Few questions about life and the universe have consistently captured the imagination of all mankind as the question of, “Are we alone in the universe?” Whether we’re taking our very first astronomy class or gazing through a telescope in awe at the stars above, who among us doesn’t periodically look up at the sky and wonder “What else is out there?”
Until we finally make our first contact with another form of intelligent life in the cosmos, those questions will remain unanswered. Fortunately, since the dawn of the movie industry, filmmakers around the world have stepped up to the plate, giving us one interpretation after another of what that day might look like. Some, like “E.T. – The Extraterrestrial” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” posit the theory that the meeting would be a rapturous one. Franchises, like the “Alien” and “Predator” series on the other hand, get us believing we should prepare for the worst.
Whatever the case may ultimately be, there’s no denying we’ve got some incredible, innovative sci-fi classics to tantalize our collective imagination until that day comes. If you’re thinking any visiting aliens would want to be taken to our leader, we can safely say that a LOT of eye-popping action sequences have been borne out of that hypothesis.
That said, it’s time for another KFK countdown, this time, one a little more out of this world. So strap in tight and guard yourselves against those facehuggers, readers – for here (in descending order) is KFK’s Guide to The…(ahem) Top 10 Alien Movie Fights!
First off, an honourable mention…
“Welcome to Earth!” — Independence Day (1996)
Whilst not strictly speaking a “fight”, but when you’re talking about movies with aliens, the list just isn’t complete without “Independence Day”. Rarely has an entire summer movie season been as defined by a single blockbuster as the summer of 1996 was by “Independence Day”, and to say that it’s become a tradition to pull it up every Fourth of July for countless fans around the world, American or not, including yours truly, would be an understatement. It also marked Will Smith’s final transition from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to the biggest star on Earth, but it really was in the moment where our hero knocks out an alien invader (along with the next hilarious scene in the desert when he could’ve been at a barbecue) that solidified his leap to the top. A lot to write about a single punch, but as in 1996, it was a punch that continues to reverberate around the world!
- Class with Mr. Furlong — The Faculty (1998)
- Battle in District 9 — District 9 (2009)
- Alien vs Predator — Alien vs Predator (2004)
- Gypsy Danger vs Otachi — Pacific Rim (2013)
- Dutch vs The Predator — Predator (1987)
- The Predator vs Hanzo — Predators (2010)
- Bumblebee vs Shatter & Dropkick — Bumblebee (2018)
- Ripley vs Alien Queen — Aliens (1986)
- Sean vs Crane — Guyver 2: Dark Hero (1994)
Herrington High School is an absolute cesspool of drugs, violence, overly aggressive coaches, and teachers that range from indifferent to outright alcoholic. Now the suspenseful screenplay by Kevin Williamson of “Scream” fame, the stellar direction of Robert Rodriguez, and its “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” meets “The Breakfast Club” premise, has enabled “The Faculty” to stand the test of time for one other, very important reason – Jon Stewart as an alien!
As our teenage heroes slowly begin to grasp the sudden mood swing the entire faculty and much of the student body has undergone, their newly transformed biology teacher, Mr. Edward Furlong (nice “Terminator 2” Easter Egg!) goes head-to-head with Zeke, played by a then up-and-coming Josh Hartnett, the latter wielding a paper trimmer and a narcotically-infused pen which proves to be the MacGuffin of the whole movie. It’s super rare to see a paper trimmer used in a fight sequence anyway, but Zeke handles it like a samurai against Mr. Furlong’s more animalistic attacks. There’s quite the wince-moment when Mr. Furlong loses four fingers in one fell swoop.
Talk about giving new meaning to the term “school violence”! Jon Stewart would, of course, go on to host “The Daily Show”; he and Hartnett would even poke fun at a plot hole created by Mr. Furlong’s de-fingered appearance in the end credits during an interview with Hartnett on the show several years later. Given how much Stewart’s Daily Show fame would ultimately eclipse most of his filmography, his transformation into an alien and showdown with Josh Hartnett is arguably his most memorable big-screen role, and dare I say, his greatest “Moment of Zen”!”
