Fists of Fury: The Top 10 Movie Fighters of All Time

Aaron Dana

Shea Serrano: This month is the 10th anniversary of Stephen Chow’s wonderful Kung Fu Hustle, a movie that was way more fun than anyone who had not seen 2001’s Shaolin Soccer expected.1 Jason Concepcion and I used the anniversary as an excuse to argue for 5,000-plus words about who is the greatest movie fighter of all time.

We set up three rules to make the task more manageable:

1. No movies from 1979 were considered. This is the Bruce Lee Rule. We needed a cutoff date, and 35 years of movies seemed like more than enough, but also: Bruce Lee is, in the estimation of many, the greatest martial artist who’s ever lived, in movies or otherwise. He’s certainly the most iconic. So we didn’t want to talk about him.

2. You can’t pick more than one role for any one fighter. This is the Jean-Claude Van Damme Rule, but it’s also the Everyone Rule, because anybody who has ever been in one movie where he or she kicks someone has been in at least 15 other movies where he or she kicks someone. It’s the best kind of typecasting, really.

3. The picks are limited to movies that are fictional. This is the Jason Scott Lee Rule. He was the guy who played Bruce Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, which is certainly the best biopic I’ve ever seen, because it asserted that a demon phantom haunted the Lee family and was maybe even responsible for Bruce Lee’s death. I don’t even know why anyone would ever make a biopic that doesn’t include a demon phantom. There better be a demon phantom in the Jimi Hendrix biopic.

The arguing took place over several days. You should know going in that nobody from the first Mortal Kombat movie made it into the top 10, and that’s a true tragedy. Also, Steven Seagal was mentioned only one time during the whole thing, and even then it was only in passing, to say he wasn’t as good at something as someone else was. Steven Seagal deserves better than that. Apologies to the Seagal family. Also also, 1985’s American Ninja didn’t receive any accolades, nor did 1986’s Big Trouble in Little China, 1991’s The Perfect Weapon, 1994’s The Crow, or 2008’s Never Back Down, all movies that I love dearly. Nothing from Chuck Norris made it, either.2 The movie-fight business is tough.

Before we get to the countdown, there are some awards to be handed out:

Best Fight Scene (One Person vs. Multiple People)

Jason Concepcion: Hotel fight, The Protector.

The nearly-four-minute-tracking-shot hotel fight from The Protector, starring Tony Jaa, is the best movie fight scene ever. Choreographed by Jaa and Panna Rittikrai, this scene took five takes and a month to put together. Guys getting hit with vases, getting thrown off balconies, crashing through the roof of a kiosk — this fight is martial arts movie meth.

Shea: It’s a very great scene. And I can appreciate the complexity involved. But it’s two steps too slow. Beatrix Kiddo versus the Crazy 88s in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 bumps The Protector out of this spot. It’s faster, sleeker, gorier, funnier, and more impressively and agreeably shot. The one-shot thing in The Protector is cool and all, but, I mean, really, when you really get to it, when you REALLY think about it, it’s just kind of a dickish hey-look-at-me move. You’ve got an easier way to do something and it’s going to look better, but you do the harder way just to say you did it the harder way? It’s just, like, why are you doing push-ups with one hand when you got two, you know?

Jason: The show-offy aspect of tracking shots is the most common critique against them. I mean, it’s a movie — you’re supposed to want to look at how cool it is. When used correctly, as I contend this one is, the long take adds an element of authenticity and tension. Here’s what it would really look like if one guy beat up 50 guys.


Best Fight Scene (One-on-One)

Jason: Flashpoint.

Shea: Right character (the amazing Donnie Yen), wrong movie. The best one-on-one fight scene in any fighting movie of any time period is Donnie Yen versus Wu Jing in Kill Zone – S.P.L. Look:

OHHHHH MMMYYYYYY WOOOOOORDDDDDD. I’d forgot how frenetic it was until I just watched it again right now. I gotta take five days off of work and just watch this over and over and cry and cry. A crazy thing to think about is that most of the scene was actually improvised, which is why there are parts that look so feverish and real. I don’t know how much these two got paid for this, but I hope it was somewhere around near $100 billion each.

