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Fights in the Fast and Furious films ranked from worst to best

This time, it ain't just about being fast. For nearly 20 years, the Fast and Furious franchise has delighted gearheads with a culture that revolves almost entirely around cars and the skilled drivers who race them. Still, even while the franchise has remained faithful enough to its first gear love, action scenes have become just as integral to the series as racing. Whether it's in casting legitimate action superstars like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Jason Statham or bringing lesser-known but equally talented stars like Tony Jaa and Gina Carano into the mix, action has become its own reward for Fast and Furious fans. That's especially true when the fists start flying. 

Even though none of the main characters ever really lose a fight, that doesn't mean they're not still fun to watch. So pull out your two-foot-long wrenches and get ready to slug it on a parking garage as we look at the fights in the Fast and Furious films ranked from worst to best

Any Fast and Furious character against a nameless mob

As much as Fast and Furious films can sometimes feel like watching hulking men smashing into each other like wrecking balls for our amusement, moments when actual named characters are fighting each other are treated with the same pomp and circumstance as when a character activates NOS. To put it simply, it's an important moment in the film. But until those moments, the action remains focused on how many nameless grunts that Dom, Hobbs, Shaw, Brian, and everyone else can take out by themselves. Even Roman, normally the comic relief of the franchise, gets a moment in Fate of the Furious to demonstrate just how truly capable of a combatant he is. No weapon may prosper against Dom's family, and while these action sequences are often stylish and fun to watch, you're never nervous about a character's safety. That's why all those fight scenes are tied for last place in our list. It's fun seeing Hobbs and Shaw take out hallways full of guards or battle their way through a prison, but ultimately, it's just the appetizer before you get to the main course.

Brian vs. Dom in Fast & Furious

In the first Fast and the Furious, Brian (Paul Walker) and Dom (Vin Diesel) might've started out as pretty clear stand-ins for Keanu Reeves' Johnny Utah and Patrick Swayze's Bodhi from Point Break, but by the fourth movie, they've evolved dramatically. In Brian's case, that involves being even more like Utah by suddenly becoming an FBI agent, as opposed to his undercover cop role in the first film. Meanwhile, Dom's become extremely less zen about the whole racing business after his frustration with his on-the-run criminal lifestyle has inadvertently led to Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) getting killed. (Don't worry, she gets better.)

The former pals come to blows in Fast & Furious when Dom finds out that Letty was working for Brian in order to clear Dom's name when she was killed. Furious, Dom explodes on Brian, and what follows isn't really a fight so much as an attempted murder. Compared to the sleek, nearly balletic fighting of the later movies, Dom beating on Brian is almost horrifying. He's swinging him around like a child, and even when Brian tries to put a hold on Dom, Dom just lifts him up and slams him back down into the ground. Unfortunately, while it's a pretty emotional moment in the film, not to mention a showcase for how physically intimidating Vin Diesel can be, the "fight" only lasts a few moments before they metaphorically kiss and make up. It might've been a step up compared to past movies, but it pales compared to later scenes. Still, the scene gave fans a taste of what Vin Diesel could bring to the table in future installments.

Brian battles Kiet in Furious 7

Tony Jaa is a ludicrously talented physical performer. Anyone who's seen Ong-Bak or xXx: The Return of Xander Cage could tell you that Jaa moves through scenes like someone who's figured out how to defy the law of gravity. So when Jaa made his English-language film debut with Furious 7, long-time Jaa fans knew they could look forward to the high-flying action sequences that only he could deliver. Unfortunately, while Jaa does appear in Furious 7 as Kiet, he's reduced to henchman status to the secondary antagonist, Djimon Hounsou's Jakande. The brunt of the film's action is focused around Dom taking out Deckard Shaw (Statham) in retaliation for the latter's cold-blooded murder of Han (Sung Kang). That leaves Kiet to take on Brian, and while Paul Walker manages to acquit himself well in the racing scenes, the difference between the two performers in their physical abilities is glaring.

The first set piece involves Kiet and Brian battling on a careening prison bus, while the rematch takes place in a darkened apartment building. In both cases, it's almost glaringly obvious how much Walker struggles to keep up, while Jaa leaps off of walls and desks like Spider-Man. In a better world, Jaa would've joined the main cast, or at least, he would've run up against Vin Diesel. Instead, we just have some filler fights until we can get to the main event.

Letty throws down against Kara in Furious 7

While Furious 7 is a fantastic movie, it has a couple of fight scenes solely meant to provide a little action mid-way through the film. In addition to Brian's bus brawl against Kiet, there's also the battle between Letty and a real-life MMA fighter. It goes down during a heist in Abu Dhabi, when Letty comes up against Kara (Ronda Rousey), the bodyguard for a billionaire prince. As a former UFC champion, Rousey is as impressive as you'd expect on screen once the punches start flying. Unfortunately, her presence is never really justified as anything other than an excuse to cast Rousey in a Fast and Furious movie.

