Choreography with an edge

I’m sure we’ve all seen many movies with carefully scripted fight scenes.  I don’t mean only the martial arts movies popularized during the 1970’s and later, where enemies seemed to queue up to be clobbered by the hero or heroine (or both) at regular intervals.  We see it in mainstream blockbusters like the James Bond movies as well.

I was asked recently what I thought was the best fight choreography I’d ever seen.  That’s a really tough one to answer, because there are so many candidates for the title;  but I thought that the Japanese movie series about Zatoichi, a blind swordsman, had much to recommend them.  Someone on YouTube clearly feels likewise, because he’s put together this seven-minute compilation of the sword fights from the first five Zatoichi movies.  Take a look at them, and see what you think of the choreography.  (Remember that the protagonist is supposed to be blind, and is fighting by ear.)

I’d call that pretty impressive.  What do you think?  Any favorite fight scenes that struck you as very well staged and realistic?  If so, please share them with us in Comments, along with a link to any video clips illustrating them, so we can all enjoy them.

Also, does anyone know an online source for all the Zatoichi movies, whether downloadable or on DVD?  There are quite a lot on YouTube, but by no means all of them.  I’ve got about half of them, and I’d like to get the rest (with English subtitles, if possible).



  1. They used to play these on AMC early Saturday mornings.

    I'll be very polite to blind masseuses if I ever meet one.


  2. I'll go for the final fight from Kurosawa's "Sanjuro". I had to watch it in slow mo to see exactly what Toshiro Mifune was doing with the single draw and slash… amazing.

  3. I've always liked the swordplay in Akira Kurosawa's films, The Seven Samurai, Sanjuro, Yojimbo etc with Toshiro Mifune.


  4. I'll second what PNG and Anon said. The thing that always bothers me about so many of the fight scenes is all the people standing around. Real fights rarely happen like that. Everyone is moving all the time. Secondly, why is the blind guy always fighting in the daylight – if I were him, I'd do it all at night, which wouldn't bother me at all, but would really mess with THEM. And why don't his enemies ever bring a lot of loud stuff to shut down his 'sonar?'

  5. "They Live" by John Carpenter has a pretty good fistfight scene. The movie also has a plot that could parallel today's politics – people selling out to the powers that be in exchange for money and glamour. Groups fighting to stop it are labeled "terrorists" and arrested. Replace aliens with Congress and the general political structure today, payoffs through stimulus projects or subsidies to favored groups and the general hostility of politicians from both parties to citizens who want to clean up government and you could do a sequel.

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