A good punch is like putting an exclamation point on a scene. It can be horrifying, funny, satisfying, or just cool. Today is National Punch Day, so we’ve put together some of our favourites to celebrate.
There are a million and five great things in Groundhog Day, and one of the best is Phil Connors’ constant interactions with forgotten classmate, Ned Ryerson. Stephen Tobolowsky plays Ned as the anti-Bill Murray. He is all sound effects and gangly limbs, talking too much and too loud. Over and over, Phil talks to him until eventually Ned runs over with ‘Phil! Phil Connors!” and Phil joyfully exclaims “Ned!” before knocking Ned out cold. It is a wonderful catharsis after having to listen to him talk again and again about his whistling belly button trick.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
I think everyone has mixed feelings towards Draco Malfoy. Now, eight books and eight films later, there is a growing faction of people who look back on Malfoy as being the product of a poor upbringing and someone caught up in his father’s machinations. Others just think of him as a spoilt git. The Malfoy is a git crowd got their crowning moment when, during the best movie of the franchise, Hermione, the best character in the franchise, had enough of Malfoy’s bullshit and punched him right in the face. No magic, no Latin, no wands. Just a bit of chin music to let Malfoy know who’s boss.
Back to the Future Part II
The turning point in young George McFly’s life occurs at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. His friend/son Marty has set up a situation where he will get a little handsy with Lorraine, his own mother (ew!), and George will show up and tell him off, proving that George is a man and making sure that Marty continues to exist. A spanner in the shape of Biff Tannen gets into the works and when George flings open the door to tell Marty off he finds big-ass Biff waiting for him. The punch that George eventually throws is a game-changer. It spins Biff around and knocks him out cold and in a single action changes George from the wimp we see him be at the start of the movie into a successful novelist/no shit taker.
The Matrix Revolutions
Love them or hate them, you have to admit that The Matrix movies always looked cool as hell and pushed the boundaries of what VFX could achieve. During the explosive finale of The Matrix Revolutions, Agent Smith and Neo are having their final fight. They are flying and falling and going through walls and windows and whole buildings. Finally, they are down to street level punching lumps out of each other. Neo throws a punch and the whole world slows down. His fist breaks through raindrops and finally hits Smith’s face, his knuckles imprinting in the agent’s cheek which, along with the rest of his face, ripples and waves. It’s an incredible shot and an incredible punch.
All through Die Hard journalist/dickhead Richard Thornburg has been reporting about the takeover of the Nakatomi Plaza. It’s through his brand of scumbag journalism that the McClane children end up on TV exposing the identity of their mother and father to villain for the ages, Hans Gruber. Once the day is saved and everyone is getting the hell out of the tower, Thornburg approaches the McClanes for an interview and though we expect John to pick him up and break him in half, it is wonderful to see Holly cold cock him right in the jaw. The perfect cherry upon a perfect movie.
The greatest comic ever written about Superman ends with the Man of the Steel fighting Solaris the Tyrant Sun. A sun-eater that Superman had been caring for sacrifices its life to weaken Solaris and Superman subdues it the old-fashioned way. As the scene ends, Superman winds his arm back for the punch and Solaris begs for mercy. Superman smiles, “You’ll live” and the next panel is a mushroom cloud, showing the power of a Superman prepared knuckle sandwich. All-Star Superman, the perfect combination of funny, ridiculous, and brain-meltingly epic.
Justice League International
Throughout Justice League International there is an ongoing power struggle between Batman and Green Lantern Guy Gardner for leadership of the team. The struggle is more one-sided though as Batman is clearly the leader, and Gardner can’t handle that. It all culminates in Gardner removing his power ring and challenging Batman to fist fight for the top dog role. Batman precedes to give out a single punch that knocks Gardner out cold much to the delight of his teammates, especially Blue Beetle who keeps exclaiming, ‘One punch! One punch!” The event has been repeated and referenced since but the original is still the best.
Featured Image: Warner Bros.