Blessed is The Earth, for the Ass Whoopings are upon us once more! In the run-up to the premiere of John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum, I thought I’d cover a very special niche within the action movie genre. If you’ve seen some of the trailers for the upcoming film, you likely have been mesmerized by clips of the motorcycle fight scene on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. Here’s a quick featurette from Lionsgate that adds more context to the stunt work:
As you can see, this scene looks to be a loving homage to the dope ass motorcycle swordfight featured in the 2017 groundbreaking Korean action drama The Villainess. Sadly, not enough of humanity has witnessed this magnanimous motion picture event, so just in case, here is a snippet of the incredible action sequence in question.
All this motorcycle mayhem got me thinking: are there more great motorcycle fights in movie history? Some answers to this question were immediately obvious, while others took a bit of digging and even some extra help from my Lewton Bus comrades. In going over the possibilities, it became clear that an important distinction had to be made. To wit: what exactly is a Motorcycle Fight? The primary thing we must establish is that a motorcycle fight is not a motorcycle chase. To make clear the distinction, The National Board With A Nail In It has developed this basic guideline:
- A Motorcycle fight must involve close range/melee and/or unarmed combat while at least one or more combatants are mounted on a motorcycle, or
- The motorcycle itself is used as a melee/close range weapon against another combatant
As such, you will not see one of the many awesome sequences from something like Fury Road on this list, nor will you see amazing feats such as Jean Claude Van Damme’s sick skills in Hard Target. With that all established , lets get into it!
I’ll start right off with the Grade-A foolishness that is Torque. Director Joseph Kahn, known to be a cinematic provocateur of sorts, has claimed that the notoriously panned movie was meant to be a parody of The Fast & Furious series and other bombastic action films of the early aughts. Though many people remain unconvinced of this defense, I still end up enjoying this crazy fever dream of a movie that features not one, but two great motorcycle fights!
xXx/xXx: Return of Xander Cage
Keeping the stupid meter in the red, we revisit the silly secret agent shenanigans of xXx. What was originally meant to be the Nu-Metal fueled evolution of 007/Spy fiction became obsolete almost as quickly as it came (like Nu-Metal) with the advent of the Jason Bourne/Bourne Identity franchise. Despite this upheaval, xXx managed to survive for nearly twenty years, as Vin Diesel used the clout garnered from his highly successful Fast & Furious franchise to will a sequel into existence with xXx: Return of Xander Cage. I very much enjoyed the hijinks of xXx: Brown People Action Force Go! and its penchant for vehicular manslaughter. In celebration, let us give praise to the admittedly awesome stunt-bike sequence from the first film along with the crazy island motorcycle fight of the latest entry.
Moving on to some legitimately badass motorcycle mayhem, we have the modern action cinema classic that is Blade II. In previous articles and comments, I’ve levied my many arguments as to why I think the original Blade film is slightly superior, but ultimately it doesn’t matter, as the two films deliver high end ass-whoopings that will be enjoyed for for generations to come. I say two films because they only made two Blade movies. There is no third one, it doesn’t exist, that’s fake news. Anyways, the mix of cutting edge CGI and Wesley Snipes real life talent and charisma make the “Bite the Bullet” and Motorcycle Joust sequences one of the greatest action scenes of all time.
Mission: Impossible II
Back into the realm of the surreal, we have the much derided Mission: Impossible II. After a short string of hits, MI: II seemed to mark the beginning of the end for legendary Hong Kong director John Woo’s transition into Hollywood blockbuster success. A schlocky mess compared to the serious thrilling tone of the original 1996 film, MI: II is considered by any the worst of the series. I still have a soft spot for it though, particularly when you consider that no matter how cheesy the overall film is, the climactic motorcycle sequence is so slick. Alas, this might actually be a controversial entry. Not because of the quality of the film, but rather because it seems to break the rules of a motorcycle fight. The current Board ruling states that because both combatants hurl themselves into a close combat clash while both are mounted upon motorcycles until the last second, it counts as a motorcycle fight. That said, The National Board With A Nail In It is for The People, so I am open to any and all objections and appeals.
While those were among the most immediate examples of motorcycle fights, I had trouble recalling any other instances. For these final entries in the list, my fellow Lewton Bus contributors are here to hit you with some deep cuts!
Scott Stewart’s Priest is…pretty easy to forget. It’s clearly chopped down the bones, leading to an experience that goes by quickly and doesn’t really leave one with much to chew on afterwards. But there’s fun to be had with Priest – the cast is game, the cinematography is excellent, the score is seriously fantastic. But the most relevant bit of fun to be had with PRIEST is the motorcycle fight in the climax, where Maggie Q takes a motorcycle and throws it at some other guy to knock him off of his motorcycle. That’s some wild and wacky shit that only a Screen Gems release can get you, so if you have 87 minutes to kill, there are worst ways to waste your time. – Mavis
Godzilla: Final Wars
Godzilla: Final Wars was made to celebrate the famous monsters 50th anniversary and Toho studios goes all out. Here we have over a dozen monsters duking it out, an alien invasion, the monsters being mind-controlled and Godzilla himself going globe trotting to set everything right…but why is this film on this list? Well let’s just say the film also decided to be inspired by The Matrix featuring highly trained Super Soldiers versus the Alien invaders in highly stylized and decently choreographed action, all culminating in its best scene: our lead character and lead bad guy fighting each other not only on a highway, but riding motorcycles while doing it. You might be asking yourself, are you seriously telling me there’s a motorcycle fight in the middle of a Godzilla movie? Yup, welcome to the insanity that is the Godzilla franchise. – Enzo
From the master of undead horror, comes a tale of valiant modern knights on steeds of steel. While ostensibly about a renaissance fair troupe who do their jousting on the back of armored motorcycles, Knightriders (made fresh on the heels of Romero’s more well-known classic Dawn Of The Dead) is actually a parable for Romero’s own career. Knightriders, starring Ed Harris, Ken Foree, and Tom Savini, is a story about a bunch of outcasts trying to live and create their wackadoo art in a world that either doesn’t understand them, or wants to make a buck off them. Those more familiar with Romero’s attempts at creating films that don’t feature zombies will see the parallels to just how hard the industry fought to pigeonhole and commoditize him in his heyday. This earnest and oddball movie is much more about the struggle to keep to your code and live a fulfilling life with your found family in a cynical world than it is a vehicle for motorbike mayhem. But also, yes, there is a fair amount of bike jousting and motor-mounted melee, delivered as only a genius like Romero could. – Ryan
Alright folks, that’s our list, but I’m sure you faithful fiends of fisticuffs have some other examples that I’d love for you to share. Be sure to check out our first review of John Wick 3 from earlier this week, and stay tuned for a supplementary piece from me in the near future. Peace!