Well, our list of the Top 10 Martial Arts Films of 2016 was quite a smorgasbord of thrilling action, wasn’t it, readers? Of course, considering the talent involved, it’d almost be insulting to anticipate anything less from such incredibly dedicated filmmakers, action stars, martial artists and stunt performers! So, now that we’ve covered the year’s best fight movies and before we countdown The Most Anticipated Martial Arts Films of 2017, let’s launch headlong into our next one featuring those juicy, energetic, individual fight sequences with the Top 10 Martial Arts Movie Fights of 2016 bearing in mind that there might be the odd entry that we’ve had the chance to see while the wider world hasn’t…yet. So here we go! in descending order as usual…
- The Assassin’s Revolt – “Assassin’s Creed”
- Charlie Nash vs Ryu and Ken – “Street Fighter: Resurrection”
- Doctor Strange vs Lucian – “Doctor Strange”
- Case Walker vs Cobra – “Never Back Down: No Surrender”
- Ronny vs Raghav – “Baaghi”
- Wu Lin vs 100 Henchmen – “Super Bodyguard”
- The Airport Battle – “Captain America: Civil War“
- The Stairwell Fight – “Daredevil” Season Two
- The Warehouse Fight – “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice“
- Boyka vs Igor Kazmir
In the last few days of 2016, a truly unexpected sucker punch came out of nowhere in the form of “Assassin’s Creed”. On top of being an instant videogame movie classic (and we all know just how few of those there are!) the film is packed to the gills with martial arts action and daredevil stunt work on par with the likes of “District B13” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”. When the captive Assassins are fully “synchronized”, we get to see what they’re fully capable of outside of The Animus in a prisoner revolt that’s truly a sight to behold – the film’s redesigned take on the games’ signature mental mechanism is also pretty sweet itself!
You thought a proper Hadouken was show-stopping? Wait till you’ve been hit with a Sonic Boom! From stance work to fighting styles to special moves, every duel in the “Assassin’s Fist” universe feels like “Street Fighter” come to life and after being unforgivably disserviced twice, the third time in live-action proves to be the charm for fan favorite character Charlie Nash, played by rising action star Alain Moussi. The highlight fight sequence of the series, Charlie’s smackdown with Ryu and Ken is the kind of thing gamers thought we’d never get to see twenty years ago, but that pessimism is most thankfully as dead as a doornail now!
The Sorcerer Supreme pulled off a little bit of film history this past November with what has got to be the first ever martial arts battle between the souls of two combatants! As Doctor Strange clings to life on an Emergency Room gurney, his astral body must fend off the assault of the agile zealot Lucian, played by the always amazing Scott Adkins, who delivers flips and Guyver kicks galore to our hero. The difference is, since they’re essentially two ghosts fighting one another, they end up flying through the wall or the floor after being hit instead of coming to a stop on impact. The only thing that would’ve made it any better is if this was where Stan Lee dropped in for his obligatory cameo, but it’d be criminal to nit-pick cinematic history as it’s being made. (And yeah, that Stan Lee cameo wasn’t bad either!)
Michael Jai White directed perhaps the most cerebral martial arts film of 2016 and the intellect of the third “Never Back Down” film is perfectly encapsulated here. One of the best gimmicks a fight sequence can pull out of its pocket is to bring the viewer into the mind of the combatants, all the more so because of just how infrequently it happens. Here, we get to see our hero, MMA champ Case Walker, mentally execute bunkai from his karate training, followed by each set of techniques being applied to his arrogant opponent Cobra, played by stuntman Eoin O’Brien. He certainly teaches his enemy a lesson in both humility and classical karate and the viewer gets the same learning experience from it as well!
The ancient Indian martial art of Kalaripayattu is gradually gaining more prominence in martial arts films and of course, we have Bollywood to thank for that. Rising star and impeccable Brandon Lee-lookalike, Tiger Shroff is absolute dynamite in every last second he’s on screen in his second film, “Baaghi”. Our hero Ronny has been (as the title translates to) a rebel for most of his life, but his Kalari training comes full circle in his blazing final duel with arch-rival Raghav, played by Sudheer Babu. Not only does Tiger wow us with his sophisticated kicking skills here, he also breaks out a picture perfect standing split along with some devastating Crane’s Beak strikes – they’re certainly nothing to mess around with and you see why right here!
