Top 10 Movie Bar Fight Essentials
May 10, 2010 | Lists
There is very little that’s cinematic or aesthetically pleasing about real life bar fights. Some drunk who fancies himself the uncrowned champion of the mixed martial arts finds a pretext for getting in someone else’s face. That person too has likely been drinking heavily and this leads him to believe that his honor is at stake in front of this room of people who won’t remember a thing about this night come morning and he retaliates with, say, a head butt to the nose or – if he’s thinking – one swift kick to the nads and a dash for the nearest exit.
Bar fights usually don’t last long – often they involve nothing more than a shoving match, some pulling of designer wear, and the intervention of a bouncer with no neck and a back that could ford the Ganges. While in the minds of participants this event might carry all the weight of the gunfight at the OK Corral, to most spectators it’s just an annoyance that carries with it the imminent danger of spilled beer.
Movie bar fights bear little resemblance to their real-life counterparts. They exist in their own strange reality and, like cop shows, they are governed by certain rules that most who use these scenes agree upon – either for comedic effect or to establish the toughness of the protagonist in the most clichéd way imaginable. Here we have identified some of them, in our Top 10 Movie Bar Fight Essentials!
9. A catchphrase A carefully placed bon mot to be delivered just prior to having to duck a punch or snap a wrist as the overwhelming majority of punches thrown by bar drunks are apparently slow enough that they can be caught and parried.
8. At least one person has to be thrown head first through a plate-glass window, which is why so many bar fights take place in above ground saloons rather than basement taverns. Note: sliding someone along the length of the top of the bar (see pic above) has finally fallen out of favor.
7. A pool cue. The hero is generally unarmed and disarms antagonists armed with a variety of weaponry, including inevitably, a pool cue. He then breaks the cue in half over his knee and shows off his stick-fighting prowess, generally at the expense of some biker typecast.
6. Suggestion that “I don’t want any trouble here, take it somewhere else”. If suggested by the hero, he fights and wins. If suggested by a bouncer or bartender, they end up in a crumpled heap.
5. EVERYONE fights, regardless of how far removed physically or socially they are from either of the two protagonists
4. A minimum of 5 people in a row must get their clocks cleaned before the remaining bar patrons decide that it’s not worth their trouble to take on the hero. Interestingly, villains never beat up large numbers of people in a bar fight.
3. The fight starts in one corner of the bar, but by the end the entire place is trashed regardless of how many combatants take part. Once the fight comes to an end, there is complete silence apart from a tear in your beer song wailing on the jukebox
2. The same moves over and over (assuming no weapons involved, in which case it’s elaborate aikido). These include the roundhouse right, the spinning back kick (regardless of space limitations) and the judo throw onto a poorly constructed wooden table with legs that buckle. Also, it is pretty safe to assume an opponent can be kneed at least 4 times in succession before collapsing. Jabs are strictly prohibited.
1. Beer bottle (or chair) slugged over the head of some drunk who’s thinking about getting involved in the melee, but has yet to actually do so. Beer bottles also commonly broken and brandished under the hero’s nose.
Kickboxer 4 contains most of the above and is a good primer for how to film a bar fight.