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VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
When these martial artists go beast mode, stay out of their way! Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for movie scenes where martial artists went all out or got particularly brutal. Our countdown of the times martial artists went beast mode includes films like “Ip Man 4: The Finale”, “Blood and Bone”, “Fist of Legend”, "The Raid", “Drunken Master II”, and more!

#20: Ip Man vs. Geddes

“Ip Man 4: The Finale” (2019)

The last fight of this martial arts franchise…wait, they’re making another movie? Awesome! Well, regardless, this climactic showdown between Ip Man and Sergeant Barton Geddes goes full force. Despite suffering from throat cancer and shaking in his hands, Ip gives his all to take the racist gunnery sergeant down. Geddes’s high kicks and ferocity initially prove difficult to deal with, and Ip gets knocked down. But after a second wind, he attacks with renewed vigor, hitting Geddes with his signature chain punches. Ip finishes by breaking his arm, and finally delivering the throat punch he’s threatened so many others with. Not only is this an incredible display from Donnie Yen, but his opponent, the incredibly underrated Scott Adkins, also goes for broke.

#19: Warehouse Fight

“The Night Comes for Us” (2018)

While basically every fight in this underappreciated Indonesian action film is beastly, and the final battle between Joe Taslim’s protagonist Ito and a rare villain part for Iko Uwais was tempting, our pick goes to Ito’s assault on the warehouse. The ex-Triad member finds a warehouse used by his former employers. Inside, he proceeds to viciously kill every henchman he comes across. He breaks legs, he cuts them with machetes - he even uses pool cues and pool balls to beat them bloody. The violence on display here is often unsettling, but actor/martial artist Joe Taslim makes it satisfying to see Ito tear through this gang like a one-man wrecking crew.

#18: Mall Fight

“Police Story” (1985)

Often considered one of Jackie Chan’s finest films (including by the man himself), the final fight in “Police Story” sees Sergeant Chan Ka-Kui go all out in pursuit of justice. When crime boss Chu Tao and his goons pursue his former secretary, Salina Fong, Ka-Kui does his best to keep her (and her stolen incriminating data) safe. The ensuing fight not only sees Jackie Chan’s usual level of polish in his choreography, it also demolishes most of the mall - or at least its glass. The great fight, and death-defying stunts make this a landmark of action cinema.

#17: Gabe vs. Yulaw

“The One” (2001)

How do you make a Jet Li fight even more epic? Add another Jet Li. The final fight of this early 2000s action flick sees Gabe Law pitted against his multiversal counterpart, Gabriel Yulaw, an interdimensional killer. Yulaw seeks to kill himself in every universe, absorbing the energy of his doppelgangers to become a superhuman. Jet Li pulls double duty as both hero and villain here, utilizing different styles for both fighters. Although Yulaw has the advantage on the catwalks, once they drop down to open space, Gabe manages to overcome his villainous double. Sparks really fly in this fight, literally and figuratively.

#16: Prison Yard Riot

“The Raid 2” (2014)

“The Raid” movies are the kings of Indonesian martial arts movies, and one of the most brutal scenes is this messy brawl. Protagonist Rama is a police officer sent to prison to go undercover in a crime boss’s organization by befriending his son, Uco. When Uco is attacked during yard time, Rama comes to his defense. However, this sparks a full-blown riot in the muddy yard. The grimy, lethal violence throughout is a sight to behold. Still, Rama’s actor Iko Uwais manages to shine amid all the mud. He breaks a man’s leg, hits a defeated foe over the head with a rock, and his final charge to come to Uco’s defense sees him take down prisoners and guards alike. What savagery!

#15: Off the Leash

“Unleashed” [aka. “Danny the Dog”] (2005)

This oft-forgotten Jet Li film sees him play Danny, a young man raised by a loan shark named Bart to act like a dog. When his leash comes off, Danny attacks those who won’t pay up. The opening fight scene illustrates this perfectly, with Danny violently beating up a group of thugs. The way he leaps on one of them and repeatedly headbutts him is brutal. While there’s some martial prowess at work, like many of Li’s fights, this one certainly has more of an animalistic edge to it that makes it a particularly ferocious beatdown.

#14: Prison Fight

“Blood and Bone” (2009)

This underground fighting film sees the often overlooked Michael Jai White play the titular Isaiah Bone. Although Bone’s fight with Price nearly made the cut, the match doesn’t quite go hard enough to make our list - even with incredible choreography. Instead, we’re looking earlier, when Bone is imprisoned. Surrounded in the bathroom by inmates led by Kimbo Slice, Bone gives them a countdown, before unleashing hell on them. His rapid and vicious takedowns are fantastic - double mid-air kicks, shank stabbings, even a downward mid-air chop. In just a few minutes, Bone goes from potential victim to king of the prison. Badass.