Sidebar: Super whisper honorable mention goes to Jet Li’s final fight in Unleashed, specifically the part in which he found himself in the tiny restroom with the villain. It’s a very fun, powerful scene. And really, that whole movie is kind of an incredible thing. Jet Li’s a slave who they’ve brainwashed into thinking he’s an attack dog. That’s the best premise of any fight movie, really.

Jason: Agree to disagree to agree. Let’s just take a moment to recognize that Donnie Yen is 51 YEARS OLD, YO. WHAT IS THE ASIAN VERSION OF “BLACK DON’T CRACK”? “YEN DON’T BEND”?

Shea: “Yen don’t bend.” True art.

Best Use of a Prop in a Fight

Jason: Ladder fight, Jackie Chan’s First Strike.

The fourth installment in Jackie Chan’s Police Story franchise, First Strike is probably the weakest movie in the series. Still, it’s one of the highest-grossing movies in Hong Kong film history and it has the famous ladder fight. Which is really a folding table/wooden chair/dragon head/broomstick/ladder fight. It’s Chan at his Buster Keaton–inspired best.

Shea: No. No multiplied by no multiplied by no. Jackie Chan has the highest Prop Usage Rate of all movie fighters, I agree. And there are of course three other prop moments from different fighters that immediately stand out: Jet Li kicking a billiard ball up and out of a pool table pocket and then, while it was in flight, kicking it out of the air and right into the face of a henchman; Jason Statham using the motor oil to slick up the floor in The Transporter; and Jason Scott Lee in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, when he put his arms inside the sailor’s jacket arms while the sailor was still wearing the jacket and made him dance. But the greatest use of a prop in any fight scene of all time of forever is Tony Jaa as Tien in Ong-bak 2 when he fights USING A GODDAMN ELEPHANT, JASON:

I don’t even know why we have to have a debate about the best prop after reminding you that this happened, Jason. He did a backflip OFF AN ELEPHANT’S FACE, JASON. Have you ever even been close to an elephant, Jason? I touched a baby elephant at the zoo one time, Jason. It was the most adorable thing, Jason.

Jason: (1) The elephant just fucking stands there and does essentially nothing. I guess that’s better than the some kind of Milo and Otis–style animal abuse. (2) Chan has the highest prop usage rate because he is an innovator in the use of props. You can’t take prop points away from a guy because he’s the best at something and therefore does it a lot. (3) Jet Li kicking the billiard ball is nice. I would give the film editor more credit for that move; Chan actually does the stuff he is shown doing. (4) This gives me the perfect excuse to link Chan’s bicycle chase from Project A.

Shea: If you ever say anything bad about the elephants in Ong-bak again, I swear to God, I will murder you.

Best Prefight Monologue

Jason: Bar fight, Jack Reacher.

“Remember, you wanted this.”

Shea: I wish I knew how to fight because right now I would fight you. There’s only one answer here: gorgeous earth angel Patrick Swayze’s “be nice” speech in Road House:

It’s truly perfect, and delivered at just the right pitch. Jack Reacher is a total heel. The only thing good about him is that he has a very high Onscreen Dad Joke Average. Dalton from Road House is an American hero. The only thing good about him is every single thing. I give this same exact speech to my 7-year-old twins every time we go to the park or to their grandma’s house or wherever. That’s a little thing called “please make sure they spell my name correctly on my Father of the Year trophy,” thank you.

Jason: This is a tough category because I’m 100 percent sure most of the monologues in my favorite fighting movies are more impactful in Mandarin or Cantonese and not badly dubbed English. That being said, everything Wade (Sam Elliott) says in Road House is cooler than anything Dalton could ever say. The way Wade says “mijo” sounds like a well-worn flask of bourbon slipping out of a battered leather saddlebag.

