It’s one of the most famous stories in the Bible – the young, idealistic warrior David faces off with the fearsome giant Goliath and against all odds emerges the victor against such a massive, formidable foe whom everyone feared would easily crush him…
To this day, it’s a story that action filmmakers continue to be inspired by and pay homage to by pitting the hero of the story against an enemy who towers over them like a giant. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a smaller warrior overcome seemingly unbeatable odds and vanquish a bigger, stronger opponent -this can only mean one thing, it’s time for another special countdown as we enter the season of surprises and celebrate the grandeur of victory! So, fasten your seatbelts folks as we present Top 10 David vs Goliath Fights! in descending order…
10) Christopher Dubois vs Khan – “The Quest”
Jean-Claude Van Damme took his first shot at directing with “The Quest”, a sweeping, epic tournament adventure where barely five minutes go by without at least one butt being kicked. The film would showcase a huge array of martial arts disciplines from around the globe, from Capoeira to Sumo to Muay Thai to Taekwondo and everything you can think of in between!
However, ‘The Muscles from Brussels’ knew that the only way to properly close the film out was to pit David against Goliath in the final brutal match. The villainous Mongolian boxer Khan, is portrayed by Abdel Qissi, (whom Jean-Claude previously battled at the climax of “Lionheart” aka A.W.O.L) and they make sure you feel it every time their fists connect. Definitely a classic David vs Goliath duel from one of Jean-Claude’s most overlooked films!
9) Batman vs Superman – “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”
This one’s a little different from many other such duels, of course, considering that Superman is roughly the same size as Batman and he’s certainly not a villainous monster like Goliath. However, the psychical strength of the Man of Steel makes the comparison thoroughly appropriate! Recreating their famous conflict from Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel, “The Dark Knight Returns”, Zack Snyder adds his own personal touch to it to make it work within the story the film is telling. Even better, rather than being a cop-out more emblematic of the weakness of the user than the recipient, Batman’s use of Kryptonite gas grenades places our two heroes on a level playing field, but The Dark Knight still actually has to do the work of winning the fight. Of course, Batman and Superman eventually become the greatest of allies, in order to defeat the real Goliath of the film, Doomsday, but we’ve all wanted to see the World’s Finest throwdown since time immemorial, and Snyder, who clearly loves both characters, doesn’t let us down here in the least!
8) Daredevil vs The Kingpin – “Daredevil”: Season One
We could not have asked for a better portrayal of The Man Without Fear or his arch-nemesis on Marvel’s hit Netflix series “Daredevil” and nowhere is that more crystal clear than in their final knockdown, drag-out alley fight in season one. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has what is quite possibly its greatest villain in The Kingpin and certainly is scariest. Brilliantly portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio, his take on The Kingpin is such a ball of pure rage that you could put him in the same room with Bruce Banner and HE would be the one with anger issues. Combine that with his huge size and strength advantages and even a ninja with superhuman senses like Matt Murdock will have trouble taking him down, as you can see the first time they cross paths.
Fun fact: stuntman Chris Brewster, who serves as Charlie Cox’s martial arts double for the series, also fills the same role for Chris Evans in the “Captain America” movies. No wonder that Daredevil and Cap are such amazing combatants!
7) Kurt Sloan vs Tong Po – “Kickboxer”
Everyone learned a certain Thai phrase from “Kickboxer” – “Nook Soo Kow”, or “White Warrior”. That’s the nickname the world would bestow upon Kurt Sloan as he embarked on his quest for revenge after the merciless Muay Thai champion Tong Po crippled his brother Eric. “Kickboxer” stands the test of time as one of Jean-Claude Van Damme’s best films and the final match with Tong Po, played by his close friend Michel Qissi, is arguably his single best fight. Not only is Tong Po as a powerful a Goliath as you could ask for, but he gives his David an even greater challenge by having their fight take place with their hands bound in hemp and coated with broken glass, as if Muay Thai rules weren’t brutal enough already! Of course, Kurt won’t rest until he’s brought Tong Po down – just like David, he’s no quitter.
Interesting fact – Michel Qissi is the younger brother of Abdel Qissi (from #10 above) maybe Jean-Claude and the Qissi family just really enjoy sparring in front of a camera!
6) Kham vs T.K. – “Tom Yum Goong”
Two years after completely changing the game in “Ong Bak”, Tony Jaa returned to raise the bar once more in “Tom Yum Goong”. Not only would he bring in a new, grappling-oriented variant of Muay Thai to snap roughly 100,000 human bones with, he’d also square off with the world’s biggest Aussie, Nathan Jones. Of course, taking down Goliath was never going to be an easy feat for David to pull off and Tony goes out of his way to make sure we understand how true that is by having Kham lose his first encounter with T.K.
You’re rooting for Kham that much harder when he and T.K. meet again at the climax of the film and the way they slam into each other to kick off (no pun intended) their rematch is like seeing two turbo charged juggernauts smash into each other at 100 miles an hour! Nathan Jones would go onto to portray the most challenging foes possible for Jet Li, Michael Jai White and Tom Hardy in “Fearless”, “Never Back Down: No Surrender”, and “Mad Max: Fury Road”, but it was in his match with Tony Jaa in “Tom Yum Goong” where he truly became a modern day Goliath!
