Here at Kung Fu Kingdom we also like to bring on the best in ultimate spy-fu -gadgets, guns, exotic locations and of course always some skillful hand-to-hand combat pitting spy vs henchmen in a battle to save the world.
When it comes to the suave and cold blooded action in service of Queen and country, nobody does it better than James Bond and impossible missions are just another day at the office for IMF agent Ethan Hunt.
Into the fold steps Jason Bourne, a top secret assassin for Treadstone, a CIA black ops unit, with retrograde amnesia and no clues as to his identity though his clandestine skills are still intact.
Bourne originally featured in three books by Robert Ludlum and eleven by Eric Van Lustbader following Ludlum’s demise. The spy series soon leapt onto the big screen with a thrilling journey through the darker side of the intelligence world as the tortured Bourne seeks answers to his identity leaving carnage and broken bones in his wake.
Let’s take a brief journey through highlights of the Bourne series before the hit list…
Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Jason Bourne; in 1988 “The Bourne Identity” was filmed as a mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain in a largely faithful adaptation of Ludlum’s book.
Fourteen years later Damon, along with director Doug Liman, ushered in Bourne’s cinematic debut with “The Bourne Identity”. It’s a heart-wrenching story of self-discovery, covert plots and romance featuring plenty of fast-paced kick-ass action making it a box office smash.
Damon received praise for his dual performance flitting with ease between the frightened amnesiac and deadly spy, but also for his handling of the stunt and fight action much of which the actor performed himself. Aided by Hollywood stunt legend Jeff Imada and stunt coordinator Nick Powell (who worked on “The Last Samurai”), the story of Jason Bourne, the reluctant spy continued in 2004 with “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum” in 2007.
For these two films, British director Paul Greengrass brought his gritty documentary filming style to the action along with a revolutionary new filming technique, the notorious ‘shaky cam’. The trilogy revolutionized the action scene with its close-quarters hard- hitting fighting style later seen in the Taken films with Liam Neeson, the James Bond films, and even Korean cinema offering their own ‘Bourne’-style thriller with “The Suspect”.
It seems the audience appetite for more Bourne wasn’t sufficiently whetted with Jeremy Renner brought in for “The Bourne Legacy” 2012 which wasn’t as big a hit but still hit the mark on the action front. It was Bourne people wanted more of and nine years later Matt Damon stepped back into the role in ‘Jason Bourne’ with Paul Greengrass back behind the camera.
It delivered on all fronts the very hallmarks that made the series so popular with a bit more blood and grit. Unlike Tom Cruise, who vows to continue to accept Missions well into old age, Matt Damon has hung up his Bourne cape.
The legacy of Bourne is one of captivating stories and amazing action, one that continues in a new series – “Treadstone” which is currently on Amazon Prime. It follows the destructive trail of deadly sleeper agents who are all mysteriously woken up…
Now, get ready for some blistering, action-packed brawls as we countdown the Top 10 Jason Bourne Series Fight Scenes (which includes an entry from “The Bourne Legacy” with Jeremy Renner) in descending order!
- No Papers – The Bourne Identity (2002)
- One Punch TKO – Jason Bourne (2016)
- Fight at the Embassy – The Bourne Identity
- Bourne vs Asset – Jason Bourne
- Bourne vs Jarda – The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
- Stairwell Plunge – The Bourne Identity
- Aaron Cross Saves Dr Shearing – The Bourne Legacy (2012)
- Meeting at Waterloo Station – The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
- Bourne vs Castel – The Bourne Identity
What better way to start off this badass Top 10 than with the first introduction to Jason Bourne in 2002’s “The Bourne Identity”. Here, director Doug Liman sets up the perfect introduction to the deadly side of Bourne.
With no clue as to his identity, the young Bourne is frightened and confused, and his sense of danger is heightened when two Swiss policemen try to arrest him for sleeping on a park bench.
This first glimpse of Bourne in action is so swiftly executed you barely have time to lift your jaw that dropped from the explosive strikes and takedowns.
On closer inspection the technical makeup of this scene is packed full of Kali techniques. Adding in Damon’s multi-faceted performance, switching from amnesiac to deadly assassin makes for a thrilling fight scene only amplifying the action and intrigue of this complex spy thriller.