To make matters worse, she's only given two lines, and Rousey delivers them about as well as she'd later deliver her Mortal Kombat lines in 2019. The fight exists purely to give Letty something to do, and while Letty's fight in Fast 6 against Gina Carano has real emotional weight, her fight in Furious 7 is basically an excuse for a popcorn break. Of course, the fight's not all bad. A moment when Letty, trapped by Kara in a grappling hold, immediately pulls out a knife and stabs Kara in the leg is a nice subversion of how you'd expect things to go. Still, any fight scene that you can completely skip over without missing anything can't rank too highly on this list.

Han and Roman fight Jah in Fast & Furious 6

Fights in the Fast and Furious world are usually an even match. A big reason for that comes from the fact that the actors who make up the cast really enjoy when their characters win fights. Mano a mano and one-on-one are usually the way things go in the Fast and Furious universe, and the good guy is almost 100 percent guaranteed to walk away victorious, especially if they're bald and muscular. 

Saved from that particular brand of ego are Han and Roman (Tyrese Gibson), who willingly job for Jah (Joe Taslim) in Fast & Furious 6 to make it clear how tough Owen Shaw's assembled team is. It's the kind of fight you'd never see in later installments of the franchise because it requires the heroes to look a little ragged and outmatched. Roman and Han tag-teaming blows against Jah as he runs circles around them almost feels a little dangerous. It's the closest that any of the main characters get to being in real danger during a fight scene, and it serves as character building for two oft-underused members of Dom's family. Besides, considering that Jah is played by someone who starred in The Night Comes for Us and The Raid: Redemption, Han and Roman should feel lucky they even got a couple of punches in.

Luke Hobbs meets Deckard Shaw in Furious 7

When Deckard Shaw arrives as a fully-fledged antagonist in Furious 7 after killing Han in the post-credits scene of Fast & Furious 6, the filmmakers knew they had to introduce him with a bang. Sure, Deckard is played by action star Jason Statham, but Statham's charisma and previous action credits alone weren't going to put him on top. The filmmakers needed to prove early on in Furious 7 that this Shaw brother was just as tough as anyone in the Fast family. They solved that problem by having him fight Johnson's Luke Hobbs to a stalemate early in the film.

The fight scene is a great introduction to Deckard as he trades blows with Hobbs, and in true Fast and Furious fashion, it even manages to make both combatants seem equally cool and powerful. As the two bald titans smash each other through an incredibly destructible office, the camera spins around to match the action. When Hobbs picks up Deckard and slams him into a table, the camera flips over to showcase how powerful the slam is. The fight only ends when Shaw throws an explosive that blasts Hobbs out of a window down to the street below. 

That explosive climax also sets up one of the best over-the-top moments in Fast and Furious history. While Hobbs spends most of the movie with a broken arm resulting from the fight, once the climax arrives, he sees the explosions outside his window, tells his daughter, "Daddy's got to go to work," and then flexes his arm so hard that his cast breaks apart. This presumably also heals his broken bone. It's a beautifully absurd moment that just wouldn't be possible without this fight scene.

Dom and Hobbs vs. Owen Shaw and Klaus in Fast 6

"I don't have friends, I got family." That's what Dom tells Deckard Shaw in Furious 7, finally crystallizing fans' love of the Fast and Furious franchise's use of "family" as the eternal buzzword and driving motivation. However, while Furious 7 might've acknowledged it in dialogue, Fast & Furious 6 is where it really became true. 

In the film, Hobbs brings Dom and his Fast Family back out of retirement in order to take down Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) and his team. Dom's willing to work on the side of angels in order to save Letty, who survived her near-death experience in Fast & Furious, but was convinced to join Shaw after the incident left her with amnesia.

Hobbs and Dom are former rivals turned unlikely allies in the film, but by the climax, Hobbs has truly joined the family. As Brian struggles against Owen and his hulking right-hand man, Klaus (Kim Kold), he tags out, leaving Dom to fight against the two on his own. That is, until the camera pans back to reveal two giant bald men where they should only be one. Hobbs and Dom team up to take down Owen and Klaus, and it's a joy to watch. There are plenty of outstanding moments, but if Dom lifting Klaus for Hobbs to leap up seven feet in the air to Superman punch the antagonist into the ground didn't make you cheer, action movies just aren't for you.

Luke Hobbs faces Dominic Toretto in Fast Five

At its core, the Fast and Furious franchise functions as a model for additive filmmaking. The first three films saw the various filmmakers experiment with what made the most sense for the burgeoning franchise. Could it work without Vin Diesel? Could it work with entirely new characters in a new location as long as the cars were involved? What's the best way to make sure that there's gas in the tank? 

