Whether you loved Daredevil's sophomore season or considered it "tragically underwritten," there's one thing every viewer can agree on: It regularly featured the best, most kick-ass stunt choreography on television. (In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find that level of finesse and slick action sequences in any medium.)
It's a testament to Daredevil that the defining visual trait of the Netflix series somehow got even better in Season 2. Whether it's a staggering homage to the one-take hallway fight of Season 1, or The Punisher's own brutal hallway fight in prison -- or Elektra's own brand of agile lethalness -- this season packed quite a punch. In fact, the action was so good, MTV News has ranked each of the enthralling fight sequences in Season 2. Oh, and just so we're clear, there are spoilers below.
The Sleazy ProfessorNetflix
Yawn. I guess we're supposed to be worried when Daredevil becomes slightly unhinged around Elektra, nearly killing a slimy NYU professor in order to force him to decipher the Yakuza's secret code, but because the guy is such a creep, I don't feel compelled to care. That being said, just how far would Daredevil go for Elektra? That's the whole point of this brief fight, which seemed wildly unfair from the jump.
Daredevil At The Dry CleanersNetflix
Basically, Daredevil goes to see Madame Gao, who's just having a great time painting some cherry blossoms, and that's all that really happens here. It's possible that I would have ranked this fight sequence higher had I actually been able to see it, but I guess we'll never know.
The Punisher's Carousel Brawl With The IrishNetflix
A relatively small scene in which Frank is captured by The Irish by the carousel, the place where his wife and children were brutally gunned down the year prior -- but the man certainly doesn't go down without throwing at least a few punches and shooting off a few rounds.
The Punisher Takes His Coffee BlackNetflix
Watching Frank Castle literally fracture a man's skull with his bloody knuckles (in graphic detail) is not really my idea of a good time. There's not a lot of style to The Punisher's fight choreography, and that's kind of the point. It's clunky and rigid. This is a man who uses brute force. He is a triangle squeezing himself into a circular shape -- and his penchant for bloodshed and brutality is on full display here as he fights off a few of the Blacksmith's lackeys.
Elektra & Daredevil Behind The Frosted GlassNetflix
Elektra has an elegance to her fighting style. She's nimble and graceful. She can't rely on brute force like Daredevil or The Punisher, so when she takes down an opponent, she does so with a series of intricate moves rather than a one-punch knockout. Watching Elektra do work behind the frosted glass is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Again, we don't physically see much of the Devil of Hell's Kitchen in the Season 2 opener, but that's kind of the point. The breakneck opening sequence finds Daredevil taking down a group of thieves, one by one, in the cloak of darkness. It's a cleverly staged scene that keeps Daredevil on the periphery of the frame for most of it, wisely keeping us from having to look at his lame original costume for longer than we have to.
Daredevil & The Punisher Take On The IrishNetflix
Some incredibly graphic imagery here that culminated with Frank blowing the face off one of the mobsters responsible for his family's death. Dispersed among the brutality, Daredevil effectively shows off how to take down the bad guys without blowing anyone's face off when he comes to Frank's rescue.
Elektra & Daredevil Take On The HandNetflix
This sequence moves at breakneck pace, as Daredevil and Elektra fight members of The Hand in their contraband-filled warehouse. Again, Elektra's graceful, technical prowess is on full display here. Knives and bullets are flying everywhere -- major props to the sound editor -- and Elektra and Daredevil are fighting for their survival. The fight feels almost primal. Though Elektra ends up taking a blade to the throat (ouch), she handles it like a warrior. Or an ancient killing machine. You decide.
Young Elektra Makes Her First KillNetflix
Elektra was being primed as a killing machine from a very early age, as illustrated in this flashback sequence of a young Elektra, then 12, nearly punching a man to death with her tiny fists. Later, she finishes the job by slicing the man's throat when he comes back to seek his own revenge. Even at a young age, Elektra Natchios was a graceful, albeit lethal, fighter.
Daredevil v. The Punisher, Vol. 1
The first real action sequence of Season 2 is an efficient one. The scene finds Matt Murdock ambushing Frank Castle from behind as he tries to stop the madman from shooting anyone else. The two vigilantes trade a few punches before Castle shoots the Devil right in the head. Ouch. What this scene lacks in style, it makes up for in gravitas.
Daredevil & Elektra's First Official FightNetflix
Points for ingenuity here, as Daredevil and Elektra fight off members of The Hand in Elektra's swanky apartment. It's the first time we get to see Daredevil and Elektra fight side by side, and after watching Daredevil perform as a broody solo act for so long, it's a welcomed sight. It also showcases their unique fighting styles. Having both been trained by Stick, Elektra and Matt are working with the same technical foundation -- but she's all blithe gracefulness, while the Devil of Hell's Kitchen is a man of fluid functionality.
An Uninvited GuestNetflix
Matt and Elektra's reconciliation is interrupted by an uninvited guest: a member of The Hand. It's a thrilling scene that finally feels earned, as I was genuinely surprised to see a sword-wielding, agile ninja crash into Matt's apartment window. It's also a pivotal moment in Matt and Elektra's relationship, as he realizes that Elektra will never lose her instinct to kill. Torn between being a killer or being a hero, Elektra finds the battle for her soul at the core of the second season -- and this scene is the brutal catalyst that kicks off the larger mystery.
