We’re Going to Talk About Fight Club part 2

Last week I spoke about writing fights and the need to balance the realistic while making it something that isn’t incredibly dull to read.

This week I thought I’d take a look at the things I’ve used to help inspire the various fights scenes that I’ve written.

Asian Cinema

This is the big one. I could do a whole blog post about what Asian cinema people should watch. Asian cinema is overflowing with incredible fight scenes. I’m not just talking about the stuff from the 70s and 80s, like Project A or Police Story. There’s also a lot of incredible new stuff, Ip man, Chocolate, Kung Fu Hussle, 13 Assassins and a host of other films that are full of incredible feats of fighting process. I’m not such a big fan of the wire work films, like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but there’s some impressive stuff to watch.

One of the best films ever, made by a master. You know, before he went crazy and made Rush Hour 3.

Some of it is also exceptionally brutal. The violence portrayed feels almost real, it’s usually quick, breathless and unrelenting. Man from nowhere, Oldboy, and a host of others are amazing films, but not for the faint of heart.

As you can tell from the poster, it’s a lovely film about carpentry.


There’s a lot less good fight scenes in Hollywood. The heroes were usually near invincible (which is fine if the fights are interesting, and dull as hell if they’re not) and it was rare that a fight ever lasted beyond one punch or kick. Don’t get me wrong, they’re finally catching up with Asian cinema, but for a long time a lot of fights in American films were fairly dull to watch. The Bourne Films, Matrix and most recently Drive all give three very different types of fights. Drive in particular, like the Asian Cinema I described above, has a very vicious side to it.

It takes 45 minutes for the action to kick in. But when it does, it’s unrelenting.


Anime is fantastic for getting ideas for the most incredible parts of fighting, especially where your characters aren’t human or use magic. If you’re writing fights, or even action scenes, where something unhuman happens, amine is a great tool to give you some inspiration you might not have thought of before. Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, Ninja Scroll, Hellsing, Bleach, Soul Eater, Kaze no Stigma, there are far too many to mention here. In fact I’ll probably do a blog post at a later date about Anime.

Best. Anime. Film. Ever.

Probably the best anime TV show ever. Miles better than almost everything else on TV.


David Gemmell. Seriously, if you’re writing a fight scene, this is a man you should be reading. Even more so if you’re writing scenes where weapons are used. The pacing and violence are perfectly pitched, and the writing for them is fantastic.

Whether you like fantasy books or not, David Gemmell should be one of those writers that you read at some point in your life.

Richard Morgan. His fight scenes are raw and feel like they would be dangerous, they also fit in tone with the rest of the book.

If you haven’t read Altered Carbon, you really should.
Unless you don’t like to read well-written stories.

Now, I’m not saying you should watch or read all of these, or copy what they do exactly, but it’s certainly a good place to do a little research and hopefully crack a few ideas loose at the same time. And if I leave you with one thing you should all watch, it’s this fight from Flashpoint.  There’s a reason that Donnie Yen is awesome.

Donnie Yen. Also known as ‘Holy Crap, That Was Insane!” He probably prefers Donnie though.

Here’s a link for anyone who would like to see it (and yes, I know the pic isn’t for Flashpoint. The Ip Man picture is just much cooler): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo_YfzvAYJY

Don’t say I never give you anything.


I took over Angela Addams’ blog and wrote about writing sex scenes.

Joce Adams asked what I’d do if I had a time machine.

Over at Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Reviews, there’s an excellent interview where I answer the hardest question I’d been asked about my book. Who would I like to play the main Characters.

Posted on May 31, 2012, in Movies, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the link to the fight sequence, Steve. What struck me (haha!) was the use of locks and what seemed to be judo moves, as well as the more common kicks, punches and blocks – definitely a challenge to describe with words and keep up the pace of the narrative.

    I have to confess to being a big fan of the Matrix films (especially the first), and I’ve watched most(?) of Jackie Chan’s movies, Jet Li, Bruce Lee etc. Manga too, except I can never remember the titles. You’ve got some great recommendations here, and I have to agree that sometimes inspiration from another medium can be really beneficial to your writing. A helpful post – cheers.

    (I now know how to get myself out of one of my wife’s headlocks – I am forever in your debt). 😉

    • it would be very hard to put all of those locks and things into writing novel. But hopefully the general idea behind it might help. I’m glad it was helpful. (and hopefully you’ll spend less time in a headlock. 🙂

  2. omg…yes. Donnie Yen = Kill Zone. The fight scene with Sammo Hung at the end was near epic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZs48lJXhxM

  3. Hey Steve,
    Pleased to see the late DG in there. I still read his work quite a lot and I’m lucky enough to own them all. (Including the very rare, White Knight Black Swan.) Fight sequences are tricky things to get right (or write I suppose LOL.)

    I caught 13 Assassin’s the other night on Sky and enjoyed it.Definitely very enjoyable. Whilst its not a classic and often slated, I did enjoy The Muskateer that blended fencing with martial arts.

    • I’m a big fan of DG. His Troy trilogy is one of my favourite pieces of historical fiction I’ve ever read. The Muskateer was good fun, I thought. Very silly, but enjoyable.

  4. Lots to look into and think about – who doesn’t like a good fight scene. My ex and I used to just rent foreign films for years because we got so tired of hollywood and some of the best movies and fight scenes were in those movies. Saw lots of Asian movies and yes the fighting in them is usually good.

    Thanks for the links and the suggestions – I have added a few to my must see/read – list!

    • Glad I could help. There’s tons of great stuff out there. Asian cinema is full of tense action films, and has been for a few decades. Hollywood is only just starting to catch up.

  5. I loved IP Man 😀 Definitely a great place to get fight scene ideas from. I get most of my fight scene “knowledge” from the various novels I read. It’s good to see how they’re done in best sellers in the same genre, they all seem to follow a similar pattern. I haven’t read either of the authors you mentioned but I’ll check them out when I come to more fight scenes 🙂

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