Ranking the best sword fights of all time in ultimate action movie history!

Action movies tend to go big with shootouts, car chases and explosions, but a well-staged sword fight can be just as exciting. So let’s sharpen our blades and dive into the top 10 sword fights in action movies!

10) Casey vs. Masazuka (Ninja)

Director Isaac Florentine’s homage to the 1980s ninja classics is one of his ultimate masterpieces, and with Scott Adkins he had a star who was on his way to become one of the great action heroes of our time. In the film’s showdown, Casey (Adkins) faces his arch enemy Masazuka who just poisoned Casey’s lover, and teases him with the antidote. The stakes are high and wounds are deep when these two warriors work their ninja magic.

9) Ash vs. Evil Ash (Army of Darkness)

The third installment of the Evil Dead saga cranked up the slapstick level of the previous films even more. Goofball Ash (Bruce Campbell) finds himself in a medieval world haunted by the Necronomicon. In the final battle, the forces of good lead by Ash clash with against the Deadites and their master Evil Ash. The two perform a fine swashbuckling choreography on castle stairs and walls until its fiery conclusion.

8) Nick vs. The Assassin (Blind Fury)

Zatoichi, the blind swordsman, is a famous character in Japan, and Hollywood’s take on it gave us one of the great cheesy 1980s actioners. Nick (Rutger Hauer) lost his eyesight in the Vietnam war, but still became a master swordsman. When he returns to the US, he learns that the son of his best platoon buddy was abducted by a crime lord. Nick slices and dices through many goons until he faces two master villains (among them Cannon ninja movie legend Sho Kosugi). Both are no match for Nick and his creativity in arranging their demise.

7) Robin Hood vs. Sheriff of Nottingham (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)

Kevin Costner is a fine choice as the 1990s version of Robin Hood, but this well-behaved hero almost pales in comparison to Alan Rickman’s manic performance as Robin’s nemesis. Just before the Sheriff forcibly consummates the marriage with Robin’s beloved Marian, the hero of Sherwood Forest spoils the party. The sheriff then turns into a hurricane of insanity, and leaves not a single piece of furniture unbroken before meeting his inevitable fate.

6) John Wick vs. Zero (John Wick 3)

Two warriors engage in a sword fight, but there is only one weapon. This premise for the showdown of the third part of the John Wick saga is orchestrated masterfully by director Chad Stahelski, and most impressively executed by Keanu Reeves and Marc Dacascos. In every John Wick film lighting becomes an art form, and the labyrinth of glass is lightened up with all colors of the neon rainbow when the deadly weapon changes its wielder every thirty seconds.

5) Maximus vs. Tigris (Gladiator)

Ridley Scott’s and Russell Crowe’s ultimate Sword & Sandal masterpiece features many epic arena fights, but the most badass one is Maximus’ (Crowe) face-off against the mighty gaul (Sven-Ole Thorsen). A ferocious battle begins, and Maximus is at a disadvantage not only because he takes it up against a heavily armored enemy, but also because three tigers are looking to get an afternoon snack.

4) Dragon vs. Evil Henchman (Tiger Cage 2)

The Tiger Cage films are gems of Donnie Yen’s early career, and showed us why he would go on to become one of the greatest martial arts actors of our times. A flimsy plot and cheesy jokes are only there to tie together the many action sequences. The sword fight between Dragon (Yen) and an evil sword master is the highlight of the film with an insane choreography that is executed perfectly. 

3) The Bride vs. The Crazy 88 (Kill Bill)

In his two Kill Bill films, Quentin Tarantino throws one awesome fight after another towards the audience, but the arguable highlight is the battle of The Bride (Uma Thurman) vs. the killer squad of the first film’s main antagonist O-Ren Ishii. It’s more of an absurd massacre than a serious sword fight, but the gory slapstick violence and wild editing will have you at the edge of your seat!

2) Cho vs. The Silver Ninja (Revenge of the Ninja)

The showdown between Cho (Sho Kosugi) and the ninja with the silver mask on the rooftop of a skyscraper is an iconic sequence of 1980s action cinema, and an ultimate highlight of Cannon’s ninja movie trilogy. Everything we could wish for in a ninja movie is here: mysterious eye shadow, nylon ninja suits, front and back flips galore, Shurikens, evil laughter, ninja magic and concealed flamethrowers. It all adds up to 10 minutes of legendary badassery!

1) Connor MacLeod vs. The Kurgan (Highlander)

There can be only one number one sword fight! Immortal Scotsman Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) settles it once and for all with evil incarnate The Kurgan (Clancy Brown), who has haunted him though centuries. Neon lights and sparks brighten up the night, and turn the two warriors into silhouettes during their deadly dance. It’s thrilling, it’s stylish, it’s totally awesome!


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