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15 Photos for 15 Years of Action Films: Gladiator Fights, Flare Guns and Dragons Eating Matthew McConaughey

February 16, 2015

Hello all. Mark here

I recently wrote a post about 15 pictures for 15 years of horror films (John wrote one too and it is glorious). It was a lot of fun to write so I figured I’d give an action pic post a shot. The following moments are an eclectic bunch that draw from my favorite action moments since 2000. There are so many explosions, face punches and face explosions they are easy to forget and that it why I appreciate these films. They may not be great but they’ve featured scenarios that have made me laugh, cringe and question the laws of gravity.

Here is the list! Enjoy! If you like the post check out the companion podcast on Blog Talk Radio.

GladiatorJuba and Maximus hurt some people – I love the opening gladiator fight when Maximus and Juba team up and kick some serious butt. The scene is urgent, violent and features a very cool narrative. The two are chained to incompetent trident fodder and eventually find each other. I love the one-two punch of Djimon and Crowe and the two form a fantastic partnership who clothesline a guy with a chain.



Bourne Identity – Clive Owen has a bad day – Man shoots at Bourne. Bourne takes an old shotgun and wipes out the highly trained foe with ease.  I love how casual Bourne was as he blows up a gas tank, struts through the woods and uses a flock of birds as a distraction. The moment showed us just how badass Bourne was and somehow made Clive Owen look like a dork.

Bourne Identity


TransporterDoor Kick From Hell – Knock, knock. Who’s there? A flying jumpkick delivered by a svelte British man!!! This moment is the definition of cool and was partly responsible for the popularity of the film. It makes for a great trailer moment, was grounded in realism and wasn’t all flashy like the oil fight scene.

Sidenote: I would love to know how Statham knew the exact moment to fling himself at the door. Math? Luck? Sixth Sense?

Transporter door kick


Reign of FireMcNugget – This was Matthew McConaughey’s hero moment. He jumps like 50 feet off of a ledge and prepares to kill a jerky dragon. However, he is eaten up and the moment is over. I loved it! He had zero chance against the dragon and I’m glad he didn’t find a way to kill the beast. Reign of Fire is an odd little movie and I just can’t quit it.

Reign of Fire McC death


2 Fast 2 Furious – You fight like sh*t, bro – I love the Fast series and 2 Fast is my favorite of them all. You are probably thinking that I am insane but I don’t care. 2 Fast tells the low stakes story of two men stealing from a minor league drug kingpin. Cigar cutters are stolen, car windows are punched and Paul Walker and Tyrese make for a great team. My favorite moment is the opening fight between Walker and Tyrese. It is funny, believable and tells us everything we need to know about the characters. We also get this great line from Paul Walker “You still fight like sh*t, bro!”

2 Fast 2 Furious


Rundown – The Rock meets rebels  – The fight scene between The Rock and the rebels was inventive, bonkers and gravity defying. The choreography created a glee-filled free-for-all that used the surroundings well and made the size discrepancy believable.  It was an absolute blast and proved The Rock could do more than wrestle and run around as a CGI scorpion king.

Honorable Mention: “What’s this over here? Is this your little friend, do you know him? You want a little thunder! Or a little lightning! Thunder, lightning, thunder, lightning.”



Casino Royale- No door. No problem – The bad guy jumps over the door and James Bond plows through it. This moment proved we had a new bond who took the road less travelled. Daniel Craig was a bulked up battering ram who wasn’t afraid to blow through drywall. I can’t imagine any of the other bonds doing this…..George Lazenby could’ve pulled it off.  I would love to see a Lazenby frilled shirt plow through that wall.

Casino Royale


Hot Fuzz – Granny Face kick Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite films and this moment made me laugh hysterically. The old lady made the mistake of missing her first shots and suffered a flying jump kick to the face. I still can’t believe this moment happened and the following action scene is glorious.

Hot fuzz gif


Punisher: Warzone – Free runner meets grenade – When the studio wants to get rid of free runners what do you do? Well, if you are director Lexi Alexander you blow them up with a grenade launcher. You have to listen to the How Did this Get Made podcast to hear all about this film. I love Warzone and I am constantly bemused by the INSANE violence.

free runner explosion


Inglorious Basterds – Wrong three – Note to self. Do not hold up three fingers like this when you are pretending to be German. The result will be a bonkers kill fest that leaves everyone dead and the audience holding their breath.

Inglorious three


Hanna – One shot, 100 face punches – Hanna is a dark fairy tale that features a fantastic one-shot fight scene. It is a three-minute showstopper that is a marvel of steadicam work, choreography and face punches. Eric Bana punches, kicks and glowers his way through many foes as he re-enters the world looking for his daughter. I can’t imagine the amount of work that went into this scene.

Eric Bana fight


Haywire – Channing and the coffee pot – Haywire is full of fantastic action that puts Gina Carano’s skills to full use. Her MMA background is used to bone crunching effect in her fight with Channing Tatum. He walks in, complains about being hungover, throws coffee in her face and smashes a coffee cup on her head. From there we get a badass brawl that involves restaurant patrons, coffee pots and a slick armbar. It is fast, violent and doesn’t resort to choppy editing. I love how Soderbergh lets the camera linger as the actors beat the crap out of each other.

haywire arm


Fast Five – Furious cliff fall  – Fast Five propelled the series into awesome land and the moment where Brian and Dom drive an incredibly expensive car off a cliff makes for great viewing. They rob a train, survive a double cross, drive off a cliff and look really cool/calm whilst falling way too far. It was well-orchestrated mayhem that proved director Justin Lin was becoming comfortable with action and his stars.

Fast Five


The Last Stand – The joys of flare gunsThe Last Stand is a bloody romp that features one of my favorite kills. I love how an outnumbered Johnny Knoxville improvises his way to flare gun glory (If there was a flare gun calendar he would be Mr. May, June and July). He loses his gun, pulls out a flare gun and shoots it into the back of a man who is wearing many bullets. The result is a bloody explosions that made me laugh, appreciate the creativity and take off my bullet vest.

flare gun


The Raid 2 – Bathroom brawl – One man, one dirty bathroom and a dozen or so unlucky prisoners. This is one of the first action scenes where I’ve felt bad for the gang members getting torn up. From the look on the toilet guy’s face you would think he was getting eaten by a poop monster (think Dogma or Dreamcatcher). His pain isn’t from a gross monster but from the whirling dervish know as Iko Uwais. This fight sets the tone for the rest of the film and lays a solid foundation of butt kicking.

The Raid 2 prison fight

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