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The Best Action Scenes That Take Place In A Hallway

When Darth Vader lit up the darkened corridor of a rebel ship with his crimson lightsaber at the end of "Rogue One," moviegoers fell in love with the idea of the hallway fight scene. Increasing in pop culture frequency since, and often referred to as "hallway scenes" in Star Wars circles, these fights form their own type of film combat subgenre, complete with its own features and tropes. 

These scenes tend to follow a formula where someone fights waves of henchmen, slicing through them like a hot knife through butter, while confined within extremely close quarters — all the better to showcase the fighter's unmatched combat prowess. Despite the name, the scenes don't always necessarily take place in hallways, and can sometimes showcase a small group of fighters instead of a single person.

When done correctly, the raison d'etre for a hallway fight scene is simple: it's really, really fun to watch. As you'll see below, the best examples combine spectacular, creative, imaginary choreography, bringing power to bear on a mass of unprepared, unsuspecting victims. After you give our list a read, be sure to track down these scenes — each is like its own tiny shot of adrenaline.

Matt Murdock in "Cut Man"

When the Netflix "Daredevil" series debuted in 2015, it had its fans. But when they got to "Cut Man" (Season 1, Episode 2), it seemed like the entire pop culture universe had its collective jaw on the floor.

In retrospect, the final scene of the second episode was where the series really took off. Just beginning his fight as "the man in black," Matt Murdock has been pushing back against the rising criminal empire exploiting Hell's Kitchen, and it has come time for the mafia to respond in kind. Determined to squash the vigilante before he inspires others to follow his lead, gangsters kidnap a small boy to lure Murdock into a trap — and when he learns the location of the child, it's time for a confrontation.

It's an incredible scene. The entire fight is an uninterrupted, three-minute-and-one-second shot of Murdock moving from room to room within a rundown apartment building searching for the boy — and keep in mind, the character is blind and relying completely on his other sense. Engaging what feels like it must be every mobster in the state of New York, he kicks and punches (and takes his share of hits too) until he locates the boy. Telling the child he doesn't need to be afraid anymore, Murdock carries him out of this hell hole, stepping over the masses of moaning men he'd beaten down to get there. 

The cinematography alone could have put this scene on a "best of" list, but it excels in every other sense as well. The corridor is dimly lit and atmospheric. The sound is muted and moody until the violence begins, and then shifts to an emotional, hopeful theme as he leaves with the child. The choreography doesn't let up for a second, leaving us with a vivid image of how hurt and exhausted Murdock becomes as he doggedly makes his way to his target — and speaks volumes about a character who will go to such lengths to save an innocent life.

Darth Vader in "Rogue One"

The most famous scene of 2016's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" used the hallway fight concept in a very unique way. While many instances of these fights utilize the cramped quarters and army of combatants to create a sense of danger for the safety and victory of the protagonist, this Star Wars scene employed the same tropes to make the viewer afraid for everybody else. 

At this point in the movie, the Rebels have done everything in their power to capture the Death Star plans, and they finally have them in their grasp. The entire cast of the film died to get the Alliance to this key point — and then a door doesn't open, and at the other end of the hallway, the soldiers hear the most iconic breathing in cinema. 

Once the crimson lightsaber ignites, filling the room with its glow, you know it's over. This is Darth Vader in his prime, Force-throwing enemies, yanking the weapons out of their hands with a casual gesture, deflecting their shots with ease. The lighting, sound design, and choreography create a sense of dread, a fear everything that came before this might be for naught. Vader's lightsaber provides the only light in the hallway, while Michael Giacchino's score strikes a grand note of horror punctuated by the terrified rebel soldier banging on the glass window like he's fresh meat in an '80s slasher movie. 

It takes the Sith lord about a minute to make his way through the ship, and there is nothing the rebels can do to stop him. Vader doesn't change his pace once during the scene, toying with his enemies. For everyone who grew up with the original trilogy, this was a most-welcome glimpse at what the most evil man in the galaxy far, far away looked like long before he removed his helmet and lost his mystery.

The Punisher in "Seven Minutes in Heaven"

It's crazy to think that after several movies and decades of comics, Marvel still felt the need to slowly introduce The Punisher on its "Daredevil" Netflix show, rather than just giving him his own series right away. Honestly, if they needed proof Frank Castle could handle it, all they had to do was watch the hallway fight scene in "Seven Minutes in Heaven" (Season 2, Episode 9) of "Daredevil."

At this point, Daredevil had finally put Castle (Jon Bernthal) in prison, but the man was no less a danger to those around him. 

