Friday, February 8, 2013

Uriah Hall knocking out Adam Cella and the five best fight scenes in film history

If you are a writer of fight scenes, I urge you to watch this very short clip of Uriah Hall knocking out Adam Cella in a recent MMA fight.
All too often, we see in movies some completely unrealistic fights. Heroes and villains both take an unbelievable amount of damage. This finds it's way into our stories too. I for one, try to limit my fights and keep them short, because I think that fights end rather quickly most of the time. But I'd never seen anything like this.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Ultimate Fighter, it's a reality t.v. show that follows the lives of men who are aspiring to the fame and glory of a champion. And as you can see, they really do put their lives on the line. This video is pretty scary and Uriah Hall has said that he was frightened, thinking he'd killed his opponent. From everything I've read, Uriah Hall sounds like a nice guy. He just wants to win, but he grossly underestimates his abilities. I've no doubt he'll go far in this sport.

It took Adam Cella six minutes to come out of the knock out that Uriah Hall delivered to him with one kick. You can see his eyes are glazed (that's not fake) and he's literally in a seizure. Ten minutes after he came out of it, they rushed him to the hospital. He's alive and is expected to fight again in Vegas soon. I think that's remarkable. If Adam were my son, I'd be scared to death for him, get on the phone, and tell him he needs to find another line of work. It's interesting that parents let their boys grow up to do this stuff. I guess I should be thankful, because I get to see the battles and am entertained. But, I think I'd feel differently if I had an emotional attachment to one of these guys.

The Uriah Hall knockout is a reminder to all writers to keep fight scenes brief but powerful.

Now that being said, here is my pick for the five best fight scenes in film history:

5. Rowdy Roddy Piper in "They Live." At the time, it was billed as the longest fight ever filmed. And to think, Roddy just wanted the guy to try on some glasses.
4. Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi from the "Phantom Menace" trying to take on Darth Maul. This fight sent shivers up my spine. Especially toward the end where Ewan McGregor is taking on Darth Maul all by himself and is just about outmatched.
3. This is Jason Scott Lee playing Bruce Lee in the film adaptation of Bruce Lee's life called "Dragon: The Bruce Lee story." the reason I pick this fight as number 3 is because of the remarkable choreography involved just to bring such a legendary bout to life (that supposedly really happened) when Bruce Lee refused to obey the Chinese and restrict the teaching of Kung Fu from Americans. He wanted to "Teach what I want to teach to whomever wants to listen."
2. Vin Diesel and The Rock in the movie "Fast Five." The sheer amount of muscle these guys are packin' puts this fight in my top 2 of my favorite ones to watch. And it's so over the top that there's just no way any person could survive blows like they are throwing. However, it's damn good entertainment.
1. The temple fight scene from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." This is my all-time favorite fight ever. If you've never seen it, I urge you to watch. The mastery of martial arts weapons is bar-none, simply incredible.  Ziyi Zhang is cheating somewhat with a magic sword, but Michelle Yeoh is a grand master with tremendous skill, and it more than makes up for the difference.
Are you a fan of mixed martial arts? Do you like watching real-life fights and see young men battle it out with such brutality that they could kill each other?

How do you feel about the MMA video and do you think it will change how you write a fight scene?

Have a great weekend.

32 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

We've been talking about watching Crouching Tiger again. I think I need to do that.

I prefer the combat between Obi-wan and Anakin from Revenge. That's one furious fight.

Elise Fallson said...

Crouching Tiger was great. Not a fan of the They Live fight scene. But love last line, "Life's a bitch and she's back in heat." LOL

One of my favorite fight scenes (of which there are many) is Jackie Chan's final fight scene in Drunken Master 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSQVT8wUK6Q



Elise Fallson said...

The problem with realistic fight scenes is that they are not spectacular. They end quickly and usually finish on the ground. When I read something or watch a movie I want to be entertained for more than five seconds. That's why I like writing fight scenes with supernatural characters because they can deliver the fantastic and still be "realistic."

Bookblogger said...

I love MMA and watch it as often as I can. I haven't been watching much of TUF lately, but I happened to be watching for that knockout and it was crazy. Uriah looked close to tears in the cage after he realized just how hard he had hit Adam.

If you want to see an example of someone taking an unreal amount of damage for a fight scene check Joe Lauzon vs Jim Miller. Though it is probably one of the bloodier fights I've seen so it's not recommended for those with sensitive stomachs.

Cindy said...

I used to be a wrestling fan and a fan of Roddy Piper. When I saw your title, I wondered if you would mention his fight in "They Live" and you did. Cool.

I used to love wrestling, but it was during that Hogan/Piper era and then something changed about it and I lost interest. Piper was so funny. I always wanted him to win even though he was the bad guy (usually). hehehe.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon! Excellent film and great fight scene. Yes, the one between Diesel and The Rock was cool, although no way Diesel had a chance.
Bummer, I think Tyrean was going to do a best fight scene blogfest soon. Well, at least you're prepared if she does!

mooderino said...

I like the Jet Li vs Donnie Yen fight from Hero.

Also the knife fight between Donnie Yen and Jacky Wu in SPL is pretty incredible.

mood

Em-Musing said...

I've never written a fight scene, but I see how watching movies would help. I also am not a fan of these kinds of movies, but...if someone had a movie on, I'd watch it. Have a great weekend, Michael.

Miranda Hardy said...

I've watched many MMA matches, and the fight scenes I've written need editing for sure. This is a great reminder to make them real.

Rusty Webb said...

Back when I participated in martial arts, I watched MMA. It didn't have the exposure then that it does now, but it was still popular enough to at least see the fights without too much effort.

