Sleepless Night, the heart-stopping French thriller from director Frédéric Jardin, is full of standout action sequences (including a memorable chase through a dance floor full of gyrating bodies), but it is an epic fight between the hero Vincent (Tomer Sisley) and a crooked fellow cop, Lacombe (Julien Bosselier) in the nightclub kitchen that sets the film apart. Vincent is a highly-motivated participant—he is struggling to rescue his kidnapped son from gangsters and drug dealers who are holding the boy hostage at a massive Parisian nightclub. His corrupt boss is equally determined to silence Victor and secure a shipment of cocaine for his own purposes. The two men confront each other and struggle mightily before the terrified kitchen staff, delivering blow after punishing blow first with their fists, and then with any kitchen utensil or fixture within reach—dishes, bottles of spices, pasta strainers, slamming drawers, and knives all come into play. As you see from the clip below, true warriors can create weapons out of the most ordinary of objects.
This remarkable sequence from Sleepless Night has inspired us to look at memorable fights from other films in which the weapons of choice are anything but predictable. These combatants do not hesitate to discard established fight conventions. Scroll down to enjoy our 10 favorite fight sequences made indelible by their unusual and amazing Weapons of Choice.
With the exception of Holden Caulfield’s red hunting hat in Catcher in the Rye, the famed Bowler hat from Goldfinger may be the most famous headgear to occupy an honored place in our cultural consciousness. The third film in the James Bond franchise, Goldfinger featured two legendary villains: Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) and his loyal henchman, Oddjob (Harold Sakata). Oddjob, with his spinning hat of doom, proves a worthy opponent for James Bond (Sean Connery), and their famous fight scene is particularly striking because it is filmed without the flashy background music so prevalent in the Bond films. Rather, the two men fight mano a mano in relative silence as Oddjob, armed with his trusty chapeau, coolly attacks by spinning his deadly hat at the intrepid Brit. In desperation, Bond throws gold bricks and even a stray pipe at his assailant, to no avail. It is only when Bond retrieves Oddjob’s hat and uses it against him that he finally manages to kill one of cinema’s most evil second bananas.
Machete is Robert Rodriquez’s bloody tribute to the exploitation genre, and his film features plenty of creative kills, thanks to the tireless blade of its hero Machete (the amazing Danny Trejo). One particular action sequence in the film stands out, and it doesn’t involve the title weapon. Agent Sartana Rivera (Jessica Alba), the persistent U.S. Immigration agent sent by her superiors to capture Machete, soon realizes that he is being set up by the government. She struggles between her duty and her growing infatuation with our hero. When an intruder breaks into her home to silence her for good, Sartana defends herself with the only means she has—her 5 inch stilettos. She wields her scarlet pumps fearlessly and easily fends off the knife-wielding masked assassin. Clearly, he is no match for a stylish pair of pointed heels.
Though it takes place in “another time… another place,” Streets of Fire retells the abduction of Helen of Troy through the medium of a stylized modern rock fable. Ellen Aim (Diane Lane), the comely lead singer of The Attackers, is kidnapped by the evil Raven Shaddock (Willem Dafoe) and his gang. Her ex-soldier boyfriend, Tom Cody (Michael Paré), is the reluctant hero who leads a band of misfits into the Bowery and rescues her from Raven’s clutches. Furious, Raven gathers his henchmen and comes for Ellen, demanding that Tom Cody fight him on his own terms with his weapon of choice— sledgehammers, of course. With the music of Ry Cooder reverberating in the background, the two men brutally smash each other with these menacing tools in an epic sequence. Only when Tom finally manages to knock the sledgehammer out of Raven’s hands can he finish off the bad guy in more conventional fashion with his punishing fists.
Director Paul Greengrass pulls out all the stops in this pulse-pounding sequel to the explosive The Bourne Identity. Two years after the events in the first film, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) and his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) are living in obscurity while he works to regain his shattered memory. Naturally, Bourne’s enemies find them and kill Marie. Bourne goes on a rampage, seeking vengeance for her death and vowing to kill Jarda (Marton Csokas), an evil CIA operative. When Bourne breaks into Jarda’s luxury apartment, the two go at each other, grabbing for household items to use as weapons. One might think that Jarda has the advantage since he secures a butcher knife while Bourne is left with a magazine. In Bourne’s hands, however, a rolled periodical becomes an effective weapon, and Bourne eventually strangles the corrupt Jarda with a handy lamp cord.
There was a time where Wesley Snipes was the baddest man in cinema. In Money Train, Snipes and Woody Harrelson’s second collaboration (their first being the woefully underrated White Men Can’t Jump), the two play foster brothers, John and Charlie, who become Transit cops. Charlie (Harrelson), a compulsive gambler, owes money to a vicious nightclub owner, Mr. Brown. John (Snipes), always looking out for his brother, goes to Mr. Brown’s nightclub to negotiate the payment of Charlie’s debts, but encounters Brown’s thugs in the nightclub kitchen instead. He reacts as any normal person would: he kicks the crap out of them. In a memorable sequence, John uses a pair of serving dish lids as weapons to deftly ward off his attackers, allowing himself time to grab mirrors and light bulbs from the showgirls’ dressing room to finish the job and assure that Charlie’s debts are settled. How’s that for brotherly love?