Sidebar: Road House has one of my top three sex scenes that bring back awkward memories, because I watched the movie with my parents. Shout-out to Bill Murray.

Shea: Accidentally stumbling into a sex scene in a movie you’re watching with your parents is a thing that needs to have 10,000 words dedicated to it. I need to hear everyone’s story.

Most Realistic-Looking Fighter

Shea: It’s Yuri Boyka from Undisputed 2 and Undisputed 3. He’s big but not too big, muscular but not too muscular, and terrifying beyond all measure. If you were going to create the perfect fighter in a lab, Yuri Boyka would shit all over your perfect fighter. Look at this nonsense:

I thought I saw Yuri Boyka at Target once. I divorced my wife right there so I could ask him to marry me.

A lot of fight movies have done the thing where they speed up the frames just a bit to make the fighters look faster. Yuri Boyka’s the only guy who ever still managed to make it look real.

Least Realistic-Looking Fighter

Jason: 100 Computer-Generated Agent Smiths, The Matrix Reloaded.

Shit looks like a first-generation PlayStation cut scene.

Shea: I concede that in that particular scene the Agent Smiths looked especially corny. But they still LOOKED like fighters. The least realistic-looking fighter is Splinter in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. He didn’t look like a fighter. He looked like he belonged in the animatronic band that used to be at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Sidebar: The very first legit job I ever had was dressing up as Chuck E. Cheese in a Chuck E. Cheese’s franchise in San Antonio for birthday parties and whatnot. He will always be my favorite rodent.

Fighter Most Likely to Live a Normal Life Afterward

Shea: Easy breezy. It’s gotta be Daniel LaRusso from The Karate Kid. He wasn’t a mutant animal or part of some magical Hong Kong destiny or even possessed of a tragic backstory. He was mostly just a skinny kid with long eyelashes. Skinny kids with long eyelashes grow up to be thin men with long eyelashes, and thin men with long eyelashes rule the world, my friend.

Jason: Agree. Has to be Daniel. He’ll end up moving back to Montclair or wherever and teaching PE. Or maybe he becomes a building superintendent, what with all his experience cleaning yards and painting fences.

Shea: What happened to Daniel LaRusso’s dad? Why was that never ever talked about? Can we get a Karate Kid IV movie in which Daniel LaRusso searches out who his father is? Can that happen? And where does Daniel LaRusso rank in the Fictional Abandoned Children Power Rankings? Is he near the top or near the bottom? Only thing I know is, he can’t be no. 1, because no. 1 is Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He has permanent residency there.

Jason: My theory is Daniel’s dad was a low-level Gambino associate who got clipped for whatever reason. That’s why Mrs. LaRusso and Daniel are switching coasts.

Bad Guy Most Likely to Turn Good After the Fight

Jason: Johnny, played by ’80s super-douche Billy Zabka, comes around to the light after taking Daniel’s crane kick to his grill, even going so far as to hand Daniel-san the All-Valley trophy. This is known as the transitive property of bullying.

Shea: Disagree. Johnny didn’t have the asshole permanently karate-kicked out of him. That was a temporary enlightenment. Proof: He was the exact same high school bully character the next year in Just One of the Guys. And then a year after that, a college bully in Back to School.

Johnny will live in the shadows forever. The guy I suspect makes a reverse pivot into the light: Sho’nuff from The Last Dragon. Here he is, being amazing:

I have zero evidence to offer for his selection here. It’s just that if I’d have gone through an entire column about fictional movie fighters and somehow not mentioned Sho’nuff, I’d have to cut my own head off. He is one of my very favorite movie bad guys. More on this movie later.

Good Guy Most Likely to Turn Bad After the Fight

Jason: Blade, the Blade Trilogy. He’s a vampire, man.

