In praise of the train fight sequence, a timeless action film staple

In praise of the train fight sequence, a timeless action film staple ...

There are a slew of methods to make an exceptional action film. Outlandish stunts, dramatic heists, huge explosions... the sky is the limit. However, there is one technique to ensure that audiences have a great time: staging an action sequence on a train.

Trains are just a game changer, right? In addition to being a wonderful form of mass transportation, trains also look fantastic, inside and out (or on the top, if you are an action figure).

What a better time than now that Brad Pitt's new action film Bullet Train is out in theaters? Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh's films entirely inspired by trains like Train to Busan (and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train, which we love but unfortunately did not receive the screening due to a lack of readily available footage) below are some of our favorite train action sequences.


Michelle Yeoh leaps a motorcycle off a hill and land it on a moving train. According to Yeoh, Jackie Chan was so moved by the stunt that he felt the need to one-up her by landing on the train via parachute. The end: This scene is absolutley jarring.

The Wolverine

As far as solo Wolverine projects go, Logan might get more attention, but (hot take) I prefer The Wolverine. It's the rare modern superhero project with a contained conflict (rather than an apocalyptic one), and, most importantly to this list, the assault on the top of a bullet train.

The Raid 2

The Raid series changed the action world, emphasising brutal action that is easy to comprehend visually. The second film is much more spread out in narrative approach and location. In this standout scene (spliced together by a YouTuber), Julie Estelles Hammer Girl absolutely wrecks some dudes on a train with her signature hammers.

Mission: Impossible

Tom Cruise hung on the top of a train in a thrilling sequence with Jon Voight and Jean Reno in Rogue Nation. The stunt was a mix of practical and CG effects. PV

Toy Story 3

The opening scene in Toy Story 3 has all of the hallmarks of a legendary train fight sequence: stakes, suspense, orphans, nunchucks, backflips, etc. Truly, there is nothing more powerful than a childs imaginative abilities. Toussaint Egan

Train to Busan

This is one of those films on here that could, technically, pass most of its running time. However, we cannot pass up the opportunity to highlight Ma Dong-seok killing some zombies with taped-up forearms.


If there's one thing you know about Wanted, it's probably that bullets curve in it. One of the coolest examples occurred in this train sequence, where James McAvoy curves a bullet around a civilian to strike another bullet that was certainly going to strike her. Angelina Jolie crashes a car into a train also if you're into that sort of thing.


Speed may be known for its use of a different mode of public transportation, but a train is featured fairly prominently (just not quite as much as the bus). Toward the end of the film, Sandra Bullock is held hostage on a train by Dennis Hopper, while Keanu Reeves hangs onto the top of the train. Hopper joins him up there, and we get an all-out brawl on the moving train, culminating in a tragic death for a great 90s film villain


In a film like Snowpiercer, it is difficult to pick out just one train fight sequence, which is usually composed of scenes inside a train (many of them fight scenes). The blackout sequence, however, stands out as one of the films finest, as the audience witnesses Curtis (Chris Evans) rebellion being destroyed by a cadre of masked machete-wielding soldiers wearing night-vision glasses. The scenes climax, featuring a small boy hoisting a flam

The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections is no exception: a RPG missile blasting through a Japanese bullet train's exits is a perfect metaphor for the film's tone, both serious and tragic.

Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 isnt just one of the greatest Spider-Man movies ever produced; it's also one of the finest superhero films of all time, at any rate. Be it Tobey Maguire's more mature portrayal of a superpowered web-slinger as he struggles with his duties as a vigilante, Alfred Molina's breathtaking and terrifying performance as a noble scientist and mentor transformed by grief and a freak accident, or director Sam Raimi's masterful emotional storytelling and craftsmanship, you'

Spidey shooting like a torpedo through the grating of a tunnel overpass, the stunning moment when Peter and Doc Ock trade blows while standing on the side of a train carriage as it barrels ahead, or the shot of Spider-Man maneuvering through traffic before hoisting himself across rooftops while saving civilians - all of this to say.

John Wick: Chapter 2

Assassin-turned-killer Cassian faces off against Wick in an intricately choreographed close-quarters knife fight from the John Wick franchise.

Dhoom 2

This moment from the brilliant Bollywood heist franchise sequel is difficult to describe in mere words. Hrithik Roshan plays the titular character Mr. A, Queen Elizabeth, and Mr. A as Queen Elizabeth, complete with a Mission: Impossible-style face mask reveal. He also parachutes onto a train and sandboards behind it. A+, no notes.

