What cemented “Casino Royale” as my favorite Bond movie to date was that opening sequence of Bond running after the guy with the backpack. There is just something about the way that Craig holds his body when he’s running that draws you in. That fight scene with all the parkour jumping and sliding and bouncing and leaping was nothing new, of course. Anyone who has watched martial arts movies would recognize the influence. Maybe it is just a case of Anglo-identification, but to see something that exciting and well choreographed and, yes, believable, in a Bond movie after the Dark Days of Brosnan was such a welcome sight. Fighting and running have rarely been so beautifully fused together in a big budget mainstream Hollywood action film.
The Princess Bride
What makes this a memorable amalgamation of running and fighting is the way it presents an emotional rollercoaster. When Inigo Montoya finally catches up with the dastard who killed his father, director Rob Reiner frames the opening gambit in a way that promises immediate catharsis only to comically upend expectations by having this personification of evil cowardly turn tail and run. This confounding of expected events sets the stage for a scene combining running and fighting that manages, within a very short period of time, to transport the audience from laughter to near-tragedy to, ultimately, the cathartic act of revenge that lends “The Princess Bride” its emotional depth. By the way, this emotional depth is far more important and expansive in the book than the movie.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones looks like it really is the mileage and not the age. Maybe it’s just a case of Harrison Ford not being quite the equivalent of Daniel Craig as one of the movies’ great runners or maybe it was an acting choice. That opening sequence of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” actually does not contain much mixing of fighting and running. First Indy fights his way through the tunnel with that golden treasure and then he runs for his life. The way Ford uses his body brings to mind, probably purposely, the image of Western heroes running and fighting. That lumbering gait perfect sets the stage for his later rumination on the boat with Marian about the effects on the body of his chosen profession.
You may not have seen “Oldboy” but chances are that you have heard this Korean movie referred to as one of the greatest films of the 21st century. A number of reasons exist for this high placement, but almost everyone will agree that the famous fight scene is one of the elements aspects behind the universal praise. The protagonist initiates the fight by full out running, but this entry features the least running distance and speed. The highly stylized fight video game side-scrolling brawl does combine the acts of running and fighting, but despite the fact that the emphasis on running is much lesser, paradoxically you can argue that the emotional tenor of flight over fight is more intense. The protagonist is running away from a horrific recent past and toward what he hopes will be an understanding. The fight scene is not just a cinematic tour de force, but one of the greatest examples of fighting and running as symbolism ever put on film.