2009’s “District 9” flips the idea of an alien invasion on its head. This time, it’s the humans who are the bad guys, throwing a wandering, nomadic extraterrestrial race dubbed “Prawns” into a South African slum, and doing everything in their power to co-opt their technology. However, a corporate bureaucrat named Wikus, played by Sharlto Copley, gets an unwelcome chance to see things from the perspective of the alien visitors when, after accidental exposure to a chemical compound, he begins turning into one.
With that transformation comes the ability to use their DNA-encoded advanced weaponry, making him an asset that his own higher-ups will kill for. Director Neill Blomkamp would continue to merge sci-fi with political subtext in 2013’s “Elysium” and 2015’s “Chappie”. And while his concept for “Alien 5” is seemingly no longer on the table, Wikus’ last stand against a band of ruthless mercenaries in the midst of District 9 shows just how talented Blomkamp is in delivering one thoroughly gripping battle in a mech suit – which will surely be at play in his next project, “Robocop Returns”. Like all great sci-fi directors, Blomkamp knows how to handle alien action as well, and “District 9” is his magnum opus in both arenas!
Overall, 2004’s long-awaited “Alien vs Predator” falls mostly into the “Not great, but not bad” column. And this was a crossover of extraterrestrial monsters the world had been salivating for ever since audiences got an unexpected Easter Egg in the form of a Xenomorph skull in a Predator trophy room in 1990’s “Predator 2”. Though the “Aliens vs Predator” expanded universe had technically already begun with the comic book series that kicked off in 1989, that one throwaway moment sent the entire series into overdrive, with fans around the world dreaming of seeing Predators and Xenomorphs doing battle on the big screen one day.
That day finally came in 2004, and, for the most part, “Alien vs Predator” was a decent, if not spectacular merging of the franchises, with its PG-13 rating being lamented by more than a few fanboys (something its underrated 2007 sequel, “Aliens vs Predator: Requiem”, would wisely avoid). Nevertheless, the film doesn’t disappoint on the Alien vs Predator action, with the first big smackdown of two of the greatest big screen extraterrestrials leaving nothing on the table. Given their superior intellect, warrior training, and advanced technology, most fans would probably think the Predator has this one in the bag, but the acidic nature of the Xenomorphs’ blood acts as a very unexpected counter to the Predator tech. However, the Predator isn’t going down without a fight, and will resort to swinging its opponent around by the tail and slamming it through stone columns if it has to. Not bad at all for the first big screen battle of two of the world’s most universally beloved movie monsters!
Before 2013, if you lived outside of Japan, terms like “kaiju” and “tokusatsu” were only heard in hushed chatter among nerds at sci-fi conventions who grew up devouring “Godzilla” movies like radioactive Fruit Loops (guilty as charged)! In 2013, Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” brought both of those terms into the mainstream in a colourful, pulse-pounding fantasy that also happens to boast one of the all-time best guitar riffsyour ears will ever rock out to! On top of that, the film establishes the invading kaiju as being sent to Earth by interdimensional beings via a portal in the Pacific Ocean, establishing its place within the alien invasion sub-genre. To take down the kaiju invaders, our heroes board towering battle machines dubbed “Jaegers”, assaulting the eyes of the audience with stunning action sequences that lack only the terrible dubbing to fully recreate the proper “Godzilla” experience.
Before “Pacific Rim”, did you ever think you’d see a twenty-story robot bust a massive kaiju across the face with a fishing tanker? Not likely, but then along come Raleigh Becket and Mako Mori in their battle-tested Jaeger “Gypsy Danger” to make our dreams come true. And holy smoke, does their battle with Otachi end on a note that IS what we all want to see every summer movie season! “Pacific Rim” brought the kaiju genre into the mainstream and delivered the best battles against gigantic aliens we could’ve ever asked for. And FYI, the film’s 2018 sequel, “Pacific Rim: Uprising”, is pretty sweet, in its own right.
