If there’s one classic aspect of Hollywood movie-making that I hope never dies out, it’s the montage. That small scene, which showcases the passage of time as the heroes train, growing stronger or watching history unfold. It’s an effective piece of exposition, and sets the stage for the final act. Here’s ten of the best, which all end with the camera fading out…
The first Highlander movie will always be one of the greatest buddy-cop movies ever made. It’s got everything, from an unlikely partnership between Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert, epic fights and a battle with the Kurgan that has Ramirez brutally killed just one week before retirement. And then you’ve got this great scene, as MaCleod is trained to become a better swordsman instead of a clumsy lunatic trying out the button-mash technic, as he feels the quickening in his kilt.
- Captain America: The First Avenger
Kervyn often remarks that the first Captain America hits a point during the film where it stops being a wonderful adaptation of those ludicrously patriotic Battle Picture Library comics, and becomes your standard paint by numbers blockbuster. And after this montage, this is where the film does indeed start to deflate. But hell, it’s such a high point of the movie, it’s impossible to top that anyway. It’s just a genuinely well-crafted scene, as Cap and the Howling Commandos Ameripunch their way through the Nazis. From ambushes, the battle of the bulge and Cap outracing a gigantic tank explosion on a Harley Davidson, this was the film that fans had paid to see, dialed up to 11.
- Rocky 1-6
No list of montages would ever be complete without some Rocky. And when it comes to montages, the Italian Stallion is king. From the humble jogging scene in the first film, through to the beach run in Rocky 3 that made you question your sexuality and the communism-destroying training of Balboa in the Siberian wastes, this is the part of the Rocky movies that every fan looks forward to.
- The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
At several minutes in length, the montage from The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is easily the longest montage on this list. Some folks complained, but were then beaten senseless with iron hoops, spears, swords and acrobatics. Remember, Shaolin ain’t nothin’ to f**k with.
- Rambo: First Blood Part 2
As much of a classic as the first Rambo movie is, this was the movie that set up the PTSD-stricken Vietnam hero as an unstoppable killing machine. Returning to Vietnam to rescue some PWs, things soon go South several times around the poles of the planet, before settling into a diminishing groove and staying still as Rambo suits up for combat. I couldn’t find the actual clip, so enjoy the animated intro instead, which captures that spirit of pissed off lunatic with too many weapons, perfectly.
- The Karate Kid (1984)
Wax on, wax off Daniel-San. Despite the fact that he’s about as intimidating as leftover chicken and has moves that are more telegraphed than wild west communication, the Karate Kid was still a film that was all about the art of kick to ass. And in one scene, Daniel-San found out that he was indeed the best, in a montage that couldn’t possibly be anymore 1980s unless it started wearing hair-scrunchies.
- Team America
If ever there was going to be perfect send-up of the montage, it was going to be from the masterminds behind South Park. And with puppets! With the elite crackforce known as Team America stuck in a North korean prison, it’s up to Gary to hone his ability to act, get that strange trust-making taste out of his mouth and become a walking weapon in one brilliant musical number.
- Ghostbusters 1 and 2
Here at the Movies, we’ve all got that one film that we can over and over again, and for me that will always be Ghostbusters. It’s a magnificent film, that builds up to a memorable encounter between the paranormal exterminators and the floating bukkake advert known as Slimer. Finally capturing the little bastard, the movie then kicks into high gear, as the Ghostbusters are spotted everywhere in New York city, dealing with the supernatural phenomenon the size of a gigantic Twinkie bar. What could be better than that scene?
The one from the second film, that’s what. Ghostbusters 2 may have not be as perfect as the first film, but you’d be hard pressed to deny the foot-tapping beats of Run DMC as the Ghostbusters get a license to thrill again, tearing up New York and trapping those pesky phantasms.
- The Godfather
This scene doesn’t need much of a description. It’s pure and simple, takes care of business and is wonderfully juxtaposed with the church service. And that’s why you don’t mess with the Corleones, capisce?
Watchmen got a ton of flak from comic book fans, but honestly, it’s undeserved. Watch the director’s cut of the film, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find another movie which is as faithful to the source material as possible. Zack Snyder filmed some brilliant scenes, but honestly, it’s this opening that is edited to the scene of Bob Dylan’s The times they are a’changin’ that sets up a great pace that the rest of the movie runs with. Plus that bit with the hippie still makes me giggle.
Last Updated: April 10, 2014