Well, we all knew that the art of Parkour couldn’t be done justice with only a single list, could it? The concept of Parkour has not only entered the mainstream as a dynamic and exciting physical discipline, but it’s also completely permeated the world of action movies too. The great thing about that, with the art’s fluid and malleable nature, allows for Parkour to adapted to all different types of action sequences, with both martial arts moves and daredevil stunt work being the perfect elements to wed a little freerunning action to.
In fact, while exhilarating foot chases are a given whenever Parkour is in the picture, action fans truly get the best of both worlds when that particular union occurs. One minute, traceurs are vaulting through an expansive metropolis, the next they catch up to each other and throw down. Or, maybe the traceurs sweeten the action by adding a particularly death defying stunt into the mix. Whatever the case, Parkour mixed with fighting action and stunt work is such a ridiculously thrilling combination, that it requires its own list ranking the best of the best.
We’re sure you know what’s coming next readers, yep, another countdown. So, get ready for some jumpin’, vaultin’ and somersaltin’ freerunning excitement – with KFK’s rundown of these Top 5 Parkour Movie Stunt Scenes (in descending order)!
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) — Steve Chases Bucky
- The Tournament (2009) — Alley Chase
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) — Dastan’s Escape
- Bodyguards and Assassins (2009) — Donnie Yen vs Cung Le
“The Winter Soldier” already earned a place of honor among KFK’s Best Superhero Movie Fights list pt.2, but the film’s superb martial arts action is just one of the ways in which it upped the ante from Cap’s debut in 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger”. After being frozen for seven decades, Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, finds himself forced to adapt to how much the modern world has evolved during his cryogenic stasis.
Fortunately, he’s more than up to the task, and as we see in “The Winter Soldier”, he’s had the chance to familiarize himself with a wide variety of martial arts forms and other physical disciplines, one of them clearly being the art of Parkour.
It comes in very handy when he finds himself pursuing the elusive Winter Soldier, whom he later learns is his old friend Bucky Barnes, played by Sebastian Stan. What gives this particular Parkour chase that extra something special? Two words – Cap’s shield. It’s a tool Steve has at his disposal that few traceurs ever get their hands on, which means that not only is Captain America able to vault past any obstacle in his way, he can also smash right through one if necessary. You don’t often get to see Parkour action with the extra bombast of Captain America bashing through doors or leaving gigantic craters in walls, but “The Winter Soldier” doesn’t disappoint in its quest to bring everything about Captain America into the 21st century!
Sébastien Foucan is well-known for being a key player in realizing the greatest James Bond action sequence ever put to film with the opening parkour chase of 2006’s “Casino Royale”. However, that’s far from the only place he’s lent his vast talents as a traceur, as we see in 2009’s “The Tournament”.
Assuming the role of Anton Bogart, he’s one of twenty assassins battling for a £10 million prize in a competition of contract killers simply known as “The Tournament”. However, he’s managed to pull a fast one by removing the tracking device inside of himself and getting it into Father MacAvoy, played by Robert Carlyle.
Now, he’s determined to take out both the alcoholic priest and his fellow assassin Lai-Lai Zhen, played by Kelly Hu, to claim the prize, and his Parkour skills make him a very tough pursuer for them to shake off. It all comes to a head with a stunt whose safety preparations are all but impossible to get one’s head around – with his opponents ready to run down their vicious pursuer in a car, Bogart braces his feet against the bumper to continue sliding along the ground. Mr. Foucan sure knows how to give an audience their money’s worth and then some, and when it comes to spectacular stunt work, this is one act of freerunning death-defiance you simply can’t forget!
One interesting character trait of video-game movies – at least the good ones, is that they tend to rely heavily on martial arts, Parkour, or both. 2010’s underrated “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” certainly has plenty of the latter in spades, going so far as to retain the services of the art’s founder, David Belle, as stunt coordinator.
When our heroic Persian Prince Dastan, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, discovers the treachery of his Uncle Nizam,it’s up to him to keep a supernatural dagger with the power to carry the holder through time out of his nefarious uncle’s clutches.
Parkour can certainly be adapted to an almost infinite array of environmental settings, but it’s especially advantageous to put it to use in an ancient one, something that’s taken full advantage of in “Prince of Persia”. With an ancient Middle-Eastern city as his playground, Dastan is able to leap over and across one plank, rafter, and rooftop after another to evade his arrow-launching pursuers, and like all great traceurs, Dastan really knows how to improvise when he’s in a tight spot.
The overall reputation of video game movies may be deservedly less-than-laudatory, but “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” really brings the wonder and adventure of the games to life amid its Parkour driven action sequences – though, admittedly, if you want the identity of your villain to be a major plot twist, you do yourself no favors by casting Ben Kingsley!
It’s a savage, knock-down, drag-out fight, to be sure, but it’s made that much more riveting to see our two combatants vaulting and soaring over rickshaws, carts, and awnings in a set piece that’s as much a Parkour chase as it is a fight sequence. And that’s something that you have Cung Le himself to thank for.
Originally, this sequence was set to take place largely within the parameters of the fish market, but it was Le who suggested they not only expand the scope of the sequence to feature more of the encompassing city, but also to blend the fight with a Parkour chase.
It’s more than safe to say that it was the right call to make, as this is easily the big stand out set piece for “Bodyguards and Assassins”, with Yen and Le free to just cut loose and do what they do best. Not only that, but it’s also further proof that, aside from its unique power in action films on its own, Parkour also blends beautifully with martial arts moves to leave the overall scene that much more memorable. Be sure to also check out KFK’s in-depth interview with Cung Le, where he talks about the process of bringing this amazing fight-chase hybrid to life – and a lot more besides!
…and in at #1 is…
District 13 (2004) — Street Chase
Obviously, 2004’s “District 13” is WAY too influential on the rise of Parkour for there to only be one great foot chase sequence. This time, our freerunning anti-hero Leito, played by David Belle, is joined by his ally on the Parisian police force, Damien, played by Cyril Raffaelli.
Prior to “District 13”, the world primarily knew Cyril for his jaw-dropping abilities as a martial artist after his incredible climactic battle with Jet Li in 2001’s “Kiss of the Dragon“, but “District 13” brought his skills as a traceur sharply into focus right alongside David Belle.
Needless to say, the sequence is full of the same stunts that make up the Parkour sequences seen elsewhere in the film, with Leito and Damien vaulting over obstacles and leaping from one rooftop to another. However, the real money shot of this scene is a stunt of the “how in the world did they do that safely” variety when Leito and Damien rebound off of one car to sail over another as the two collide with each other.
Aside from being one of the greatest Parkour chases of all-time, no list of the most death-defying stunts ever performed would be complete without that glorious couple of seconds receiving a place of high, applause-worthy, fist-pumping and foot-stomping honor!