Retrospective: Top 10 Best Car Chase Scenes | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Retrospective: Top 10 Best Car Chase Scenes

Street race has a new name this coming Thursday, and the movie in question is none others than NEED FOR SPEED -- the big screen adaptation from the enormously popular car-racing video game from Electronic Arts (EA). To recap some of the best car chase scenes that has been entertained the viewers everywhere for decades, here are my personal Top 10 pick as below:


Mention MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR and you mostly get two answers: Mel Gibson as the rugged title character himself and the other one of course, is the legendary climactic finale. Widely hailed as among the most spectacular chase set-piece ever staged in the celluloid, the particular scene sees Max (Mel Gibson) driving a tanker while trying to fend off several bizarre vehicles along the freeway. That big chase alone has since became a milestone for many big-budget action movies to come.


Compared to the first MATRIX in 1999, the highly-anticipated sequel of THE MATRIX RELOADED was greeted with mixed response. Yes, the movie was confusing but one can't deny the epic scope that the Wachowski brothers (now siblings) has brought to their sequel. I'm talking about lots of stylish action sequences here. But one thing that impressed me the most is the spectacular 14-minute "freeway chase". Yes, it was heavily enhanced with CG effects but the sequence is so well-staged and truly feels like a roller coaster ride.


Among the most spectacular action set-piece ever displayed in the DIE HARD movies are of course the thrilling taxi chase through the congested streets of New York City (which also includes speeding through the Central Park) that rivals THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971).


No James Cameron? No problem. Well, at least in terms of action sequences. Replacing the first two TERMINATOR director James Cameron is Jonathan Mostow (BREAKDOWN, U-571) and he did a rather spectacular job delivering big action set-pieces. Here, it was the much-acclaimed Champion Crane chase sequence between the monster crane and a pick-up truck that packed the most excitement in TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES.


In the first TERMINATOR in 1984, the then-young director James Cameron proves that he's an accomplished visual stylist when comes to action sequences. Then in 1991, he was given a bigger budget and not surprisingly, he made the action bigger and more memorable. The chase sequence between John Connor (Edward Furlong) on a motorcycle and T-1000 (Robert Patrick) in a truck from the shopping mall to the concrete-lined flood control channel is particularly top notch. And then of course, the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) came to the rescue riding a big bike and stopped T-1000 with his shotgun.

5. TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. (1985)

The pessimistic nature of William Friedkin's cold-hearted thriller TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. may have been not for everyone, but he managed to pull off one of the best car chase scenes ever made. What follows here is the harrowing chase through the streets of Los Angeles which brilliantly climaxes on the freeway at the rush-hour traffic -- with Richard Chance (William Petersen, long before he got famous in TV's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) speeding at the wrong way of the busy highway.

4. FAST & FURIOUS 5: RIO HEIST (a.k.a. FAST FIVE) (2011)

Just how many car chases can one topped in the FAST & FURIOUS series? For director Justin Lin, he manages to pull it off very successfully. And with that, this fifth installment contained by far the most spectacular action set-piece ever seen in the franchise (not even FAST & FURIOUS 6 can come close) -- the climactic car chase that sees Dominic (Vin Diesel) and Brian (the late Paul Walker) tore half the city block of Rio de Janeiro with both of their cars tied up with a huge vault dragging along the street.

3. RONIN (1998)

John Frankenheimer's spy thriller isn't really that compelling in terms of the storyline and the characters that involved throughout the movie. But fortunately RONIN is particularly a must-see for its amazing car chase sequences. The particular car chase sequence, which shot through the old section of Nice, before passes into the winding roads of Cote d'Azur and concludes through the crowded traffic along the central highway of Paris, is one hell of a ride. Plus, the car chase sequence is performed with real stunts.

2. BULLITT (1968)

One of the most iconic action movies of all time, BULLITT is best known for its unforgettable car chase up and down the hilly streets of San Francisco. The classic movie is particularly groundbreaking for the use of camerawork which brilliantly framed from every possible angles to capture "you-are-there" kind of adrenaline rush during the chase scene. Plus, you can't go wrong with the cool-mannered Steve McQueen behind the wheel.


No 1970s movies will ever be completed without a mention of William Friedkin's engaging police thriller, THE FRENCH CONNECTION. This Oscar-winning movie is of course best known for the hair-raising car chase scene where Popeye (Gene Hackman) pursued the sniper by taking over a civilian's car and races wildly through the busy streets while attempting to overtake the subway train above. The chase scene is brilliantly shot from Popeye's car with cameras mounted in the back seat and on the front fenders. Aided with Jerry Greenberg's tight editing and Friedkin's gripping direction, this landmark car chase scene is one rousing cinematic experience that is a definite must-see for every action fans out there.

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