The brilliance of the franchise is that while these early films experimented with what made a Fast and Furious movie successful, they never got rid of previously established canon. Everything that's happened before really did happen. If Dom disappears after The Fast and the Furious, there needs to be an explanation for where he went. The franchise is like a stew with ingredients constantly being added and combined to the existing mix, and no film in the series better encapsulates that then Fast Five. It brings every previous Fast and Furious character back for a heist and then throws in Dwayne Johnson's Luke Hobbs for good measure.

When Hobbs finally comes to blows with Dom, it feels like a crossover that's been hinted at forever. Hobbs could easily be on the fifth film of his own franchise when he comes up against Dom and his family. That narrative weight gives the fight — already one of the most physically impressive in the series — an emotional core that's not always on display. This fight is the birth of the Fast and Furious franchise as we know it, an explosive action series with street-racing demi-gods smashing against each other to save the world. It's good.

The heroes go to war with Brixton in Hobbs & Shaw

The Fast and Furious films are at their best when they present a villain who can actually match our heroes. Sure, you might know that Dom and his family aren't ever going to truly lose (especially if you know about how Johnson, Diesel, and Statham control things behind the scenes), but the tension of seeing a dangerous villain match wits and fists with the heroes is part of the fun of an action movie. That said, Hobbs & Shaw is arguably the first film in the franchise to really make you doubt for a second that the heroes can actually beat the villain. That's thanks to the absurdly gleeful sci-fi explanation for why Idris Elba's Brixton is the toughest man in the world. His backstory is that he worked alongside Deckard Shaw (immediately implying that he's just as tough as the antagonist of Furious 7) before getting reconstructed into a cyborg fighting machine by Eteon, a vaguely Google-esque society of utopia-obsessed supervillains.

When Brixton gleefully tells Hobbs and Shaw that he's "black Superman," it's hard to disagree. Brixton struts through scenes like a man who's bulletproof and knows it. His first run-in with the protagonists involves a mid-air battle on a skyscraper and a remote controlled motorcycle. The second time he fights Hobbs and Shaw, while on the back of a truck as it speeds away from an exploding factory, is over the top and beautiful. He mops the floor with the two of them so badly that you can't help but be legitimately curious how they can take him down by the end of the film. In a rain-soaked gulch, the two only manage to fight him evenly by sacrificing their own bodies, Hobbs taking a hit so Shaw can throw a kick and vice versa. Even then, Brixton's betrayed by his bosses before an official knockout, leaving room for an butt-kicking return in a future sequel.

Dom fights Shaw in Furious 7

The Fast and Furious movies might have set pieces that take place in locations that resemble our world, but really, it's a heightened reality. For instance, the Los Angeles where Dom and his family battle it out with Jakande and Deckard Shaw in Furious 7 is also a Los Angeles where you can drive through the streets without worrying about traffic. Even with a little suspension of disbelief, it's a beautiful moment of absurd machismo when Dom, having just crashed his car into Deckard and pointed a shotgun at his enemy's chest, throws his weapon away to pull out two long wrenches in order to beat Shaw down. It's ridiculous. It's joyous. It's the latest in a lineage of mythic heroes utilizing their secret weapon to defeat their enemies. Like King Arthur wielding Excalibur, Dom is dual-wielding long wrenches on the roof of a Los Angeles parking garage to take down a former SAS officer turned rogue mercenary.

Even though this fight doesn't end with an undeniable victor, it comes to a crashing conclusion when Dom kicks the parking garage roof so hard that the entire building collapses to the ground. That's almost as good as a knockout blow.

Letty vs Riley in Fast 6 is the best fight in the Fast and Furious franchise

So what makes the battle between Letty and Riley Hicks (Gina Carano) in Fast & Furious 6 so special? Well, simply put, it's all about surprise. Riley spends most of Fast & Furious 6's runtime as an ostensible hero and loyal partner to Luke Hobbs before it's revealed that she's been working for Owen Shaw the whole time. In contrast, Letty's amnesia keeps her from realizing that she's on the wrong side for most of the film. The first time the two women battle in a London underground tunnel, Riley is supposedly trying to arrest Letty. The rematch features Letty trying to stop Riley once they've both switched sides. It's a beautiful subversion of expectations, leading audiences to root for Riley to capture Letty in the first fight (so that Dom and his family can remind her of what's really important), only for us to cheer for Letty in round two. 

Even beyond the emotional core, the fights are incredibly entertaining, with plenty of standout moments, like Letty swinging around one-half of Riley's handcuffs to make some improvised brass knuckles. Finally, it also features one of the most bonkers deaths of any Fast and Furious villain when Letty literally shoots Riley with a harpoon gun, knocking her out of a speeding airplane. It's pure, high-octane NOS, and it's the best fight in Fast and Furious history.