The set-up was simple: The imprisoned Wilson Fisk, who had challenged Daredevil throughout Season 1, manipulates Castle into killing the current "Kingpin" of the prison so that Fisk can take his place. To cover his tracks, has Castle locked in a hallway and lets loose an army of inmates to kill Castle. 

The result is brutal, the music is sparing, and we hear the sounds of each strike, allowing the choreography to get the spotlight. It feels like a conscious effort to top the "Cut Man" scene, and it may just have succeeded. But in this fight, there's no darkness to hide behind; it's all brightly lit, exceptionally intimate, and splattered in blood. At various points in the fight, Castle impales inmates, gouges an eye out, and is forced to pull a knife out of his own arm so that he can use it against an attacker. 

The scene even uses color to tell its story. The dark uniforms of the guards who trap Castle and the bright orange jumpsuits of the inmates who attack him stand out considerably against Castle's white uniform and the drab grey of the hallway. These comparatively mundane colors highlight every drop of blood spilled throughout the fight, visually exhibiting the escalation of violence while simultaneously displaying Castle's ever-diminishing sanity and claim to innocence. 

Green Arrow (and friends) in "Brotherhood"

The Green Arrow and his allies (Speedy, Spartan, Atom, and the Black Canary) spent Season 4 battling the mystical Damien Darhk and his "HIVE" of mercenaries. When they discovered that Spartan's brother Andy had been brainwashed into joining HIVE, Team Arrow staged an all-out assault on HIVE's headquarters to capture and bring him home. "Brotherhood" (Season 4, Episode 7) was the first episode directed by James Bamford, the show's primary fight coordinator, and that shone through in the best way. 

Though the need to cut to various set pieces keeps the scene from being a true single-take fight sequence, every piece of it is captured in long-form shots, allowing Bamford's fight choreography to truly shine as the team of heroes takes on a literal army. Green Arrow spends most of the fight in the main courtyard, alternating between ranged and close-quarters combat seamlessly, and when the Atom drops out of the sky in his powered armor and starts beating down mercenaries with metallic clangs, the show fully earns its superhero moniker. 

The most impressive portion of the fight, however, is a more traditional "hallway scene" that follows Speedy (Green Arrow's sidekick) as she attempts to take down the brainwashed Andy by herself. The bulk of the fight is one incredible shot that follows the two as they fight down one hallway, into an elevator, and out onto a different floor before Speedy finally subdued him, which likely required a complete set change in the moments when the elevator doors were closed. 

Luke Skywalker "The Rescue"

No, this isn't a Star Wars movie you somehow missed. But it's as good as one, and it came about via a "Mandalorian" episode called "The Rescue" (Season 2, Episode 8).

The entire episode built to this hallway scene. Din Djarin (the titular Mandalorian) and his crew had boarded an Imperial cruiser to rescue the Child, thinking they could take down the ship's stormtroopers easily. Djarin, however, was barely able to defeat one lone robotic Dark Trooper after an epic battle — so when a whole team starts making their way towards our heroes, things look grim.

Accompanied by Ludwig Göransson's chilling electronic theme, the Dark Troopers' ominous march is soon replaced by the sound of the droids beating down the reinforced bridge doors with their bare hands. 

Then a single X-Wing arrives. The music completely shifts gears into a comparatively tranquil melody, and both the audience and Djarin watch as one, single Jedi calmly and effortlessly slices his way through every single droid. When the doors open, the legendary Luke Skywalker steps out and takes Grogu away to train. 

The scene is a brilliant inversion of Darth Vader's aforementioned "Rogue One" scene, further establishing the symmetries between father and son. Where Vader's arrival brought despair and death, Luke's was accompanied by hope and salvation. The visual and auditory contrast between Vader's rage-fueled slaughter and Luke's methodical dismantling might just be the best representation of the differences between the Jedi and the Sith in all of Star Wars. 

Arthur in "Inception"

Not only is it one of the best hallway fight scenes on this list, this moment from "Inception" is also one of the most impressive fights in all of cinema. Christopher Nolan's film is famous for its mind-bending antics, and it used them to incredible impact with this set piece. 

Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is fighting within the dream world against a set of guards projected by their target's subconscious as a defense mechanism. But when the van that Arthur is sleeping in loses control and begins to roll, so too does the hotel hallway that Arthur and the guards are fighting in. Arthur and the guards have to fight while their reality literally spins around them, resulting in a visually-stunning confrontation as Arthur and the last guard fight for control of a gun. 

