An increasingly prevalent part of cinema, fight scenes are often the most exciting aspects of any movie, especially a good action movie. Dramatic acting and compelling dialogue do have their place. But, often, no scene is more enjoyable than a thrilling, fast-paced fight.
Of the many fight scenes that occur throughout the movies of 2019, there are a few that are not so easy to swallow. Some fights leave you with your eyes half-closed and your lips twisted into a grimace. Though often, those battles that hit the hardest are the best – they enhance characterization, drive the plot, and deepen your connection to the movie and its characters.
Here are 10 of the hardest-hitting movie fight scenes of 2019. Beware of spoilers, by the way.
12 Hobbs & Shaw: Brixton Lore’s First Appearance
After eight Fast & Furious movies, the first spinoff in the franchise provided a chance to see The Rock and Jason Statham together again. This film moved further away from the core of the franchise: cars, focusing instead on high-paced action and apocalyptic stakes.
Of the fights in this film, most were almost comical. But at the very beginning, the villain makes a brutal first appearance, setting a grisly tone for the rest of the film. Brixton Lore, the cybernetically-enhanced supervillain, ruthlessly slaughters five veteran soldiers, creating a tone of teeming fear and tensions higher than any that have yet accompanied the often-lighthearted Furious movies.
11 The Highwaymen: The Death Of Bonnie & Clyde
After two hours of methodical tracking, the two former Texas Rangers (Kevin Cosner and Woody Harrelson) who serve as the protagonists of the film finally formulate a plan to kill the armed mercenary duo that is Bonnie and Clyde. Frank Hamer, the lead Ranger on the operation, steps in front of their car, followed by his fellow Ranger, Maney, leaving half-a-dozen armed companions in the trees behind the car.
There is a long, tense moment, then Bonnie reaches for a gun, and the highwaymen fire ceaselessly at the car for over thirty seconds, as though Bonnie and Clyde were impervious to bullets. The level of extended violence in this scene was shocking and highly telling of the characters involved.
10 Avengers Endgame: The Final Battle
At the conclusion of perhaps the single greatest MCU battle ever, all seems lost. Despite their best efforts, Thanos once again has the gauntlet. Until Tony absorbs the infinity stones into his own gauntlet. That image of Tony Stark, kneeling on the ground, power coursing through his body, saying the words: “I am Iron Man,” is singed into the minds of every person who watched that movie.
After an intense fight, to watch our hero make the ultimate sacrifice inspired nothing but pure emotion. This figure who started it all is gone – no other death could have created such a powerfully emotional reaction in the audience. No other MCU fight could have hit quite this hard.
9 Triple Frontier: The Villagers Strike Back
This thriller stars Ben Affleck as Tom Redfly, a war veteran that gets sucked into one last illegal heist with his army buddies. After the raid goes wrong and their helicopter crashes into a village, Tom kills several of the villagers who posed a threat. The crew leaves the village and bodies behind, beginning a long trek through the mountains, pursued by men from the village who are intent on revenge.
This scene is full of high tensions as sniper bullets fly around the boulders that shield the crew. In a moment of action, Redfly kills one of their pursuers and is immediately killed by the other; a shocking, bloody twist that added a deep layer of complexity to the story.
7 The King: The Final Battle
After a long arc that showed the gradual rise of King Henry V (Timothee Chamalat), the boy king becomes a true leader. In this final face-off between the armies of England and France, King Henry watches from the trees as arrows fly, horses thunder, and men die. Then, he screams the words “on me,” and rushes into the fray.
The glory of this battle is the raw, gritty way it is shown. There is no honor in war. It is messy, muddy, and full of lucky accidents and near misses. King Henry wrestles in the mud, beats and kills his enemies with his bare hands, and rises, triumphant and bloody: the victor. Beautifully horrific, terribly real, this scene was incredibly well-done.
6 John Wick 3: The Knife Store
Pursued by hundreds of assassins, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) seeks refuge in what turns out to be a knife shop. In one of the most gruesome and thrilling scenes in the entire movie, knives fly, glass shatters, and blood spills. This scene provides two of John Wick’s more horrific kills.
After killing several of his attackers, he stabs a knife into the head of another and has to punch the hilt repeatedly so that the knife digs all the way into his skull. After that, Baba Yaga, painfully slowly, stabs a blade into the eye of his last attacker – one of the hardest John Wick moments to watch.
5 Cold Pursuit: The First Kill
Liam Neeson plays a snowplow driver (Nels Coxman) whose son turns up dead in the film Cold Pursuit. Suspecting murder, he turns into a killer himself, seeking revenge for the death of his boy. Of the many fights and deaths in this movie, none are quite as powerful as his first kill. He tracks down a drug dealer named Speedo who was involved in the death of his son, beats him bloody, then interrogates him. When he’s done with Speedo, he tries to kill him. But Coxman has never killed before, and after choking Speedo once, finds that he must do so again, to truly snuff out Speedo’s life.
This was not an especially gruesome scene, but it told of a drastic and horrific shift in the character of Nels Coxman. The shift of a man into a murderer.
3 El Camino: The Duel
The Breaking Bad movie follows a broken, haunted Jesse Pinkman seeking peace in a life that has been nothing but turbulent. To start this new life, he needs money; in his quest for the cash, he winds up in a Western-style duel. The tension rises as the two men stare each other down. His attacker reaches for his gun, but Jesse had been holding a revolver in his pocket, and he empties the chamber into his opponent.
But he doesn’t stop there. He turns his weapon on the surviving crew, killing several men before blowing the building up to destroy the evidence. This is another dark moment in Jesse’s dark life, making his redemption feel even farther away.
2 The Joker: Clown Killer
Simultaneously lauded and criticized for its few scenes of shocking violence, The Joker’s most disturbing scene comes when Arthur Fleck’s co-clowns stop by to check in on him. The Joker grabs a pair of scissors and stabs them up through Randall’s neck in a shocking moment of extreme gore. His easy smile afterword shows that Arthur Fleck, if he ever existed at all, has died.
The Joker, that blood-thirsty lover of chaos, has taken full control of Fleck’s soul in a moment, for both the audience and character, of deeply impactful violence.
1 Polar: The Black Kaiser Escapes
The violence in Polar makes John Wick look like a children’s movie. It is incredibly graphic, and, at times, slightly excessive. Of the many battles in this beautifully gruesome film, none are quite as intense as the moment that the Black Kaiser (aka Duncan Vizla) escapes captivity. After three days of ruthless torture, he pulls a broken blade from his bleeding body and breaks free, marking the beginning of a rampage that results in dozens of horrific deaths. Bones are snapped through the skin, bodies are dropped, and men are beaten to death.
This entire scene serves as a way to demonstrate the awe-inspiring grit and tenacity of Vizla, who should be dead, based solely on the pain he has endured and the amount of blood he has lost. Ceaselessly bloody, fast-paced, and egregiously brutal, this is the pinnacle of 2019 cinematic fight scenes.