best fights and action scenes, part two. [the many lists of 2009.]

***I have to warn you now, these lists are often filled to the brim with spoilers. Not every description of why a character or moment made the list is spoiler-heavy, but it may be safer for you to just skip the ones from films you haven’t seen but plan to enjoy in the future. I don’t want to be that guy who ruins a great movie for someone, so, you’ve been warned.***

6. When genius goes badass – Sherlock Holmes

In the opening moments of Sherlock Holmes, we see a mental breakdown as he uses his ‘not inconsiderable skill’ to anticipate exactly how to take down an approaching thug. It was what happens when the character of Holmes is taken closer to his literary roots, but is taken there buy Guy Ritchie. I suppose it is the sort of thing that you either love or hate. I fall quite fully in the ‘love’ group.

I had a great time watching Sherlock mentally disassemble his adversaries before quickly and savagely carrying out his plan. I hope they find a clever way to keep doing it in the sequel!


7. Dead Snow Finale

There are many reasons I love the zombie film genre. One of the primary of these is the fact that there are clearly defined rules that everyone understands going into the film, although these rules are certainly debatable and malleable. Either way, when someone does something new with the idea of a world of zombies, we all know it is something new. So, when Danny Boyle (who still maintains that they aren’t zombies) has a horde of rage-infected humans filled with adrenaline, as opposed to reanimated corpses, we all knew it was a new twist on a familiar category.

I’m a zombie fan because I am a film fan, I love watching what someone does with the rules and boundaries of the zombie apocalypse, at least, when it is done well I love it. Do they stick closely to a particular mythology? Do they venture off on their own? Why do they make the choices that they make? Is it laziness or genius?

Part of the cause for the surge of great zombie media over the last ten years is that people are openly playing within the rules and conventions of the zombie apocalypse. People who love the genre are playing around in it, toying with who would be best suited to survive, what rules would be most beneficial to adhere to, etc. etc. In my opinion, the results have been hugely entertaining.

The pinnacle of this phenomena is most certainly the finale, or perhaps more accurately, the second half of Norway’s Dead Snow. As I have written before, the folks who made this film are most definitely huge film fans, and they never take themselves too seriously.

My favorite quote from a film review is for a film called Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, when a reviewer claims that it is “a movie made by idiots, for idiots.” Well, Dead Snow is a movie made by people who love genre movies, for people who love genre movies. Referencing films from the Indiana Jones trilogy to the Evil Dead trilogy, these guys know the rules, and they know we do too, and they decide to celebrate the beauty and absurdity of it all.. albeit in the goriest way possible.

As mentioned in a previous list, these Norwegian medical students know how to kick some zombie ass, and while I wish they had made it out alive, the result of their tenacity was not just one of the best fights of the year, but of the decade.

Long un-live zombies!


8. Wikus vs. Everyone – District 9

And by everyone, I mean everyone, including himself. There isn’t really much else to say. He finally acts courageously, risking the chance of sacrificing himself so that the “good guys” (because as is often the case in a film, but rarely if ever in life, there are clearly discernible good guys and bad guys) can escape, and provide hope for rescue for all the victimized aliens, or Prawns, as they are derogatively referred to by humans.


9. Paul Blart: Mall Cop vs. All the Forces of Justice in the Universe

Blart made loads of money at the box office, meanwhile, movies like The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Hurt Locker made little to nothing. What the fuck?!?


10. The Sniper – The Hurt Locker

Speaking of The Hurt Locker, the sniper scene was terrible and amazing. It captured some of the horror of real war and violence. No over-the-top, Michael Bay, slow motion explosions. No gritty, five minute fist fights. It was subtle, it was quiet, and while the events in the film stretched on for hours in the desert sun, most of the time was spent sitting and waiting. Death didn’t come filled with noise and heroism. Each death came without ceremony or pomp, there was simply a flash in the distance, a sickening moment that seemed like eternity as the bullet traveled the immense distance to its target, then flesh was torn, followed by the gurgling struggle for life, then the silence and stillness of death.

The entire movie was filled with a remarkable tension, brilliantly guided by Kathryn Bigelow. If you haven’t seen it, you need to…. right now.

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