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Gerard Butler in 300. (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture/© 2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
Gerard Butler in 300. (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture/© 2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Fighting films: a selection Add to ...

Fists, feet, swords, spears, blood, broken noses, limbs and heads getting lopped off. Is it too much to suggest that these are pretty much guy-film devices? Well, yes. As this selection suggests, gender doesn't rule - graceful choreography and women warriors can also be part of the genre.

300 (2006) Gerard Butler plays the Scottish-accented Spartan king who marches into battle against the Persians with his handful of soldiers, all wearing capes, sandals and leather Speedos. Plenty of slow-motion gore, plus a Persian king who, it seems, can't let a single section of his body go unpierced.

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Enter the Dragon (1973) Not the first martial-arts film ever made, but certainly one of the best. The immortal Bruce Lee infiltrates the lair of an evil gangster and fights off hundreds of attackers. It's a graduate course in what choreographed fight scenes are supposed to look like.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Before she played geisha, Zhang Ziyi was crossing swords and flying through treetops with Michelle Yeoh, and beating up four or five thugs with one hand while calmly sipping tea with the other.

Kill Bill (2003) In Quentin Tarantino's homage to kung fu movies, a revenge-bent Uma Thurman slices, dices, impales and plucks out eyeballs - all while looking gorgeous.

Rocky (1976 ad infinitum) The most celebrated of boxing films, this durable franchise must be a mainstay of Stallone's retirement plan. One favourite moment: In the fourth instalment, the Gorbachev doppelganger scowls as Soviet superman Dolph Lundgren gets pounded.

The Quiet Man (1952) A sentimental John Ford favourite. Irish bruisers played by John Wayne and Victor McLaglen pummel each other for what seems like hours. They take a break to have a beer together - and then go back at it.

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