When a foot soldier latent fight goes down on-screen, a learned cinephile always pops up to ask why the unnamed villains come at the hero one at a time. Hollywood’s answer? The hallway fight. Great for building tension, and even greater for wall running and backflip launching, the hallway fight is a staple in a lot of Hollywood action films. Hallway battles are used for building tension, showcasing awesome skill sets, and letting heroes show a full list of their close combat repertoire. Not just a showcase of the heroes themselves, filmmakers and choreographers alike can show unique takes and skills to create these sometimes on-screen works of art. By narrowing the space in which a battle can take place, fighters are both forced and able to attack utilizing the walls of a narrow corridor. In doing so, various fighting styles can be displayed from a backflip to a forward jumping punch.
But the challenge doesn't only lie in the actors who have to move in a small area, but for the filmmakers who get to shoot this narrow space in a variety of creative ways. The space creates a unique challenges and opportunities to change up the fight to fit into their set. A mass of different approaches has been slapped onto this scene type, from long single camera shots, to quick cuts, to steady cam pans, but each approach is deserving of its own merit and has delivered to viewers a diversified pallet of memorable scenes. So without further ado, here are the best hallways fight scenes that Hollywood has ever served up to us.
On the run from a covert group trying to retrieve the brain-unlocking substance stashed inside her body, Lucy finds herself in a showdown with some bad guys in a hospital corridor. Suddenly reaching 60% brain capacity, Lucy has unlocked the potential to move matter with her mind.
With barely a wiggle of her nose, Lucy traps her adversary and disarms all of his goons. Then, with a flick of the wrist, Lucy suspends the men above her and walks a clear path to retrieve her elicit package. This is hardly even a fight thanks to the incredible abilities that Lucy has unlocked.
19 JESSICA JONES
As we will explore, the Marvel Netflix series roster contains some of the best hallway fight scenes in the game. Jessica Jones comes in hot in her Season 1 finale, escaping the hospital on her way to Kilgrave. Making use of the hallway trope, Jessica pops in and out of rooms lining the hall to avoid potential captors and assailants and take a breather and plan her attack.
This approach tells us something about Jessica; she has grown and wants to avoid fighting well intentioned civilians. Rather than beating down the hospital staff in a way we all know Jess can, she opts to hide and stalk, and slink across the long hallway to her temporary freedom.
18 DAREDEVIL SEASON 1
The Season 1 moment gives fans what they have associated with Matt Murdock since his inception -- the ability to use senses outside of site to paint a picture of his surroundings and be a more effective and stealth attacker. This single shot fight scene puts Murdock in a hallway of criminals and unleashes the blind hero on them in a long assault.
Charlie Cox looks the most like Daredevil here, with his head tilted into his blindfold, best signalling his reliance on the dark to fuel his other senses. The use of boxing skills are really showcased and the hits land hard.
17 RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION
Tucked away in the fifth instalment of the film franchise is the Tokyo corridor fight. While action is often slammed for stacking quick cuts in favour long single shots, this glowing hallway fight scenes uses them to create a full-on dreamlike action sequence. Alice looks more like her video game counterpart than ever doing sharp flips and using both her gun and a chain during the sequence.
The space is used really well here to let the zombies come at Alice in an organized, yet still completely chaotic fashion, and the well-lit white room really makes the more subtle gore here pop.
16 DAREDEVIL SEASON 3
Before the Season 3 uncut fight, Season 2 of the Netflix heavyweight, treated viewers to a scene of The Punisher blowing through a bevy of orange clad inmates in a prison hallway. Joe Berenthal has done wonders for this often adapted character, bringing a level of cunning and fear to his fighting style.
This scene puts Castle in a literal box that he makes his way though while taking no, uh, prisoners. The sound effects in this one gave us chills usually reserved for slashers. The contrast in uniforms played against the red blood make the close of this scene a beautiful tableau.
15 REPO MEN
What makes the hallway fight in this movie so fun is the use of a gamut of analogue weapons. Starting the fight off, Remy reveals his two knives which immediately strikes fear into the hearts of his foes.