Director/star Yue Song’s sophomore film is home to some of the most brutal and mesmerizing action of the year, but it is beyond incredible to see him single-handedly smash his way through one hundred henchmen. As both director and action star, Song all but unashamedly screams “Look what I can do!” through the film and this epic martial arts battle leaves no doubt that both he and the rest of the cast took more than a few trips to the hospital throughout the film’s production. With both this fight sequence and the film as a whole, Song cements himself as a rising star for fans of Asian action to keenly watch out for, both behind and in front of the camera.
Everything that made the world fall in love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe is captured in a single airport smackdown in “Captain America: Civil War”. With every appearance he makes in the MCU, Cap’s martial arts skills get that much flashier and eye-popping, hitting their absolute pinnacle here. Spider-Man makes an impressive MCU debut as well, bringing his trademark one-liners with him, while Ant-Man’s transformation to Giant-Man is the best unexpected curveball the MCU has thrown since Loki’s encounter with The Hulk in “The Avengers”. However, it’s Black Panther who steals the film, which is only to be expected given how many “Street Fighter” moves he breaks out here. Leave it to King T’Challa to be the MCU character on the big screen to truly rival the martial arts skills Daredevil deploys on Netflix – not bad moves there, Your Highness!
And speak of The Devil, it’s time to give him his due! Marvel’s acclaimed Netflix series “Daredevil” is officially two-for-two in delivering the first truly great fight sequence of the year, following the awesome single-take hallway brawl from season one. For season two, it’s all one take again in a stairwell battle that Charlie Cox aptly described as “the hallway fight on crack.” In contrast with the hallway fight, where The Man Without Fear lives up to his nickname by entering the fight severely injured and just barely able to fend off half a dozen adversaries, Mr. Murdock turns into a human snowplough with fists of fury in the stairwell fight. Not one of his enemies walks away from this brawl without feeling like they gone toe-to-toe with The Devil, and no viewer walks away feeling like Marvel’s team-up with Netflix hasn’t produced some of the best martial arts action ever to grace the superhero screen. Yep, will say it again, the ball’s in your court now Iron Fist, it’s your time to smash it!
On top of a gripping theme that asks thought-provoking questions about the nature of justice, sacrifice and absolute power, director Zack Snyder unquestionably proves himself the Isaac Florentine of superhero filmmakers with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. Sure, the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world delivered the goods and seeing DC’s Trinity battle with Doomsday was nothing less than a war of Biblical proportions. However, no other Batman fight sequence even comes close to the warehouse brawl in which The Dark Knight must battle his way past a dozen vicious henchmen to rescue the Man of Steel’s kidnapped mother. Drawing equal inspiration from the “Arkham Asylum” games and “The Raid” films, Batman’s legendary martial arts skills are truly brought to life on the big screen like never before, and like the film as a whole, it’s even better in the Ultimate Edition. This year’s “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” simply can’t get here fast enough!
And in at #1 for the Top Martial Arts Movie Fight of 2016! is…
You’re as likely to see a lacklustre fight sequence in a movie starring ‘The Most Complete Fighter in the World’ as you are to find a trillion-pound note (or dollar bill, or ahem, ‘Trump’ card) under your pillow tomorrow morning. Not once in the fourth entry of the “Undisputed” franchise does Boyka step into the ring and leave you less than thoroughly awed. However, his matchup with the vicious Igor Kazmir, played by Brahim Achabbakhe just gives Boyka a bigger pain to work through, sustaining a back injury from a previous fight for the bad knee he’s recovered from – and we all know Boyka brings the heat best whenever he’s forced into a disadvantage. Oh, and here you should know, he breaks out the most eye-popping variation of the Guyver Kick ever caught on camera!
So, there we have it folks, our official countdown of the Top 10 Martial Arts Movie Fights for 2016! Which ones resonated with you? Let us know and look out for the Most Anticipated Martial Arts Movies for 2017…coming up shortly!