They Live, King Kong, Superman III, and 12 other bad movies with great fights
Nothing stings like experiencing a bad movie. But as bad as some films are, there are usually one or two scenes that give back some redeeming value. In sci-fi and fantasy, some are fight scenes, showcasing effects and choreography far better than the surrounding film deserves. For instance, if you catch one of these awful films on cable TV, the fight is good enough that you'd sit through the buildup just to reach that one scene. Other times, it might be enough to keep you pumped to the see the rest. At least you got to see that fight scene again, though.
Sticking with Blastr's Versus theme of the month, we're taking a trip down memory lane and listing the best movie fights that have been cemented in a bad film. We have battles of all kinds, including fist fights, sword fights and even riddles. See if your favorite made our list, and let us know your favorite fight scenes stuck in bad films.
Superman III: Clark vs. Superman
Before films featuring ill-advised big budget superhero battles, Superman had a history of missteps on the big screen. Superman III led a generation of bad superhero films filled with forced jokes and yes, Richard Pryor. But the one saving grace is this junkyard battle, compelling stuff all on its own. Superman splits into two beings thanks to Synthetic Kryptonite and cheap liquor, and ends up in battle with his mild-mannered alter ego. Kudos to the late Christopher Reeve for selling it so well on both sides.
Die Another Day - Bond vs. Graves
Die Another Day is proof that you can slap "007" on anything and it will make lots of money. The writers forgot to write a story to string together all of the endless action sequences. It forever set up Rosamund Pike as a cinematic accessory until Gone Girl, and began a string of terrible films for Halle Berry after she won an Academy Award. It was so bad that Moonraker is appealing by comparison. But despite some terrible CG work, one of the few things that did work amidst all of the explosions was an old-fashioned sword duel between Pierce Brosnan's James Bond and Toby Stephens' Gustav Graves, both of whom appeared to do their own stunts. The sword work was well done and there's even a moment in the fight in which Brosnan fumbles a bit, making it look more authentic. Those things aren't easy to swing around.
Elysium: Kruger vs. Max
This one is fueled by Sharlto Copley playing an excellent bad guy. He's just all levels of filthy in this film as Kruger, a mercenary bounty hunter of sorts that rises to the top of the heap of evil in Neil Blomkamp's second feature. In the end, Elysium was another post-apocalyptic film lost in a crowd in 2013, but Kruger was the best thing about the film and this fight with main character Max (Matt Damon) is both funny and over-the-top violent.
Aliens vs. Predator
Hollywood must have thought this crossover grudge match between alien species would sell itself, because it didn't show much creativity over the course of two films. The first attempt had plenty of problems, including no explanation for why these two species would use Earth, of all places in the universe, as their arena. Both aliens were treated poorly, disregarding the previous films in each respected franchise. For example, the Predators looked clunky and top heavy, and not like the lean, mean Jungle Hunter that took on Dutch and his commandos. Then there were the wild inconsistencies in the sped-up lifecycle of a Facehugger to Chestburster to adult Xenomorph. However, if you were more a fan of the Alien films, then you might have enjoyed the final fight of the first film, in which a single Xenomorph eliminates two Predators.
The Matrix Reloaded: Neo vs. Army of Agent Smiths
Hot off the momentum of the first Matrix film, The Matrix Reloaded spent so much time trying to top its predecessor in the action department that they forgot about the rest of the pieces that make up good storytelling. Still, the highway action scene is one of the best, while the lengthy donnybrook in which Neo takes on an entire fleet of Agent Smiths is still a fun scene to sit through. It's the Wachowskis take on the classic martial arts trope pitting one hero vs. 100 faceless assailants and, sketchy CGI and all, goes so over the top that it's still worth watching.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Gollum vs. Bilbo Baggins Riddles in the Dark
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is another film that isn't necessarily terrible (Says you - Ed.) to most, but there's little denying it was extremely bloated with filler that was embarrassingly unnecessary, even for Peter Jackson. It was a test of one's patience, bladder, and love for dragons, because you don't even get to see Smaug in all of his full glory until the second film. There was, however, one battle in the middle of the film that caught you off guard, and that was Gollum and Bilbo Baggins's riddle duel to get out of a dark passage alive. Up until then, the movie was an extremely overdrawn adventure, but upon Gollum's appearance, the story got a whole lot more interesting as the One Ring eventually fell into the hands of our deceitful little hobbit.
They Live: Nada vs. Frank
It was hard to bend They Live into a category where I'd call it bad, but modern movie eyes might certainly classify John Carpenter's clever sci-fi-horror satire in which aliens are secretly running the world as at least cheesy. Even fans have to admit that it's inconsistent, but the fight scene between the main character, Nada, and his eventual ally, Frank, is as good a street brawl as you'll find in cinema. Complete with bare knuckle punches, foul language, professional wrestling moves, and the oft-quoted command to "put on these glasses," it offers a great opportunity to see a young Roddy Piper and Keith David in action, and it never ends.
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul
Sixteen years passed between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace, and no film had more anticipation and excitement surrounding it than Episode I. Rather than delivering on the hype, George Lucas found the most boring origin story for Anakin Skywalker and fans had to lie to themselves to try and build that momentum again for Episode II. There was one last scene, however, that gave fans hope, when a Sith Lord named Darth Maul appeared on the camera holding out his lightsaber hilt, which extended in not one direction, but two. The fight was a glorious spectacle and featured Jedi at top speed and John Williams' most memorable composition in the prequels. The fight had tension built-in as a long corridor with multiple transparent doors kept Obi Wan out of it long enough for Maul to take out Qui-Gon. It ultimately left viewers in a buzz long enough to distract people from declaring Episode I a bomb – at least, until they sobered up.