The Legend of Drunken Master

Was it possible that there would only be one Jackie Chan scene on this list? Think again.

This sprawling fight sequence begins on a train, then briefly climbs on top of it, then moving under the train and eventually away from it.

As an aside, both this film and the original 1978 Drunken Master are stone-cold classics bursting with charming sequences like this one. PV

Taking of Pelham 123

This is another example of a film where most of the running time might be eligible (and thats true for both the 1974 and 2009 versions). However, Ive included the above scene from the 2009 version, where the train is first overtaken, because 1. It rules and 2. I admire late-period Tony Scott, and this is a great example of the degree of tension he was able to create.


This excellent blue-collar thriller set almost entirely on a train continues our journey down the late-period Tony Scott track (train reference). A veteran railroad engineer (Denzel Washington) has to work with a rookie conductor (Chris Pine) in one of the directors' finest films and one of the best thrillers you can watch at home.

The Harder They Fall

Jeymes Samuels' train shootout in The Harder They Fall may be brief, but its execution is outstanding all the same. Cherokee Bill, along with some spectacular knife play, steals the show before a single shot is fired.


Scott Lang fights Yellowjacket on a miniature train set in the first Ant-Man film, although it may be not on a train, but it's sure to be on a train. The last line to illustrate the actual scale of the encounter is a lovely comedy to conclude the film on. PV

The Good, the Bad, the Weird

Kim Jee-woon (I Saw the Devil) directs this Korean western that features Song Kang-ho and Lee Byung-hun as he navigates the compartments. PV

Fast Five

This sequence is from one of the series' stronger entries, and follows Paul Walker jumping from a moving truck attached to a moving train driven by Vin Diesel into the deep sea. Cinema!


Furie is a household name. This is a vengeance thriller about a reformed gangster who must resort to her old ways when her daughter is kidnapped.


Daniel Craig's Bond films include not just one, but two banger train scenes: the first, the cold open to Skyfall, features your classic fight on the train scene followed by one of the most shocking closings for any Bond cold open. The second sees Bond brawl it out against Dave Bautista, playing one of the more memorable Craig characters.

The Grandmaster

Wilson Yip and Donnie Yens' Ip Man series is a must see, but don't forget the legendary Wong Kar-wais as Ip Man, with Yuen Woo-ping as the action director on the last two Ip Man films and directed the sequel to Master Z: Ip Man Legacy, starring Grandmaster co-star Max Zhang.

The Fugitive

The Fugitive is one of the 1990s' best-known thrillers, following Harrison Ford's Dr. Richard Kimble on the run from false allegations of his wife's murder. In this scene, on the L train, Kimble is identified by another passenger (who informs a police officer) before the real killer attempts to kidnap him.

Broken Arrow

Unless there is at least one John Woo clip included in a list related to action, Christian Slater jumps from on top of a train into it, throwing former NFL star Howie Long straight off the train (and the bridge it is crossing over) before facing off against John Travolta in a classic Woo gunfight.

Resident Evil

Resident Evil's epic confrontation between Alice (Milla Jovovich) and the mutant Licker at the end of 2002 is a terrific action set-piece that pays tribute to Ridley Scott's Alien as well as an enthusiastic homage to the train boss fight at the end of Resident Evil 2.

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

This scene has everything you need from a Steven Seagal film.

A man gets kicked off a train, only to be struck by it. A litany of character actors play bad guys and henchmen (Eric Bogosian! Jonathan Banks! Kurtwood Smith! ). A future star in Katherine Heigl. A massive gun battle both on top of and inside of the train. Seagal wearing all black. A hard-to-believe stunt under a moving train.

The Equalizer 2

This tense train encounter starts the second entry in the underrated Denzel action series, moving from a calm conversation to brutal combat with a quickness.

Its a great display of Denzels skillets. Robert McCall is always in charge of his situation, but able to amp up from zero to 60 on a moments notice. When his conversation with his target turns on a dime, finally letting the audience in on what's going on... Thats the good stuff, right there.

The Wrong Trousers

Nick Parks' stop-motion film from 1993, with oaf Wallace and his cucumber-cool dog Gromit, is an impeccable half-hour heist thriller as well as a masterpiece of animated comedy. It culminates in an astonishingly clever and sharply edited chase around Wallaces suburban home on a model railway set that is no less epic, suspenseful, or funny a set-piece for being miniature.

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