With The Raid 2: Berandal making its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this week (to rave reviews, I might add), I thought it pertinent to look back at a slew of films which nailed the cathartic, bone-snapping brilliance of a standard fight scene. And I'm not just talking martial arts (though there are one or two of those herein); I'm talking cross-genre (and in some cases, cross medium) exploits of broken bones, busted teeth and spilled blood. While the films listed aren't the absolute be-all-end-all of fight sequences, to me these were standout moments of either sheer badassery or emotional heft. There are hundreds more to add, but the following nine flicks (in no particular order) are just a few which smacked me around in the best possible way. Beware, spoilers obviously follow. In the eternal words of Killer Instinct's gravel-throated announcer... Fight on!
9. I Saw The Devil - Hallway HorrorsI Saw the Devil is epic in scope, plain and simple. It's an extremely basic premise elevated to visceral heights through extremely dynamic direction, some of which belies the fact that you're watching a film of such grisly content. Much like Cristophe Gans accomplished with his genre-mashing tour-de-force Brotherhood of the Wolf, Jee-woon has successfully blended the realm of thrilling horror with that of uber-stylish action to create a piece which is memorable purely for its creative means of nihilistic bloodshed. Jee-woon Kim has placed so much effort in atmospheric set-pieces and choreography that many sequences are unlike anything you've seen within the genre. Bone-snapping brutality goes down within a greenhouse and one scene in particular will make anyone weary of their next cab ride. The ever-escalating amount of violence herein is simply staggering in its audacity. However, none engaged me as much as the jaw-dropping, tension-building bout within the confines of a beautifully furnished home with elongated hallways. While many might flock to the crimson carnage of the taxi stabbing sequence, the multi-levelled mansion attack truly displays the craftsmanship of its director. Here, not only must agent Kim contend with his shotgun-toting nemesis, he must also fend off a psychotic woman and a knife-wielding cannibal. Rushing from one section of the nightmarish manor to the other, Kim leaps through windows, performs a little hardcore parkour for good measure, and manages to best the unholy trinity through one cranial-caving method after another. It's disquieting, sad, unabashedly violent and undoubtedly entertaining. Its repulsive attraction makes for an experience that many will justifiably watch through fingers shielding their eyes (personally, the "mute" button was my therapy). A title such as "I Saw the Devil" has rarely been so fitting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nrXdj11-MA