Have Your Say: What's The Best Movie Shoot-out Ever?

Associate Editor, Features; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
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Have Your Say: What's The Best Movie Shoot-out Ever?
Yesterday, Ben Wheatley's Free Fire played at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and a good time was had by all, especially when the director took the stage afterwards for a very funny Q&A session. I swear, I'd pay just to hear Ben Wheatley talk about movies for two hours.

One of the things he mentioned was how action finales in films are done these days, with massive carnage and city-wide destruction while the leads barely bat an eyelid. Ben argued that while this is spectacular, it doesn't automatically make for a more exciting film. He said that in many of his favorite titles from the seventies and eighties, a finale would consist of the lead versus a few guys (and maybe a car), and you'd be watching white-knuckled because you were invested in all those characters.

True words of course, and this brings me to the question of the week: what is the best shoot-out you've ever seen in a film? Was it a duel, a war, a western, a Hong Kong bullet ballet?

Chime in, in the comments below, and HAVE YOUR SAY!

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  • This one i almost forgot:
    Vinterbergs DEAR WENDY based on a script by mean ol´Lars von Trier is a real slowburner which finally ends in an all out orgasmic gunfight between a "pacifist gun lover" Gang called the Dandies and the entire police force of that little town they live in. Definitely a forgotten gem.

  • Despite all the classic John Woo gunfights in almost every of his HK-films i would put the ultra slow mo blood squibbing galore St. Patricks shootout between Sean Penn and Ed Harris in Phil Joanos STATE OF GRACE on the top of my list.

  • Bryant Low

    Lots of great suggestions from everyone here. I've always had a soft spot for:
    The climactic raid shootout in Walter Hill's THE LONG RIDERS
    The train station shootout in Brian De Palma's 'THE UNTOUCHABLES
    The final bloodbath in Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER
    The claustrophobic car shootout in Jacques Audiard's UN PROPHETE

  • JohnFlichty

    Just for HK cinema (because they're undoubtedly the best at his) :
    Hard-Boiled, A Better Tomorrow 2, Time and Tide, PTU, My Heart is that Eternal Rose, Pom Pom and Hot Hot (bad comedy with some short but crazy gunfights), The Longest Nite, Return Engagement, Just Heroes, The Mission, Don't Play with Fire (this finale...)...

  • Sebo McPowers

    Nobody mentioned Johnnie To's Drug War?
    I loved the shoot-out at the end. That's the only one, that actually impressed me in the las few years.

  • Daniel Paredes

    I liked the one where the deaf brothers take on the swat team!

  • Ard Vijn

    That one sure slaked MY thirst at that moment!

  • Rage72

    Sinners and Saints, The Town, City of God, Last Man Standing, Mexican Gangster, Hacksaw Ridge, Shootout at Lokhandwala, and Smokin Aces

  • John W

    Beach landing scene in Saving Private Ryan.

    Bar shootout in Desperado.

    The scene in Aliens when they first encounter the xenomorphs.

    The lobby scene in The Matrix.

    The final scene in Commando. Come on Let's Party!

    Black Hawk Down.

  • Paul M


  • Daniel Paredes

    Well, the shootout at the motel between Moss and Chigurh on No Country For Old Men, that awesome (if unrealistic) silenced shotgun helps for added badassery. The one at the end of State of Grace also comes to mind, also that deleted scene from The Raid 2, it's pure chaos and carnage even if brief. Another climatic shoutout is at the very end of Rolling Thunder!

  • ManateeAdvocate

    You know what's exceptionally sad? I just watched Rolling Thunder for the very first time last week. What a movie. Better late than never, but yeah that final scene was amazingly tense.

  • Daniel Paredes

    Rolling Thunder was awesome.

  • andrewz

    There are excellent replies here. Hard to argue with any of them.

    I always liked the opening scene to To's "Breaking News" due to the tracking shot. It contradicts Wheatley's statement that the best scenes rely on already being invested in the characters.

  • Mangkone

    The way of the gun had some pretty decent scenes as well.

  • Jerry Sköld

    It was *really* great with its´ action scenes, and showing off people who really knew what they were doing (though obviously, sometimes they had bad luck when they improvised). The final shootout in the Mexican hotel is one to savor, for sure.

  • Sewercash

    Beside the excellent scenes listed below, one shoot-out scene that grabbed my attention was the one in "The Internatonal" that took place in an art gallery/ museum.

    "Children of men" is also a good one.

  • Dermacka

    Some obvious ones listed below but the Soundtrack (the ecstasy of gold) at the end of the good the bad and the ugly pushes this one to the top of the pile. A touch of Metallica makes it official.


