We make a ton of action movies in Bollywood. But despite the quantity of these films, the actual action sequences in them lack imagination, to say the least. That said, there have been a few films over the last couple of decades that have very creatively used the resources allocated to them and turned them into sequences that could easily outshine any Hollywood blockbuster.
1. Gangs of Wasseypur II- The chase sequence between Shamshad and Definite after the latter fails to assassinate him.
Would you believe me if I told you, most of this was unscripted. Actually there was never going to be chase sequence to begin with. But Samshad and Definite went the wrong away and still stayed in character, getting confused and making everyone laugh on set. And that's how this brilliant sequence was born.
2. Black Friday- The chase sequence between the cops and the terrorist through the slums of Mumbai.
This was so grounded, so real. This is what real police chases are supposed to look like. The setting needed to look like Mumbai of the old and that's what it was. Cops chasing people through slums and houses and drains. With the resources they achieved this in, you have to give it to Anurag Kashyap for having a knack of pulling scenes like these from his hat.
3. Uri: The Surgical Strike- The Myanmar ambush that practically introduces us to our lead.
Being the first real fight scene in a movie about a military expedition, you have to raise the bar really high, given that it's an introduction to the quality of action you might expect from the film. And it does exactly that. The darkness of the surroundings plays perfectly into this tense scene and a conservative use of gunfire allows you brief glimpses of what the real situation would look like. Even the hand to hand combat scene is well choreographed and is one to remember.
4. Bhavesh Joshi Superhero- The bike chase through Mumbai late at night with a ton of jawdropping moments.
Late-night Mumbai has never looked so good as it did in the rearview mirror of our dark knight. The sequence is a bit drawn out but it more than makes up for it by providing ample WTF moments. It has its comedic elements as well, like the time the hero stops at a red light despite being chased down. The cinematography is brilliant and allows every location the hero races through to tell its own story, at its own pace.
5. War- That 3-minute long unbroken shot of Tiger Shroff just killing everything that moved.
It was never going to be long before Tige Shroff truly transcended into a God of action films. And while his previous films also had action sequences, they were primarily just flashy. This film, however, changed that when his very first scene is that of a 3-minute long unbroken shot of him slicing through people with his limbs and whatever else he could get his hands on.
6. Jodha Akbar- The Second Battle of Panipat at the beginning of the film with Ashutosh Gowarikar at the peak of his powers.
The scene that introduces the film to the audience is the Second Battle of Panipat, between the Mughals and King Hemu. The battle scene is treated as a sporting event, where wide shots establish the size of the armies. The actual battle sequence sees some great camerawork as well.
For instance, at the beginning of the clash, the camera slides along, narrowly escaping as the two sides descend upon each other in moments of utter chaos and madness. The morbid background also works well to show the futility of this mess and chaos.
7. Lakshya- The famous mountain climbing scene where Hrithik's character and his comrades scale a very steep rock with the enemy sitting on top.
This film actually had quite a few intense sequences, but the scene we are talking about here is where soldiers of the Indian army have to scale a steep rock in order to not be seen by the enemy. Not a lot of what you would expect from action sequences but the tension it creates really gets to you. It's quiet, cold and windy and there are a few dozen trained men, sitting right above your head waiting to kill you. It doesn't get any more stressful than that.
8. Kaminey- The final shootout scene where Charlie throws a guitar case full of cocaine into the fire.
Vishal Bhardwaj wanted to have a gunfight. So he got mobsters, thugs, drug lords and cops, put them on the streets of Mumbai in the backdrop of brewing communal riots. This should result in utter chaos and that's exactly how the scene was shot. It's dirty, messy, and all the things you would expect in a gang shootout!
9. Barfi- The funny chase sequence with Ranbir Kapoor's character and the bumbling Kolkata cop in a literal game of chor-police.
Whoever said action sequences have to be all Old Testament, needs to watch Barfi. This is a specially-abled man running away from a stereotypical bumbling Bengali cop. Ranbir Kapoor's character uses ingenious schemes to get away, be it on foot or in the air, he gets it done.
10. Agent Vinod- The one scene where Saif's character kills a bunch of people, saves Kareena's character in a hotel and looks so classy with Raabta playing in the background.
We'll be honest, here. The film was utter garbage. And this 3-minute action scene couldn't have possibly been its redemption. That said, it comes close. The scene is beautifully shot. It's not messy, it's not barbaric. The director manages to find poetry in violence.
Wish we did more with action though. And not just make action movies where heroes punch into walls and throw tractors at villains. We need more well-choreographed and memorable action sequences.