Matt Damon returns in his fourth outing along with Paul Greengrass as director and also co-writer. Now completely recovered from the events of previous films, his memory fully restored, Bourne wanders from place to place making a living by fighting in brutal, illegal street fights.
The film opens with Bourne getting ready for his latest match up; Greengrass builds up the anticipation against Bourne’s mammoth- sized opponent, cocksure and ready to fight in contrast to Jason Bourne’s calm and stoic readiness.
The reveal of Damon’s killer physique promises a darn good match and then WHAM…it’s all over! Both the trailer and the movie versions are shown in the video above. Okay, there may not be much in the way of finessed fight action per se, but the mixture of shock playing with audience expectations and some comedy as Damon looks more annoyed than nervous, is an opening as powerful as Bourne’s exploding left hook. It also gives the Bourne series its own “Raiders of the Lost Ark” moment the perfect way to say that ‘Jason Bourne is back’!
Number eight takes us back to the beginning with a dazed and confused amnesiac Bourne looking for answers as to his identity, and the events leading up to his memory loss.
This features not only more of Damon’s superbly strong performance but also his skillful fighting ability. This time Bourne makes easy work of some marine embassy guards and a CIA agent as they try to arrest him. Again this is a very quick fight, and one that’s over almost as soon as it starts.
However on closer viewing it features a wealth of techniques including some judo takedowns and jiu jitsu arm locks that crunch with every turn. It’s an exciting moment that adds to Bourne’s startling evolution witnessing the ease with which he takes down trained marines making him even more of a threat.
Stunt coordinator and wushu Team GB medalist Nick Powell choreographed much of the fight action along with Nicky Naudé (see number 2). Check out this great clip that looks into how Bourne’s fight with the marines was choreographed featuring insight from both Matt Damon and Powell himself in action.
Matt Damon’s fourth and final outing keeps things very personal for Bourne but in a twist of fate Paul Greengrass’s script also makes it personal for a former Treadstone operative simply known as The Asset played by French actor Vincent Cassel.
Damon shows no signs of slowing down in what has to be the saga’s darkest and most brutal fight. The trademark ‘shaky cam’ that had become a staple of many of the Bourne films is played down here but is still present, adding a level of gritty realism supported by the dark and dank setting.
This is possibly the bloodiest of Bourne’s fights, and more intense as each hit strikes like a sledgehammer, and every limb crunches with each twist, sold effectively by both actors who literally throw everything plus the kitchen sink into this finale.
The second installment sees Bourne, still trying to piece together memory fragments dragged from his perfect life with girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) back into the murky intelligence underworld once again looking for answers, but also revenge.
A visit to another former Treadstone asset Jarda (Marton Csokas) for answers, turns into a wicked showdown as the two men match up their deadly skills in a no holds barred brawl for survival.
Matt Damon Tells You How to Win a Bar Fight
How to fight like Jason Bourne.
Posted by GQ on Friday, 22 July 2016
This is the first glimpse we get of Paul Greengrass’s innovative ‘shaky cam’ which certainly puts the viewer smack bang into the centre of the action. Stepping into Nick Powell’s shoes is stunt and fight choreographer extraordinaire Jeff Imada. He packs this scene with a plethora of intense, intricate strikes, locks, chokes, and a lesson in the art of turning everyday objects from a magazine to shoelaces into deadly weapons.
Nothing like taking the plunge Bourne-style in the penultimate showdown between Bourne and his former boss Conklin’s (Chris Cooper) assassins.
Here, there is plenty of close quarters improvised fighting with each strike crunching with contact, climaxing with a tense hunt as Bourne takes on his former boss’s heavies.
Trapped in the hotel, where his former boss was holed up, Bourne calls on his skills and reflexes to escape the incoming assassins and in one jaw-dropping scene uses a deceased henchman for a quick escape and soft landing that still leaves one agog, in awe. It is a moment that never loses its entertainment or shock value.
Largely seen as the weakest link in the saga based purely on the absence of the man himself, this sees Bourne screenwriter Tony Gilroy step into the director’s chair with Jonathan Eusebio from 87 Eleven Action Design in charge of the action.
