I think we can all agree that the best thing about movies is their presentation of consequence-free violence. Since that’s the best aspect of cinema, it stands to reason that the best movies are the ones that contain the most graphic displays of violence. You can try to argue with that logic, but you’ll fail.
I have created a shortlist of the most savage beatings in cinema (not the most violent scenes, per se), thus finally shedding some light on the eight greatest movies of all time.
Here they are.
(Note: I didn’t include clips of these films, because many of them weren’t available, and you should probably see all these movies. They’re pretty interesting, if not good.)
There’s a whole lot of context to the wildly disturbing scene in this wildly disturbing movie that features a rape and beating scene that lasts for minutes with no cutaway, but even in context, this gets my vote for the most disturbing beating in film. The lack of editing here forces you to watch what’s going on, independent of the reactions of characters onscreen. You don’t get to hide from the brutality of it all.
FYI: The film is in French, which might actually be more painful than the violence depicted.
There are two scenes in this film that could easily make this list and one that would be on the fringe. The two that would be shoo-ins would be Tyler’s beating at the hands of Lou, the owner of the bar where Fight Club occurs, and the narrator’s pummeling of Angel, played by Jared Leto. The narrator’s fight with himself was also surprisingly graphic, though it was a little too funny to be savage.
I’m picking the beating of Jared Leto as the most gruesome, due to the length, the static camera, and, most importantly, the sounds. That wet meat sound that is prevalent in the scene adds a very real element that those kung-fu sound effects don’t lend to other scenes.
If you want your beating to be viewed as “savage” or “violent,” use a baseball bat. Not a tire iron, or a golf club, but a baseball bat. While only two scenes on this list employ baseball bats, many of the also-rans that just missed the cut ratchet up the pain factor with bats. Namely: Casino, Inglorious Basterds, and A Bronx Tale.
The brutality of the scene in The Untouchables is partially a result of the context. Al Capone, played by Robert De Niro, is pacing around a banquet table, lecturing his criminal compatriots. He then proceeds, while all parties are dressed in tuxedos, to beat one of them to death.