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Action sequences that blew me away and left me searching for my pants

Over-the-top 'Die Hard 4' sceneAfter watching 'Transformers 2' and anticipating 'GI Joe', I got to thinking about all of the great action sequences I’ve seen in past movies. To be honest, for as many action movies as there have been, there haven’t been that many action sequences that really made me say, “wow, that’s some crazy sh**.” I realized this fact when I watched 'Transformers 2'; though the movie was pretty much non-stop action, there was only one scene in which I was on the edge of my seat frothing at the mouth. And so I got to thinking, what makes an action scene more awesome than another. In trying to figure out the answer I scanned through some of my favorite sequences from the movies I could recall. Though I haven’t quite come up with an answer, I have come up with a list of my top 10 favorite action sequences. Please read on and let me know what you think. Feel free to make me aware of deserving candidates that were not on this list (remember top 10, not top 25). The list isn’t in any order, because ranking these would have been pulling hairs for me.

Forest fight in ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’

Though the movie has gotten a lot of flack since it has been released, there is no one that can deny that the forest fight with Optimus prime against 3 decepticons was off the chain (not even the blind, as the sound effects were pretty crazy too). This was the single greatest sequence in the ‘Transformers 2’ movie. If the theater played this scene on loop, I wouldn’t even know what to do with myself. I’d be unable to leave my seat and would probably have a stroke. This scene works for sooo many reasons. One, good guy outnumbered by his opponents; the underdog. Two, swords! Everyone knows that a fight is ten times cooler if there is a sword involved. Think about how much better ‘Push’ would have been if somebody had a sword (‘Harry Potter’ too for that matter). Three, a bawler line followed by bloodshed, a.k.a. “I’ll take you all on" soon followed by gratuitous, animated, robot, violence. This scene had it all.

Train fight in 'Spider man 2'

Again, there are a lot of Spiderman haters out there, but let me just make you aware that ‘Spiderman 2’ is the best marvel superhero movie behind 'Iron Man'. So haters, get yourselves into perspective. As being one of the best superhero movies, ‘Spiderman 2’ also has one of the greatest fight sequences I have ever seen. The fight was fast and clever and didn’t relish itself with slow motion capture. The fight went down as I would imagine it to have in real life with both characters pulling out all the stops to topple the other. One sequence in particular that was sweet was when spidy webbed ock’s tentacles and ock says “Fu** this” and uses the move against spidy to throw him through an over head bridge. But wait, the great counter is that spidy has an agile move of his own and slips right through the grates of the bridge, pops out the other side and takes the villain over the edge of the train. Awesome! This action sequence is also accentuated by the high speed of the train upon which they fight. This allowed for the cool ducking under bridges and webbing the train to reboard when kicked off.

‘The Matix’ lobby shoot out

If I need to enumerate on the reasons why this scene is awesome, you reader are simply a lost cause. This scene was in fact the coolest action scene in any movie anywhere prior to 1998. The innovative use of slow motion, the physics defying protagonists, and the endless army of poorly aimed automatic weapons. Neo is the only character that Keanu Reeves’ monotonic, expressionless, cardboard character has done incredible justice for since ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’.

The final Darth Maul fight in ‘Star wars episode I’

Though I have my love for Vader and I’ve come to appreciate Palpatine and Dukoo as well, I still vote Darth Maul the coolest sith in the series. He has all of 15 minutes of on screen time in the entire franchise, and the impression he made was so strong that many people have put him as a favorite character (as judged by his presence in many of the video games, T-shirts, top action figure sales, etc). Why was he so popular? Was it the neat black and red tattoos, the horns of the Zabrak, the double sided lightsaber? Yeah it was all of those things too, but most importantly it was because he was played by Ray Park. Is Park a famous actor? No, but he is a great martial arts practitioner. As a result, we got to see the best saber wielding the franchise has to offer. With the flipping and the fast blade attacks, Maul’s double-team fight is a thing of legend. Even more intense than the 2 vs 1 fight, is the segment of the fight that I call “Obi’s Rage” in which Obi Wan Kenobi goes ape sh** on Maul after he kills Qui Gon. The sword wielding is blazing fast and super athletic. It was a joy to watch then and still brings me amusement on Youtube now. As an end note, Maul also has one of the best sith entrances to a fight: the doors slowly slide open, he pulls back his cloak hood, and lights one, then two sides of his saber. Bawler!