Shea: That’s actually a very solid pick. Dang. OK. I was going to offer up Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat, but, best I know, he’s not a vampire. You can have this one.

Most Interesting Backstory

Jason: Hammer Girl, The Raid 2.

Shea: OK, a couple of things here:

1. Her name is Hammer Girl. And there’s also a guy in this movie called Baseball Bat Man. So I spent a good portion of this movie wondering what my assassin name would’ve been. I’m guessing something like Keyboard Boy. That’s very disappointing.

2. How are you the fourth or fifth or sixth guy killed by Hammer Girl? How do you watch her carve the brains out of three people’s skulls and then be like, “Yeah, I’ma try now”? Just a good rule to follow: If you’re on a subway car and you watch a person with some hammers kill several people, don’t try to fight that person. Or, if you absolutely feel like you absolutely have to, then don’t go in with the same exact tactic that all of the dead people before you went in with. Switch some shit up a little. Try a foot sweep or something.

3. Where is the Kickstarter for the Hammer Girl full-length movie and how do I deposit all of my money into it?

Hammer Girl is great. But you know who for real low-key has the most interesting backstory? Tommy Lee from Best of the Best.

He’s a tae kwon do master whose whole existence is twisty-tied up by the death of his older brother. And the older brother died while at an America-versus-Korea tae kwon do tournament WHILE YOUNG TOMMY WAS WATCHING. Tommy is compelled to fight, but also semi-repulsed by the idea. He’s a true warrior and gifted striker, but he’s terrified of himself and his ability. He is, by his very nature, a complete contradiction. And all of that gets exposed and narrated by Ahmad Rashad on an international broadcast when Tommy ends up having to fight the guy who killed his brother in a similar tournament. Tommy beats him to within a breath of his life, setting up an ultra-unlikely American upset of Team Korea, and then lets the guy just wither in the wind until the final buzzer goes off without ever delivering the final blow. He doesn’t fail to kill him because he’s afraid to hit him — he doesn’t kill him because it’s not necessary. America loses the match, but they actually won the match because sometimes fighting is about more than fighting. It’s all very interesting. Way more interesting than a girl wearing sunglasses on the subway with hammers in her purse.

Jason: A fine choice, but here’s my problem with Tommy’s motivation (and JCVD’s in Kickboxer): It’s a martial arts tournament. They know the risks. It’s Tommy’s brother’s own damn fault he got killed.

Shea: It’s their own fault? What’s crazy is I didn’t even know that I was friends with a medical marvel, because how is that you’ve remained alive all these years without a heart in your chest, Jason?

Most Impressive Finishing Move

Jason: Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, Beatrix Kiddo, Kill Bill: Vol. 2.

Shea: You know why this isn’t that impressive? Because you can basically make the same exact thing happen to your heart just by eating a lot of chicken sandwiches from Jack in the Box or doing a handful of cocaine. When Neo jumped inside of Agent Smith and exploded him in The Matrix, that was about a billion times better.

Jason: Yeah, everything Neo does is impressive, until the power goes out. My finishing move for Neo would be to pull the plug on him while he lies there all inert and unable to do a thing about it. Neo’s pasty, no-muscle-tone ass is nothing outside the Matrix. I can’t believe we’re discussing this. Plus, Neo is a walking staph-bacteria breeding ground, what with the numerous open holes all over his damn body. THEY DON’T EVEN DISINFECT THOSE THINGS THEY PLUG DIRECTLY INTO HIS BRAIN. PEOPLE JUST TOUCH THEM WITH THEIR BARE HANDS ALL THE TIME.

Shea: Jason, can I ask you a question? Have you been unplugged from the Matrix yet? No. No, you have not. Only, like, 200 people in the whole world have. So Neo is still your god. Also, I think you’re forgetting that by the third movie in the trilogy, Neo’s powers had transitioned over to the real world. Basically what I’m saying is: You’re a dead man, Jason. So long. It was nice knowing you.

