That’s Not a Knife; That’s a Knife! Memorable Knife-Wielders in Movies


We’ve covered movie gunfights and fictional weapons here at Unreality, but we’ve never really given any love to knives.  Knives obviously aren’t as effective as guns, and maybe that’s the reason why wielding a knife as one’s weapon of choice is so bad ass.  There are plenty of knife fights and stabbings in movies, but there aren’t too many characters that carry a knife regularly.

For the purposes of this list, I’m considering only guys who carry some sort of a knife – so you won’t find, say, Mr. Blonde and his razor in Reservoir Dogs.  Watch some memorable knife-wielders in action below.

Michael Dundee – Crocodile Dundee

The inspiration (and title) for this post comes from this scene.  Paul Hogan didn’t really do much after this character, did he?  Maybe he’s still big in Australia.

Jason Voorhees – Friday the 13th movies

If the hockey mask is the object most associated with Jason, then the machete’s gotta be next.  Jason kills his victims in all sorts of ways (I still say THIS is his best kill ever), but his bread and butter has got to be the machete.

Navajas – Desperado

Danny Trejo is pretty bad ass in just about everything, and his role in Desperado is no exception.  Lots and lots of guns in this movie, but Navajas just needs his trusty throwing knives.  Ugh – I think I’d rather be shot.

Bill Cutting – Gangs of New York

As a butcher, Bill Cutting always seems to have a sharp knife on him.  He’s got a real talent for knife-throwing, but I personally like it when he taps the tip of a blade against his false eye.

The Joker – The Dark Knight

The Joker is definitely a knife guy, and he explains why in this clip.

V – V For Vendetta

V will not go quietly.  Like Navajas, V shows that sometimes you can bring a knife to a gunfight.

L.T. Bonham & Aaron Hallam – The Hunted

Both of these guys are highly skilled, and what better way for an FBI tracker and an assassin to square off than in a good old fashioned knife fight?

John Rambo – First Blood and Rambo movies

Even Rambo’s knives are tough.

Bonus Clip:  Beat It!

Not a movie, but it’s impossible (for me) to think of knife-wielding maniacs and not think of the knife fight in “Beat It.”  I still love this video.

Any knife-wielders in movies that I left off?  There must be at least a few – let me know in the comments section.

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  1. You did leave off my favourite – James Coburn in the Magnificent Seven. Why is it badass (besides being James Coburn, of course)? Because he literally brings a knife to a gun fight – AND WINS.

    Good call on The Hunted though – I remember being blown away by that scene when I saw it in theaters.

  2. i always liked the knife fight at the end of Under Seige between Tommy Lee Jones and Steven Segal. Now that i think of it im going to go watch the movie, its been awhile.

  3. @ Sam

    Nice call – I didn’t see the movie, but I definitely saw Denzel flashing that knife during the trailer.

    @ Bert

    Magnificent Seven! That was a very young Coburn; I always think of the greyer version (like in Payback).

  4. @ marker

    Great ending knife fight.

    My favorite part of the movie is when the girl emerges from the cake and has no idea that she’s dancing alone in the room.

  5. I love how Segal kills Jones’ character like 5 different times at the end of Under Siege. He gouges out his eyes, knifes him in the top of the head, breaks the knife off, and kicks his face through a monitor.

    More knife-wielders: The bad guy in Cobra, Bennett from Commando, the Bride in Kill Bill vol 1, and Michael Myers. I would even say Michael Myers is more known for knives than Jason, as he pretty much only uses a butcher knife.

  6. @ MacGyver1138:

    Didn’t the bad guy in Cobra use an axe? Like, his whole gang used axes?

    Bennett from Commando is a good one – the buff Freddie Mercury wearing chain mail.

    I considered the Bride – due to her fight in the kitchen – but obviously she’s more of a sword kind of girl.

  7. @ Madison:

    The Cobra guy definitely used a knife. It was kind of a curved blade, and it had a bunch of pointy spikes coming out of the handle where his knuckles were. The rest of his gang may have used axes, though.

    It still blows my mind to watch Vernon Wells in The Road Warrior, and then see him as Bennett. I’ll also never understand why they thought he looked like a match for 80s era Arnold. They put this pasty, paunchy guy up against the sculpted-from-granite Arnold and we’re supposed to think it’s an even fight?

    That’s true, the Bride used the sword more than knives. It was really only the fight between her and Vivica Fox that there were knives.