Whilst it is the weakest link in the Bourne chain, “Bourne Legacy” boasts enough noteworthy action thanks to Eusebio and star Jeremy Renner who brings his action A game to the table as Aaron Cross, the agent whose programme was cancelled following the events of the previous three films.
Hot off the set of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and “Avengers Assemble”, Renner proves to be more than capable of taking up the Bourne mantle taking down bad guys and saving the day.
In this scene in which Cross rescues chemist Dr Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) gone is the trademark ‘shaky cam’ yet the action remains and Renner’s cold poise and quick-fire techniques mean he can add super-spy to his action resume.
The third, and largely considered the best of the bunch, sees Bourne on the verge of uncovering the secret to his recruitment into Treadstone.
First he has to rescue Simon Ross (British actor Paddy Considine) a journalist whose delvings threaten to expose Treadstone and its upgraded program codenamed: Blackbriar. CIA director and head of Blackbriar Noah Volsen (played by David Strathairn) with all the technology and surveillance access at his fingertips has a hard time keeping track of Ross who is guided by Bourne through the ‘surveillance nightmare’ that is Waterloo Station.
Nick Powell and Jeff Imada together pack all the tension they can muster into this scene. Once it kicks in it never relents and you find yourself holding your breath from Ross’s increasing panic and going off plan, to the assets getting into place. It never loses an ounce of that nervous excitement which hooks you in, leading to one of the best stairway fights put to film.
Up to now, audiences had seen Bourne make easy work of two policemen and some embassy guards whetting appetites for what a Bourne vs Treadstone asset match-up would look like.
Enter Castel (fight coordinator Nicky Naudé) crashing through Bourne’s old apartment window. Soon they exchange bone- smashing blows, strikes, kicks, arm locks and judo throws using everything to hand as weapons.
It’s a scene that engages jaw- clenching tension in which we finally learn whether or not the pen is truly mightier than the sword, or in this case, the knife.
The influence of this fighting style crept into many action films including rival spy franchise, James Bond as in this scene from “Quantum of Solace” which ranked number 2 in our Top 10 James Bond Fight Scenes.
…and in at #1 is…
Bourne vs Desh – The Bourne Ultimatum
Originally this was going to be the final in what would’ve been a gripping trilogy. In this amped-up action ante comes the the ultimate clash of assets as as the terror of Treadstone Bourne takes on the best of Blackbriar – the irrepressible Desh played by the UK’s very own Joey Ansah.
The build up of this penultimate match up invokes all the excitement and tension of a big sporting event. This main bout however has thrilling bike chases, heart-stopping leaps from building to building and the crashing through of windows leaving behind a splintering carnage of glass and wood.
Here Bourne sprints to the rescue of his former logistics officer Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) hunted down by the deadly Desh. A death-defying leap through a closed window into an empty apartment and Bourne is finally face to face with his nemesis.
So begins a fight that only lasts two minutes but feels much longer since the fight coordinator (Jeff Imada) packs in a never ending whirlwind of technique combinations sold with intense gritty, steely determination by Damon and Ansah.
Both put their all into the performance with choreography that sees everything to hand turn into a weapon and pummelled into each other – Bourne using a book to inflict damage is particularly gruesome. His no-nonsense close quarters fighting style – a mix of kali and jiu jitsu contrasts perfectly with Ansah’s more powerful acrobatic style featuring some swift taekwondo and high-flying capoeira skills giving him an almost superhuman quality.
This really is a fight for the ages with Greengrass’s shaky cam at its finest ramping up the tension level on every front, a showdown that loses none of its emotive tension or appreciation of awesome skill on repeat viewing.
To ensure Bourne goes out with a bang the team of Greengrass, Powell, and Imada gave the film’s action a Treadstone-style upgrade. To see how it was done, check out this amazing behind the scenes look at the staging of this epic battle featuring Matt Damon, Joey Ansah and the legend himself Jeff Imada!
So there we have it folks, KFK’s Top 10 Best Fight Scenes from the Jason Bourne saga! The legacy of Bourne is one of captivating stories and amazing action, one that continues in a new series – “Treadstone” which is currently on Amazon Prime. It follows the destructive trail of deadly sleeper agents who are all mysteriously woken up…
So, did our list hit the target? What do you like most about the action in the Bourne films, and which fights and action scenes rank among your personal favourites?
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