Not a bullet flying, Remy makes his way through the suited-up villains in the short corridor, Beth backing him up with her firepower of choice. As he loses each weapon, Remy creatively replaces them in a way usually reserved for super spies such as Jason Bourne, from a singing saw to even using a plastic bag for a truly killer finishing move.
14 THE DEFENDERS
This arm of the Marvel Netflix Universe finally brings together all the heroes we have met in the expanded franchise. The third episode hallway fight showcases the not-yet-formed Defenders' individual talents flawlessly -- any scene that starts with Sigourney Weaver is a good one, and this is no exception.
After Iron First blasts through a room full of fighting suits (it’s honestly surprising he doesn’t use their ties against them more in the fight), the rest of the heroes rock up to show off their bevy of talents, including Luke Cage blocking bullets to Daredevil sensing impending danger. This scene also includes a good long shot that places all of the characters in the same space for the first time on the screen.
13 HOTEL ARTEMIS
Hotel Artemis feels like a fever dream deep dive into the hotel from John Wick. Filled to the brim with some choice fights in the realm of that beloved franchise, one can’t ignore the contributions of the fabulous Sofia Boutella.
A trained dancer, Boutella has always kicked literal butt in fight scenes from her climax flying fight in Kingsmen to her moment to shine in Star Trek: Beyond. Dawning a slit ridden red dress, Sofia takes on a band of baddies using her trademarked full body fighting style, creating a visually stunning fight scene that only dreams are made of.
12 WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
This horror comedy favorite is a unique take on the mockumentary and one of the most hilarious films to watch after dark. One of the many things it does so brilliantly is use the typical vampire powers for brand new comedy. They have no reflection, making for a floating teacup gag, they can transform food into live animals making for a spaghetti gag, and they can fly.
In a fun twist on the rotating room hallway fight, veteran vamp Deacon, and baby bloodsucker, Nick, get into a hallway squabble that has them hissing at each other from opposite ceiling corners. This is no ordinary hallway battle -- this one used every corner of the 3D structure.
11 IRON MAN 2
Up until her hallway scrum, Natasha Romanoff has been little more than Tony Stark’s objectified assistant. So color viewers surprised when after a quick change in a moving car, Romanoff comes blowing into Hammer’s offices to take down a set of security guards with all of her Russian spy techniques.
We are so quickly introduced to her brand of gadgets and gymnastics heavy fighting style that will follow her character throughout the MCU. We think Happy is there too… if you don’t picture this battle as the quintessential Black Widow intro to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we don’t know what to tell you.
There is a lot to love about this South Korean masterpiece, and that includes the director’s risk taking. The type of risk taking that manufactures unforgettable scenes. One of those scenes etched in my mind is the corridor fight scene. Here, we find Oh Dae-su making his way through a mass of men in a single uncut shot.
The choreography is brilliant and apparently took three days of perfecting and 17 takes to get it just right. It is a beautiful showcase of hand-to-hand fight choreography and should be lauded for making the hits look realistic without the crutch of multiple cuts and angles. Arguably, this scene sparked the trope of long single shot fight scenes.
9 ATOMIC BLONDE
Another instalment in the single shot book of fights is the stairwell battle in this underappreciated action smash movie. Unarmed and outnumbered, Lorraine Broughton fights desperately to protect her informant, Spyglass.
This action-fueled scene takes the single shot (with possible hints of cuts, but who's keeping track?) a step farther, panning back and forth between flying weapons and defeated goons as if you were a fly on the wall rubbernecking throughout this fight. This gritty battle is a showcase of Theron’s action talent and has a perfect balance of grit and humor plated out with the camera work choreography. Time to practice your heel punches.
8 THE RAID: REDEMPTION
Not many people can do what Iko Uwais does as Rama in this Indonesian hit action movie. One thing about his film fighting style that has always been appealing is the teethrattling way he takes and delivers hits.
The hallway fight scene in this movie lets Rama take a host of hits, wincing but coming back to both deal and get dealt more punishment. It showcased a talent of choreography and skill how he lets his “hit” body parts relax for a moment while delivering blows from a different area. We could watch those rapid roundhouse kicks a hundred times in a row.