Best Fight Grunts/Noises/Yells

Jason: Ninja III: The Domination.

Shea: I like how nerdy you got with this pick. But not even Satan himself could help to conjure up the sound and fury that Jean-Claude Van Damme makes during the final fight in Bloodsport after Chong Li throws the blinding powder in his eyeballs:

It’s the signature yell in all of fight-cinema history: impassioned, furious, heartbroken, enraged, devastated, and caustic, all mushed into one supernatural howl. It’s the finest moment of JCVD’s career. I don’t think you’d be far off arguing that it laid the tracks for his resulting stardom. And I’d be surprised if the universe ever forgave you for disrespecting him like you just did here, Jason.

Jason: Random JCVD sidebar: One of my friends growing up had a heavy bag and we would spend hours kicking it while doing an impression of JCVD in the scene from Kickboxer in which he tries to warn his brother about Tong Po. “Ee vaz keeking zee bag, like zis! YA YA YA YA YA!!”

And Now, the Top 10 Movie Fighters

10. Tommy Conlon, Warrior

Shea: Tommy loses to his brother in the final fight of Warrior, so I suppose his brother is TECHNICALLY a BETTER fighter, but Tommy beats him out on this list because being a fighter ain’t always about winning the fight. Here are a couple of his fight scenes from the movie:

He’s mesmerizing. He’s beyond intense, beyond angry, beyond all the beyonds. Look at him. Just look at him. His muscles have pulled his shoulders up to his hairline and his chin down into his belly button. He’s like a furious ball of hate. He bristles like an animal, fire shooting from his nostrils. When he wins his fights, he flies out of the cage before anyone else dies. I love it. I love it so much. My dream fight is Tommy versus Yuri Boyka, although I’d have to watch it from a hospital bed because there’s no way my heart doesn’t stop 15 times during the match. Tommy’s an unbelievable fighter, but he’s a superheroic human.

Plus, I’m a sucker for soldiers, and Tommy was an AWOL hero marine who’d pushed his way into the MMA tournament to earn money for the wife and child of a soldier friend of his who died in combat. Plus-plus, I’m a sucker for broken men, and Tommy’s anti-relationship with his father had him all the way spun around. Plus-plus-plus, I’m a sucker for smoking hot dudes. And Tommy, I mean, come on. Tommy can get it.

9. Eli, The Book of Eli

Jason: Spoiler: Eli is blind. This puts him on the very exclusive list of fictional blind people who kick major ass, along with Nick Parker (Rutger Hauer) from Blind Fury (an adaption of Zatoichi Challenged, the 17th film in the Japanese Zatoichi series, chronicling the adventures of the titular blind swordsman), Hammer Girl from The Raid 2, and the swastika-scarf-wearing assassin Fung Sheng Wu Chi from the influential Master of the Flying Guillotine. The Book of Eli is also one of the most famous examples of Filipino martial arts in movies, so basically I have to represent. Eli also can somehow accurately shoot guns at people.

Shea: I’m so disappointed Blind Fury isn’t somewhere on this list for something. Strong no. 9 pick here, though.

8. Neo, The Matrix

Shea: He’s Neo. He’s the One. Or, I guess, in this instance: He’s the Eight.

He could dodge bullets, and even when the bullets managed to hit him, he could just resurrect himself (which is why I never understood why he bothered to dodge punches). He could insta-upload all the forms of martial arts into his brain. He could fly. HE COULD FLY. The only reason he’s not higher here is because he was always dressed like he was super into Morrissey.

(Note: If we’re not allowed to include fancy computer-program fighters in these rankings, then I’m sliding Yu Shu Lien from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in here.)

