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    My Top 10 Movie Car Chase Scenes


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    My Top 10 Movie Car Chase Scenes Empty My Top 10 Movie Car Chase Scenes

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:16 pm

    My Top 10 Movie Car Chase Scenes:

    There are a few movies like Vanishing Point, Smokey and the Bandit, Duel and Two-Lane Blacktop where it feels (or is) one big car chase. There are also scenes like the car park destruction scene in The Driver, the bike chase scene in Sherlock Jr. which are quite fun, but does not fit here. All of those movies are worth watching but did not quite make the list below. My ranking is based on a mix of aesthetics, visceral excitement, what the scene meant in the movie and random capricious criteria only known by myself. This is the first initial draft so I will modify this, look at several more films and increase the wordage now and later (I will eventually use this as an article at some point.) The order is not set, but is close to what I feel are my favorite car chase scenes.

    Notable not have seens: Bad Boys 2 (2003), Gone in 60 Seconds (1974 and 2000), Blazing Magnum (1976), Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974). I have not seen any of the Fast and Furious movies.

    1) Bullitt (1968: Peter Yates): Iconic car chase scene. Probably the most famous of all-time. But it is well done with great scenery and hill use in San Francisco. How many times have you wanted to drive like this when you were there? The opposing driver (Bill Hickman in the Charger) is an actual stunt driver and Steve McQueen had very good car skills so often the camera would show them actually driving (Bud Ekins did do a lot of that chase in the Mustang though.)

    Link 1 , Link 2 .

    2) To Live and Die in L.A. (1985: William Friedkin): Intense. This is from an underrated film (yes there are no good guy characters) that is a favorite of mine. But even if you do not like the unlikeable performances the car chase is often talked about as one of the best of all-time. For good reason. A car chase that leads on the freeway especially in LA is not new; however, going in the reverse direction after chasing a train, driving in the sewer. Do Not Enter. Wrong Way. Freakin awesome. Ronin would copy some of this.


    3) The Blues Brothers (1980: John Landis): This film has two of my favorite car chases of all-time. But my favorite of the film is the inner-mall car chase. “You want out of this parking lot. OK.” I always want to say that. This is one of the funniest, most destructive and creative car chases I have ever seen. “This place has got everything.”


    4) The French Connection (1971: William Friedkin): what is it with Freidkin and good car chases. The parallel action between the train and speeding car helps. Of course complete disregard for the public helps as well. It is reminiscent of some of Hong Kong’s action scenes where not everyone who was watching the car chase knew it was being filmed. That crash at 2:42 on the youtube link was not scripted.


    5) The Seven-Ups (1973: Philip D'Antoni): More muscle car action this time with a Pontiac Ventura in the streets of New York. You will notice you see Bill Hickman (Bullitt) again as the baddie driver. Just compare his cool composure to the passenger. One of the more underrated car-chase scenes. This is probably due to the fact that the film is not as well known.


    6) Drive (2011: Nicolas Winding Refn): As much as Refn stated he had not seen The Driver (another film I love) before this movie I really do not believe him. Regardless, the opening sequence of the nameless driver doing what he does best – getting away from the police. It is an awesome LA sequence with a mixture of strategy, a variety of speeds, a cool driver and not so cool passengers. One of the best new chase scenes I have seen in ages. Sorry no clip for it.

    7) Ronin (1998: John Frankenheimer): The end of this chase copies To Live and Die in L.A. But overall it is a solid, European car chase with plenty of narrow escapes, destruction, innocent bystanders and tiny European cars meeting their doom. The editing on this is well done and good transition from actors to the car sequences. Here you finally get a female driver (Natascha McElhone).


    8)Police Story (1985: Jackie Chan): I always like destruction in my car chase scenes. But how about the destruction here which is the complete dismantling of the made-for-the-movie shanty town and complete disregard for the safety of the stunt-men (maybe not complete, but several would get injured, some quite badly.)  This is short, but I still find it rewatchable. There would later be an homage in Bad Boys 2. Check out the link below to see the influences of Police Story.

    Link: Police Story Vs. Tango & Cash / Rapid Fire / Bad Boys II

    9) The Italian Job (1969: Peter Collinson): For comedic effect, strategy, location shots and just plain coolness this Mini-Cooper chase scene is a must watch. Just look at all the places those tiny little cars go. This also shows that you do not have to have an overly powerful vehicle to have an effective car chase (though it does help.) Of course if you are not a fan you will like what happens to them. This movie was remade in 2003.

    Link (warning spoilers at end)

    10) The Driver (1978: Walter Hill): While this choice has the biggest chance of disappearing off the list as I look over many more chases it is still quite an effective chase full of bravado, a stoic driver (Ryan O’ Neal), strategy, good camera placement and a decent amount of destruction. A film easily worth watching for not only the car chases but also the psychotic loner antihero which is a subgenre I am particularly fond of.


    Honorable Mention: The Driver (later chase)
    Honorable Mention: Blues Brothers (total destruction)
    Honorable Mention: Jack Reacher .

    Need to rewatch:The Bank Dick, Death Proof, Girl Shy, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.