Often cited by cinephiles is the rotating room hallway fight scene from the Chris Nolan heavyweight. Fighting in a dream within a dream creates a unique situation for everyone’s favorite walking exposition spout, Arthur, who now has to fight in a constantly moving hallway.
A great spin (forgive the pun) on the trope, the fight takes shape up against walls and hallways that keep turning into pits where any of the combatants can fall to their possible demise. This fight feels like something created in a Mario game or Wes Craven trying to amplify gore (Freddy fans know what we're talking about).
There is so much to say about Cleric John Preston’s final fight scene, it's almost difficult to even begin. In the strong worldbuilding this film puts on display, there is long running use of a newly created close range fighting style that relies on handguns.
From the beginning, there are instructional videos and snippets of Preston invoking that style in his position as an agent for the oppressors. In his final battle, Preston invokes every skill and gadget peppered into the film thus far in a stunning display of violent efficiency on his way through a hallway towards his final foe. The payoff of his initial tossing of mags is incredibly cool and makes this battle one for the ages.
5 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL
The opening of this instalment in the M:I franchise is the perfect portrait of the cartoon sensibilities director Brad Bird brought to the series. Revealing Ethan in prison and the IMF’s emergency plans to liberate him, we’re treated to a Dean Martin synched prison hallway battle that’s just as much dance as it is fight, and just as much fight as it is comedy bit.
No one runs across a wall quite like Hunt, and this scene doesn’t spare us the stunt. Doubling down on the cartoon, the film later includes the greatest hallway scene of all time, Ethan and Benji doing everything they can to avoid a fight in a narrow corridor with some IMF technology magic.
Since this entire movie takes place during a violent rush across a train, it is arguably one giant hallway fight scene. As Curtis leads his “back of the train” militia towards the front, they pass through a host of twisted enemies, but not until they are approaching a tunnel does face of the "front", Mason, show up with her own band of soldiers.
Adding a layer to the outnumbered claustrophobic fight scene, the train is approaching a tunnel, and only Mason’s soldiers have night vision. Working blind, Curtis’ militia accept that they’re going to lose men and keep pushing, their cause in mind. Not to be defeated, they flood the dark hallway with fire in one of the more stunning visuals of the visually stunning feature.
3 ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
Last we saw everyone’s favorite villain, Darth Vader, he had been edited to shout “NOOOOOOOO” in an otherwise subtle origin scene. Reeling from the loss of or infallible dark king, fans couldn’t imagine any new iteration could push him higher than his original seat of evil glory. We. Were. Wrong.
The Rogue One Vader scene unites us all, original trilogy fans, prequel fans and sequel fans alike over this absolute mammoth of a Vader scene. From the moment Vader loads up that red lightsaber, you know it is about to go down. What makes us shudder in this one, is that Vader could easily move all the rebels out of his way with one wave of the hand, but instead chooses to rattle through his various force skills to savor each moment of this hallway massacre.
2 TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY
Don’t come at us about the correct use of slo-mo until you have done a deep dive into John Connor busting through Galleria doors and the T-800 flipping a weapon out of a box of roses. But what makes this hallway fight the best of its kind is that it tells a story. Until now, John Connor (along with the audience) has been told the square jawed Austrian was a villain bent on ending him.
Stumbling across the newly programmed cyborg, John runs in fear towards the officer he had been avoiding. This scene uses something as simple as a hallway shootout to reveal the major twist and set the stage for the rest of the movie -- the T-800 is here to protect John and the T-1000 is here to take him out.
1 THE MATRIX
There is no question that this incredible shootout is the hallway scene of scenes. Somehow better than the scene itself are the stories about the making. In a conversation with Keanu Reeves, he revealed that the entire space was rigged with mini explosions to act as bullet holes, and the shot could only be done one time due to the time and money it cost to set it up.
He said he was handed a bag full of weapons and ammo and told to use it all up during the take. Right before “action,” he hesitated and shouted, “wait!” After getting himself together, he and Carrie-Anne Moss blew through the props they had been handed creating one of the most memorable battles ever seen on-screen as Neo and Trinity.