5) Danny vs Swimming pool fighters – “Unleashed”
It’s hard enough when you’re David trying to defeat Goliath, but it’s infinitely more challenging when your particular Goliath can not only move like Silvio Simac, but you also have to deal with three other opponents at the same time, one of whom is Scott Adkins! There’s a myriad of reasons why “Unleashed” (aka “Danny the Dog”) has stood the test of time as Jet Li’s best English-language film, but one of them is undoubtedly the way in which it makes our hero, the feral man-beast Danny, into a seemingly harmless underdog (no pun intended) on the outside only for him to erupt into a frenzied beast mode fighting machine when his collar is removed. This isn’t even the first time in the film where he’s David facing down Goliath either and it decidedly goes much worse for the latter the first go around
Fortunately, the film takes its own advice and makes the next David vs Goliath match-up in the swimming pool much longer and a good deal more exhilarating and um…refreshing to boot!
4) Boyka vs Koshmar – “Boyka: Undisputed 4”
Boyka’s return to the ring hasn’t officially been released yet, but since we’ve already had the pleasure to see it, you can rest assured that “Boyka: Undisputed” has been well-worth that wait. Of course, it was just a matter of time before The Most Complete Fighter in the World would solidify his title by going up against an enemy three times his size and Boyka’s Goliath comes in the form of an unhinged, dangerous towering mountain of muscles known as Koshmar, played by bodybuilder Martyn Ford. This time Boyka’s fighting not for his own freedom, but for that of the widow of a fighter he inadvertently kills in the ring. And with Koshmar providing Boyka with the greatest challenge of his fighting career, the stakes have never been higher for Boyka to prove that he is truly The Most Complete Fighter in the World. Watch out for Boyka vs Koshmar because when “Boyka: Undisputed” hits, you won’t be disappointed, in fact fight and action fans, it’ll rock your world and give you whiplash into the bargain (so keep your seatbelts on, don’t say later that we didn’t warn you)!
3) K-29 vs Tetsumaku Rai – “The Wrath of Vajra”
The sinister Hades cult has re-emerged at the onset of World War Two, determined to break China’s spirit from within and conquer all of Asia. Only K-29, a former member of Hades who escaped as a child to become a Shaolin monk known by the moniker of “The King of Vajra”, can stop them and he must first fight his way past the murderous giant Tetsumaku Rai. The film places the action right in the center of the Hades shrine, a sprawling arena on par with the Roman Coliseum and frankly, this type of setting is severely neglected in martial arts films. “The Wrath of Vajra” beautifully utilizes this setting, giving the film an epic sense of size and scale that wouldn’t be out of place in “Ben-Hur”. On top of that, it’s the extraordinarily rare David vs Goliath duel where David is in total control of the fight and absolutely owns Goliath right up until the end, cleaning his clock with hits that the viewer feels deep in their bones. The fact that like the character he portrays, Shi Yan Neng is a former Shaolin disciple just gives this fight sequence that much more street cred!
2) Tommy Lee vs Brackus – “Best of the Best 2”
The original “Best of the Best” was as warm and fuzzy as you could ask for, but everyone really outdid themselves in “Best of the Best 2”. Easily the best of the “Best of the Best” series (try saying that three times fast!), our hero Tommy Lee is pitted against the hulking, bloodthirsty Brackus, played by world renowned bodybuilder, Ralf Moeller. The film throws our hero back centuries to ancient Rome in Brackus’ pit of combat known as The Coliseum, where warriors fight their way to the top for a chance to take Brackus down. Tommy’s only got vengeance on his mind after Brackus killed his friend Travis Brickley and he won’t let Brackus’ musclebound intimidation, frame and power stand in his way. It’s another martial arts showdown that brings with it a major sense of grandeur and scale and makes double sure that you feel every hit that lands. Tommy Lee vs Brackus represents the peak of one of the best martial arts film franchises ever created and truly a model for how David should face off with Goliath!
And at long last, the number one David vs Goliath duel goes to….
1) Bruce Lee vs Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – “Game of Death”
Was there ever any doubt? Bruce Lee may not have lived to finish his passion project, “Game of Death”, but he got far enough to show us that he might very well have surpassed “Enter the Dragon” and “Fist of Fury” with it. Unfortunately, the version of “Game of Death” that we got only used about a quarter of the material Bruce actually lived to finish (to say nothing of the doubles and that dire cardboard cut-out of his face!). The documentary “Bruce Lee: A Warrior’s Journey” is where Bruce’s work is showcased in its entirety and it’s the closest we’ll ever get to seeing “Game of Death” as he intended it. In any case, just look at that footprint Kareem leaves on Bruce’s yellow tracksuit and that’d symbolically be all the reason necessary to include this duel here!
Bruce’s intent with the film was for each opponent to represent a different challenge for him to overcome, as a way of communicating his philosophy about life and martial arts and what better culmination could there be than a David vs Goliath duel where our hero must face off with a bigger, stronger opponent, adapting his own strengths to exploit his rival’s weaknesses? It’s a tragedy that we’ll never see the completed “Game of Death” in all its glory, but leave it to Bruce Lee to deliver the world’s greatest David vs Goliath smackdown nonetheless!
So there you have it folks, our choices for Top 10 David vs Goliath-type movie fight scenes! Which epic duels came to your mind? Feel free to share your faves and watch out for more carefully compiled lists like this over the Xmas Holiday Season!