  • Allan Koay

    Johnnie To's THE MISSION. shootout in a mall.

  • Αλέκος Γεωργάκης

    The Wild Bunch by far.Johnnie To did some amazing things,but nowhere near that final shootout.

  • wagnerfilm

    Probably Hard Boiled. That's kind of obvious. John Wick and the final scene of The Wild Bunch. The gun battle in Heat is good but seems perhaps better than it is given that the rest of the film is so overlong and lacking in action.

  • I rewatched the scene from HEAT today, and it occurred to me that the reason it had such an impact (and the reason people remember it) is the realism of the sound. The way the gun shots reverberate off the buildings gives it a real sense of immediacy.

  • Jerry Sköld

    The sound design is impeccable.

  • Ard Vijn

    VERY true.

  • There were some moments in Equilibrium that were flat out brilliant. At the time.

  • jcoa2

    They still are! The gun kata is just too much fun.

  • Jerry Sköld

    Yeah, very few imitators managed to live up to trhe style of those action scenes (not even Wimmer himself, in *ugh* Ultraviolet).

  • thrashtildeath

    The Killer. But there's a reason Hard Boiled is such a widespread answer.

  • arturo

    A Bitter Sweet Life
    Hard Boiled
    Django Unchained
    State Of Grace

  • Wjr.

    The Killer
    The wild bunch
    john wick
    Last man standing
    magnum force
    The untouchables
    extreme prejudice
    red heat
    Truck Turner-hospital shootout

  • cjohnston

    as Mack stated; ...this kinda makes my hair stand on end and my head spin about...
    I'd haveta go with that wacko crazy "train-longgun" duel in Snowpiercer..
    ...it was like watching a pingpong match; with bullets - while riding a roller-coaster..

  • Open Range. Not THE best, but one that I still remember after all those years.
    The final gun fight starts with Kevin Costner's character approaching the adversary gang and ask the best shooter if he is responsible for the death of his friends before he shot him in the head at close range. Always kill the best one first.

  • ManateeAdvocate

    Great answer. I love that flick and that powerful statement made to start off the final battle.

  • Johnnie To's EXILED is hard to argue with as well.

    Jeepers, Ard. I'm all tingly thinking about these.

  • Mangkone

    The sniper scene !!!

  • Cutshaw

    THE WAY OF THE GUN, brilliantly chaotic and calamitous (I still wince just thinking about the well dive). The finale of ONE FALSE MOVE and the shootout in HEAT are also excellent. The finale of TRUE ROMANCE is also one I'm fond of.

  • Ooh. Yeah. That street scene from HEAT. Oh my, yes.

  • bricriu .

    The Wild Bunch
    Taxi Driver

  • The bank robbery in HEAT. The finale of SCARFACE. The border crossing in SICARIO was quick but intense.

  • David Smith

    Wild Bunch obviously

  • the hong Kong cavaliers

    I second that choice
    Heat is also a very good one .
    3rd would be the opening in johnie to's breaking news

  • Guy

    Hard Boiled! Hard Boiled!

  • TheChocopoco

    Maybe not the best shoot-out ever, but I think the tunnel shoot-out in Longman Leung/Sunny Luk's Cold War II is a truly nail-biting and outstanding piece of action cinema.

  • Ferg Fergus

    I think the Sergio Leone westerns take a lot of beating!

  • Pat

    The Man for Nowhere. By the end of the film you were so invested in the story and characters you were chomping at the bit for him to go to work at the end. That's the first one that comes to mind.

  • One-Eye

    It's hard to go past THE WILD BUNCH. The one against which all others should be judged.

    In fact, a great tribute to that was Walter Hill's under-rated classic EXTREME PREJUDICE, which has a doozy of a gunfight finale. And NOBODY has better gunshot sounds than Walter Hill.

  • ManateeAdvocate

    YES! To both of those films. Good answer, great answer.

  • That's easy! John Woo's Hard Boiled!!!

  • ManateeAdvocate

    Yeah, I came here to vote for Hard Boiled too.

  • rustdog

    Without a doubt the hospital scene in Hard Boiled is the best. Also near the top is the bank robbery escape scene in Heat.

  • Fuck and yes. For that matter, church shootout in The Killer and Mansion shootout in A Better Tomorrow 2. But the teahouse, warehouse and hospital scenes in HB are stuff of legend.

  • Christopher Brown

    The end shootout of One False Move. So chaotic, quick and un-heroic (a character gets shot in the ass. And not as a joke). One of my favourite shoot outs put to film.

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