Liam Neeson – the movies’ greatest martial arts actor?

Liam Neeson in Star Wars

So I was watching Taken again yesterday. It’s a cracking movie – you can always tell when an action film isn’t as dumb as the others when it gets described as a ‘thriller’ or an ‘action-thriller’.

In it, Liam Neeson plays a retired CIA agent whose teenage daughter gets abducted while in Paris. He has 96 hours to track her down before she disappears forever. Now, it owes an awful lot to the Bourne movies, from its gritty fights and its European locations to its camerawork and stunt scenes. But it definitely stands by itself as a film intended for grown-ups, and Neeson’s fantastic and the director lets him have some great moments to himself.

It also deserves a lot of credit for portraying the world of prostitution and trafficking in women as the horrific, miserable, squalid thing it is, rather than the usual glamourous Pretty Woman-esque view.

But it suddenly got me thinking. When exactly did Liam Neeson become the West’s greatest martial arts action star? Okay, he started off in Hollywood doing Dark Man, so it’s not like he was a stranger to action films. But over the last decade or so, he’s become a real martial arts star who is also a great actor at the same time. That’s pretty rare: in fact, he may be the movies’ greatest martial arts actor. What do you think?

After the jump, some of Liam’s recent fight scenes to prove my point – at least as far as the fighting’s concerned.

From Taken:

From Star Wars Episode 1:

From Batman Begins:

From Rob Roy, arguably the best sword fight in movie history:


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.