Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Victoria Lucia

Action Scene Examples

Car chases! Punches! Lightsabers! We all love a great action scene. A good action scene should make the audience feel exhilarated. They should be on the edge of their seats in worry or actively rooting for the hero to win!

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Making an action scene feel memorable and engaging begins on the page. How do you write an action scene? What are some popular types of action sequences? Keep reading to check out some action scene examples.

Action Scene Examples

Action Scene Examples

There are so many great action scenes throughout the history of film! Let's go over some of the most memorable based on type.

Fight Scene Example

When you hear the term "action scene," a fight scene is likely one of the first things to come to mind! A fight scene is a movie section showing a physical altercation between characters. These sequences frequently feature armed conflict, choreographed action, and hand-to-hand combat. Examples of combat scenes in action movies include:

  • Old Boy

    Park Chan-wook's 2003 version and Spike Lee's 2018 version feature a highly talked about one-take hallway fight scene. Check out this video that showcases both versions of the scene. How are they the same? How are they different? What choices do you think the different writers made that might have gotten these results?

  • Kill Bill: Vol.1

    Quentin Tarantino's epic two-part film is full of incredible fight sequences! The choreography, the sword work, the wire work; it all combines to create thrilling sequences. The final fight scene between Uma Thurman's "The Bride" and Lucy Liu's O-Ren Ishii is particularly memorable. Read the script and see how these fight scenes come to life on the page.

  • The Matrix

    Lana and Lilly Wachowski's entire "Matrix" franchise is full of mind-blowing fight scenes that push the boundaries of a fight scene. Keanu Reeve's Neo, doing a gravity-defying back bend to slow-mo dodge bullets, is a scene etched in pop culture history. Read the script to see how these pioneering fight sequences were written.

Car Chase Scene Example

For as long as cars and movies have existed, there have been car chase scenes in films! A car chase scene is a sequence in a movie when one or more cars are being chased by one or more other vehicles. These scenarios frequently feature perilous maneuvers, close calls, and fast driving. Examples of famous car chase scenes in movies include:

  • Bullitt

    Alan R. Trustman and Harry Kleiner's "Bullit" is possibly one of the most influential car chases in film history. The scene in question follows star, Steve McQueen, as he chases down a pair of hitmen through the streets of San Francisco. Known for its realism, this scene is a good example of how sound, innovative camera shots, and smart editing can come together to make a sequence great. Watch the scene here!

  • Fast & Furious

    The car chases in the "Fast & Furious" franchise are known for being crazy, thrilling, and pushing the envelope of what can be done in a car chase. Check out the script that launched the franchise!

Foot Chase Scene Example

A foot chase scene occurs when a character or group of characters are being chased on foot. There are a lot of sprinting, jumping, and obstacle-dodging situations in these scenes. Examples of foot chase scenes include:

  • The Fugitive

    David Twohy and Jeb Stuart's screenplay and film contains a few thrilling foot chase scenes. One particularly intense sequence features Harrison Ford's character fleeing via staircase after being accused of killing his wife. Watch the scene here! The script is also available to read here. Compare the filmed sequence to what's in the screenplay. What's the same, and what's different?

  • Casino Royale

    This James Bond film written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis brings Bond's action sequences up to date with a memorable parkour-inspired chase scene! Read the script and watch the scene here.

Sports Scene Example

A sports scene is a scene from a movie that shows an athletic engagement. These scenarios frequently feature tense conflict, huge stakes, and rivalries between participants. Some examples of sports scenes include:

  • Remember The Titans

    This football drama written by Gregory Allen Howard and starring Denzel Washington features many sports scenes. One of note is the winning play scene that brings to life all the emotions involved in the team winning. You can watch the scene here.

  • Miracle

    This 2004 hockey movie written by Eric Guggenheim and Mike Rich and starring Kurt Russell features an exciting and tense game-winning point scene where the USA hockey team faces off against the Soviet team. You can watch the scene here!

Battle Scene Example

A battle scene is a scene that often shows a large-scale conflict between two opposing forces. These sequences frequently feature violence, explosions, and fast-paced action. Examples of battle scenes are:

  • Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

    George Lucas' film is part of a franchise full of battle scenes. "Phantom Menace" has a notable battle sequence between the Gungans and the Trade Federation's droid army. This film came out in 1999 and was praised for its mixture of CGI and practical effects that brought the battle to life. You can read the script here!

  • Saving Private Ryan

    This Spielberg film, written by Robert Rodat, is known for its realistic and brutal portrayal of war as it depicts soldiers landing on Omaha Beach during the Normandy invasion of World War II. The scene is fraught with chaos and highly immersive sounds. Read the script here.

Tips for Writing Action Scenes and Description

Don't Overwrite the Action

Writers need to walk a fine line between depicting a blow-by-blow account of a fight vs. barely describing the action taking place. It would help if you had enough description of a fight that it paints the picture without being overly descriptive.

Use sensory details

Think of your senses! Add sensory details to your action scenes to make them more realistic. Consider using details that engage the senses, like the sound of weapons colliding, the scent of smoke, or the sensation of blood and sweat on the skin. Try having these sense-evoking details interact with your characters. For example, maybe your character must duck down and crawl around to escape a room filled with smoke. Adding these types of sensory details can bog down your script, but when they become moments of action related to a character, they can add realism to a scene.

Change the tempo

Although action scenes are often tense and fast-paced, it's important to alternate the speed of a scene to keep the reader interested. During the action, employ slower, more deliberate moments to allow the reader to catch their breath. Use periods of calm to build suspense.

Use dialogue

The dialogue between characters can advance the action, disclose characters' motivations, increase tension, or convey a sense of urgency.

Show the aftermath

Add realism to your action sequences by showcasing the cost of the fight. Wounds, weariness, and the physical/emotional strain of the situation are all things that can be played to ground a scene in reality.

Keep your writing consistent with the genre

Action scenes in a fantasy movie will differ from those in a thriller. Think of some of the ways that action scenes can be unique to the genre of film that they belong to.

Edit and revise

Action scenes can be challenging to write, so be sure to give your work the attention it deserves. Be ready to do some editing and revision!

Now you're prepared to show those action sequences who's boss! Let these examples inspire your own action sequences. Happy writing!

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