The real violence that MMA unleashes though, it is just too real for me to enjoy. People are having their lives jeopardized for no real reason. I have tried to ignore it in recent years in favor of the more guilt-free and heavily choreographed fights we see in movies.

Your list was great. I remember watching the 'They Live' fight over and over and over when I was a young guy when the movie first was released on VHS. I thought it was the greatest thing ever filmed at the time. Well, there was the Back Knight fight from The Holy Grail too. A recent Geeks Guide podcast had a roundtable discussion of the greatest sword fight in movie history. They had a fencing expert (and SF Writer) as a guest and they had a great conversation.

Yolanda Renee said...

Sorry, I'm a wimp. I hate fight scenes and never understood the thrill of watching folk hurt one another. I get angry/upset when a movie spends an inordinate amount of time on such scenes. I know -- something terribly wrong with me...but we all ready know that! ;)
Because I recently wrote such a scene into my novel. Vicious, to the death fight. Conundrum...or simply life?

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

I agree with Elise that "real" fights can be boring. If the fight is part of the dramatic ending then it can't just be one punch or kick and done. That would be a really weak payoff.

On the flip side, the worst fights are those where neither character can really die. Like in the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" where Jack Sparrow fights Geoffrey Rush and that point they're both invincible so what was the point? They couldn't even hurt each other really. It was the same thing in "The Spirit." If there's no real danger to either character than it's boooooring.

Rekha Seshadri said...

I think most movie fight scenes are over the top. A reason I prefer Craig's gritty Bond to the savvy Bonds ones of old.
Martial arts and boxing are most realistic fight scenes in my humble opinion. I do dig laser and wand fights, even sword fights for that matter.

Ciara said...

Fight scenes are so tough. They are the scenes that I write over and over to make sure that they work. Choreography is so important. I always pull from my dancer and karate days. That helps.

Janet Johnson said...

I confess I have a hard time watching fight scenes. As a mother, I just can't bear to watch. That said, my sons are both in Tai Kwon Do. *sigh* How did that happen? :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I use fight scenes for bathroom breaks. Drives my husband nuts. But he can tell me who won when I get back, right?

Matthew MacNish said...

Check out the very end of Blade of Fury:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGaJMMyxvwY

Or, the Protector:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn3uTpn60N0

Otherwise, you've got some great examples here.

Johanna Garth said...

I love the Crouching Tiger fight scenes but the bloody ones make me hide my eyes. And yes, if that were my son, I'd be begging him to find another job!

Julie Flanders said...

I'm a total wuss about fight scenes, I admit it LOL. But I love the Crouching Tiger and Phantom Menace scenes. It was fun to watch those again. :)

David P. King said...

Yep. Agreed. I was going over the final showdown chapter for my MS today and low and behold, the "epic" fight is done in three pages. Action need not be a drawn-out factor.

If it's any consolation to you, I don't think Mr. Sanderson will be at LTUE this year, so by all means, come if you can, even for a day. A book of yours needs signing! :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I try to keep my fight scenes short too. I've only seen a very few real fights, not competition but two people mad at each other, and they really only last a few punches.
Great lesson in this post.

Liz said...

I don't get the fascination with fights. The kids are all into YouTube fights--people film their school brawls (or out of school brawls) and post them. Personally, whether it be in film or in books, I tune them out.

They Live. I remember that movie! Strange thing. I think I liked it (but I haven't seen it in 20-something years.

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm guilty of putting my characters through long and probably unrealistic fight scenes--they always end up with too many injuries.

I really like the last clip you posted. Though I couldn't figure out who was who until the end. :P

Helena said...

As some people here accurately point out, real life fight scenes don't last long and they're not pretty. The Star Wars Darth Maul scene is fantastic, but it's also clearly choreographed as carefully as a ballet. I found myself watching his footwork almost as much as his sword play. Crouching Tiger was also a gorgeous movie and the fights are dances. As for Bruce Lee - he was an otherworldly creature of phenomenal grace and speed.

But I've never gotten into MMA. In real life, a couple of kicks, punches and slams can kill or severely injure a person very quickly. That's why in my books (like Compass), there are only a couple fight scenes and they're over in seconds.

Romance Reader said...

I am a huge fan of Indian movies and many of them contain incredible fight scenes, where a hero takes on ten men at once and wins over all of them....

Maria

Tyrean Martinson said...

I love fight scenes, but I'm partial to sword fight scenes when they are done well - like in the Princess Bride (yes, it's playful and long, but they actually know how to fence), and Pirates of the Caribbean (in the blacksmith's shop). Love your picks for 1-4, and I haven't watched MMA in a while, but I think it can definitely teach us a bit about what real fighting looks like.

Brinda said...

I like fight scenes, but I admit I haven't watched four of the movies you listed. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the only one I've seen.

Milo James Fowler said...

I'm with you on the Phantom Menace scene -- now if only Lucas had been able to maintain that coolness factor over the course of the entire movie...

Laura Eno said...

I'm not a fan of fight scenes and yet fights are often necessary in writing. As others have said, real fights are boring. :)
I had to research Tae Kwon Do moves on youtube for the fantasy I'm working on. The kicks are so elegant!

Joyce Lansky said...

You're right. People don't take licking after licking and keep on ticking. Although I've also heard that a lion won't stop charging instantly with a single shot. The blood has to leave the body before he'll fall over.

http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

CBame13 said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmesnERwSDw

And sometimes reality is crazier than anything you can script...

Jay Noel said...

That spinning back kick was vicious. Ouch. Any kind of rear kick is VERY powerful, but if you miss, you're left pretty vulnerable.

When I was in my early 20s, I was sparring with a real muay thai fighter. He accidentally clocked me in the head. Even with the headgear on, it knocked me out! It took a good fifteen minutes for my vision to un-blur.

And you DO see stars.