You know how it is sometimes, after a hard day at work all you want to do is head to your favourite bar or tavern, order a drink or two and shoot the breeze with your friends, family or co-workers. Then, all of a sudden, KAPOW! the place turns into battlefield with fists and feet flying alongside missile-like glass bottles and lethal spinning bar stools!
From the early days of Hollywood westerns, the bar fight has grown into a staple of action cinema. Films can have explosive beginnings and dramatic showdowns, however the quintessential bar fight often contain among the most memorable moments and has since been embraced by martial arts movies as the perfect excuse for a lively, cinematic thrashing. Bar fights are a unique feature of action films and they usually encapsulate comedy and hard-hitting fight-fu encased in a frenetic bubble of entertainingly unpredictable chaos. They have featured blockbusting stars of the big and small screen, from Hollywood to Hong Kong, so, swing open the saloon doors, order a drink, sit down and enjoy our countdown of the Top 10 Bar Fights…in descending order…(and if it gets a little raucous in here, get ready to duck!)
- The Expendables 3 (2014) – Meet Luna (Ronda Rousey)
- Road House (1989) – Patrick Swayze, Marshall Teague & Sam Elliott
- Rapid Fire (1992) – Jake (Brandon Lee) Takes on the Mafia
- Firewalker (1986) – Chuck Norris vs Burly Latino Barflies
- Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear (2013) – Casey Blows off Some Steam
- Dragons Forever (1988) – Client Problems
- The Raid 2: Berendal (2014) – ‘Mad Dog’ Club Fight
- Project A (1983) – Marine Police vs Hong Kong Police
- Kickboxer (1989) – Drunken Disco Dancing Fight
A couple of years ago Ronda Rousey was in talks to take on the role of Dalton in a remake/reboot of “Road House”. Well we’re still waiting for that to happen, and if Ronda can pull herself away from the WWE roster long enough to make the film then we look forward to seeing her in action cleaning house. In the meantime, we kick things off with this scene from “The Expendables 3” in which Ronda proves her worth to fill Swayze’s shoes. As Expendables recruit Luna, Ronda is more than just the hostess with the mostess but rather a bouncer who shows that when it comes to taking out the trash the girls can clean up as well as the boys!
Speaking of “Roadhouse” it wouldn’t be a Top 10 Bar Fight list if we didn’t mention this 80’s classic. Here, western meets kung-fu film with the late Patrick Swayze taking names and kicking butt as Dalton, the best bouncer in the business carrying more buoyance per ounce. The whole film is essentially one big bar fight since most of the action takes place in or around local taverns in the US south. Out of all of them, this makes the cut as it’s the first time we see Marshall Teague as Jimmy, ex-con- turned-henchman for corrupt businessman Brad Wesley (the late Ben Gazzara) in action. With the late Jeff Healey providing the bluesy cover of “Hoochie Coochie Man”, as patrons and doorman scuffle and throw things at one another, Jimmy makes easy work of the Double Deuce’s bouncers before finally locking horns with Dalton, tantalising appetites for the upcoming ultimate showdown.
All mob boss Antonio Serrano (Nick Mancuso) wanted to do was sit in his favourite bar and enjoy a glass of sweet vermouth whilst he eagerly awaited delivery of art student Jake Lo (the late Brandon Lee) so he can kill him. However, Jake with the help of the FBI and grizzly battle-weary Chicago Police Lieutenant Mace Ryan (the late Powers Boothe) spoils Serrano’s plans and a major showdown ensues. As Jake, Brandon Lee not only proved himself a solid actor but that when it comes to kung-fu fighting, he shone as bright as his father. Here Jake fights to survive using his own fists of fury to escape the gun battle between the police and the mob turning the bar into a war zone. Intense shootouts and some skilfully choreographed fight-fu make this an action-packed bar fight that’ll have you on the edge of your seat until the very end!
