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MFF Sea Beast Week: Analyzing the Shark Punching Scene in ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life’

July 28, 2018


I’m sad to say that I totally forgot about the shark punching scene in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (AKA Tomb Raider 2). How could I have forgotten a scene that features Lara Croft cutting her arm to attract a shark, punching the shark and then riding the defeated shark to the ocean surface? It’s an insane moment that actually happened and was played earnestly without nary a wink of irony. The following breaks down the sequence and gets into every detail that leads to a shark being punched.


I love that somebody sat down and wrote this scene because I’ve never seen anything like it. They must’ve had a smile on their face as they typed “Lara punches a 15-foot shark in the face,” and I guarantee they were surprised when the insane moment was filmed and made it into the final cut. This is the type of cinema I love because its unapologetic and is in no way self-conscious. It is a dorky moment, played totally straight, and seems like Lara Croft had done this many times before and would probably punch another shark in the near future.

This scene isn’t the first time Lara tangled with sharks looking to eat her. She battled sharks in the video games prior to this movie (starting in Tomb Raider II), but they never went to the bonkers alternate universe that this live-action film did. It’s kinda cool how the movie plays more like a video game than the actual video games. In cinematic Tomb Raider logic, this scene makes perfect sense and its not worth scoffing at or saying this would never happen in the real world (you know who you are). The hyper-unrealism should be applauded, and despite the rest of the movie being subpar I dug how they actually filmed a scene featuring Lara defeating a shark via a face punch.

Here is how it all goes down:

  1. Lara is escaping a crumbling underwater temple when a bad guy destroys her vehicle. This forces her to swim a very long distance to the surface.
  2. Lara cuts her arm before she swims away from the sinking temple
  3. Lara stops swimming and allows a massive shark to circle her (she has no goggles on btw)
  4. The shark attacks and Lara punches it in the face
  5. The defeated (and possibly concussed) shark allows Lara to hitch a ride with it to the ocean surface
  6. The shark drops lara off and we never see it again.
  7. She is underwater for 66 seconds.

The biggest question I have is if the arm cut and subsequent shark fight were necessary. After watching the clip multiple times I’m pretty sure she could’ve just swam to the surface and not battled the shark. However, if she would’ve done this the world would’ve never seen Angelina Jolie punching a shark in the face. This is one of those moments where you need to embrace the insanity and appreciate how zero logic went into the decision making. Logic would’ve gotten in the way and I love how this moment essentially makes Lara Croft a superhuman who can see underwater and knows exactly where to punch a shark. The recent Tomb Raider was fun but it featured moments that embraced logic and because of that (+ the script and direction) it isn’t getting a sequel and won’t be remembered for Alicia Vikander punching a shark.

I love this moment and was excited when I starting putting together the Sea Beast Week because I knew I could write about it. I hope you enjoy this bonkers moments.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2018 5:29 pm

    I only saw the first movie and swore to never see any others. This insures my choice.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      July 29, 2018 8:42 am

      I saw both. They weren’t awesome. lol

  2. dono permalink
    May 28, 2020 12:53 am

    While I totally agree to the idea that the part where Lara punch the shark in the face to be cool (movie-game-like), there was ONE element that totally destroyed the scene for me… and that was the sound the shark made. Yes, the shark was making some strange sounds! Kinda like an underwater bear or something.He made a sound (grunt-like sounds) when he smelled Lara’s blood and, after, when Lara punch him. Some underwater animals do produce sounds, but more like eco-sounds… No animal, underwater, produce sounds like that of a bear. Even a bear can’t produce this kind of sound underwater. 😉
    While they could have kept the sound of the “action”, it would have been better to simply keep the shark silent (like a silent predator).

    This is like when you have an explosion in outer-space that sounds like dynamite blowing up.

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