  8. Not really a blockbuster but Ichi The Killer is pretty good at knife wielding. If you haven’t seen it, he’s like a a crazy Japanese Hannibal Lecter.

  9. I have only a few important words for you to explain my personal choice of favorite knife-wielding: “Don’t FUCK with the babysitter!!”

  10. Godfather – Sollozzo jams his knife into Luca Brasi’s hand, attaching him to the bar so Tattaglia can garrote him

    Godfather II – Vito Corleone returns to Sicily to meet with Don Ciccio, where he kills him by carving his stomach open, thus avenging his murdered father, mother and brother.

  11. A list of famous Hollywood knife-wielding scenes without Norman Bates? Are you high?

    Also, Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction” (first jabbing at her own leg and then rising from the bathtub) and Mel Gibson in “Braveheart” (slitting the throat of the Englishman who executed his new wife).

  12. Carrie:
    Piper Laurie brandishing the knife over Sissy Spacek, over sissy telekinetically crucifying Piper with the cutlery.
    Take your pick.
    And speaking of other knifes you left off, how about Roman Polanski doing a number on Jake Gittes nose in Chinatown – and Nicholson’s great line the next day when someone asked what happened.

  13. As others have mentioned, James Coburn in The Magnificent Seven. In addition to beating a gunman with a knife, there’s the character’s final act of defiance – mortally wounded, his pistol gone, he pulls out his switchblade for a final futile throw at his assailant.

  14. Sheesh. Nobody here remembers “The Long Riders”?

    When you watch Cole Younger and Sam Star go at it in the saloon it’ll ruin every other knife fight you’ve ever seen.

  15. At 55 I must be a bit older than most posters here. For me the ultimate movie knife fight scene is Tony, co-founder of the Jets, killing Bernardo, founder of the Sharks in West Side Story. Also don’t foget the great scene at the beginning of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where Ted Cassidy, aka Lurch, challenges Paul Newman to a knife fight.

  16. My three favorites have already been mentioned (Psycho, Magnificent Seven & Butch Cassidy) but what about Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions tossing the knife back to the punk because he hadn’t used it right (not that it helped). No blood, true, but a top actor in peak form.

  17. I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned Soup from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, what with his somewhat creepy scene describing why knives are better than guns. To quote him in the movie “Guns for show, knives for a pro”

  18. what about kill bill parts 1 and 2?

    some would say they use swords, not knives… but hey, sharp metal objects a person holds in their hand? “that’s a knife”

  19. The Indian character from Young guns 1&2 Played by Lou Diamond Phillips. He’s always shown playing with a knife and in 2 He goes to town against Christian Slater with a wicked double blade. the end of that fight is awesome when he stands up with Slaters Bowie through his forearm and asks if Slater wants his knife back! Classic!

  20. Hmmm…… For my money, being a old time fan of knives…
    “Hunted” for sheer realism in the midst of all the unreality..
    I.E…. In most modern knife work the winner is the one that wakes up in the hospitol.
    But… Check out a movie called “Seraphim Falls”.

  21. 1) Kat–
    The difference between a sword and a knife is not only use, but blade length. I collect edged tools, and the rule of thumb is that if a blade is over 12 inches, it’s not a knife, but a short sword.

    Katanas (the WOC in the KILL BILL series) have single-edged blades that measure between 34-37 inches, and have a pronounced curve. A Tanto runs between 8-10 inches. The Wakazashi (short sword) runs betrween 13-25 inches.

    In this case, friend, there is quite a bit of difference. After all, using a katana to peel an apple is a good way to get your hands carved up. Using the proper tool for the job saves you a lot of pain later.

    2) My favorite knife-fight was in ROADHOUSE. Dalton (Patrick Swazey–check the spelling on that, please) started out unarmed against one of Wesley’s knife-weilding goons, knocks the dagger out of the dude’s hand, then sticks him in the belly (twisting it to cause a fatal wound). He then throws the dagger into Pat’s chest as Pat is trying to kill Dalton with a shotgun, killing Pat.

    And who can forget the knife fight between Sting’s character and the hero in DUNE?

    Enjoy your evening!

  22. Movie EXPOSURE, staring Peter Coyote. He is taught the dance of death by Tcheky Karyo to revenge the rape an his own stabbing. This movie made the Randal model 14 famous. I own one an it is made for one main purpose. A super movie an best knife movie out there. Skip

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