AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW SH-(in Big Daddy Kane voice)
What's happening martial arts film fans?!!! I know you're excited as I am for the beginning of this highly important chapter in Hai!Karate history right about now!! We are all set to begin the countdown to the baddest, most brutal, supremely elegant and down right heroic list of the greatest fight scenes every martial arts fan should know and love. To state again like I have before...this list is a rebuttal to the wacktacular 'lists' that have popped up in recent months. Will we miss one or two? Perhaps. Will we make this list a hipster-esque notation of scenes that land somewhere between too obscure or not enjoyable? NOPE. Will we pay homage to some of the best fighting to have been captured onscreen? YUP. So without delay, let's break down how this will work. We're counting from number thirty all the way to number one. Five scenes per post. Hai!Karate is drawing on a good deal of films that have been seen, and there's no restriction in terms of region or nation that the films were produced in. Now if you have some beef towards the list at anytime, guess what? That's cool. 'Cause good debate on a good subject broadens the community and only promotes the work of these fine actors and studios. So now that the semblance of a disclaimer is in, let's start the show...
CRITERIA: For the scenes making this list, there's a couple of factors. The first being, standalone quality. How do they hold up if taken out of their picture and seen by itself? The second factor is, how finely choreographed it is. The third? The overall wow factor. That zone you get into when seeing these scenes and how it sticks with you. That said, here's numbers 30 through 26...
30)Final fight scene, King Of The Kickboxers, 1990
There's a few of you out there outside of the die-hard fans who have even HEARD of this flick. That said, it'll be a shock once you sit down and partake of this Seasonal Films-produced movie from 1990. And for those who've only associated Billy Blanks with the Tae-Bo craze he helped launch, you'd be in for a surprise as well. But this scene with Loren Avedon and Blanks makes the list on a combination of highly technical and brutal fighting and the pure arcade fighting game WTF-ness. Basically, Jake Donohue's(Avedon) an NYPD officer who is on special assignment in Thailand and events lead him back to the country to face his brother's murderer and supreme villain Khan(Blanks). The whole thing is just meta because Donohue is investigating murders committed by Khan in movie fight scenes. So we get to this final fight, which is deep in the Thai jungle, in a giant bamboo dome surrounded by tribesmen. With three stages of bamboo platforms. Over water. With bamboo stakes. I mean, the fight scene alone is over 10 minutes and is a rollercoaster of feels. Avedon and Blanks throw DOWN on all the platforms, and you really see their skills on full display. And you even get extra bugface from Blanks at the most inopportune of times, but it makes for great action shots like the one below. When you see this flick, tell me it wasn't the inspiration for one or two Capcom fighting game levels.
Let's state this upfront - this film is on the lower scale of martial arts films in terms of production and you might get thrown off when you sit down to watch it. It's dubbed in a haphazard way, the comedy can be womp-womp worthy at times. So why is it on the list? The final fight scene where Tiger(Chin Yuet-Sang) and Wu Shing (Alan Chung San Chui)confront the yoga master Singh(Dunpar Singh)to steal his ruby to finish a quest. The scene lasts close to ten minutes, and it's one of the most unique scenes ever in action movies due to Singh's completely fantastic flexibility. I mean, the man is OFF THE CHAIN. It's the first time and I do believe the only time the full potential of yoga has been put to work in an action film in an authentic manner. Don't believe me? Peep it for yourself in this clip that merges the two previous encounters in the film with the final scene.
28)Frank Dux Vs. Chong Li, Bloodsport, 1988
This was THE film that launched Jean Claude Van Damme into superstardom for a few years. And a huge reason why lies in this fight scene between our hero, Frank Dux(Van Damme) and Chong Li(Bolo Yeung Sze). Now of course, you can ask whether Dux was shamming the world about his exploits, but the fact remains that Bloodsport is an undisputed cult classic. Think about that final scene - it's so full of late '80's synth-rock schlock but it still doesn't take away from how compelling that fight scene is. It's got it all - high drama(Dux losing his sight due to some crushed sulfur tablets) and triumph on a get-the-fu**-outta-dodge level(Van Damme leaping a silk gi-clad official still makes me laugh out loud in an unbelievable manner) and Bolo's yells and faces just add extra oregano man. I mean, I'm sort of surprised that there isn't a Bolo Yeung facial expression montage reel on YouTube somewhere. And if you find yourself chanting "Kumite" by the end of this post, well...I rest my case.
27)Leung Chang Vs. Ngai Fei, The Prodigal Son, 1981
Fans of Hai!Karate already know about this because of the previous review done right here. But for the newcomers, this scene is listed due to the skil exerted by Yuen Biao as Leung Chang. Biao was steadily adding to his reputation as the best if not one of the best acrobatic kung fu actors, and this final fight scene in one of the genre's most critically acclaimed films is proof. It's no wonder that Biao, director and co-star Sammo Hung and co-star Lam Ching Ying got top honors that year for their fight choreography in this film. The final fight is an exhibition of sheer fury via Wing Chun; indeed, Ngai Fei's demise also ranks as one of THE WORST defeats in kung fu cinematic history. You'll wince when you see it for real. But it's a fitting end to a great fight scene in one of the best films of the genre.
Gloria Hendry is often not given her due but this Black woman was baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad, man. And she gave the film a decidedly extra level of realness thanks to her first action scene in the Jim Kelly classic. From the moment she challenges Pinky's minions by undoing the bottom two buttons on her dress and slips out of her platform heels, you knew someone's ass was going to get mollywhopped. Even her trash talk, although derisive, was fierce. When you see her effortlessly take out five dudes in this scene, you are so caught up in how flawless it is that you don't realize ITS UNDER THREE MINUTES. It just truly underscores how great of a film Black Belt Jones was, Blaxploitation era classification or not.