The only thing more incredible than the scene itself is what it took to make it. Instead of relying on visual tricks or computer-generated images, Nolan and his crew built a giant centrifuge with its own hotel hallway inside of it. The filmmakers mounted a camera on the "floor" and literally spun the hallway around the actors as they fought. The scene also has a cinematic pedigree, continuing a spinning-room tradition that began with Fred Astaire's dance in "Royal Wedding" — and now, we know what that dance would have looked like if a bunch of guys had been trying to kill him.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt prepared and trained for roughly two weeks so that he could perform nearly the entire sequence himself. The fight, which took up a single paragraph within the script and lasted about thirty seconds, took three weeks to complete. 

Darth Maul in "Shattered"

The final season of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" gave Darth Maul his own shot at a beloved "hallway scene," and though it did not reach the heights of the other Star Wars entries on this list, there was one spectacular difference that set it apart. Maul did it all of it without his lightsaber. 

In "Shattered" (Season 7, Episode 11), Order 66 is issued and the Republic's clone troopers turn on the former Jedi, Ahsoka Tano. She releases Maul so that his "escape" can create the diversion she needs to discover why the clones betrayed her. When the scene starts, all the viewer sees is a group of clones running for their lives, yelling at everyone around them to retreat. 

Using nothing but the Force, Maul works his way through clone after clone. Using his telekinetic abilities, the former Sith lord throws clones around like rag dolls. He chokes them, throws off their aim, and rips off floor, wall, and ceiling panels to use as both shields and weapons. Several clones are decapitated, and others lose too many limbs to count throughout the fight. 

While the scene may not have the gravitas or symbolism that his fellow Star Wars characters enjoyed in their hallway moments, Maul's escape was a spectacle of power nonetheless. Add in the impressive score and incredible improvements in animation that the show was harnessing by its seventh season, and fans have a moment they will be revisiting for decades. 

Neo and Trinity in "The Matrix"

Released over twenty years ago, the original "Matrix" film's reliance on practical effects over CGI allows one of its most famous scenes to remain just as impressive today as it was in 1999. 

Armed to the teeth, Neo and Trinity set out to rescue Morpheus from Agent Smith. But first, they have to get through a lobby filled with armed guards and paramilitary forces. 

The duo take care of the initial set of guards with ease, but when the soldiers move in, the scene kicks into classic Matrix mode. Combining gunplay with wall-running, kung fu, flips, and an untold multitude of practical explosions, the hallway battle is an iconic moment in the franchise.

Perhaps the most unbelievable part of this scene is that it was done using practical effects. The effects of the bullets hitting the walls and columns was achieved with a multitude of explosives called "squibs." Wires were used for the wall-running, and because of the squibs, once the directors yelled "action," it became almost impossible to see, and since it took a week to set the squibs up, it was vital that everything go smoothly. The scene's revered status in the minds of movie fans is a testament to how well they executed it. 

Black Widow in "Iron Man 2"

Much more divisive than its predecessor, "Iron Man 2" certainly got one thing right: Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow. 

Introduced as a new assistant for Tony Stark, it became immediately clear that she was far more dangerous than she appeared. Soon enough, a hallway full of beaten-up security guards could only moan in agreement.

With an army of remote-controlled drones attacking Iron Man and War Machine and chasing them throughout the city, Happy Hogan decided to take the drones out at the source, and Natasha wouldn't let him go alone. While Happy immediately began boxing with the first guard they came across, Natasha took on everybody else. 

Through a combination of electric gadgets, flash-bangs, wires, and a number of impressive flips and kicks, Natasha moved through the guards in seconds before incapacitating her final foe with a simple can of mace. Meanwhile, Happy finally defeated his lone guard, turning to discover that Natasha was gone and had left a hallway of groaning men in her wake. 

The scene is a lot of fun, and an excellent introduction to an iconic Marvel character. It might be the most humorous hallway fight on this list, which makes up for its choreography not quite reaching the heights of its peers. Most silly, perhaps, is that many of Natasha's attacks somehow leave guards unconscious after simply spinning them around. 

Oh Dae-Su in "Oldboy"

Originally released in 2003, "Oldboy" is said to be one of South Korea's cinematic masterpieces, due to its perfect realization of a neo-noir aesthetic and its pure excellence as an emotionally devastating thriller. The cherry on top, then, is its excellent action choreography, which led to one of the best single-shot fight sequences ever. 

Seeking vengeance for being mysteriously imprisoned for fifteen years, the film's protagonist, Oh Dae-Su finds himself face-to-face with a hallway full of criminals who want him dead. After making sure that a man he has already beaten gets taken to the hospital, the fight begins. 