When a martial arts legend like Corey Yuen directs an action film, you know you’re in for a treat. Add a script co-written by Luc Besson and an action superstar like Jason Statham, and you have a definite recipe for success. Statham plays Frank Martin, a driver for hire that is simply known as “The Transporter,” who lives by his own set of rules. Frank is hired by a sleazy gang to deliver a human-shaped bundle to a specific destination. The bundle turns out to be Lai, the beautiful daughter of a vicious human trafficker. When her father’s men take Lai back against her will, Frank pursues them relentlessly. During a tremendous fight sequence that spans an entire warehouse and bus depot, Frank defends himself with the only available weapon —his T-shirt. He deftly fends off two attackers and ties them together with his trusty top. Shirtless and angry, Frank takes out thug after thug, using their own weapons and his explosive fists. Not done with creative weapons, Franks uses a vat of spilled oil in another notable fight scene to upend his assailants, causing them to slide on the floor while he maintains his balance with a handy pair of bicycle pedals. Needless to say, Statham makes it all look effortless, and his fascinating improvisations helped him launch quite a successful franchise.
The title True Romance might lead an unsuspecting audience to settle in for a love story, but director Tony Scott delivers so much more. With a script penned by Quentin Tarantino, the film is full of snappy dialogue, bloody violence and, of course, two crazy kids in love—Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Patricia Arquette)—who accidentally end up with a suitcase full of cocaine. Uber bad guy Virgil (James Gandolfini) pursues and comes upon Alabama alone in a hotel room waiting for Clarence. He traps and attacks her, but our plucky heroine keeps her wits about her as she is being pummeled and grabs a corkscrew as her weapon of choice. With newfound might, she plunges the weapon into Virgil’s foot, and an epic brawl through the hotel bathroom and shower ensues. Virgil is eventually subdued by Alabama’s make-shift flame thrower, comprised of a lighter and a bottle of hair spray. Alabama then calmly blows his brains out with a more standard weapon—a shotgun. She goes through hell to protect her one true love. Now, isn’t that romantic?
While people are quick to dismiss this film adaptation of the famed Marvel comic, we implore you to look again. It features Frank Castle (Thomas Jane), out for revenge after the Saint crime family kills his entire family at a reunion, leaving Frank for dead. After being nursed back to health by a local fisherman, Castle vows to make the bad guys pay. Once the family discovers that he is alive, they send their best assassin, a silent behemoth known as The Russian (WWE Superstar Kevin Nash), who engages Castle in a fight to the death. In this truly remarkable sequence, the two men brutally claw at each other, struggling across Castle’s entire apartment, even through walls. Stabbing The Russian with knives is useless. Not even a grenade gives The Russian pause. The man is unstoppable. As Frank grows more desperate and weak, they tumble into a neighbor’s dinner party and Frank discovers a unique and quite effective weapon of choice—a pot of boiling spaghetti to the face! Now that’s a truly delicious payoff. Watch the fight here.
Though we could have picked several fight scenes from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill series, the showdown between Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) and Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) stands out. Green, retired from her days as a trained assassin, has entered a comfortable life of motherhood and school bus schedules. She does not expect Beatrix Kiddo, long thought dead, to show up at her front door spoiling for revenge for the deaths of her unborn child and family. The ensuing 2-minute fight sequence is extraordinary, even by Tarantino standards. After being thrown through her coffee table, Green uses one of its legs as a weapon to attack Kiddo, who counters with a stranglehold only to be thrown off by Green’s timely use of a fireplace poker. Undeterred, Kiddo grabs a frying pan and uses it expertly to fend off Green’s slashing attack with a deadly blade. This bloody and ugly fight between two divas sets the tone of this tale of bloody and absolute revenge.
Grosse Pointe Blank is an underrated dark comedy classic about hitman Martin Blank (John Cusack), who attends his 10-year high school reunion to find his high school crush Debi (Minnie Driver), the one who got away. Martin himself is pursued by a hitman due to a botched job, but he puts pleasure before business and attempts to pursue Debi and interact with his former classmates and friends. Martin stops by his old locker to see if a hidden joint is still there and is soon attacked by the rival assassin whom he must kill as quietly and discreetly as possible, so as not to disturb the reunion. What follows is an incredible close-range fight sequence set to The English Beat's Mirror in the Bathroom. As the two wrestle in the hallway, pushing off against the high school lockers, Martin manages to grab a ballpoint pen from his pocket and stab his assailant in the neck, killing him. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
Did we miss your favorite Weapon of Choice moment? Tell us in the comments below!