7. Officer Rama, The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2

Jason: Gareth Evans’s Raid movies are the current standard-bearers for over-the-top martial arts action, and without them we would not have the video for “Turn Down for What.” Just on body count alone, Officer Rama, an expert in hand-to-hand fighting and with knives and guns, is a force to be reckoned with. Some of his exploits involve going undercover in a prison and holding off roughly 40 bloodthirsty inmates from inside a fetid bathroom stall (how strong is that sliding lock?); tearing out throats, rending limbs, and dropping a rock on a dude’s head during an all-out donnybrook in a muddy jail yard; and fighting four gangsters while sitting in the backseat of a moving sport-utility vehicle.

6. Bruce Leroy, The Last Dragon

Shea: He learned so much about the martial arts that his body began generating enough energy to glow during fights. The only real problem with this movie is when Leroy and Sho’nuff fight at the end, Leroy’s full-body yellow glow combines with Sho’nuff’s hands-only red glow to create a blue spark instead of an orange spark like it should have:

That’s the only factual error. All the rest of this movie was solid. I think it might’ve actually been a documentary.

5. Wong Fei-hung, The Legend of Drunken Master

Jason: Setting Wong Fei-hung apart from the pack is the fact that his peak fighting prowess — like a frat-boy fantasy — is unlocked only when he’s utterly shitfaced. Every fight scene in The Legend of Drunken Master is incredible, but the final fight — combining break-dancing, pro wrestling, and comedic elements with sustained martial arts choreography and truly hazardous stunts — is everything you want from a Jackie Chan movie. Wong Fei-hung fights off various evil henchmen until he gets to John, played by frequent Chan collaborator Ken Lo. Lo’s Muay Thai–esque super-kicks prove too much for Wong … until he gets his hands on some industrial alcohol, unleashing the full stumbling fury of drunken boxing. Chan, famous for doing all of his own stunts, gets kicked onto a furnace of burning coals he then crawls across for this scene. Like, non-CGI, actual-on-fire, blue-flame-hot burning coals.

Shea: Remember that movie in which Jackie Chan broke his foot while filming a stunt, and so, rather than bring in someone else to do the remaining stunts, he just used a sock painted like a shoe and slid it over the cast and did them himself? I remember an episode of Scrubs where Turk was spinning around J,D, and they actually used a stunt double for J.D. in the scene. That’s why nobody respects Zach Braff. Garden State would’ve been way better with Jackie Chan.

4. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kickboxer

Shea: It’s important to remember here that Kurt, JCVD’s character in Kickboxer, wasn’t supposed to be the supreme fighter in the movie. Originally, it was supposed to be his brother who was better, but the brother was crippled by Tong Po during a kickboxing match — Tong Po thunder-elbowed him in the spine — so Kurt decided to learn Muay Thai to avenge him. All of his training took place over the course of just a few weeks. He went from ringside hanger-on to defeating the unbeatable world champion of kickboxing, and he did it in less time than a season of Sons of Anarchy takes. That’s the main reason he beats out Frank Dux from Bloodsport, JCVD’s most memorable movie role. Dux trained his whole life. I can’t even imagine how good of a fighter Kurt would’ve been had he begun Muay Thai training as a child. Based on the trajectory of his growth in the movie, he’d have been the greatest warrior of all time by the age of 14, and then bending the fabric of time with his kicks before turning 23. He’d have been the human version of a black hole. He might’ve kicked down a whole goddamn forest instead of just that one tree:

HE KICKED DOWN A FUCKING TREE. The more I type, the more I’m feeling like this is way too low of a spot for Kurt.

3. Oh Dae-su, Oldboy

Jason: Oh Dae-su spent 14 years imprisoned under Kafkaesque circumstances with no human contact whatsoever and spent all that time watching television, learning how to fight, and planning revenge. Whom was he going to fight and take revenge on? He had no idea. Later on in the film, after his mysterious release from his even more mysterious incarceration, he fights 25 guys wielding sticks and two-by-fours in a hallway, rallying back from multiple stompings and a seemingly fatal knife wound to the back. All the action happens in one take. The scene is reminiscent of classic video-game beat-’em-ups like Double Dragon and Golden Axe, and is arguably the greatest fight scene ever. Later on, Oh Dae-su cuts out his own tongue. The dude is just too crazy to mess with.

