Superhero takes on a bunch of bad guys and wins. Nothing special about that. But in Daredevil, this simple scenario is done so well that it may well be the single greatest fight scene of all time. Partly it’s because it’s seemingly filmed in one take, with the camera tracking our hero as he punches and kicks his way through a corridor of thugs. But it’s also because of how un-comic book-like it all is. Daredevil is visibly exhausted by the fight: he staggers, he pants for breath, he slumps in pain, and he draws on every last ounce of strength to carry on the relentless pummelling. Never has the business of being a superhero seemed so brutal.
Watch Daredevil now, available on Netflix
This twisted horror drama offers up some rather stunning fight scenes, like Dr Lecter’s brawl with rival serial killer Tobias, and that vicious kitchen knife fight with Jack Crawford. But the most beautiful beat-down comes later on, when Crawford corners Lecter in Europe and delivers the mother of all clobberings. All of Jack’s righteous fury is unleashed as he propels Lecter through sheets of glass, kicks him across the floor, and leaves him a wreck of a man.
Hannibal season 1 is available to watch now on Netflix
The Walking Dead
Never mind the flesh-eating zombies: the real struggles in The Walking Dead take place between the surviving humans. Take the confrontation between Michonne and the Governor. The scene begins with us almost feeling sorry for the despotic Governor, as he begs Michonne to spare his undead daughter’s life, but the poignant moment is shattered as they get stuck into a frenzy of flying fists, smashing tanks of severed zombie heads while tumbling around the room. And then Michonne stabs the Governor in the eye, leaving him howling in pain and existential despair. Now that… is a fight scene.
A lot of wiseguys get whacked in this classic mob saga, but few moments are as powerful as the fatal fight between Tony Soprano and his underling Ralph. Tony thinks Ralph is responsible for the death of his beloved horse, Ralph denies it, and seconds later they’re in a fight to the death. It’s thrilling precisely because it’s so clumsy and scrappy, with pots and pans and cans of Raid used as weapons. It’s how a sudden fight between two middle-aged guys in a kitchen WOULD go down, and it ain’t pretty.
Spartacus: War of the Damned
Over the course of two seasons we watch Spartacus lead a rebel army against Rome and looking super-cool while doing so. Yet, somehow, the show manages to up the ante of awesomeness in the climactic dual, when Spartacus locks blades with his nemesis Crassus. The fact that Crassus clearly respects Spartacus makes it all the more titanic when they unleash their anger at each other, with swords clanking and blood spurting and enough testosterone pumping to put the entire cast of The Expendables to shame.
Being an ex-superhero, Jessica Jones is no slouch in the being-really-good-at-beating-people-up department. But even she struggles to overcome the looming might of Luke Cage, a fellow superhuman who, thanks to a spot of brainwashing, gets turned into a Terminator-like killing machine. A brutal brawl ensues, with Jessica trying in vain to re-awaken her friend while simultaneously going at him with her fists. The standout moment is when she rips off the door of a police car to use as a shield against the terrifyingly relentless Cage.
Watch Jessica Jones now, available on Netflix
Come on, we couldn’t not include the Richie and Eddie, whose insanely violent fights – complete with jets of blood and awful squelching sound effects – would be worthy of a slasher film if they weren’t so amusing. Our top pick has to be the infamous Hob Nob skirmish, as the pair come to vicious blows over a packet of biscuits. Perhaps the most English reason for a fight, ever.
It’s a tough ask, picking just one fight scene out from a show which specialises in fantastic fisticuffs. The thing that really sets Kingdom apart is its realism: the inner city gyms, frantic training, and make-or-break MMA fights where the desperation to win oozes from the fighter’s pores like their sweat and blood. The first episode features a prime example of how the fight scenes are hard enough to make your jaw shudder as you watch, with young buck Nate (played by a beefed up Nick Jonas) taking on a fellow contender in the ring. Think gladiatorial combat without the swords and silliness.
New episodes of Kingdom are available on demand every Friday. Find every episode to date in On Demand > Box Sets
Recommended for you