The dino fight of “King Kong”

Though 'King Kong' was not as well received by the general public as it was by me, I disagree with most in saying that Peter Jackson dropped the ball after the LOTR trilogy. ‘King Kong’ has all of the same Jackson motifs that we have come accustom to in his previous movies; the dark tribes, the overly long moments of facial emotion, the great story telling, the fantastic CGI, and most importantly his love of long, intense action. This is exemplified in his ten minute action sequence in which King Kong fights not one, not two, but three tyrannosaurus rexes. This scene, simply put, owns your face. My level of excitement was already pretty high with my enjoyment of Jackson’s direction and Naomi Watts’ shrill scream as a beckon; so when Kong dropped in and knocked one rex out of the way with his foot and tackled the second, I slid closer to the edge of my seat. When he dropped Watts from his hand and caught her with his foot, I slid a little closer. When a third T-rex joined the fight, I was almost to the edge. When they fell off the cliff and fought for 2 minutes in the vines and Watts was perilously close to death, I nearly fell out of my seat. It was only after Kong had his encore fight with the final t-rex and wreaked its face for life, that I fell out of my seat, stood up, went to the ticket booth to pay an additional 10 dollars (as I thought the movie was worth $20). Uh, good times.

Bourne vs. Desh

I’m sorry to the fans of the Bourne trilogy, but 'Bourne Ultimatum' was actually the only Bourne movie that I enjoyed. Why didn't I like its predecessors? I have my reasons, and would gladly elaborate on them for those who care. But fans and non-fans alike, there is definitely one thing that we can agree on, the close quarters fight scene with Desh and Bourne was the epitome of ruthless. The gritty, true feel of the fight was what shocked me. For the first time in a long time, I felt as if this was actually the way a fight would play out between two highly trained agents. There were no wires, no overly fancy combat techniques; it was as if the two men were just doing whatever they could to survive. Grab a candle stick, grab a book, punch book into face, throw into wall, use whatever you can to kill your opponent before he kills you. And in the end, there is no grand shoot out or elaborate kick out the window; Desh is undone by a towel that Bourne uses to strangle him to death in a bath tub. Superbly gritty.

The hose fight of ‘Transporter 2’

Sure this was done in ‘Romeo must die’ well before 'Transporter 1' was even a thought, but sometimes it takes one movie to introduce a concept and another movie to improve upon it. This is the case with the hose fight in 'Transporter 2'. Looking back on it now the fight is a little out dated, but it was sweet when I first saw it. The quick whipping of the hose, the brutal punches to the throat, and the climax of turning the hose on and demolishing whatever will was left in the opponents. Brilliant! But lets be honest with ourselves, when has Statham ever let us down...

First encounter of the Spartans with the Persians in '300'

No action category can be brought up without the mention of ‘300’. Yes yes, the acting was bad and the story was simple, screw you. The story isn’t why anyone thought it was so great, this movie was 100% about the action. With stylistic direction and over the top testosterone, the first fight in ‘300’ goes down as one of my all time favorite experiences in a movie theater. I was literally giggling like a little school girl as Leonidas was captured in slow motion castrating a massive army of his enemy. Of course the slow motion shield-butt was the climax of the fight, but I enjoyed the scene from moment one. The Spartans form a wall of resistance to the Persians, a messenger rides to the front of the enemy hoard and says, “lay down your weapons” (I’m giggling already), a spear flies through the air and drills the Persian square in the chest, and Leonidas responds, “come get them”. Oh man, that is what I’m talking about. The army then rushes on in what should be an easy victory, but a few minutes later we get the great cinematic scene of the 300 unharmed, walking over a mountain of dead enemies as they push the ranks back. What I wouldn’t give to be a Spartan.

‘Terminator 2’ the fight in the steel mill

I know I’m bringing in this old timer from out of left field, but you can’t deny that some recognition is deserved here. Aside from being a breakthrough in computer animation, the liquid terminator was a pretty cool villain. Though the most referenced scene in the movie is the T-1000 chasing the police car and attacking it with his arm-hooks, my favorite scene in the movie was the fight in the steel mill after the T-1000 is frozen, shattered, melted, and reformed. This is the best robot fight, pre ‘I Robot’ that I had ever seen. They slam each other into walls, stab each other and in the case of the T-1000 completely overwhelm thier opponent. The cool reforming of body parts to be other body parts and the particularly awesome complete inverse of front to back was great. The sad part is that everyone including Arnold knew that he didn't have a shot at winning the fight. It’s sort of sad really. But awesome none-the-less.

The opening club fight of “Blade”

Though the Blade franchises has few redeeming qualities, the ones that exist are actually quite cool. One of these being the opening club fight in the first ‘Blade’. Not only a great way to introduce the character, the villains, and the special effects, but a great way to remind us that Wesley is alive despite being MIA since 'Demolition man' (please, let's ignore 'Too Wong Foo'). Though some of the action dynamics are outdated (bad guys waiting to be beaten up one by one), the fighting is not. These cool martial arts moves still hold the test of time and manage to bring a smile to my face even now. The shaky camera work is another cool feature that I always thought made action sequences slightly more exciting (though Bay and Neveldine take it to a seizure inducing level). And need I remind everyone about the sword! One of the best parts of this scene is when Blade unsheathes his sword, draws a line on the ground and demolishes the first person to cross it. Surprisingly, none of the other fight scenes amongst the three Blade movies manages to reach the level of this first fight. Too bad…

Well, that’s my top ten list. Obviously there are some pretty key members of the genera that are missing here, but why don’t you let me know your top ten below.
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