Rocky may have been an expert at amazing movie knockouts, but he ignores a whole half of the human limbs. Legs are longer, stronger, and, well ,there’s a reason people don’t talk about punching ass. In honor of Kickboxer airing as part of IFC’s Movie Madness, we’re counting down cinema’s most amazing kicks.
10. No Retreat, No Surrender
You knew Jean-Claude Van Damme was going to appear on this list, and this film is where his career really, er, kicked off. Villainous henchman “Ivan Krushensky” didn’t just get an intimidating last name, he also inverted people’s faces wearing a suit sharper than a wedding tuxedo.
9. Police Story 3
Police Story 3 is what happens you let Jackie Chan beat up every criminal in Hong Kong twice and then decide to make it more awesome the third time. Michelle Yeoh is what happens when a woman kicks just as much ass. Notice how she sportingly lets the bad guy get off a shot just so he doesn’t feel bad about what happens next, then decides that between kicking away the gun, kicking bad guys in the head, and obeying gravity, that gravity can wait.
8. Resident Evil
Milla Jovovich takes on the undead in the Resident Evil movies, and the first rule of fighting zombies is not to fight without weapons. But the first rule of Resident Evil is Milla Jovovich kicks ass, even when that ass is a mutated guard dog. She looks like an ass-kicking M.C. Escher drawing as she stomps across the walls to deliver an even more impossible stomping. (Click here to see Resident Evil airings on IFC.)
7. Iron Monkey
Donnie Yen doesn’t so much beat people up as speak in a language entirely of kicks, and it’s the language of a rich and ancient culture regaling us with epics and odes and poems of heartbreaking (and rib-breaking) beauty. And if kicking is a language, Iron Monkey is a dictionary, in which one of the most powerful expletives is this astonishing splits-to-single kick taking out three enemies before he even hits the ground.
6. Fist of Legend
Fist of Legend accurately describes Jet Li. Most people remember his acting skills, as he made a superhuman effort to pretend to get beaten up by Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 4, but this movie shows his real skills as he tells the Earth to just hold his hand for a second while he demolishes an idiot, then springs back ready to take on everyone else in the universe.
5. Road House
You knew at least one of our honored kicks would have to be a nut-shot, and no nut-shot has ever been more deserved, more painful, or more beneficial for the future of the human race. Just look at how bad guy Jimmy jerks when Swayze slams his foot into the two little “Jimmies.” That’s not just pain. That’s the shock of an entire family line disappearing from the future.
4. Ong Bak
Early man harnessed the power of fire for warmth. Tony Jaa uses it to deliver one of the most punishing kicks of all time.
In one of his most famous roles, “The Muscles From Brussels” kicks Tong Po into next week. Strike that — he kicks him into the next century.
2. Enter the Dragon
Decades before 3D became the standard for every movie, Bruce Lee achieved it without special effects and using just his right foot back in Enter the Dragon. The viewer can feel this kick through the screen, through the third dimension, through their very soul. We’re rubbing our face just thinking about it.
1. Karate Kid
The most infamously amazing kick in cinema history was delivered by a scrappy teenager with a bully problem. The Karate Kid‘s “Crane Kick” might look silly at first, but woe to the Cobra Kai member who ends up on the receiving end.