    Additional Links:
    WatchMojo.com’s top 10 car chases . I do not agree with the Matrix Reloaded inclusion. Seriously The French Connection number 6? I need to rewatch Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior to see if I will rank that chase scene higher. Not having To Live and Die in L.A. is a joke.
    The Five Best Car Chase Scenes In Movie History (moviefanfare)

    Last edited by Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:52 am; edited 1 time in total
    Brian T
    Brian T

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    Post  Brian T on Sun Feb 15, 2015 6:33 pm

    Late reply, as usual, but can't disagree with any of those, although my personal Top Ten would be more like a Top Twenty of Thirty because there are just too many phenomenal car chase sequences that don't get as much acclaim because the the movies that contain them are not all-around classics like the ones in your list. Still, the choices below represent an incredible amount of planning and coordination on the parts of their makers, and regardless of the finished quality of the films they're in (usually good, not great), they deserve as much recognition as their more vaunted kin. It's interesting to note how many in both Shawn's list, and my stragglers below are movies from before the advent of CGI. As much as I still get a good kick out of a wild car chase, I just can't trust that everything I'm seeing is 100% real-world effort. The chases in JACK REACHER and FAST FIVE, for example, are among many that I enjoyed immensely in recent years, but both contain those niggling little moments where you just know some augmentation has occurred. Fair enough considering the tech at Hollywood's fingertips these days (especially when it comes to making sure the actors aren't anywhere NEAR whatever real car chasing was performed in the great outdoors, thanks to undetectable green screen work. Among those on your "not seen" list (all of which I've seen), BAD BOYS 2 seemed to debut right around the beginning of this trend so I can't help but score it a few demerit points: dynamic sequence but too many airborne, spinning CG cars doing things real cars can't do.

    Keep in mind that my criteria for judging a good car chase may be somewhat looser than yours, since many of them are embedded within B-movies where emotional involvement is barely a consideration. Smile

    The chase scene in the original GONE IN 60 SECONDS, however, would definitely be in my top 10, since it takes up the last 40 minutes of the movie and frequently flirts with real danger! H.B. Halicki, the director, would probably have been the first to admit he wasn't making great drama in his films, only indulging his millionaire love of the automobile, in particular wrecking as many of them as he could in the space of 90 minutes. The original GONE is truly one of the most amazing independent features ever made, by sheer dint of the vast amount of stunt co-ordination required to pull it off, and particularly by a then unknown director who's only prior qualifications were being a wealthy junk dealer and owning a massive collection of cool cars, and on a budget that probably wouldn't have paid the salary of a marquee name if he'd even cared to hire one!

    Whole movie here (fuck, man), but the chase begins at 55:30, when he says "I shoulda read my horoscope this morning".  Razz   Quite a few scenes in this one were done sans permits:

    Nothing in the remake of GONE IN 60 SECONDS comes close to what Halicki pulled off in the original. It's not even worth bothering watching if the purpose is to see whether anything in ranks a spot on your list: too much "action" buried in flash-cuts and camera shake; augmentation with fake cars; and not so hidden CG effects. It was as though the filmmakers were hogtied by the fact that in 2000 they could no longer wreck the kinds of cars that H.B. Halicki did because they'd long since become rare collectibles.

    Halicki's followup, THE JUNKMAN (1982) contains an even better, more elaborate, and far more destructive car chase sequence (the http://www.listal.com/viewimage/3430415 carried a "critic" quote proclaiming: "Awesome action! Over 150 cars destroyed" and it was no lie) that starts around the 26:00 mark and runs pretty much the duration of the movie! And yes, I know this one kinda falls under your "one big car chase" rule above, but for a car chase junkie kid like myself, this was manna from heaven in 1982:

    Some other chases that sit high on my list (the movies run the gamut a bit), in no small part because of what they achieve on a fraction of the budgets allotted some of the all time greats:

    SHORT TIME (1990), starring Dabney Coleman, directed by Gregg Champion (son of famous dance duo Marge and Gower). To my knowledge, this light comedy has never been released on DVD, which is a damned shame, as it contains a chase scene worth the rental/purchase alone:

    SHAKER RUN (1985), starring Cliff Robertson, Leif Garrett (!), directed by Bruce Morrison:

    MAXIMUM RISK (1995) starring Jean Claude Van Damme, directed by Ringo Lam

    ACES GO PLACES 2 (1982) starring Sam Hui, Karl Maka, directed by Eric Tsang

    FULL ALERT (1997) starring Lau Ching-Wan, Francis Ng, directed by Ringo Lam (chase work by Fok Wing-Fu). Damn this one makes me wistful . . .  Laughing

    I suspect more will come to me as I dwell on this for a while . . . Wink

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    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:48 am

    Thanks a lot for this posting.  It is much appreciated.  I will have more to say about it later as I keep perusing through it.

    "Among those on your "not seen" list (all of which I've seen)":  Ha ha.  That's cool.  It means I need to catch up.  I know now I really need to see the original GONE IN 60 SECONDS. I'm going to buy a copy so I will not see the link above.   I meant to put Aces Go Places 2 in my Need to Rewatch post (I might have done this already at KFC.)

    Yes CGI for the most part has hurt my opinion of car chases that is if it is noticeable (some have completely killed the scenes, I know I've seen a few mainland car chases with crashes that were bad CGI -- which is funny because even in TV movies, TV shows in the 80s especially you would have some decent chase/crashes of usually cheap cars -- The Fall Guy Very Happy -- that are better than some big budget movies today.)

    Updated the Need to Rewatch. I also watched again the Aces Go Places 2 (which was mentioned on KFC.)

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