When Chuck Norris walks into a bar you just know everybody’s going to be in for a smashing time. Chuck is treasure hunter Max Donigan who, along with his partners Leo Porter (Louis Gossett Jr.) and Patricia Goodwin (Melody Anderson) end up in a Central American bar and fall foul of the establishment’s clientele. Cue some Latin music along with a group of Gringo-hating locals as Chuck comes to the rescue of his comrades serving up untold pints of his trademark roundhouse kicks and more.
It’s never a good idea to pick a fight with a ninja at the best of times but when that ninja is Casey Bowman (Scott Adkins) grieving for the murder of his wife and drowning in his sorrows, the lesson proves to be a painful one. The trio of director Isaac Florentine, star Scott Adkins and his “go to guy” for action choreography Tim Man, put together a butt kicking bar brawl of epic proportions. Lesson learned.
Want to know what a bar fight looks like when it gets the Golden Harvest treatment? Check out this fast and furious battle featuring the heavyweights of Hong Kong action – lawyer Johnny (Jackie Chan), Tim (Yuen Biao), and Sammy (Sammo Hung) find themselves on the receiving end of an assassination attempt on Johnny’s client, Wu (the wonderfully eccentric Yuen Wah). More legends of Hong Kong cinema step into the action including Dick Wei leading the hit, and Billy Chow as Wu’s bodyguard. Fists and feet fly multi-directionally in this golden mix of three stooges-style comedy, a true frenetic fu-fest!
This scene from Gareth Evans’ epic gangster action extravaganza is packed with equal amounts of intense drama and high-octane hand-to-hand combat. Yuyan Ruhian as assassin Prakoso (aka, ‘Mad Dog’) calls upon every ounce of his deadly Silat skill and what ensues is a brutal battle for survival, in this choc-full-of- action yet tragedy-laden scene that’s as thrilling as it is dramatic.
We’ve all watched enough movies to know that different branches of law enforcement really don’t get on, and in this vintage title from Jackie Chan’s collection, there’s certainly no exception. Officer Dragon Ma (Jackie Chan) and his fellow Marine patrol officers take on the police force led by Inspector Ho (Yuen Biao) in this entertaining mix of classic Hong Kong-fu with a hint of West Side Story and some Keystone Cops-style slapstick action thrown into the bargain!
There is so much to enjoy about this moment from the classic Van Damme hit. A drunken Kurt Sloane (Van Damme possibly at his entertaining best) is put to an unorthodox test by his mentor Xian (Denis Chan) at a local Thai watering hole . Van Damme is just great mixing his funky disco dancing to Beau Williams’ “Feeling so Good Today” with his elegant and hard-hitting karate, even slipping in his trademark box splits for good measure. At the same time he takes out some aggrieved locals in this smooth blend of knock out action, comedy, and some serious grooves. Often imitated…but never equalled.
…and in at # 1 is…
Best of the Best (1989) – US Karate Team Lets Off Some Steam
They say ‘there’s always one’, and in this case it’s Karate hot head Travis Brickley (the late Chris Penn) whose taunting of the locals of a Midwest tavern turns a “one last night on the town” for him and his US team Sonny Grasso (David Agresta), Alex Grady (Eric Roberts), Virgil Keller (John Dye), and Tommy Lee (Phillip Rhee) into a bar room brawl. Cue drunken ruffians trying to take down trained martial artists who put their skills, ahead of their pending clash with the Korean Taekwondo team, to good use. A mix of action and comedy see the locals end up on the business end of some fast feet, steel fists, flying furniture and a well-placed pinball machine (to the rocking sound of “The Devil Made Me Do It”, by Golden Earring). All the stars show a variety of skill and comic timing but it’s Phillip Rhee as the tortured and earnest Tommy Lee who dazzles in this highly entertaining moment from the 80’s hit.
So there we have it folks, 10 rough n’ tumble bar-FUelled fights. Who smashes it up best in your opinion, which are your faves from the above or maybe others not mentioned on this list; Steven Seagal, Jackie Chan, John Wick? Let us know in the comments below, ‘Like’ share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram. (Get more smash hits with our other Top 10’s!)