Exotic locations, high-tech weaponry, megalomaniacal villains plotting to take over the world, and charming (sometimes well-dressed) secret agents are not exclusive to ames Bond, or even Austin Powers.
Yes the shaken-but-not-stirred superspy, and photographer by day, time-travelling international man of mystery by night, have to compete with the suave, yet equally deadly Kingsmen.
Adapted from Mark Millar’s graphic novel series, The Kingsman trilogy mixes cheeky silliness with over-the-top cartoon-style violence, with all the action choreographed and supervised by the late Brad Allan. If you ever wondered about the impact of the loss felt in the stunt world following his untimely passing one year ago, (August 7th, 2021, aged 48) then The Kingsman films are a solid illustration.
Brad Allan was a protege of Jackie Chan, having met his mentor on the set of “Mr Nice Guy” filming in Australia. Working with the master of Hong Kong action entertainment, Brad progressed from stunt performer to choreographer, and stunt coordinator.
His global vision for action filmmaking was a visual style that melded the best of east and west action cinema through his collaboration with a global team of passionate, and skilled professionals.
20th Century Studios hired Brad to work with the British writer/director team of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman to bring Mark Miller’s pulp fiction to life.
The first two films follow the exploits of “Eggsy” (Taron Egerton) and Harry Hart (aka agent Galahad) as they battle an evil tech genius Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) in “The Secret Service”, followed by a blackmailing, international drug dealer Poppy Adams, (Julianne Moore) in “The Golden Circle”.
These are pure, solid entertainment, very dark in their brutal and violent action but laced with much comic-book, cartoon-style humour. The series’ third film – “The King’s Man” – is the suave organization’s origin story set during events leading up to (and during) World War I.
This film is darker in tone, more serious, and with a not so subtle anti-war and anti-colonialism sentiment. Ever present however are some truly incredible ‘Kingsman’-style action-packed scenes that are a mix of brutal, real-life battles, and familiar-yet-innovative cartoonish fight-fu. It was sadly Brad Allan’s final film as stunt coordinator.
With “The King’s Man” finally freed from the shackles of Covid-19 delays, action fans got the chance to see Brad’s swan song on the big screen – a fitting farewell.
So, without further ado, please take a few moments to sit back, relax, absorb and deeply appreciate Brad’s incredible work on this saga, as we pay tribute in our countdown to the Kingsman: Top 10 Movie Fight Scenes…
10. The Secret Service (2014) — Opening Fight
What better way to start off this colourful, action-packed top 10 than with the opening scene from the very first film in the Kingsman trilogy, “The Secret Service”!
Kingsman agent Lancelot played by British actor Jack Davenport – a woefully overlooked contender as James Bond – infiltrates a mountain top lair to rescue Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill). The rescue is literally cut short by megalomaniacal tech villain Valentine, and his deadly sidekick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella).
There is so much detail packed into this brief, opening short, introducing the principal players, and setting the film’s tone from the outset.
Davenport’s Lancelot dispatches the professor’s guards with a mix of slick gun-fu and leg-locking jiu-jitsu, or even Bartitsu – finishing with a quintessentially British wink, and a smile, simultaneously parodying and paying homage to James Bond.
The Kingsman’s introduction is bested however by the entrance of Gazelle, who, with a swift (off screen) axe kick, splits the dapper agent’s difference.
If audiences at the very first screening weren’t sure what to expect, this scene laid it out loud and clear!
9. The King’s Man (2021) — Knife Fight Training
The third, and much darker film in the trilogy sets up a number of major events with a few brief, and innocuous scenes.
This particular narrative is evident in the training scene between Conrad Oxford (Harris Dickinson) and the family butler Shola (Djimon Hounsou). Despite his father, Orlando, The Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) taking every step to protect his son from the evils of the world, Conrad insists on signing up to fight in The Great War, and learns some deadly fighting skills from Shola.
Most knife fights are rooted in the systems of Kali and Escrima, however this has the feel of something more Japanese in origin – a mix of Aikido and its mother art Aiki-jūjutsu. All the features of these arts are present, from the Ukemi rolls, to graceful turns and evasions.
The narrative used is a familiar one – a mix of jovial joshing around by the cocky student, with the seasoned mentor reminding his charge of the deadly consequences of combat.
It also foreshadows an inevitable battle in which Conrad’s learned skills and valuable lessons from Shola prove life-saving.
8. The Golden Circle (2017) — Poppyland Fight
Drug cartel head, Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) has a truly evil plan to fatally poison the world’s drug addicts offering the antidote in exchange for an end to the government’s war on drugs. It’s up to the Kingsman to stop her and save millions of lives.
The finale features far more guns and gadgets than hand-to-hand scuffles, but is just as fun as any of the other battles throughout the franchise. As always, there is plenty of enhanced, frenetic gun and gadget fu in a scene packed with plenty of explosive action fun.
The real scene stealer is rockstar Elton John (playing himself) kicking ten pounds of stuffing out of his guards whilst sporting one of his outlandishly garish outfits. Elton John looks like a peacock mopping the floor with three goons, and dispensing some martial revenge with a comical flying kick or two.
For the chef’s kiss however, the action explodes with the rockstar’s biggest hit “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” providing the perfect soundtrack to it all.
7. The Secret Service — Pub Fight
Kingsman agent Galahad aka Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is forced to give a lesson in British etiquette during his meeting with Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) at his local pub.
