We all have movies we love that honestly just ain’t that good. One thing in common with the mediocre entertainment game, there is a great scene that hooks you. None of these movies on this list are classics. But they also have moments that are spectacular. These are my Top 10 Great Scenes in Mediocre Movies. No judgement on the movies as a whole. This is an evaluation of individual moments.
10. Liu Kang vs. Reptile Fight Scene (“Mortal Kombat”):
The “Mortal Kombat” movie was awesome! That’s what many of us thought when we were 10-year-old boys. Then we grew up and became intelligent, realizing this is one of the dumbest movies ever made. I always say, there will never be a good video game movie, just like there will never be a good movie based video game. Two different entertainment experiences. Led by Christopher Lambert, the dude from the “Highlander” movies, this group of actors are just bad. Trying or not trying, everyone in this movie is awful. Plus the special effects have not aged well. Only two good things still hold up. First, the badass theme song. Second this fight between Liu Kang and Reptile. Mortal Kombat video game fans will sight other battles with more iconic opponents, particularly Scorpion yelling “GET OVER HERE!” to Johnny Cage. But this is the most well done fight of all in a movie about fighting. Once you hear the words “REPTILE” the battle is on, complete with Liu Kang’s signature floating multi-kick move. The well edited, choreographed, and KMFDM 90’s techno jam in the background combine for a great fight sequence.
9. Triple Deke Play (“The Mighty Ducks”):
There is a special place in my heart for “The Mighty Ducks”. It is a fun hockey movie for kids with Emilio Estevez coaching a fun plucky group of reject players. It’s kind of a classic, but it’s not great. There is, however, a charming element here. The best being the ending. Estevez’s character failed to score a game winning goal when he was a kid playing for the current coach he is facing in the finals. To win the game, coach calls on Joshua Jackson’s number to accomplish the ‘Deke’ move in a shootout that he was unable to do years ago. The whole ‘Flying V’ thing the Mighty Ducks pull is cool, but this final shot is impossible not to cheer for.
8. Getting Past the Finish Line (“Cool Runnings”):
A Jamaican bobsled team? What? “Cool Runnings” tells the true story, albeit very loosely in terms of facts, of the first ever Jamaican bobsled team to attend the Winter Olympics. Four men, three of which were sprinters that missed the Summer Olympics, ban together to learn bobsledding. Their coach, the late John Candy, is a washed up former bobsled competitor. He gets the group together and somehow makes them respectable. Despite constant insults from all of the white country teams, this group refuses to give up. “Cool Runnings” has plenty of stupid moments, particularly a bar fight at a country western themed spot. However, the ending in which the team crashes and they carry their sled across the finish line is absolutely inspiring for both their country as well as the rest of the world watching.
7. Cuban Pete Signing (“The Mask”)
While Jim Carrey got his start on the early 90’s show “In Living Color” his movie stardom truly took off with “The Mask”. His remarkable talent for physical comedy is impossible to recreate. In this role, Carrey plays a hopeless, boring man with no game when it comes to the ladies. At the end of his rope, he stumbles upon a magical green mask that makes him not just the life of the party but also basically un-killable. Comedy ensues in many forms and genre types. My favorite is certainly the Cuban Pete sequence. Facing what looks like the entire city police force, Cuban Pete pulls out two mariachi instruments and out of nowhere the cops and doing a conga dance. Ridiculous comedy at its finest.
6. There’s An Angel Behind You (“Angels in the Outfield”):
There was a 30-ish year span from the late 70’s to early 2000’s when sports movies had a sentimental quality. Now they have to be so serious. While not the best at all of the group, “Angels in the Outfield” is a solid kids movie about how sports can bring hope. A young Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays an orphan determined to convince his deadbeat father to take him back. Only way, if the L.A. Angels win the pennant. After multiple prayers, the kid convinces the powers that be to help and Angels begin to help the downtrodden team. At the center of it all is a washed coach played by Danny Glover and a pitcher with no gas in the tank left played by Tony Danza. Yet somehow Angels show up and the dysfunctional crew finds a way towards the playoffs. When the championship game comes up the angels cannot help, yet the wing signal from Gordan-Levitt gets the team convinced that they can do this on their own. A silly film with an awesome ending.
