CINEMA is littered with memorable, stomach-churning scenes of violence.

Take a glance into the annals of movie-making and the examples are there for all to see. From the moment Dustin Hoffman snaps in Straw Dogs to a plethora of scenes in Quentin Tarantino flicks, movie-goers with an insatiable lust for blood have plenty to satisfy them.

Over the past 20-odd years it’s safe to say certain film-makers have taken the opportunity to include some extreme moments in their movies to devastating effect.

In fact, in just under a month UK fans of action flicks will bear witness to possibly the best action film in 20 years – The Raid. This Indonesian feature film from Welsh director Gareth Evans is choc-full of broken bones, bullet-ridden bodies and limbs eviscerated by all manner of weapons from knives to more imaginative objects.

Here, I take a look at five of the most visually brutal scenes committed to celluloid.

5. The hammer/corridor scene – Oldboy (2003)

Oh Dae-Su (Min-sik Choi)’s quest to discover who was behind his 15-year kidnapping is a great example of revenge on an extreme level.

Despite everything that happens over the course of Chan-wook Park’s thriller, the most talked about scene is this five-minute long display of brutality.

With the camera drifting along the corridor parallel to the violence, we get to see Oh Dae-Su take on a gang of weapon-wielding thugs. He has a claw hammer to defend himself with. What follows is simply balletic. And just when you think it’s all over, his almost maniacal smirk when the lift door opens is a pointer of more to come. And boy does it.

4. Head stamp scene – American History X (1998)

Without doubt this is Edward Norton’s finest performance. As neo-Nazi Derek Vinyard, he has little or not time for anyone who isn’t white and Christian.

His disregard for the life of African-Americans is captured horrifically when a gang of black kids attempt to steal his truck – which was given to him by his late father. However, Derek prevents them from taking it and, at the same time, stops one of the gang from escaping.

There’s no reason to think it’s going to end well. And it doesn’t as Derek orders the youth to open his mouth and place his teeth on the edge of the kerb. The moment is still shocking – despite cutting away at the moment of impact and we see the devastating effect it has on his brother who witnesses it.

3. Elevator head stamp – Drive (2011)

What makes this scene so disturbing is the fact that it’s juxtaposed with a beautifully tender moment between Ryan Gosling’s ‘Driver’ and Irene (Carey Mulligan).

After the most tender of kisses between the two leads, softly lit creating an almost halo effect around them, Gosling’s reaction to the imminent threat from a fellow elevator passenger is so jarring and graphic in its execution that it remains a standout moment from a superb film.

It’s also effective because this is the moment ‘Driver’ realises he can no longer be with Irene as she has seen the real him. It’s almost heartbreaking.


2. Torture sequence – Martyrs (2008)

Possibly one of the most extreme cinematic experience of recent years, French horror Martyrs is a test of endurance – both for the main star and those watching it.

The quite shocking ending involving Anna (Morjana Alaoui) is possibly superseded by a 10-minutes sequence of systematic abuse and torture experienced by her from her captors.

As relentless as it is wince-inducing, the violence meted out on the young woman is so disturbing that most find it uncomfortable viewing. In stark contrast to the violence experienced by girls in films such as Hostel II, what we get in Martyrs isn’t sexual in nature. It’s pure, unadulterated violence.

Below is just 90 seconds of a sequence that goes on for around 10 minutes.

1. Taxi massacre scene – I Saw The Devil (2010)

Jae-woon Kim’s South Korean revenge thriller, while overly long, is technically one of the best films in recent memory.

It’s testament to the violence in I Saw The Devil that even in South Korea – where extreme cinema is a staple of film-making – it required numerous cuts before it was released.

Scene upon scene of bloodshed cranks up the tension as Kim-Soo hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) goes after the man responsible for murdering his wife. Played by Oldboy’s Min-sik Choi, Kyung Chul carries out one of the most vicious knife attacks you’ll ever witness. And all within the confines of a taxi.

Upon realising he’s sharing the cab with another serial killer – yes, really – Kyung goes to town on both the killer and the taxi driver with a flurry of knife thrusts that leave his victims resembling sieves.

Apparently filmed in one continuous take, the camera-work is exemplary, the attack so well-choreographed and graphic, it’s one of the best cinematic scenes from 2010 in a film that isn’t far off being a masterpiece. As for Min-sik Choi – he, yet again, proves he’s one of film’s best villains.