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Sholay to Pathaan: M:I Dead Reckoning Part One makes us look back at 11 epic train fight sequences

Tom Cruise-led Mission:Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One stars Hayley Atwell, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg and Esai Morales

Chandreyee Chatterjee Calcutta Published 15.07.23, 04:45 PM
(L-R) Still from Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part; One; Skyfall

(L-R) Still from Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part; One; Skyfall

It’s hard to beat Tom Cruise’s epic train fight sequence in Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One but it did make us take a look back at all the great fight scenes we’ve seen on trains over the years. We list 11 of our favourite ones from movies not set on trains.

Sholay (1975)


How can one not start this list with that dacoit versus Jai, Veeru and Thakur sahab?! An old school steam engine goods train chugging along carrying two prisoners and a police officer is attacked by dacoits. Who should save the day but the prisoners Jai and Veeru of course?

While Veeru leaps across the roof of bogeys and heads to the engine to speed the train up, shovelling coal into the furnace, Jai takes aim with a gun bringing down one goon after the other. There are fisticuffs, some hooch, a blast, with a little comedy thrown in, making the eight-minute sequence one of the most memorable moments from Ramesh Sippy’s film.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

One of the most memorable scenes in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the opening sequence where a young Indy, played by the late River Phoenix, is trying to escape some grave robbers and hops onto a moving train. Unfortunately for him, not only does he have to fight off the goons but also contend with a train full of rhinos, lions and, yes, snakes. It is not only a great action scene but also significant because it gives us the backstory of Indy’s whip, the hat, the scar on his chin and his fear of snakes.

Speed (1994)

Yes, Speed was mostly about the bus. But the train scene wasn’t anything to scoff at either. So, the fight atop the speeding subway train may not have been as elaborate as the others on the list but this was Keanu Reeves exchanging blows with Dennis Hopper’s lunatic villain who wants to blow up Sandra Bullock! That beheading was well deserved. Reeves was “taller” indeed.

Mission:Impossible (1996)

Train fights don’t get more high octane than this. A speeding bullet train with Jon Voight grabbing on to magnetic holds and Tom Cruise attempting to get to him using wind velocity only. Add to it a tunnel and a helicopter tethered to the speeding train and it sounds, and looks, insane! Remember how the chopper tries to use the blades to behead Cruise? And finally when the scene comes to an end and the blown-up chopper’s blades stop an inch from Cruise’s throat. Phew!

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Doc Oc and Spider-Man’s fight atop a New York City train has to make it to the list. Not only does Spider-Man manage incredulous acrobatics — bending over backwards to avoid being rammed by an object, flying through the gaps of a bridge, flattening himself to avoid being, well, flattened by an oncoming train and catching people out of air — he manages to stop the runaway train with passengers from falling off unfinished rails!

Wanted (2008)

There are two mention-worthy train scenes in the Angelina Jolie-James McAvoy-starrer and both feature curved bullets (but of course!). While the first technically doesn’t cut it as an on-train action scene, Wesley’s first kill from a speeding train is damn cool. Then there is the main train fight scene — curved bullets flying through the air, bullets smashing into bullets, Jolie ramming her car into the compartment of a train about to careen off the rails, Jolie and McAvoy trying to escape train compartments plunging into an abyss, Wesley killing his father. Epic.

Enthiran (2010)

Crazy! That’s the only word to describe what happens in that Mumbai local train in Enthiran. Rajnikant’s Chitti (a robot) leaps out of a moving train to retrieve Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s purse from a river. He leaps back on the rails and skates his way onto an oncoming train, and leaps across and through the door of the compartment in which the goons are harassing Aishwarya. The mind-boggling thrashing begins before Chitti runs out of charge. But not for long. And when he reappears on the train, all hell breaks loose. WOAH!

Skyfall (2012)

The opening sequence of Skyfall lands us smackdab in the middle of a mission, giving us a high-octane car chase, bike chase on the rooftop and ends with the antagonist, his hard drive and James Bond landing on top of a moving train. The fight looks absolutely natural, reduced to fisticuffs, given the moving train. Bond and the antagonist grapple on the roof of the train, flattening themselves as they pass through tunnels. The fight is not going well for Bond and as they go over a bridge, Moneypenny takes a shot she doesn’t have and ends up plunging Bond into the river below. What the…!

The Wolverine (2013)

The Wolverine was dark and stylish and one of the most thrilling sequences is atop yet another superfast train, with Logan hanging onto the train with his adamantium claws and his equally stabby opponent hanging on with knives. It is a knife fight on a train! And it is epic, given all those jumps to avoid being thrown off the train by obstacles and all the slicing going on even as they are hanging on for dear life.

The Equalizer 2 (2018)

So this one doesn’t have an elaborate fight, but the opening train sequence, where Denzel Washington neutralises a few goons with effortless ease on a train to Turkey, is still memorable. The fight might last only a few seconds but what makes it memorable is the “there are two kinds of pain in this world” dialogue delivered calmly after he has annihilated four grown men. Cue, goosebumps!

Pathaan (2023)

One of the best fight sequences of Pathaan was on the train in Russia where a handcuffed Shah Rukh Khan goes up against a bunch of Russian thugs inside a train compartment. To make that hand-to-hand combat scene even better, we have Salman Khan’s Tiger drop in with a coffee, some painkillers and his keffiyeh to help him out. The fight then moves to the traintop with Russian officers, some machine guns and then ends with Pathaan and Tiger escaping the train falling off a broken bridge. Exhilarating stuff. And yes, King Khan did it first!

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