#13: Liu vs. Twins

“Kiss of the Dragon” (2001)

Jet Li strikes again. This fight scene sees Inspector Liu Jian pitted against a pair of twins in an office. While the more martially inclined twin fights Liu head on, the other lurks in the background, attacking at random. Although Liu initially has a hard time in the path between cubicles, once he gets the primary twin in closer confines, he really lays into him. The way Liu hits his opponent repeatedly, even faking him out, is fantastic. He eventually manages to flip his opponent, using the position to break the twin’s neck. Liu breaks his brother’s neck soon after, though with a kick this time. The close quarters and grisly finishers help Jet Li go especially beastly in this fight.

#12: Fight Club Scene

“Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior” (2003)

Although the final fight of Tony Jaa’s breakout film is a close second, our pick goes to the fight club scene. Jaa’s character Ting is goaded into participating in one match after another at a club. His first foe may have size on his side, but Ting quickly brings him down. His next foe has some fancy footwork, but Ting’s proves fancier. Finally, he faces an opponent who fights dirty, involving the crowd and using whatever is at hand against him. But after fighting all the way to the owner’s room, Ting sends his foe falling to the floor below. The creative use of the space, as well as the many flying knees and elbows, make this a breakout fight in Jaa’s debut.

#11: “Death in the Lab”

“The Raid” (2011)

We could've easily gone with the hallway fight in "The Raid: Redemption" for our next pick, but we decided to go with the drug lab sequence instead. The secret to this scene's success, unlike others on our list, doesn't necessarily hinge upon a one-on-one match up but instead is more about the sum of its parts. Iko Uwais' Rama has reunited with part of his police squad as they make their way through an array of thugs. The camera is almost a separate character as it captures all of the incredible choreography on display, from every punch and kick to a varied array of improvised weapons. This one truly goes all the way.

#10: Final Fight

“Shaolin and Wu Tang” (1983)

It's no secret that rap heroes the Wu-Tang Clan are heavily inspired by classic kung-fu flicks from the 1970s and '80s. This film in particular, however, has been heavily sampled by hip hop artists across the globe, but "Shaolin and Wu Tang" isn't just about retro kitsch. Instead, this final fight scene featuring director and star Gordon Liu starts in overdrive and reaches a fever pitch, thanks to some world class skill. Liu and his co-stars tell a story of murder, jealousy and miscommunication all within their deadly ballet of martial arts, with Liu in particular able to balance comedic lines and incredible acrobatics with ease. This kung-fu matinee is totally legit.

#9: Donnie Yen vs. Mak Wai-cheung

“Legend of the Wolf” [aka “The New Big Boss”] (1997)

Genre legend Donnie Yen directed, produced, co-wrote and even starred in this late nineties flick. Also known as "The New Big Boss," it features this ridiculously frenetic fight between Yen and an opponent utilizing a “monkey-style” fighting technique. The scene is straight bananas, opening with a flurry of punches from actor Mak Wai-cheung, with the sound design on their impact sounding like thunder claps from the heavens. Meanwhile, the choreography between the two men ramps up its pace to ludicrous speed, leaving both Yen and Wai-cheung looking like total badasses.

#8: Jackie Chan vs. Benny Urquidez

“Wheels on Meals” (1984)

Jackie Chan's love of physical comedy and silent-era cinema has been well documented, with many of his productions making the most out of some death-defying stunt work and captivating visual style. This match between Chan and fellow legend Benny "The Jet" Urquidez starts off fairly serious, with the pair's martial arts ballet gradually increasing intensity before taking a turn. The "Wheels on Meals" score turns decidedly funky, and Chan begins to incorporate a more light hearted approach, even tickling "The Jet" at one point. Don't think for a second that either man phones it in from here, however, as this extended fight features Chan besting The Jet with an incredible double shot before finishing him off with an equally incredible flying knee.


#7: Donnie Yen vs. Collin Chou

“Flash Point” (2007)

There's a sense of realism with our next entry, a stark contrast to some of the more fantastic examples on this list. Perhaps this is due to reports that Donnie Yen was inspired by mixed martial arts during the production of "Flash Point" in 2007. This could explain why this final fight between Yen and Collin Chou feels so wince-inducing and dangerous. Sure, there's plenty of fleet footwork to be had, but the vibe overall fits the "beast mode" idea perfectly, with both men giving their all to the scene. Knees on the ground, arm bars and triangles make the most out of the close quarters setting, while a brief break in the action only serves to amp things up for a brutally physical finale.