Filmed in one take, the camera follows Dae-Su horizontally as he moves back and forth throughout the fight scene, carefully using the narrow confines of the hallway in order to keep his attackers from rushing him all at once. The fight is brutal, and though he does eventually win, he gets stabbed in the back and is beaten while he's down, spending a lot of the fight resting against the wall in between attackers. 

The sequence ends with a glimpse of Dae-Su smiling maniacally as another group of thugs arrive on an elevator, glimpsing in horror the carnage throughout the corridor and the man who brought it about. This is followed, of course, by a shot of the elevator doors opening on a different floor moments later — and all those thugs tumbling out lifelessly. 

The 101 Terminator in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"

"T2" has a lot of classic scenes, but it is the hallway scene that takes a slightly different approach. 

As it begins, all the audience knows is that John Connor (Edward Furlong) is in deep trouble. A state-of-the-art robotic killer (Robert Patrick) is disguised as a policeman, and seemingly has the boy trapped behind-the-scenes of a local mall. As Patrick's T-1000 closes in, an even more intimidating man begins approaching from the other direction.

Here comes Arnold Schwarzenegger's Model 101 Terminator, sent by future John Connor back in time to protect young John. He has a long flower box under his arms, and is clad in the now-iconic black leather jacket and sunglasses.

As the two converge with Connor in the middle, the anxiety reaches full tilt. Narrow hallway, nowhere to go — and the Terminator just opened up his box of roses to reveal a shotgun. Much of the sound is simple and tense — the shotgun being cocked, John Connor breathing, shots ringing out. It isn't until Schwarzenegger's character says "Get down!" to John Connor that you know who to trust.

Though the fight itself is well-executed and visually pleasing, what really makes the scene great is the suspense and tension of the build-up. If you will, this is foreplay to a hallway fight, but it is executed with perfection.

Lorraine in "Atomic Blonde"

As she works to protect one of her informants in "Atomic Blonde," Charlize Theron's Lorraine Broughton takes on two trained killers twice her size in a building's stairwell. Presented as a near-seamless single-shot, the fight is brutal, and forces Lorraine to utilize every skill she has to overcome the two assailants. 

Though Theron's character begins the fight with a pistol, her opponents almost immediately manage to disarm her, and the remainder of the fight is a brutal, unarmed two-on-one brawl that sends combatants tumbling down the stairs multiple times as they try to end each other. 

Though destructive, the fight doesn't get properly bloody until one of the thugs pulls out a knife, allowing Lorraine to disarm him, take it for herself, and finally have a weapon in the fight. She immediately incapacitates the former knife-wielder, sending both men tumbling down another set of stairs for the last time. 

This fight works because it is so raw. The colors are muted and bare. The camera work is fluid, moving from one visual to the next like it's a fourth person trying desperately to avoid every blow while missing none of it. The sound design is divine; no music plays, highlighting the brutality of every strike and cry of pain — seriously, Charlize takes just as many brutal hits as she dishes out — and the emptiness of the stairwell ensures that every sickening sound reverberates throughout the space. 

Nightcrawler in "X2"

The opening scene to 2003's "X2: X-Men United" sets the pace for the entire film, and seems neck-and-neck with Quicksilver for best scene in the entire X-Men franchise. Set to Mozart's "Dies Irae" from "Requiem in D Minor," the fight perfectly showcases just why so many people fear mutants. Here is just one, using his powers to easily infiltrate the White House and come within a whisker of killing the President of the United States. 

Using instantaneous teleportation, his fantastic agility, enhanced strength, and prehensile tail, Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) evades every single gunshot. He makes his way towards the president in an incredible visual display, leaping from wall to wall through each hallway, leaving behind a blue smoke every time he vanishes. 

The music stops just long enough to build tension, as the last agents hold their ground inside the oval office. When Nightcrawler finally invades the room, the film uses slow motion to highlight just how powerless the humans are. Their mutant opponent takes them down, one-by one, before most can even attempt to stop him. 

The President's saving grace is that Nightcrawler has to slow down long enough to stab him, finally giving one Secret Serviceman the opportunity to shoot him. Nightcrawler flees, the President survives but the intended message is made loud and clear: Mutants are dangerous, and humans are right to fear them. 

Like many of the other scenes listed above, this opener feels both claustrophobic and well-populated, intimate and violent and minimal in its visuals but maximizing of its fight choreography. Hallway scenes are undoubtedly cool, and here's hoping the best are yet to come.