After 58 years and 24 official films (not yet No Time To Die) plus the rogue Never Say Never Again, there has been all sorts of hand to hand combat in the 007 series–from Bond vs. M. Largo in Never Say Never Again, Tracy vs. Grunther in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Bond vs. the 3 Beirut thugs in The Man With The Golden Gun, to Bond vs. Whitaker’s Assassin in The Living Daylights, Bond vs. Graves sword fight in Die Another Day, and Bond vs. 3 of M’s Security Team in Quantum Of Solace plus numerous others. Every film has at least one really good fight in it, but which one(s) are the best? Or most creative? Or even underrated or overrated? Or simply the worst?
My opinion for best fight:
Sean Connery – Bond vs. Grant (From Russia With Love)
George Lazenby – Bond vs. Che-Che (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)
Roger Moore – Bond vs. Shandor (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Timothy Dalton – Necros vs. the Blayden Butler (The Living Daylights) though
Dalton’s personal best fight is Bond vs. Necros (The Living Daylights)
Pierce Brosnan – Bond vs. Trevelyan (GoldenEye)
Daniel Craig – Bond vs. Obanno (Casino Royale)
And the winner is:
I have to go with the iconic Bond vs. Grant punch 'em up in From Russia With Love. Everything works in the scene. There’s a slow, steady build-up of tension to the fight, and once the tear gas from the attache case explodes it’s a no-holds barred encounter. The fight is tense and intense and suitably long in a tightly constricted space. The lighting sets a good mood and the fight choreography makes great use of the surroundings and both actors give it their all. And to put the cherry on top, the fight ends perfectly as well with Grant’s time being up. Simply put, the best fight scene in Bond history and arguably all of cinema history.
Being a lover of DAF, I will go with the fight in the elevator in that film as the best Bond fight. Two Peter Franks fighting each, as well as two James Bonds (not to mention that Joe Robinson not only played Franks, but trained Connery and choreographed the sequence). It is a cinematic meta-fight supreme.
Additionally, the FRWL fight suffers from Peter Hunt’s intensified continuity, which exalts rhythm at the expense of space and mise-en-scene (and makes it similar to–if not indistinguishable from–its myriad successors). Guy Hamilton’s rich sense of space gives DAF’s fight a sense of heft and consequence that the train sequence lacks. Hunt’s editing lends the scene a cartoon quality that has only increased in subsequent films as intensified continuity has become an almost universal editing approach. Hamilton’s classic framing was probably one reason Hunt disliked his work–it could not be sliced-and-diced the way Young’s less expressive shots could be.
Bond vs. Franks (Connery)
Bond vs. Bambi and Thumper (Connery)
Bond vs. Oddjob (Connery)
Bond vs. Grant (Connery)
Bond vs. Chang (Moore)
Bond vs. Jaws (TSWLM)
Bond vs. Jaws (Moonraker)–two possibilities
Bond vs. Hinx (Craig)
Bond vs Silva (Craig)
Also: for fights to be considered, do they need to end with the death of Bond’s antagonist or just their besting?
Kudos to MrWK and D0A for invoking DAF, GF and Spectre before I could.
But what about 007 vs Largo and the bridge crew of the Disco Volante, Hans in YOLT, Kananga, and Patrice?
I’ll still go with Peter Franks, though - you never forget your first.
All fights are considered that involve hand-to-hand combat such as fisticuffs, knife fighting, or sword fighting as well as those that involve more than one opponent at the same time. I’ll even accept fights that are rather one-sided.
Gun fights are not included. I also would NOT count a fight as one involving only one punch or kick such as Bond getting the drop on Trusman in The Man With The Golden Gun even though that is a great scene.
Fights also don’t have to include Bond and death is NOT required of the loser.
Everything listed has been spot on. But I’d like to add one on a “degree of dfficulty” basis. The PTS of OHMSS has a pretty good punch-up (and a great way to introduce Laz). But that it’s outside makes me appreciate it more. Both Grant and Franks, Jaws on the train etc, all benefit from the close quarters setting. The beach (and the fishing nets etc) at first glance wouldn’t replicate the “in-your-face-nowhere-to-run” feel of the others. But thanks to Hunt and the stuntwork, the beach brawl doesn’t lose any of the claustrophobic menace that the others listed benefit from.
Here’s the deal: system tells me a poll must have less than 20 options. We could either condense it down to top-ten favourites of the fanbase or split it into decades, with the survivors of the respective decades facing off in deathmatch mode, whatever you prefer.
As in Jim’s epic Deathmatch it could lead to surprising results if we break these down first. Let me know until tomorrow 18.00 Zulu time…
Excited for this!
I’ll throw my support behind Connery Bond v the SPECTRE assassin that got Henderson, once they get back to Osato’s HQ. Love Connery’s surprise greeting, the moves with the sword are awesome, the dispatching with the statue is brutal and it all takes place in yet another breathtaking Ken Adam set… what’s not to love!!!
The FRWL train fight is always the obvious choice, but even though Bond doesn’t win the fight per se, I think this is the better representation of Connery in action. The setting is so chaotic as well.
My favourite from OHMSS, and one of the most impressive fights from the franchise. Lazenby’s punches are absolutely savage. He’s throwing every ounce of energy into them.
My choice for Roger - though the Jaws train fight is a very, very close second.
The antenna slugfest in GE gets the most attention, and for good reason. But the sword fight is my pick. It’s seriously impressive and I believe it’s one of the best fights in the series. Excellent choreography and a real sense of antagonism as the stakes increase.
I can’t go past this one for Craig, so far at least.