Top 10 Movie Gunfights

hard boiled Top 10 Movie Gunfights

Gunfights can make or break movie.  If the gun battle scenes don’t have an emotion to a movie, I’ll stop caring.  Just like fight scenes, battles with pistols and automatic rifles needs a good choreography so it can be done right.  When there’s no style to the gunplay you get movies like Shoot Em Up.  All play and no feeling behind it.  If the filmmakers get it right, they’ll have a movie that ‘s dramatic and bad ass at the same time where you root for the characters and hope they make it out alive.

Here’s my top 10 gunfights of all time. I’m not including war movies because those are obvious.  I’ve included videos if it allows me to embed from youtube.  This list contains spoilers, so readers beware =)

10) Professional – S.W.A.T. Raid
Luc Besson’s masterpiece ends with the whole NYPD trying to take out our hero, Leon (Jean Reno).  The movie already shows you how crazy Leon can be but the final battle also shows his wit.  When the cops brought in the “cat”, I had no idea how Leon was going to escape the situation.  The shootout wasn’t too realistic but I love how Besson shot Leon: ghost like and very elusive.

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9) Proof of Life – Village
Russell Crowe and his team of mercenaries attack a South American village to rescue hostages. What ensues is an exciting gun battle between his team and the rebels. The mercs are outnumbered.  But since they use strategy, they take control of the situation.

8 ) Collateral – Nightclub
Using only a handgun, Tom Cruise takes out a bunch of gangsters in a Korean nightclub. What made the scene work was the music and the atmosphere in the club. Add Tom Cruise in Terminator mode and you have one great sequence.

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7) Time and Tide – Apartment Building
A very wild and frentic firefight, Tsui Hark directs with disregard. Civilians are killed in the crossfire and bungee ropes are used as characters free fall from the building.  The way the characters move and counter attacks reminds the viewers of comic book characters.

6) Terminator 2 – Cyberdyne Building
The T-800 kicks a table through the second floor window and empties his gattling gun to pin down the cops. Next, he uses his grenade launcher to blow up the police cars. It doesn’t stop there, as SWAT enters the building and another gunfight ensues. What made this scene so great? Just the fact that the T-800 was ordered by John Connor not to kill any humans. James Cameron showed us how creative he can be with the T-800 not being a terminator.

5) Equilibrium – Lobby
Forget the Matrix’s lobby scene, Equilibrium’s lobby scene tops it. No wires were used for the stunts and we saw “Gunkata” to full effect. Gunkata was explained in the movie as combining martial arts and the use of a firearm to its full capability. We see Cleric John Preston, attack a lobby and mow down the guards with ease. Very creative, especially when Preston throws two clips in the middle of the lobby and you wonder what he’s going to do with it.

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4) Open Range – Town Battle
Great build up and a very satisfying ending to the gunfight. What starts out as a fight between two groups escalates into a full town battle. Realistic scenes with shotguns being used to full effect: shooting through doors and walls. What I loved about the firefight was that the protagonists missed. It made them human and vulnerable.

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3) Kick-Ass – Hit Girl Rescue
Hit Girl comes back with a vengeance to try and rescue Kick-Ass and her dad, Big Daddy at a warehouse.  In a true homage to first person shooter video games, Director Matthew Vaughn lets the audience see the action from Hit Girl’s perspective.  The scene is also tragic as we see Big Daddy burning but still coaching his young daughter on how to kill the bad guys.

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2) Hard Boiled – Hospital Finale
John Woo has plenty of great shootouts but the hospital sequence at the end of the movie is his best. Woo gave us 25 minutes of non stop graceful violence,an impressive feat by itself. The highlight of the set-piece is the one-take scene where it showed the two main characters, Tequila and Tony, battling the bad guys through two floors. We see them enter the elevator after a shootout. Once the door opens, the characters start shooting the bad guys, they move from one place to another, only to encounter more bad guys. You see bad guys flying through windows and broken glass. It must have been a good two minutes before it finally had a cut. Most American movies can’t even top that scene alone with multiple cuts.

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1) Heat – Bank Shootout
Thirteen years after it was released in theatres, the bank shootout still stands as the best shootout in cinema history. Crime drama director, Michael Mann started a new Hollywood trend: realistic shootout with audio design that matched the intensity of the firefight.

Mann hired former British SAS, Andy McNabb, as his technical advisor. Boy, did it payoff. Before the movie came out, previous gun battles consisted of characters shooting from their hips and shooting aimlessly. With Heat, what we got was a group of professional robbers and cops aiming at their targets and using real tactics: ranging from leap frogs to cover fires. The detail to attention was impressive. The bank robbers conserved their ammo and when they reloaded, it looked like they’ve done it a thousand times before.

The sound design for the bank shootout was equally impressive. Mann focused on the different weapons being fired, each one having a distinct sound. The echo of the gunshots also played a major part in the audio design, giving the audience the impression they were in the middle of the battle.

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