#6: Bone Breaker

“Tom-Yum-Goong” (2005)

Arguably Tony Jaa’s most famous film (though maybe you know it as “The Protector”) has plenty of exceptional fights. And while he certainly goes berserk in that one shot staircase fight, it’s not quite as brutal as this one. When Jaa’s character Kham learns one of the elephants he’s been seeking is dead, he takes out his grief and rage on the goons sent after him. He proceeds to savagely take them all down with gusto. Along with a few stabbings and bites, Kham basically breaks at least one of each of their bones. He gets creative with them too, trapping legs, twisting them, and generally destroying any limb that comes within reach. Their mob doctors will have their work cut out for them.


#5: Jet Li vs. Billy Chow

“Fist of Legend” (1994)

Remakes don't always live up to their source material, but this Jet Li vehicle did an admirable job at updating Bruce Lee's classic 1972 film, "Fist of Fury." Li takes on the role of Chen Zhen in "Fist of Legend," squaring off against the mad General Fujita at the film's climax. The scene between Li and co-star Billy Chow is a master class in choreography, style and grace, equal parts classic kung-fu with a modern cinema aesthetic. Chow cuts a particularly imposing figure, barely recognizing the damage taken until Li finally gets the upper hand, eventually ending Fujita's reign of terror with a belt and a well-timed twist on the General's own katana.

#4: Kitchen Fight

“The Raid 2” (2014)

The final fight of “The Raid 2” is often cited as one of the best (and most savage) fight scenes of all time. And…it is! Rama confronts the unnamed assassin played by Cecep Arif Rahman in a kitchen. The duo first engages in simple pencak silat, before escalating to using objects around the kitchen to injure each other. Things go up a notch when the Assassin breaks out his karambit knives. Every blow could lead to one of them being grievously injured. Between that and the numerous blows they both take to the head, the build-up to the bloody, gnarly final blows gets positively nasty. Rama comes out on top, but both combatants go all out in this legendary, deadly duel.

#3: Tipsy Terror

“Drunken Master II” (1994)

In case you were wondering: yes, Drunken Boxing is a real style of martial arts, with roots dating back to Buddhist and Daoist monks. Jackie Chan's "Drunken Master" series is considered by many to be some of his best work, and this final fight from the second film provides plenty of evidence to back up that claim. Chan's Wong Fei-hung is a curious mix of comically tipsy and uncharacteristically feral at points, attacking Ken Lo's John with a full-bore, head on attack. The drunken style's unpredictability makes for an entertaining watch, while Chan's performance is over the top and genre defining in a way that only he can deliver.


#2: Dojo Attack

“Fist of Fury” (1972)

There's a very good reason why the iconic Bruce Lee is so pissed at the climax of "Fist of Fury." The film's core is very much rooted in anti-Chinese sentiment, with Lee's Chen Zhen facing off against an abusive rival school of Japanese martial artists. It all comes to a head when Lee's character confronts these students in their dojo, initially besting a couple in one-on-one fights before being surrounded by the clearly outmatched group. Bad idea. Lee punches and kicks his way through his opponents with ease, before busting out a pair of nunchaku and getting down to beast mode business. It's an intense, entertaining but also very personal scene that makes the most out of Lee's definitive martial arts skill.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Alley Fight, “SPL: Sha Po Lang” (2005)
The Speed of This Fight Is UNREAL!


Rooftop Fight, “Who Am I?” (1998)
Jackie Chan Fights 2-On-1

The Sword Thief - "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000)
Beauty and the Beast Mode

Yuri Boyka vs. Raul "Dolor" Quiñones - "Undisputed III: Redemption" (2010)
For Brutal Realism

Bus Station Fight, “The Transporter” (2002)
Shirtless & Covered in Oil? No Problem!


#1: 10 Black Belts

“Ip Man” (2008)

"I want to fight ten people!" This is the demand set forth by Donnie Yen's Ip Man in this 2008 film, an act that would probably spell certain doom for anyone else...but thanks to this pick’s placement, you can probably figure out what happens next. The tension ramps up to an almost unbearable point, before Yen explodes with a performance that barely controls its rage. The titular Ip Man is surrounded by ten karateka and spares no one, breaking limbs and destroying anyone in his path. This scene may not be as long or drawn out as some of the others in our list, but Yen is ruthlessly efficient in his work, leaving an impression on the viewer that will not soon be forgotten.


Is there a beastly martial arts movie fight we forgot? “Break it” to us gently in the comments!

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