10 Best Epic Hollywood Punch-Ups

When the gloves come off and it all gets a bit tasty.

Raiders Fight2

Film history is littered with epic moments of confrontation, battle and general violence. From the balletic beauty of a martial arts masterpiece, the choreographed creation of a championship boxing bout or the visceral violence of wartime battles.

And then there have been those memorable moments when the gloves come off, the swords are laid to one side and two combatants just go at it, hammer and tongs.

In compiling the great fight scenes from film history, the truth is that there are simply too many to recall – so prevalent have they been down the years.

I’ve omitted those scraps that stem from competition or sport – so no Rocky, Daniel San or Raging Bull, sorry. No shoot-outs, sword fights or lightsabres. No Kung Fu or Karate (humble apologies to Bruce, Chuck and JCVD) And, with one notable exception, no superhero clashes of destruction.

All of which can have lists of their own.

What we’re left with are some classic samples of one on one punch-ups. Where it’s down and dirty, flying fists, butting-heads and kicking feet aplenty; the only weapons being whatever the protagonists find lying around...

10. Westley V Fessik (The Princess Bride)

Alabama V Virgil True Romance
20th Century Fox

OK, so the fight between Westley (or, if you prefer, The Dread Pirate Roberts) and Inigo is perhaps the true iconic and brilliant set-piece from the entire film, full of delightful wit, charm, pathos, and dazzlingly choreographed sword-play. But, when it comes to laying down the weapons and going hand-to-hand, it’s to Roberts’ next battle, against the man-mountain Fessik (the late Andre the Giant) that we turn our attention.

Oddly, for a fight supposedly to the death (although, not really), it's a rather beautiful moment of genteel wit. And one of the more polite encounters on the list. A battle of Fessik’s lumbering power and Westley’s nimble footwork and wily smarts. There is something oddly touching at the sight of Fessik’s boulder like hands slowly swinging and missing their target, discussing how he’s more accustomed to fighting multiple foes, displaying a certain respectful and slightly melancholic acceptance that the fight is not going well.

And that line: “Sleep well, and dream of large women,” the perfect final touch.

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Freelance writer, full-time father, part-time hat wearer. Specialising in film and TV and prone to referencing Douglas Adams a little too often.