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Classic Ten – Gang Fights in the Movies


In The Book of Eli, Denzel Washington fends off roving gangs to protect a book that holds the key to humanity’s future. While gang fights are a staple of both crime drama and scifi action pics, they also turn up in less likely places. (Will Ferrell comedies, for instance.) Take a look at our top ten gang fights of all time and you’ll see what we mean.

boyzinthehood-125.jpg10. Doughboy’s Gang vs. the Bloods, Boyz n the Hood (1991)
John Singleton’s inner city drama remains one of the best depictions of street gang culture to date. Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and his friends seek revenge for the murder of their pal at the hands of the Bloods. Although Tre eventually realizes that violence isn’t the answer, Doughboy (Ice Cube) and his crew end up taking out the killers. As a statement on urban violence, Boyz n the Hood is a solid ten (and in tenth place).

young-guns-125.jpg9. The Regulators vs. Murphy’s Men, Young Guns (1998)
The Regulators, a group of rootin’ tootin’ gunners, get together to avenge the murder of their cattle rancher boss. Led by Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez), the outlaw gang takes on Murphy (Jack Palance) and his bunch in a climatic battle that finds Chavez (Lou Diamond Phillips) screaming their name at the top of his lungs. Despite playing loose and fast with history, the Regulators make our list at number nine, partly for having the best hair in the Wild West.

red-triangle-gang-member-125.jpg8. Batman vs. the Red Triangle Circus Gang, Batman Returns (1992)
While
Batman isn’t always alone (he’s got Robin and
Batgirl, remember), his solo fight with Penguin’s bizarre Red Triangle Circus gang definitely makes our list. What other gang can count clowns, an organ grinder, a
sword swallower, and a lady with a poodle amongst its members? But since the Red
Triangle Gang is pretty ineffectual (the most they do is wreck a
Christmas tree lighting ceremony), they stay at number eight.

fordhambaldies-125.jpg7. The Wanderers vs. the Del Bombers and the Wongs, The Wanderers (1979)
Philip Kaufman’s gangland tale often gets overlooked when stacked up against other classics of the genre. It  doesn’t help that some of the gangs (like the Fordham Baldies, at right) are kind of silly. But the Wanderers, led by tough guy Richie (Ken Wahl) are a tight crew, as exemplified by their color-coordinated outfits. Though seeing as how the movie is more of a coming-of-age tale, this fracas stays out of the top five.

anchorman-vaughn-125.jpg6. Channel 4 News vs. the Channel 9 Crew, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)
In a hilariously memorable scene, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and his news team rumble with their rivals at Channel 9 Evening News, led by cocky anchor Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn). Pretty soon other news teams (like the Spanish language channel) join the fray, resulting in an over-the-top brawl in which at least one guy is slain with a trident. For sheer hilarity alone, the newscaster brawl comes in at number six.

2002_gangs_of_new_york-125.jpg5. Bill the Butcher’s Gang vs. Amsterdam’s Allies,Gangs of New York (2002)
Martin Scorsese’s history of NYC gangs features a knock-down, drag out brawl for control of Five Points. As with most Scorsese flicks, the violence is brutal. Daniel Day Lewis’ Bill the Butcher anchors the action — he’s the only gang leader who can be intimidating while sporting a handlebar mustache. But since baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t exactly the most convincing gang leader, this one gets dropped to fifth place.

WestSideStory-125.jpg4. The Jets vs. the Sharks, West Side Story (1961)
While
there have certainly been bloodier gang fights on the big screen, few
have involved such strategic use of jazz hands. On one side you have
the Jets, toughs with a deep-seated hatred of cops named Officer Krupke. On the other side, their Puerto Rican rivals, the Sharks. Their “rumble” is definitely the most
dance-tastic gang fight of all time. And that firmly secures West Side
Story
‘s spot in fourth place.

madmax-125.jpg3. Mad Max vs. Toecutter’s Gang, Mad Max (1979)
Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson’s finest hour) is the meanest officer on the Main Force Patrol. He’s also a one-man army waging a war against marauding futuristic bikers. Max swears revenge on Toecutter’s crew after they kill his wife and son, taking down each member with his trusty shotgun. Few futuristic gangs have been as memorable as Toecutter’s nasty crew, whose no-holds-barred battle with Max comes in at number three.

outsidercast-125.jpg2. Socials vs. the Greasers,The Outsiders (1983)
The fight in The Outsiders comes down to scrappy poor kids versus spoiled rich brats. That said, the deck is more than a little stacked in the Greasers favor. After all, what other gang has Swayze, the Karate Kid and C. Thomas Howell among their ranks? (Not to mention a young Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe.) How could you not root for these fresh-faced tough guys? For its iconic place in gang fight movie history, Outsiders takes second place. Francis Ford Coppola should be proud.

warriors-125.jpg1. The Warriors vs. the Baseball Furies, The Warriors (1979)
Walter Hill’s 1979 cult classic takes the top spot for sheer variety alone: everyone from The Baseball Furies to the Hi-Hats, the fiercest gang of mimes in movie history, pop up in the movie’s numerous rumbles. (And don’t forget the all-girl gang The Lizzies.) There are so many great fights in this movie, it’s hard to choose just one. But for sheer absurdity, you can’t beat the Warriors versus baseball bat-wielding tough guys in KISS makeup.

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