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The top ten bar fights in movies (with video)


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Sometimes a situation can’t be handled by anything other than what a young man named Alex once described as a “bit of the old ultra-violence.” Grab a bottle and break it over the head of our list of great cinematic bar brawls.

“Mean Streets” (1973)

This early mini-classic from a young New Yorker by the name of Martin Scorsese (way, way pre-“Hugo”) features what might be the best bar fight of all time. “Mean Streets” is about small-time hoods, not trained assassins or martial arts experts, so there’s a raw, ragged clumsiness to their pool hall fight, as especially showcased in the extended (and rather amazing) steadicam shot that runs the perimeter of the entire room; these guys don’t know “how” to fight, but they’re fighting nonetheless. Robert De Niro has a terrific bit where he uses a pool cue as a club and takes on his attackers with a few swift kicks (that don’t really hit home, but it’s the thought that counts); the fight also ends as abruptly as it begins after the cops show up, with everyone calling a truce and having a drink — and then it almost starts back up again.

“Desperado” (1995)

Robert Rodriguez’s rowdy sequel/remake to his stunning DIY debut, El Mariachi features the super-suave Antonio Banderas as, well, El Mariachi, a rogue musician with a guitar case full of guns hellbent on revenge against the bandito who shot his hand and killed his girl. Rodriguez’s knack for energetic choreography and bait-and-switch editing is on full display here as Banderas makes short work of a tavern full of scumbags, including Cheech Marin, who would go on to become, like Banderas, a Rodriguez Regular (or is that “Regulator?”). We especially like the bit where the guy spins like a top due to the momentum of all the bullets hitting him in his pivot points — and, really, was there a cooler actor in 1995 than Antonio Banderas?

“Road House” (1989)

“Be nice…until it’s time… to not be nice.” “Road House” is the greatest movie ever made, so of course it’s going to feature not one but multiple awesome bar fights. Patrick Swayze rules as James Dalton, a professional “cooler” who’s also got a philosophy degree from NYU to fall back on if the whole bouncer thing doesn’t work out; for now, he’s off to tame the Double Deuce, a hellhole dive in a small Southern town ruled with an iron fist by the corrupt businessman (or something), Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara, oozing smarmy evil). Sam Elliott plays the Obi-Wan to Swayze’s Luke Skywalker, who’s called in as reinforcement when the Deuce ends up being too big and bad a gig for just one man. “Pain don’t hurt” is another bit of Dalton wisdom; “This movie’s awesome” is one of ours.

“From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996)

More Robert Rodriguez, though Antonio Banderas sat this one out and George Clooney took center stage (and kicked ass) in his first major feature film role. The entire second act of this action-horror hybrid is one long extended bar fight featuring all sorts of bloody vampire mayhem, though one of our favorite moments is a brawl that almost breaks out. Sex Machine (Tom Savini) shows off some fancy mini-lasso work as he snags a dude’s drink, a trick which the thirsty fella doesn’t exactly appreciate; his unsheathed switchblade is countered with Sex Machine’s fully erect (and, we’re assuming, fully loaded) crotch-pistol, which convinces the would-be assailant to let one of the most celebrated special effects makeup artists in the industry just have his damn beer. Rodriguez completists will recognize this “codpiece gun” as a leftover prop from “Desperado.”

“The Boondock Saints” (1999)

The Brothers MacManus (Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery) answer to a higher power in this cult vigilante thriller, and there’s definitely a higher power at work in the bar fight; how else can you explain a guy being able to finish his insult to a giant Russian mobster (named Boris, notch) even though he gets punched in the face about halfway through telling him that his “pinko commie mother sucks so much dick, her face looks like an egg” (really, ADR department, what’s up with that)? We guess it’s only appropriate that the event in which the Brothers take the leap into becoming two-fisted (or, in this case, two-wine-bottled) ass-kickers for the Lord would have some supernatural elements to it; this free-for-all of Fightin’ Irish versus Russkie thugs also features an old coot behind the bar shadowboxing with enthusiasm as mayhem explodes all over the joint. Red devils, go home!

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…


A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.