Daredevil v. The Punisher, Vol. 2: The Rainy RematchNetflix
Who does Frank think he is, Vin Diesel? Because last time I checked, only Vin could swing a metal pipe with that much brute machismo. There's a bone-crushing brutality to the way Frank fights, which makes for a nice contrast to Matt's technical approach. Daredevil and The Punisher's second brawl finds the two duking it out atop a roof, in the middle of a rainstorm, while bullets fly at their heads. With so many moving parts, this sequence could have benefited from tighter editing. That being said, the scene is a whirlwind from start to finish, in which Matt once again finds himself at The Punisher's mercy.
Elektra Finds Her Okinawan SaiNetflix
At the end of this slickly choreographed scene, Elektra gets her Okinawan sai. I repeat: Elektra gets her Okinawan sai!!! All she had to do was steal them from a man she brutally murdered. NBD. To be fair, he was trying to kill her, so it was self-defense more than anything.
Elektra v. Stick v. Daredevil v. The HandNetflix
With Stick and Elektra trying to kill each other, Daredevil finds himself in the middle of it all, as he attempts to pose a peaceful solution. I could honestly watch Elektra and Stick fight all day. She is the divine product of his teaching; every movement is fluid and graceful. It's like watching a masterclass in battle.
Daredevil v. Nobu 2.0Netflix
Nobu was killed at the end of last season, and resurrected by The Hand in Season 2. The fight between Daredevil and Nobu in the Black Sky's den is superbly, and tightly, choreographed. Nobu is a worthy adversary for Daredevil, as their fighting styles are so disarmingly similar. It's an intoxicating cocktail of martial arts and jiu jitsu, one that will have you begging for more.
The Punisher's Bloody Prison FightNetflix
...otherwise known as "The Most Brutal Scene in Marvel TV History." The Punisher is a hard pill to swallow. His particular brand of justice isn't for everyone, and nowhere was that better displayed than this graphic, albeit expertly choreographed, fight sequence. Armed with nothing more than a makeshift shiv (which he sticks in a guy's eye), The Punisher decimates an entire cell block of prisoners. Somehow, he even manages to slice a guy's head open with a janky axe.
Daredevil And Elektra's Flirty Time In The RingNetflix
Nothing gets my heart racing quite like young love. What makes Matt and Elektra's first sparring match in the boxing ring so appealing is the way Elodie Yung dances around Charlie Cox. Their connection is enthrallingly kinetic. These are two characters who are figuring each other out, and watching them fall in love while simultaneously throwing kicks and jabs was amorous. Not to mention, it's nice to see a fresh-faced Matt Murdock sparring off, rather than growly and brooding Daredevil.
The Hospital SceneNetflix
YES, CLAIRE TEMPLE. YES! Up until this point, Claire had been sidelined as a supporting character in Season 2, so watching her take out a ninja with an IV pole was especially exhilarating -- even if it did get her pushed out of a window. Don't worry, Daredevil saves her BY JUMPING OUT SAID WINDOW AND GRABBING HER MID-FALL. I could not contain all of my gasps. More of this, please.
When Stick appears out of nowhere and starts slicing people in half, I am all in. Stick, like Elektra, doesn't fight using brute force, he dances with his sword -- and every movement is beautiful, even when the end result is ugly (a.k.a. death). It's amazing to think that Scott Glenn can be so convincingly badass at 75, but the man keeps himself in phenomenal shape, and he's been training in martial arts for decades. I hope I can still slice someone's hand off and push their body down a giant, seemingly never-ending hole when I'm in my 70s. Way to show them how it's done, sensei.
The Final Battle RoyaleNetflix
Daredevil and Elektra were outnumbered from the jump, but in their final fight with The Hand, they give it all they've got. The scope of this sequence is staggering. It might be the most ambitious scene Daredevil has ever pulled off -- with three heroes and a horde of evil ninjas.
The season has been building toward this moment, as Elektra fights against her destiny as the Black Sky in an effort to become the hero she never knew she could be. Elektra and Daredevil seem to be on their way to winning this massive fight before Nobu shows up again. He gets the drop on Daredevil before Elektra intervenes takes the blade that was meant for him. She sacrifices herself for him. Enraged by the loss, Daredevil kicks it into overdrive and fends off the remaining ninjas with a little help from The Punisher, who's been lurking on another rooftop the entire time.
After finishes off the last of the ninjas, Daredevil makes his way to Nobu for their final fight. I love watching these two fight. Every move is calculated and electrifying. And in the end, Daredevil's victory seems earned.
The Stairwell Scene
Did anything else even come close? Sure, you could make the argument that this scene wasn't as ~ emotionally resonant ~ as Season 1's hallway scene, in which masked vigilante Matt Murdock fights through a horde of gang members to save a kidnapped young boy (which was also staged, choreographed and filmed all in one take). But at the end of the day, this scene was pretty fucking cool, regardless of Daredevil's overall motives. The man is just trying to get down the damn stairs!
In the slick, five-minute action sequence, the Devil of Hell's Kitchen takes on several members of a motorcycle gang Dogs of Hell in a darkened stairwell... with metal chains attached to his body and a GUN TAPED TO HIS HAND. Now technically, this is not entirely a one-shot fight sequence -- you can spot one or two quick cuts that were near-seamlessly edited together to make it look like it was all done in one. But it's staggering nonetheless.