5. Dude Jumps Out of an Airplane With No Parachute (“Point Break”):
Before winning Oscars, director Kathryn Bigelow was making high flying action movies. Her best was of course “Point Break”. A no-holds-barred extremist early 90’s thrill-ride. It was “Top Gun” minus the gay undertones (Allegedly). Plenty of stunts and robberies are afoot with Keanu Reeves trying to take down Patrick Swayze, including Keanu’s famous shooting bullets into the air scene. But what could top his stunt double jumping out of a plane with no parachute. Seriously, whatever crazy man this was literally jumped out of a plane with no chute. Obviously in real life there were plenty of safety precautions and fellow jumpers off screen to ensure his survival. and of course it wasn’t Keanu Reeves doing it himself. Yet if you look at it in a diegetic sense, this scene is the ultimate badass moment. If Keanu does not catch up with Swayze in the air, he’s dead. Totally represents the extreme nature of “Point Break”.
4. An Opening Jam to Remember (“Streets of Fire”):
This is how you start an entertainment experience. “Streets of Fire” is a bit of a forgotten cult classic. An odd mash-up of 80’s pop meets 50’s style, the movie as a whole is certainly a mixed bag. But if this opening doesn’t get you tapping your feet then I don’t know if you like music. Right out of the gate, Diane Lane’s famous singer character Ellen Aim comes out hot performing in her hometown. This ‘Nowhere Fast’ sequence has everything one would want from a concert or a music video, take your pick. On top of that you have the plucky waitress getting a chance to see her favorite star. Then, when the opening song is done, the local biker gang led by a young Willem DaFoe, rush the stage and capture the starlet. From there “Streets of Fire” is a mixed bag. It is way too rushed and the hero coming to the rescue played by Michael Pare is just bad. I mean watching him “act” across from Willem DaFoe is cringeworthy. But this opening jam does not disappoint.
3. A Bad Phone Call (“Scream”):
Another movie that was cool when I was younger. “Scream” didn’t age great, but it’s not terrible. But the phone call scene is still iconic. Before the advent of social media all viewers got to see before a movie was a trailer and poster. On the poster Drew Barrymore is front and center. Turns out, she ain’t gonna last very long. Home alone, she gets a phone call with a voice asking if she likes scary movies. From there she is hunted around her home methodically by the Ghostface killer. Things don’t end well for her, but they did for the audience watching.
2. Hail Holy, Queen (“Sister Act”):
I am not a believer and also have no problem if you are. Live your best life. But I have always believed, pun intended, black churches are way more fun than boring all white cathedrals. Case in point, “Sister Act”. A choir comprised of old white nuns bring in not a soul into their dying church desperate for donations. Enter Whoopi Gholberg, a black showgirl from Reno hiding out from her mob boss ex-boyfriend trying to kill her under the name Sister Mary Clarence. What does Sister Mary Clarence do? Turn around the rigid nuns with joy and a little bit of fun. What does that do? It brings downtrodden people from the streets into the church to listen to the music of god. This enactment of ‘Hail, Holy Queen’ has so many levels to it. Obviously the music is awesome and the camerawork is perfect. Yet the biggest moment is this black woman fighting against the stagnant white church. Add in the ultimate shy young nun with chords whilst singing and you have yourself a reason to believe in a higher power. This is top level stuff that even the pope (not the actual one) shows up for.
1. Total Bloodbath (“Blade”):
The legend of vampires existing in real life has been around for hundreds of years. While not the best ever filmmaking venture into the fang game, “Blade” is still a lot of fun. The opening bloodbath scene is just badass. This is how you introduce a superhero. The half man half vampire Blade shows up at a late night rave for vampires who are flowing in blood from overhead sprinklers and torturing a dumb young guy who did not know what was about to happen. Then Blade proceeds to kick everyone’s undead ass, including the use of a silver boomerang literal blade to decapitate multiple foes. While there are plenty of flaws later on, this sequence is simply awesome.