Greatest Chase Scenes
in Film History

1979 - 1983

Greatest Film Chase Scenes
Title Screen
Film Title/Year and Description of Chase Scene

Moonraker (1979)

In the final hour of this 11th James Bond film, agent 007 (Roger Moore) ventured to the Amazonian jungle in Brazil, where he was pursued in his armored Glastron Hydrofoil Speedboat on the Tapirape River by henchman sent by villainous billionaire industrialist Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale). They launched an armed attack on his craft with explosive depth charges. From the rear of his boat, Bond deployed mines, blowing up one boat and killing three thugs.

As he raced forward, two other boats joined in the pursuit - one held steel-toothed Jaws (Richard Kiel) who was wielding a machine-gun. Bond then launched torpedoes from his speedboat, and destroyed a second boat with three men onboard.

When Bond's speedboat approached the massive Iguacu Falls, he escaped death when he launched himself from his speedboat onto a hang glider that was deployed from the craft's roof - and he soared away to safety. Jaws (with two other thugs) in the last boat crashed over the falls.

The Blues Brothers (1980)

Cool ex-con, renegade musicians named the Blues Brothers - who were "on a mission from God" - were siblings, who both wore black suits, hats, and shades:

  • Joliet "Jake" Blues (John Belushi)
  • Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd)

In one of the comedy film's earlier scenes, there was an incredible jump over an open drawbridge [the 95th Street bridge] ("This car's got some pickup"), then a spectacular chase through an entire indoor shopping mall in the Chicago area [the former Dixie Square Mall] - when they were pursued by state police in their Bluesmobile (a converted 1974 Dodge Monaco police cruiser sedan), with dozens of crashes through store windows (J. C. Penney's, Toys R Us, etc.) - that sent shoppers fleeing.

In the last half hour of the film, they sped 106 miles in their car toward downtown Chicago while pursued by lots of squad cars, with a maniacal death-defying chase that reportedly had the largest number of car crashes (demolition derby style) in film history. One police car ended up crashing into the side of a freight truck ("We're in a truck!").

At the conclusion, the two - driving at 120 mph at times - plowed their vehicle through a flock of pigeons and a crowd of pedestrians and into the lobby of the Richard J. Daley Center municipal building at Daley Plaza. Once they had reached their final destination, their car literally collapsed and completely fell apart after they stepped out of it.

[Mack Sennett's The Keystone Kops short films were an inspiration for this film.]

The Cannonball Run (1981)

Here was another chase film from Hal Needham (similar to his earlier The Gumball Rally (1976)), featuring a cross-country, car-crashing road-race from Connecticut to Southern California with the tagline: "You'll never guess who wins."

The race was based upon the real "Cannonball Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash." With Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Jack Elam, Jamie Farr, Farrah Fawcett, Jackie Chan, Roger Moore, Ratpackers Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin, and more.

[Followed by Cannonball Run II (1984) and Speed Zone (1989).]

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The most classic of the chase scenes was a desert chase scene in which Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) raced after a speeding truck by mounting a horse and overtaking the vehicle. He leapt onto the vehicle, forced his way into the cab, tossed the guard from the passenger seat, kicked out the Nazi driver onto the road, and took control of the wheel. As he drove, there were some hair-raising attempts of Nazi guards in the back of his truck to oust Indy from the wheel. He was weakened when one guard shot him in the left arm. The last remaining guard reached the truck's cab from above. Indy was tossed through the windshield and ended up hanging from a hood ornament in the front of the fast-moving truck. When the ornament bent and cracked off, he grabbed onto the grill. The grill bars snapped one by one as Indy clung to the fender of the front tire. To avoid being rammed in the back of the car ahead, Indy lowered himself under the truck's engine where he clung tenuously beneath the vehicle.

He (oftentimes stuntman Terry Leonard) made his way between the vehicle's wheels to the truck's rear wheel axle - he even was dragged behind the truck while attached by his bullwhip. Eventually, he pulled himself forward and lifted himself up onto the rear of the truck, crawled alongside and back in to the cab, and jumped into the driver's cab. Angered, he threw the driver out through the already-broken windshield. [This stunt paid homage to the stunt performed by Yakima Canutt in Stagecoach (1939) - see above.]

Another famous "chase" scene was in the opening sequence, with an escape from a trap-laden ancient South American temple, including a rolling gigantic spherical boulder, and Indy's subsequent getaway from Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman) and the Hovitos tribe by running to an awaiting airplane.

The Road Warrior (1982) aka Mad Max 2 (1981, Aus.)

This post-apocalyptic film was the sequel to the grim revenge/action film Mad Max (1979). It featured a spectacular, 12-minute chase sequence in the finale, in which "Mad Max" Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) in a semi-trailer fuel-oil MACK truck-tanker was pursued and viciously attacked at breakneck speed by a convoy of bizarre vehicles, souped-up cars and motorcycles, and a marauding savage band of punkish desert vandals wearing hockey-like masks.

During the hot chase across the outback, the nomadic warriors flung grappling hooks at the truck, and arrows were shot from crossbows while pursuers lept from vehicle to vehicle. Even a fire-bombing gyroplane hovered above the action. The climax occurred when the 40-foot tanker crashed into Lord Humungus' (Kjell Nillson) car -- also killing Wez (Vernon Wells), who was clinging to the front fender of the tanker -- and the giant tanker (filled with sand) rolled over onto its side.

Earlier in the film, Mad Max drove a super-charged Ford Falcon XB Coupe.

[This film was followed by Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).]

Christine (1983)

This cult horror film contained the famous scene in which the evil red 1958 Plymouth Fury named Christine chased one of Arnie Cunningham's (Keith Gordon) bullies, gray-sweatshirted and overweight Moochie Welch (Malcolm Danare), into a narrow alleyway and crushed him into a wall.

Project A (1983, HK) (aka 'A' Gai Wak)

In this Jackie Chan martial-arts action film, a long fight and chase scene featured a foot chase, cycling through crowded, narrow Hong Kong alleyways, a climb up a flagpole, and climaxed with an ascent up a clock-tower with a duel and classic plunge from the top by director/actor Chan himself as Navy Master Sergeant Maillong, known as Dragon.

The three-story fall after dangling from the clock was broken by various awnings and other projections along the way. [Note: This scene was the film's tribute to Harold Lloyd's Safety Last (1923).]


Return of the Jedi (1983)

The last film in the first Star Wars trilogy featured the famous chase scene in which Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) battled with Imperial Stormtroopers on flying "speeder bikes" at breakneck speeds through a dense forest on the planet Endor.

Greatest Classic Chase Scenes in Film History

(chronological, by film title)
Intro | 1903-1966 | 1967-1971 | 1972-1974 | 1975-1978 | 1979-1983
1984-1989 | 1990-1997 | 1998-2002 | 2003-2006 | 2007-now

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