Bourne to Fight

The three Bourne movies are often cited as favourites of modern film fights. Let’s take a closer look.

The Bourne Identity

Fight Summary: This is the one that made Bourne: Pen Versus Knife.
Fight Length: 97 seconds
Notes: There is time and space given to character choices, but flurries of attacks are fast and close. However, even the close handheld work is clear. The punch-dagger is a clear priority, but the assassin doesn’t use it stupidly. The high-skill moves like the kip-up are shown to be necessary, not for show, and the practical moves like punches and elbows connect more than they are blocked.

The Bourne Supremacy

Fight Summary: What is happening? What’s happening!?
Fight Length: 110 seconds
Notes: I’ll tell you what’s happening: boring sequences like chokes that are attempting to be more exciting with camera shake. Hits to lower targets (stomach punches, kicks, etc) that are completely out of frame, but we hear the sound effect. And poor wardrobe/lighting combinations: don’t put two guys in dark suits against bright horizontal blinds.

The Bourne Ultimatum

Fight Summary: He beats him with a textbook. That taught him a lesson!
Fight Length: 100 seconds
Notes: Although this is my favourite of the three, it is clearly a reprisal of the fight in Identity. The assassin has a gun (calling for an early disarm), there is a female companion who will be mostly an onlooker (and vocal score), an everyday object is used as a weapon. Other notes: You don’t need to see a disarm, you can just hear the object hitting the floor. The close-up on the wrist lock is a nice touch.


As you may have noticed, these clips are from YouTube, but were sourced from a site called If you’re doing any research on films, I highly recommend it (and I’ve got no affiliation with them). You can search by keywords, by actors and themes and hundreds of other tags.


One of my main joys in these clips is the absence of music. The grunts of the fighters, the sounds of the weapons, glass on the floor, clothing and objects moving and spilling, and the impact of the hits are all sufficient for the fight. You don’t need to enhance a fight with an exciting score, it’s already the most exciting part of the film.
In fact, go look at one of the Pirates of the Caribbean fights… ask yourself how much that awesome music actually takes away from the action. If that’s a difficult to judge, just watch the video twice, the second time on “mute”.

Upcoming Events

A few quick reminders to mark your calendar…

FDC Nationals

The next chance to earn your certification with Fight Directors Canada is at the National Workshop, which is happening here in Vancouver. If you’ve never tried stage combat, you can get Basic Actor-Combatant certification. For those who already have some training, Intermediate and Advanced levels are available for actors and stuntmen.
It is a two-week intensive course from 24 June to 8 July, and don’t plan on doing anything else in that time, because when you’re not in class, you will be studying for the written test in a bath for your aching muscles. It’s all worth it for the experts you learn from, the friends you make, and the awesome that you become by performance day.
Register now at

Next Fundamentals Workshop

Slaps and Slashes, our Introduction to Stage Combat Workshop, will be happening on Sunday, 13 May, also known as Mother’s Day. After breakfast in bed, leave your poor mother alone and train to become a safe and exciting stage fighter. If you’re planning on trying for Basic at the Nationals, this is a good way to get a head start and acclimated to the type of work we do.
Visit for more on this workshop and how to register.

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