Star Wars: Attack of the Clones: Yoda vs. Count Dooko
Unfortunately, George Lucas didn't stop there. When Episode II first crushed the hearts of many, it all but sealed the nightmare that, regardless of what happened in Episode III, the prequels were a collective failure. Wooden performances from veteran actors exposed a terrible script that focused too much on the love story when the Clone Wars should have been front and center. But, like Phantom Menace, the film's final fight scene between two Jedi at the top of their game salvaged some of the sour experience. For the first time, we saw a flash of what Yoda could do. CG Yoda will never be as good as puppet Yoda, but it did give viewers one electric fight. Unfortunately, it ended in a draw, but it was the most rewarding scene of the entire film.
Spider-Man 3: Spider-Man vs. Sandman
Up until this sequel's release, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films satisfied the base, but the big problem with this third installment was that they tried to fit three movies into one with Venom, Green Goblin, and Sandman all vying to make Peter Parker's life difficult. But this wasn't an X-Men film, and it's best not to split the protagonist in so many directions. Probably the best thing in the film was the Sandman material. Flint Marko wasn't the traditional bad guy; he was a man down on his luck who was stealing money to pay for his daughter's medical treatments. When he accidentally fell into a particle accelerator, he fused with a pile of sand for a cool origin sequence that showed him trying to quickly master his new body enough to keep himself solid. His tussle with our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler started out in an armored car robbery, then later took to the sewers and subway, where Spidey managed to shred half Sandman's face with a speeding train...only to see the villain touch the ground and gather enough dirt to make his face full. Yes, it could be seen as the T-1000 with a different texture, but the Sandman is a classic Spider-Man rogue, and he lives up to that billing in this battle.
The One: Gabriel vs. Gabe
If Blastr covered the martial arts genre more, then there'd be host of epic fights marred by being associated with bad films. Still, one that fits in line with our other films is The One, a science-fiction martial arts thriller starring Jet Li as Gabriel Yulaw, a former cop who traveled through alternate universes to kill all of the versions of himself while absorbing their life energy. In pursuit of becoming a god-like being, Yulaw manages to mow down 123 versions of himself before facing the last version. Sounds like a cool premise, right? If only.
King Kong: King Kong vs. Three Venatosauras-Rexs
This is the second Peter Jackson film on this list, and another piece of evidence that his marathons can drag when there's not enough compelling story. King Kong was generally liked by critics, but audiences ended up split. The remake of the 1933 classic brought the effects to today's state-of-the-art standards but at over three hours, it's not a film many desire to passionately revisit. One thing everyone can agree on, though, is that the six-minute fight in which King Kong saves Ann (Naomi Watts) from the snapping jaws of three Venatosauras Rexes as big as he is stands out. The most memorable slaying is at the scene's climax, in which Kong pries the final V-Rex's jaw open and cracks it backward like a major league slugger breaking a baseball bat over his thigh.
Deep Blue Sea: Sam Jackson vs. Shark
Jaws was a piece of art, then Sharknado took shark mayhem to a different level but Deep Blue Sea needs its own special place among Sharkspoitation films. It would go onto inspire plots of other science-fiction films like Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Jurassic World. Maybe the lesson here is that man vs. beast films can only go so many ways. In the height of Samuel L. Jackson's rise to stardom, there was one thing his monologuing could not defeat–a hungry shark. To properly experience Deep Blue Sea today, one only needs to wait through Jackson's inspiring speech and turn the channel once the sharks swim away. It's as funny as it is gruesome.
The Punisher: Frank vs. The Russian
There've been three films with three different actors trying to fill Frank Castle's shoes, but while most criticisms or discussions devolve quickly into who was better between Thomas Jane, Ray Stevenson, and Dolph Lundgren, it was the writing that needed more attention. There's actually something endearing about each version, but none of them managed to make a definitive Punisher film. There was one hand-to-hand fight in the second film, however, that illustrated how Castle's appeal went beyond the guns. This specific scene was lifted directly from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Punisher MAX run in the comics, and sees Jane's version of the Punisher ambushed in his apartment by a monstrous, flaxen-haired Russian (Kevin Nash) dressed like Waldo as Luciano Pavarotti's rendition of "La Donna e Mobile," played in the background. The creativity in the fight choreography and in weaponizing household items welcomes repeat viewings. Ennis knew how to balance humor and ultra violence perfectly, and while that was a tricky line to toe in movies; this fight scene is an example of one of the few times when the movie nailed it.
Freddy vs. Jason: Freddy vs. Jason
What happens when you've squeezed all the blood from a turnip? You squeeze and squeeze some more. Like the Aliens vs. Predator crossover, the Nightmare on Elm Street slasher franchise ran head-long into Friday the 13th in this cross-over effort. Unfortunately, the two never-die antagonists squared off in what was a forgettable film that did little to reinvent the genre or be very creative. Still, there's a bit of glee seeing these two hack and slash away at each other and, because of both characters' legacy of cheating death again and again, you never get the feeling that one was the heavy favorite. Both characters shine and, in a battle as epic as this, that's all you can hope for, because there's nothing else worth watching here.