He’s back! After three years of anticipation, John Wick: Chapter 4 finally makes its way to the cinema. The John Wick franchise didn’t just reignite Keanu Reeves’ career, but it also jumpstarted the careers of directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who were Keanu’s stunt doubles for The Matrix. John Wick not only gave us an iconic original character, but it breathed new life into the action genre with its intricate choreography, inventive action set pieces, and painterly cinematography. As we gear up for John Wick: Chapter 4, let’s revisit Baba Yaga’s most iconic beatdowns.
5. Wick vs. Perkins – John Wick
In comparison to the other fight sequences in the franchise, this one feels underrated. I admire how raw and in-your-face this sequence is. Reeves and Palicki flawlessly execute what is essentially an MMA brawl with both fighters trying to pop each others’ arms out their sockets. It’s a shame that Perkins only appears in the first film because she’s an absolute badass and makes a massive impression in that first film! Prior to this fight, we’ve seen John shoot his way through enemies with relative ease, but Perkins was the one who gave him an actual challenge. It’s certainly not the best action sequence that this series has to offer, but it has a lot of energy and feels the most diverse in regards to its choreography and fighting style.
4. A Goddamn Pencil – John Wick: Chapter 2
In the first film, Viggo tells his son that John Wick is so good at what he does, that he killed three men with a pencil. In John Wick: Chapter 2, we finally get to witness it in all of its glory as we see a wounded and bloodied John Wick dispatch a violinist, a sumo wrestler, and two other assassins. The editing is top notch in this sequence as it seamlessly cuts back and forth between John’s fights with the four assassins. The montage has a sense of urgency to it, but it flows in a way that never feels disorienting. John is an expert assassin, but even he manages to get hurt once in awhile, which builds stakes and narrative tension. Did we need to see John kill two assassins with a pencil? No, but we’re glad it happened!
3. Raid on the Continental Hotel – John Wick: Chapter 3
Sometimes, even John Wick needs a little help from his friends, and who better to help him take down some armored-up High Table enforcers than the Continental’s concierge Charon, played to absolute perfection by the late Lance Reddick? Lance Reddick’s Charon became a fan-favorite after the first film, so having him join in on the action was a wonderful payoff. The bulletproof enforcers aren’t just a cool aesthetic choice, but they’re also a creative way of adding stakes to the story and forcing John and Charon to think on their feet. Set inside the Continental hotel, the entire set piece has a clear sense of geography and space which makes it easy to follow along. Most shootouts from modern action films have too much going on, but the raid on the Continental is controlled chaos that feels precise.
2. The Red Circle – John Wick
The Red Circle sequence isn’t just the breakout hit of the first film, but it’s also one of the best action sequences of the entire franchise! This sequence gives us a John Wick who is an unstoppable killing machine who lives up to his reputation. There’s a lot of variety in this sequence and we watch the action escalate from the bathhouse to the main club hall. In terms of style, this sequence plays with neon colors and music ranging from Kaleida’s relaxing “Think” to the poppy techno score of the nightclub. This sequence is full adrenaline-induced euphoria that shamefully comes way too early into the film.
1. Wick vs. Zero and the Assassins – John Wick: Chapter 3
After the casting of Cecep Rahman and Yayan Ruhian of The Raid, the anticipation was at an all-time high. It’s safe to say that director Chad Stahelski made use of these two action superstars to deliver the best action sequence of the entire franchise. The entire fight has a hint of humor as both assassins are fanboys of John Wick and pay him proper respect even as they try to kill him. The Shinobi assassins aren’t given much to say, but their delight in fighting their idol is perfectly visualized. Keanu Reeves deserves a round of applause for keeping up with two expert martial artists. He pulls no punches and manages to keep up with the intense fight choreography. There’s an obvious size difference which the film uses to its advantage as John uses his height to overpower his opponents. This sequence was built on hype and it delivered in spades.