Some of the best fight scenes in the James Bond franchise are set on trains, with some being better than others. With 25 films in the series, there is a surprisingly low amount of them. But this is what makes them so special when they do come about.
Bond is not one to shy away from getting his hands dirty, as he’s proven many a time throughout the series. Although not all of these fights are on trains, trains are an exciting setting for such sequences since there’s usually no way off, providing that doomed trapped feeling. Bond, therefore, has no choice but to directly confront his foes with his formidable fighting style. Here are all the train fight sequences in Bond ranked from worst to best.
7 Bond vs. Trevelyan, Xenia, and Ourumov (GoldenEye)
Although perhaps not a ‘fight’, strictly speaking, shots are fired and the sequence carries a special kind of power. It’s the first moment in the film Bond has the upper hand over Trevelyan after learning of his defection, and is also the only scene in the film that sees all the main villains in the same room at once, with Trevelyan, Xenia, and Ourumov all present. Because it can’t technically be classed as a fight, it features at the bottom of this list but receives kudos as an honorable mention and a great train scene in the series.
6 Bond vs. Gobinda and Grishcka (Octopussy)
This is a fine sequence in Octopussy, a film not as bad as some say, and is only so low on this list due to its competition. However, it doesn’t last very long and comes directly after seeing Bond disguised in a gorilla suit, and the juxtaposition of a somewhat silly moment to a fairly impressive stunt sequence is jarring. Considering this, the addition of a dramatic score to this sequence may have helped. But the fight is layered with a variety of fun moments, with impressive swordplay and hand-to-hand combat at play.
5 Bond vs. Tee Hee (Live & Let Die)
This train fight is certainly one of the Bond classics, and even remasters some of the potency found in the Red Grant fight in From Russia with Love, a James Bond formula so great it’s due a return. It is an act of cold, hard revenge on Tee Hee’s part, as he attacks Bond in a wild fit of anger with little to no rational thought driving his actions. The fight is dramatic and rousing in parts, boasting a decent runtime, but because it occurs at the end of the film it poses little to no significance to the plot, leaving the impact of the scene underwhelming compared to its counterparts.
4 Bond vs. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me)
Jaws is a character who personifies horror, which was a welcome change for audiences at the time. This fight sequence is significantly shorter than the Tee Hee fight, to which it’s very similar in certain ways, but its intensity and excitement take it one place higher on this list. The moment Anya opens her wardrobe to find her foe inside is positively terrifying, and what follows is a sequence between James Bond and Jaws that is thrilling, fun, and as electric as Bond’s attack on Jaws’ teeth with the broken lamp.
3 Bond vs. Hinx (Spectre)
This entry was initially going to be higher on this list, as it’s undoubtedly a high point in Spectre. Still, its competition was ultimately stronger than Mr. Hinx and his intervention of Bond and Madeleine Swann’s dirty martinis. The fight is perfectly choreographed and is positively thrilling hand-to-hand combat with no gadgets to speak of. It hearkens back to classic Bond, such as the Red Grant, Tee Hee, and Jaws fights that came before, but in this case, the fight lasts much longer, is frightfully dynamic in its movement and dramatization, and boasts incredibly impressive stunt work from Daniel Craig and Dave Bautista themselves.
The problem with this scene, however, is that it doesn’t tie in well with the overall narrative of the film, presenting a certain villain problem Spectre repeats from Skyfall. For this reason, the very purpose of the fight in the plot is problematic, stopping it from reaching second place on this list. It is, however, an incredibly memorable fight sequence, and is certainly one for the ages.
2 Bond vs. Patrice (Skyfall)
This fight takes place entirely on top of the train rather than inside it. It is layered with a ratcheting-up of dramatization and levels of intensity, with an unforgettable climax with Bond being accidentally shot by Moneypenny before he plummets from the train to the water below. The scene from start to finish is heart-wrenching as Bond pursues an assailant in possession of a critically important list, as audiences enjoy the variety of Bond leaping onto the train from a motorbike, to Bond operating a digger, to a hand-to-hand fight which makes for one of the best James Bond opening action scenes.
1 Bond vs. Grant (From Russia With Love)
Perhaps one of the best fight sequences in all of Bond, is the gritty and perfectly terrifying battle between Bond and Red Grant. With this fight, it’s the build-up which makes it extra special, not just in the immediate scenes preceding the fight, but throughout the whole film. The audience knows Red Grant is a dangerous, deadly, and serious assassin from the moment he’s introduced, but when the train sequence begins it’s also clear he is intelligent and cunning with his espionage and identity theft, as he poses as the ally Bond was expecting to rendezvous with alongside Tatiana (a Bond girl who could have easily betrayed 007).
The fight itself is an inevitable result of a tension that was bubbling over for some time. The fight itself is ugly, yet wonderful in its intensity, a terrible conflict that is a matter of life and death. Audiences know only one will survive and it’s one of the most brutal physical and mental tests Bond will ever have to endure, encapsulating the very real danger of his profession like little else in the James Bond series has managed to achieve.
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