The Predators, or “Yautja” (pron: Ya-OOT-ja) as they’re also known, are one of the most consistently fascinating alien races to ever grace the big screen. Hiding from their prey in an invisibility cloak, they track their next kill with their keen sense of infrared. However, they are also born out of a warrior culture and adhere to a firm code of honour, never hunting any prey that cannot fight back. Which is why, when the Predator finally has our hero, Dutch, cornered, it ditches its plasma canon, and even throws him a bone by ditching the mask that allows it see with greater clarity in the warm jungles of Central America (just look at how much its vision quality drops when it takes that mask off, and you have to agree it’s giving Dutch a slight advantage).
Back in 1987, “Conan The Barbarian” and “The Terminator” had cemented into the public consciousness the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the pinnacle of human physical strength. With “Predator”, all of that went out of the window with Arnie’s showdown with an alien hunter who pummels him to a bloody pulp, forcing him to think like a hunter himself. “Predator” gave birth to one of the greatest alien creatures in all of cinema, bringing on a true rumble in the jungle, to boot. And, full disclosure – that supervillain laugh the Predator emanates still freaks me out to this day!
In the promotional tour for 2010’s “Predators”, Robert Rodriguez said that the film was born partly out of his observation that the “Predator” franchise had never really gotten its equivalent of “Aliens”. With “Predators”, it’s safe to declare that mission accomplished! In this age of nostalgic throwbacks to the most popular franchises of the past, and especially of the 80’s, “Predators” is one of the best I’ve ever seen at blending nostalgia with something new. Our heroes (to the extent that we can call most them so) are in a familiar setting to 1987’s “Predator”, fighting for survival in the jungle against their invisible hunters. Except this time, they’re in the Predators’ own backyard, plopped down on another planet that serves as the Predator’s game preserve.
The moment when the humans realize just how far away from home they are, is easily one of the best payoffs for something that was hardly kept hidden in the marketing. The Predators, of course, always make sure to hunt prey that can fight back, and the katana-wielding Yakuza enforcer, aptly named Hanzo no less, played by Louis Ozawa Changchien, gives the “Predator” franchise one of its most memorable battles, standing his ground against a pursuing “Super-Predator”. That, as one of the many new additions that the film makes to the series, while taking us on such a welcome trip down memory lane, is testimony to “Predators” as a prime specimen of how to revive a dormant franchise!
The undisputed surprise of 2018, “Bumblebee” dropped down the chimney just in time for Christmas, and delivered the best “Transformers” movie to date! In comparison to the rest of the franchise, “Bumblebee” is much smaller in scale, but that proved to be its biggest advantage. By bringing things down to Earth (no pun intended), the film is able to really trade on its 80’s setting and warm feeling of fuzzy nostalgia, positioning itself as a big-budget episode of the “Transformers” animated series of the same era. Seeing our teenage heroine Charlie, played by Hailee Steinfeld, bond with Bumblebee is right out of “E.T.”, and another of the film’s great charms.
However, “Bumblebee” also boasts the best fight sequences of alien robots the series has ever seen. Right from the opening battle on Cybertron, the action sequences are brought to life with a finesse the series has never known before. In Bumblebee’s final battle with his Decepticon enemies, Shatter and Dropkick, we see just how far performance capture has come, with the three Transformers bashing one another with judo throws, spinning kicks, and pro-wrestling manoeuvrers. “Bumblebee” is the perfect blanket of warm and fuzzy Spielbergian magic to throw on the screen when you’re feeling nostalgic, but it also kicked the robot-on-robot action of the “Transformers” series up a step or three!
