Disney's animated Tarzan has a fantastic running battle between our hero and Sabor, the biggest, meanest leopard EVAR. It killed his parents, and now it's coming for his adopted family - but not if the Ape Man has anything to say about it. The guys who storyboarded this brief fight deserve a beer, because it is tight. I particularly like the little martial arts bit where Tarzan draws blood on Sabor then flips up his spear and exchanges growls. Plus, wouldn't all fight scenes benefit from the victor raising the corpse of their foe into the air and roaring in victory? Yes they would. Tarzan kicks that leapord's ass big time.
Mani vs Guys in Dresses (The Brotherhood of the Wolf, 2001)
This movie has it all: cool outfits, kung fu, rampaging monster, sword fights, intrigue, and a naked Monica Bellucci. Some people actually don't enjoy Christophe Gans genre-mashing Le Pacte des Loups. Afraid of the French? I think it's brilliant and audacious. You know you're in for something special at the beginning of the film when Mani (Mark Dacascos) busts some 18th century moves on a bunch of bandits in drag during a rainstorm. No explanation or context is provided; all of a sudden it's just a guy in a pirate hat kicking ass on ugly skirt wearing women. In slow-mo, no less.
OK, it's not a movie, and the combat staging doesn't compare to most films, where they have like, weeks to film a single fight, but this scene from the first season of 24 had me off my couch screaming, "OH HELL YEAH!!! JACK BAUER NUMBER ONE!!!" I scared the hell out of my cat. It's all about the context. It's the end of a very busy day for CTU agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), who has run all over L.A, been beat to hell, tortured, had a heart attack -- all without a chance to stop and take a piss. In the final hour of his 24-hour triathalon of pain, Bauer rescues the treacherous First Lady, but gets jumped by a terrorist thug. Fighting ensues, until Jack ends the tussle by pulling a Backside Air on the guy's neck. Ninja!
Martin Blank's High School Reunion Kickboxing Spectacular (Grosse Pointe Blank, 1997)
Finally, a classic fight between black-clad hitman Martin Blank (John Cusack) and a short Basque separatist killer in a turtleneck in the hallway of Blank's old high school. While his classmates at the reunion dance hideously to English Beat's "Mirror in the Bathroom," Blank and his assailant do their own dance -- OF DEATH! The Spanish dude should know better than to try to beat Cusack at kickboxing (the sport of the future), because clearly Cusack has longer legs. Plus, he has a trick up his sleeve: ballpoint pen. That'll teach that Commie to bring a gun to a pen fight.