We thought Keanu Reeves’ crowning achievement in film was The Matrix series; until he came out with John Wick, and we all realized things only got bigger and better. There have been three films to date, but John Wick’s popularity is such that a fourth film and a TV series have been commissioned to grow this universe larger.
The perfect formula created by the series was its use of neo-noir as a theme, where the fight scenes were intense and employed long shots that hardly cut away, making these sequences gritty and up close. Since all the John Wick films have this kind of hard-hitting fight scenes, we’ve compiled the 10 best. None of these are bad in any way, and they all firmly carry the theme of each individual movie as well as the series at large.
Let’s start out with a fight that had no actual fighting involved. After putting up with Santino’s crap for all of John Wick: Chapter 2, the hero had had enough of the antagonist’s games. Finding Santino in the Continental, John decided to take his revenge and shot the bad guy point blank in the head.
While it didn’t have any kicking and screaming, this qualifies as a hard-hitting fight scene because of the mental battle involved. Santino knew John would need to violate the Continental’s rules should he pull the trigger, and you could see John contemplate for half a second if it was worth it. There was an intense mental struggle here, and John decided to blow his rival’s brains out in the end.
9 Subway Fight
The beginning of this sequence was rather lame – John and Cassian traded shots while walking along the subway terminal, which was too ridiculous to believe. However, once John sliced off a man’s family jewels, we knew this scene would have a worthy payoff.
After teasing at a fist fight, John and Cassian engaged one another inside the train. While the fight didn’t have much fancy choreography, it was realistic enough to tell us how a fight between two highly trained killers would be like. The winning shot was of John finding an angle to direct a knife toward Cassian’s chest, before driving it straight into his opponent. Out of professional respect, Cassian was allowed a chance to live as John walked away.
8 Chapter 2 Intro
Very few movies have a better intro than John Wick: Chapter 2, which started out with a bang. In order to retrieve his stolen 1969 Ford Mustang, John would infiltrate this chop shop and proceeded to decimate the place’s ranks.
Within the vicinity of this area, John would engage in a chase sequence – where one can’t be sure who was chasing who – and used his vehicle to systematically destroy those in pursuit. Even without leaving his car, John would use it to crush his foes by drifting around and smacking them with the car. Adding the cherry on top of this scene was the excellent set up for John Wick’s reputation done by the man John had come there for.
7 Hall of Mirrors
Throwing any kind of predictability out the window, this one had us bamboozled as to who was situated where, and whether any shot would land a hit. The hall of mirrors was designed to keep the audience on their toes, as the hundreds of mirrors made it impossible to tell which reflection was real, and which was the true person.
After figuring this out, John would battle Ares, and the two scuffled in a brief but intense fight. John didn’t hold back, though, and used a glass shard to impale Ares’ hand, and then followed that by stabbing her clean. There was something very cathartic about this victory. The fact that we can’t place the reason why is what makes it even better.
6 Pencil Kill
This was a longer scene than just the punchline that was the pencil kill, and the sequence had several highlights of John taking out every one out to get him. We saw John battle seeming commoners in a pedestrian and a violin player, both of whom met their ends after a quick martial arts fight scene.
The final victim learned why people run away when stationary is nearby John Wick, when the latter used a pencil like a knife (although he made it seem sharper) and stabbed the man in the face before ramming it hard in his ear. Now we know why the world’s turning into a paperless environment; you can’t trust any stationary items because of the John Wick fear.
5 Final Boss Fight
A classic one-on-one fight between the hero and villain has been very underrepresented in today’s film market, making John Wick’s climactic fight something special. There were no extravagant combat sequences, no guns involved, it was just an old-fashioned fist fight to the death. Oh, and it was raining, adding to the finality of the tone.
The fight was personal, as both men had losses they wanted to gain vengeance for. The rain falling down hard was used in the fight as well, as the men’s visions were compromised. There was an underlying theme of honor here, with John willingly letting himself be stabbed so that he had Viggo’s arm in a position to break it and then stab the latter to complete the kill.
4 Club Massacre
Putting the neo in the noir of John Wick was this massacre. John wouldn’t go guns blazing in this scene; instead, he hid in the shadows and scoped the place out. The mysteriousness in the music augmented our awestruck sensations at seeing John brutally, but discreetly, take everyone out.
His kill sequence was in stages; John proceeded from one place into another one deeper into the club, and kicked things into the highest gear when he reached the main area. Here, it was time to take out the guns, with John exploding brains left and right with quick headshots; all the while the music and neon lights never died down.
3 Book Kill
Even a freakin’ giant has nothing on our man John Wick, who might have disrupted the library’s “silence is golden” rule, but at least ended the life of his would-be-killer in the process. In Chapter 3 – Parabellum, John came across this assassin in a library, beginning an intense minute-long brawl.
John would ultimately improvise the use of a book to counter the man’s huge frame, and stuffed the library book deep into his jaw. After repeatedly pounding on the base of the book to drive it further into the man’s throat, John would use the book again to snap his opponent’s neck. Let’s hope there are no librarians like John Wick out there; we’d never check another book out the library ever again.
2 Knife Fight
Never bring a John Wick to a knife fight. The victims of this rule learned the hard way when they got sliced by the main character in... a knife shop. This was a highly entertaining sequence, as John would battle foes charging in at him one after another by flinging several knives at them.
In order to shield himself from the knife-throwing barrage directed at him, John would use his enemies as human shields, having them be impaled while he retrieved the other knives to throw at the incoming onslaught. It got pretty brutal at the end, though, as John drove a knife clean into the eyeball of an enemy, before tossing an ax aimed at the head of an already dying man.
1 Museum Shootout
After deciding on ending Santino’s life, John was never going to relent. His pursuit brought him to a museum where, after a tension-filled second, a shootout broke and John killed around ten guys within the first ten seconds.
The scene then went over to an expansive shot in a hall, where John would dispatch about forty guys inside a couple minutes. Making this more epic was that the scene almost exclusively played out in one shot, meaning there were no cuts to make us feel as if this was choreographed. Adding to the realism was John retrieving the guns of his victims, and then instantly shooting his next target in creative areas.