Shea: Josh Brolin was kind of OK in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

2. Dalton, Road House

Doctor: Do you ever win a fight?

Dalton: Nobody wins a fight.

Shea: Dalton didn’t have any sort of special powers. He wasn’t trained by a kung fu master on a mountain or born in the stomach of a dragon or whatever. He wasn’t the final piece of a prophecy set in motion by ancient gods thousands and thousands of years ago. He wasn’t a physical marvel like some of the others on the list. He didn’t even own a gun or a sword or a pocketknife. He was just an undersize NYU graduate with a degree in philosophy who’d learned enough about fighting to make $500 a night to keep other people from doing it. I’d like to link to all the best Dalton parts of Road House, but that’d be me linking to the whole entire movie. Instead, here’s the final fight scene, which is Dalton versus Jimmy, his main (physical) opponent.

Dalton is a flawed fighter. His roundhouse kicks are awkward, his punches are telegraphed. Each blow he absorbs knocks him off balance and affects him far too much. But his spirit is irrepressible and pure. This is the only time in the entire movie he actively pursues a fight, and he does so in an entirely reactionary capacity.

All of the very best fighters would (seem to) rather not be fighting. They’d (seem to) rather just be. They (seem to) have achieved existential enlightenment, to have gotten so good at physical combat that they’ve grown into an understanding that it’s rarely practical and even more rarely accomplishes anything outside of the action itself. Dalton is the perfect embodiment of that ideal, only he’s managed to achieve it without actually having to become a skillful supreme warrior, which I think makes him nearly the most supreme warrior of all.

Who knows? I certainly don’t. I just know if you try to fight him hand to hand, he’s probably going to win, and if you get tired of fighting him hand to hand and try to use a gun, then he’s literally going to rip your throat out.

1. Beatrix Kiddo, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2

Jason: Beatrix Kiddo’s best-movie-fighter résumé is unassailable. She is an experienced assassin, well versed in the use of firearms and all manner of edged weaponry. Her martial arts technique was learned at the literal foot and fist of Pai Mei (the legendary Gordon Liu), the 1,000-year-old master of Eagle Claw and Bak Mei kung fu styles and keeper of the mysterious Five Point Palm Exploding Heart technique, which he taught only to Beatrix. She mastered the three-inch punch, which she would later use to escape being buried alive. At her side is the last and finest sword ever made by Hattori Hanzo, the greatest swordsmith in the world.

Beatrix survived after being shot in the head. She later escaped from the hospital after spending four nightmare years in a coma and, outdoing Mason Storm, rebuilt her atrophied muscles in less than a day basically by concentrating really hard. Post-coma, she took down all the members of her Death List Five (well, except Budd, who died of a snakebite), all of them accomplished assassins, gangsters, and homicidal maniacs: O-Ren Ishii, dispatched via samurai-sword trepanation, exposing Ishii’s brain to the bitter winter air; Vernita Green, distracted by a kicked coffee cup and finished off by a throwing knife through the heart. Kiddo plucked out Elle Driver’s remaining eye, avenging Pai Mei, and finally killed Bill using the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart strike. Plus, there were the several dozen members of the Crazy 88s gang she fought all at once, leaving ownerless limbs flopping like fish on the blood-drenched dance floor of a Tokyo nightclub.

And she looks really cool riding a motorcycle. Beatrix Kiddo 4eva.

Filed Under: Movies, kill bill, Uma Thurman, Denzel Washington, Tom Hardy, Keanu Reeves, The Matrix, Road House, patrick swayze, Iko Uwais, The Raid, the raid 2, The Last Dragon, jackie chan, The Legend of Drunken Master, kickboxer, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Min-Sik Choi