One of the great ongoing debates among sci-fi fans is “Which is superior – 1979’s ‘Alien’, or its 1986 sequel ‘Aliens”? While there can be no question that both are masterpieces of both horror and sci-fi, I fall into the camp that gives that crown to “Aliens”. Some might make that choice for the expanded scope of the film, introducing us to a literal hive of Xenomorphs and the Queen that birthed them all. Others might do so for “Aliens” representing such a flawless tone shift from horror to action without it feeling jarring, and while remaining genuinely scary. However, in my humble opinion, it all comes down to the transformation of Ellen Ripley, played by the great Sigourney Weaver, from a traumatized survivor to a battle-hardened warrior. (That’s also something of a recurring trend in James Cameron’s filmography, from Sarah Connor’s metamorphosis between “The Terminator” and “Terminator 2”, and in a more oblique way, with Rose in “Titanic”.)
This terrifying new life form may have left her scarred on the inside last time, but in “Aliens”, she’s simply done living in terror of the creature that wiped out the crew of the Nostromo commercial space tug. When the Alien Queen attacks Newt, Ripley wastes no time in stepping into her cargo-loader mech suit, calling out her enemy with that immortal line and going head-to-head with the Queen in a literal battle of mothers. One of the all-time great sequels with one of the all-time great alien smackdowns, the final battle of “Aliens” is one for the ages!
1991’s “The Guyver”, based on the manga series “Bio Booster Armor Guyver”, wasn’t anything to really write home about, but its 1994 sequel, “Guyver 2: Dark Hero”, completely blew it out of the water. As in the original, our hero Sean, playing future screenwriting wunderkind David Hayter, gains superhuman abilities in his armoured suit codenamed the “Guyver” – an advanced prototype designed by a race of aliens known as “Zoanoids”.
However, Sean’s skills with the Guyver suit are put to the test in his final confrontation with Arlen Crane, played by Bruno Patrick, a Zoanoid in disguise. Director Steve Wang would go on to direct the 1997 cult hit “Drive”, and you can see the influences that he brought over from “Guyver 2”. While “Drive” is certainly less outlandish in its approach to the action, he pushed the sci-fi elements of “Guyver 2” to their absolute extreme without letting the film’s paltry $1 million budget hold him back. He also went out of his way to get really creative with the film’s use of wire-fu, treating viewers to such sights of absurdist wonder as Crane running on his hands towards Sean. Armed with a piece of alien tech that can send a man to his physical peak and beyond, the final battle of “Guyver 2” is a true gem among alien showdowns. Quick side note – if you ever wondered where the term “Guyver kick” originated, “Guyver 2” is where you’ll find your answer!
…and in at #1 is….
The Temple Battle — Beyond Skyline (2017)
2017’s “Beyond Skyline” merges an alien invasion on the scale of “Independence Day” with the tough silat martial arts action of “The Raid” films, and delivers one seriously delicious genre-blending cocktail! The fact that such a cocktail even exists at all is a minor miracle, but even better is the fact that it works as well as it does. The sequel to 2010’s “Skyline”, “Beyond Skyline” sees humanity banding together to stand its ground against an invading alien force intent on transplanting every human brain it can get its hands on into the bodies of its army of drone soldiers.
The film had earlier interspersed martial arts fights between its human characters amid the backdrop of the invasion, but the finale of “Beyond Skyline” brings it all together for something we’ve literally never seen before – humans facing off with eight-feet tall aliens in a martial arts battle in an ancient Laotian temple resembling Cambodia’s epic scale temple, Angkor Wat. The humans even get to use their extraterrestrial foes’ own weaponry against them in the form of the “Power Claw”. The sheer uniqueness of the final battle of “Beyond Skyline” would be enough to earn it a place on this list alone, but on top of that, it also pulls in Frank Grillo of “The Purge” series plus Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian of “The Raid” fame to hit us with the kind of sharp Silat action that the finale demands.
Like the film as a whole, the final battle of “Beyond Skyline” is truly one of a kind and takes the crown for the Best Alien Movie Fight of All-Time. Be sure to check out KFK’s in-depth interview its writer and director, Liam O’Donnell, to see how it all came together!