When it comes to action films, not much can beat a good knife fight. Close-quarters combat with knives creates fast-paced scenes that get the adrenaline going and maintain suspense. Throughout cinematic history, there have been a few knife-wielding stars who stood out above the rest, whether they preferred to brandish a particularly wicked hunting knife or were adept at handling multiple sporting knives.
The following is a look at five of the toughest characters wielding knives on screen:
The final fight scene of Commando, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger brandishes one of the many sporting knives he uses in the film, is particularly memorable. As one Internet film fan puts it, “He’s so bada** he brings knives to a gun fight and wins.” A fully customized, specially made bowie knife was commissioned for the film. Arnold’s character, of course, is a master with all knives and firearms, so by the time the knife fight scene arrives it’s really no surprise that the Matrix (Schwarzenegger’s character) wins out against Bennett (the ex-military turned villain).
Premiering in 1982, three years before Commando, Rambo’s hunting knife theatrics raised the bar for all knife-wielding actors who followed. Equipped with a 14-inch saw back hunting knife, Sylvester Stallone’s character in Rambo: First Blood is arguably one of the great knife wielders of film –this role had a heavy influence on the popularity of sporting knives on the big screen.
Last of the Mohicans.
Daniel Day Lewis’ character, Hawkeye, in Last of the Mohicans wields a bone-handled hunting knife with impressive proficiency. Throughout the film, you’ll find multiple sporting knives that were modified for historical accuracy. This film is bloody and hard to watch, but you can’t ask for more intense fight scenes, especially when it comes to knives, tomahawks, and large melee weapons. This movie has it all.
This 2007 thriller features one of the most violent knife fights in film history. Attacked in a Turkish bath house by two Russian mobsters wielding sporting knives, Viggo Mortensen’s character, Nikolai, defends himself unarmed. Nikolai – fighting, well, naked – manages to wrestles a knife from his attackers and takes them both out, leaving the bathhouse floor covered in blood. The scene has been consistently praised for its cinematography, even if it’s a little hard to watch at times.
No list of knife-wielding gurus would be complete without Paul Hogan’s famous role in Crocodile Dundee. This famous film character from down under is known for his extra-large hunting knife, which he pulls on an unsuspecting NYC mugger, proclaiming, “That’s not a knife. That’s a knife.” Dundee’s weapon of choice is a huge bowie knife – great for making your way through the jungle – a fact that helped make bowie knives popular around the world. Each of the subsequent Crocodile Dundee films would use a similarly styled bowie knife with slightly different modifications.