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.

Fight Club

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.

The Untouchables

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.

The Godfather

It’s hard to feel terribly bad about this beating, both because the person getting his ass stomped is wife-beater and general sleaze Carlo Rizzi, and because the fight looks pretty heavily choreographed, which takes away the “realness” of it. I had no idea that stuntwork and fight choreography had taken such giant steps since the 70’s. Since no “technology” is employed to make a fight seem real (a little foley work goes a long way though), one would think that filmmakers would have gotten out of the gate a little earlier on this one.

Fake-looking or not, this is a savage beating that Carlo gets at the hands of Sonny. Sonny finds out that Carlo has been beating his wife, who happens to be Sonny Corleone’s sister Connie. Of course, this vicious beating leads to another vicious act a few minutes down the line, but since that’s not technically a “beating,” we’ll talk about that some other time.

Office Space

That poor printer. While all the other entries here reflect person-on-person violence, Office Space offers a haunting commentary on man’s relationship with technology. Peter, SAMIR, and Michael Bolton practice a little street justice on the printer, with its smug “PC Load Letter,” and it’s cloyingly insincere, “Busy.”

My two favorite victims on this list are Jared Leto and the printer.

Pan’s Labyrinth

Pan’s Labyrinth is a fantasy film by Guillermo del Toro, who has a knack for combining the surreal with the very real to offer his audience a brand of film that is uniquely del Toro’s. Despite all the whimsical characters, the villain here is very clearly Captain Vidal, a fascist military man who appears to be out-and-out evil.

And nowhere is that made clearer than when Vidal brutally murders a farmer by smashing his face in with a bottle, instantly revealing that the villain isn’t just rigid, he’s a psychopath.

American History X

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I don’t want to go through the rest of my life without knowing what it feels like to be curbed,” you might want to see if the depiction (albeit a tempered one) of the act in American History X satisfies your curiosity (likely) and/or turns you off of the whole act altogether (also likely).

He kills the guy with one fall of his foot, so whether or not that technically constitutes a “beating,” it sure is something.


Skateboarders aren’t the most intimidating lot in the world, but, like ducks, if you are attacked by enough of them, they can do some damage. Unlike ducks, skateboarders have opposable thumbs, which means that they can hit you with skateboards and shit, as the poor recipient of this beating figures out.

Actually, he doesn’t seem like a “poor recipient,” he seems like kind of an asshole. In a film riddled with harrowing moments, this scene ranks among the harrowingest.

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