’t help it, but occasionally violence fascinates us. If this wasn’t the case, then action films wouldn’t be the juggernaut they are today.

Of course, it can be done well – if the director pulls off a fight scene particularly well we can either be wowed by the technical prowess – whether in terms of choreography or special effects – of what we’ve just seen, or we can be invested so much in the plight of the characters that any fight takes on huge dramatic importance. Either way round, there is a time and a place for violence in film, and if done well it can make what we’ve just seen that much more powerful.

But there comes a point where violence can go over the top, and it requires a deft hand to make that work. Countless films have used violence as the be-all and end-all rather than means to an end – think the ‘torture porn’ genre – and countless films have been overshadowed by their violent content. Granted, in some cases that might be the point, but usually when a film decides to take things that step further, you need some real talent to help rein it in. After all, all films need light and shade.

I’m happy to report that for the most part, these scenes coming up compliment what were already fantastic films, adding to whatever the movie was trying to do, whether that was explore a theme, wow you with choreography or even just repulse you with the act of violence itself. Yet it doesn’t stop them from mind-numbingly brutal.

So without further ado, I’m going to run through some of the most brutal fight scenes in movie history. Be aware, mild SPOILER WARNINGS are in effect.

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This article was first posted on July 2, 2013