Every chase scene that you see in film has a team of stunt drivers and stunt coordinators behind it, making sure that a controlled environment remains despite the high-risk nature of some of these chase scenes. Here are some of the most iconic chase scenes in cinematic history:
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) – Chase Scene
Probably one of the longest chase scenes at 42-minutes. The original, non-Nicholas Cage Gone in 60 Seconds movie wrecked a total of 93 cars in the scene above. H.B Halicki, who plays the lead role of Maindrain Pace, impressively performed his own driving stunts throughout the film.
The Italian job (1969) – Mini Cooper Chase
The famous chase scene took place around the streets of Turin, but the iconic sewer tunnel sequence was filmed in Coventry in the UK. No less than seventeen stunt performers were involved in the making of the film, and stunt coordinator Remy Julienne has since worked as a stunt driver on other franchises including James Bond and The Da Vinci Code.
The General (1927) – Steam Train Bridge Scene
Buster Keaton was the stuntman of the silent era, and this is one of the most expensive scenes ever shot for silent film. It depicts a real steam train collapsing with a bridge into a river. It isn’t really a chase scene, but deserves a mention in this list for the sheer boldness of the scene. The train remained in the river until the forties, when its metal was scrapped for war.
Terminator 2:Judgment Day (1991) Bike Chase Scene
If you’re not satisfied in watching a freight liner gradually fall apart and decimate in this scene, there’s something wrong. The entire film was shot across twenty locations in California and New Mexico. Arnie’s stunt double, Peter Kent, performs all of the bike jumps and stunts in this scene. He was Arnie’s stunt double for most of his acting career.
Quantum of Solace (2008) – Opening Sequence
The final product is an incredibly sharp chase scene that you would expect from a Bond movie, but the filming of this scene highlighted the danger that stunt drivers must deal with when on location. One of the Aston Martin drivers managed to drive into a lake on his way to the location, picking up a €400 fine and being charged with recklessness. Then, two stunt men were seriously injured as filming resumed, Greek stuntman Aris Comninos was taken to extensive care and Italian police closed off the route to investigate the issues. Stunt Coordinator Gary Powell claimed that the injuries were testament to the realism and rawness of the scene.
The French Connection (1971) – Car/Train Chase
Everyone you see on the streets in this scene is an unaware New York civilian. This is the most unchoreographed chase on this list. The camera operators were given little to no instruction, the car wasn’t supposed to crash into any of the other cars, some of which were real traffic, the final result is an extremely tense, illegally shot scene. Renegade filmmakers who had no city permits and a Pontiac bumping into real traffic in some instances took a huge risk in going through with what has become an easily recognised chase sequence. It was so dangerous that the camera operator shooting from the back of the brown Pontiac was only situated there because the other camera operators had children.
Bullitt (1968) – Chase Scene
A very famous scene and an iconic one in stunt driving history. Steve McQueen’s stunt double Bud Ekins commands the Ford Mustang in this chase, and the sequence revolutionised Hollywood’s standards, and won Editor Frank.P.Keller the Academy Award for Best Editing on the merits of this moment alone.
The Fast And The Furious (2001) – Truck Scene
A ballsy example of how crucial timing is in stunt driving is exclamative in this sequence involving three Honda Civic EJ1’s and a fast moving rig. One of the key stunt drivers for the Fast and Furious franchise is Debbie Evans, she has been in the profession since 1973 and has recently completed the stunts for the upcoming The Fate of the Furious Movie.
Winners and Sinners (1983) – Roller Skate Chase
No stunt-related article would be complete without the legendary Jackie Chan somewhere. The undisputed wizard of stunts, Chan performed his own risky manoeuvres on skates and this comedic sequence pirouettes between slapstick and danger conjunctively.
Mad Max 2 (1981) – The Tanker Chase
A better tanker chase sequence than the recent remake, partly because the 1981 version doesn’t rely on CGI at all, and partly because most of the motorcyclists you see in this scene are real members of Australian biker gangs, scouted on location.