Hart is about to reveal to Eggsy the sacrifice his father made all those years ago, but is interrupted by thugs working for Eggsy’s stepfather. Harry decides to use this as a teaching moment, taking down his attackers with his fists, his umbrella, and their own momentum against them. He shows them he’s more than a man with a nice suit, and a silver spoon where the sun doesn’t shine.
This frenetic display of sheer carnage is made all the more fun with a flurry of familiar action film tropes – stylish slow-mo, and 360-degree views. Whilst it’s not the most intense of the action to follow, it does offer a taste of the action style that has become the franchise’s staple.
As a superb opener, and introduction to a principal player, this scene is a veritable show-stopper as Harry demonstrates just how manners can maketh the man!
6. The Golden Circle — Vs. Whiskey
Old school of the old west, meets modern gun-fu from the east as Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) a top agent from The Kingsman counterpart agency ‘Statesman’, battles an assault team working for Poppy Adams.
What follows is a rootin’, tootin’ and gun slingin’ 40 seconds of some seriously showy gun-fu that would make the king of the genre, John Woo a very happy man.
The gun fight blends speed, and style smoother than a single malt with Whiskey whipping out his laser lasso – two words I never thought would be paired together – making for another chef’s kiss in action entertainment.
5. The Golden Circle — Galahads vs. Whiskey
Elaborate cartoon-style fight scenes and big twists are a staple of the series and for the finale, we get two for the price of one!
Our heroes Eggsy and Harry (the ‘Galahads’) are about to deploy the antidote to Poppy’s tainted drugs. However Agent Whiskey turns against them wanting the poisoned drugs to kill every addict in the world as revenge for what happened to his family.
Cue a country and western-style rendition of “Word Up” by The BossHoss as Whiskey turns on the laser lasso – yes I’m smiling as I type those words – and the agents do battle.
Here, old school meets modern stylizing with some fast-paced, high-flying Hong-Kong style moves with a touch of slapstick humour in the fight to save the world.
4. The Secret Service — Church Battle Royale
Take the best of gun-fu and give it a terribly, terribly British feel, and what do you get? A no-holds barred explosive rumble with victims ending up bloodier than a rare steak at a high-end steakhouse!
This entire scene is Harry Hart (Firth) fighting droves of religious zealots brainwashed by Richmond Valentine’s SIM card weapon that turns them into murderous psychopaths.
As the first keys of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” plays, a bloody and brutal battle ensues when Harry unsheathes his loaded weapon in true ‘John Wick’ fashion. This hellacious battle royale is bizarre, so much so that it’s featured in a KFK top ten.
Watching the chaos unfold, you don’t know which to do first – laugh, or be repulsed – as everyone has one mission: kill, kill, kill! Gunshots, axes to necks, the bible as a weapon, and so much more happens in this five-minute scene of unhinged fury.
3. The King’s Man — Night Fight Scene
“The King’s Man” differs from the previous two films in both tone and narrative.
Set against the backdrop of the first World War, the film has a vehement anti-imperialist, anti-war sentiment echoed by Ralph Fiennes’ Orlando Duke of Oxford.
The action set amidst the war, reflects these serious undertones, none more so than the silent knife fight in “No Man’s Land” as Conrad Oxford, and his fellow soldiers take on a group of Germans in dead silence in the dark of night…
This scene features some of the most brutal, and intense action seen in The Kingsman series, as well as being the most chilling.
The German soldiers sporting gas masks armed with an assortment of knives, hammers, and axes, look like creatures from a horror flick and the choreography is less stylized than any in the series; spooky, brutal and unrelenting.
The almost silent fight is an interesting departure letting the action and setting do all the talking.
2. The Secret Service — Eggsy vs. Gazelle
Following the tradition of James Bond films of the villain’s sidekicks sporting deadly prosthetics, Vaughn and Goldman take this figure to new heights.
In Gazelle, megalomaniac Valentine’s right hand woman, we have a high-flying superkicking amputee whose ‘blades’ can literally make mincemeat of her opponents.
Kingsman rookie Eggsy battles the leaping Gazelle to get to Valentine and foil his plan. Throughout the film, this was the most anticipated showdown and it did not disappoint!
The cartoon style zaniness mixed with some Hong Kong-style wire-fu delivers pure gold in action entertainment with plenty of skills on show.
Whilst the outcome was inevitable, the Eggsy vs. Gazelle matchup was as tense and exhilarating as a main event UFC bout, giving us an unforgettable henchman – one of the best in the series.
And in at no.1 is…
The King’s Man — Vs. Rasputin
If stealing the show was to be a crime then Welsh actor Rhys Ifans should be locked in prison and the key thrown away!
From the moment he enters the story as Grigori Rasputin, a monk of ill repute who holds power over the Russian monarchy, Ifans commands every scene he appears in.
Ifans plays it mostly straight but the dichotomy is that at times, Ifans is a little hammy but also chilling with lots of laugh out loud moments.
With his impending fight teased in numerous trailers, audiences had to wait until halfway through the movie to see Ifans’ outrageous take on the historical figure dance into action.
Set to Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”, Rasputin kicks, slices, dices, and dances his way through a fight against the movie’s quartet of heroes, Orlando, Conrad, Shola, and Polly.
With the fighting style based on Buza, the Russian folkloric, wrestling fighting system, the scene encapsulates everything that makes Kingsman fight sequences so much fun.
One minute you’re laughing, and the next, cheering on our heroes as you’re breathlessly caught up in the fight between the relentless and skillful Rasputin versus our men on a mission on the side of peace.
The action is hard-hitting, and stylish as hell, making it the most thrill-packed, entertaining fight scene, not only in this film but for the whole of the Kingsman series!