It's movie awards season in the U.S. (look for Oscar nominations to be announced tomorrow), so here at Tiger Pens, we decided to put together a movie/TV list of our own: Great fight scenes involving a pen or pencil.
You might be surprised at how many there are. Some are fairly recent, and a few go back several years, but all feature highly choreographed use of writing instruments in violent ways probably not recommended by the makers.
We've ranked them using a scientific process that assigns weighted values to....oh, who're we kidding, they just go from "cool" to "coolest." Here they are:
#7 Red Eye – Lisa Escapes the Plane
Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) needs to get away from terrorist Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy), seated next to her, as their Dallas-to-Miami flight lands. In a scene that adds a flash of excitement to a so-so thriller, she stealthily thumbs the cap off a rollerball and waits for the seatbelt light to go off before whipping the pen around and into Rippner’s throat.
#6 Battlestar Galactica – Gaeta Snaps
(Video won't play outside the US...sorry, it's the only version I could find of this scene, although you can see a still and photos of the pen here.)
Lt. Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani) is trying to learn how much Gaius Baltar (James Callis) has told the Cylons about the fleet’s search for Earth in this intense sci-fi series that ran for four seasons. Baltar whispers something into Gaeta’s ear, infuriating him. Before Baltar realizes his mistake, the lieutenant snatches up a pen and slams it into Baltar’s neck.
#5 RocknRolla – Johnny Quid vs. the Bouncer
Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell) and a friend are trying to get into a club in Guy Ritchie’s brilliant crime movie, but end up taking a bit of abuse (and a punch) from the bouncer. After the bouncer threatens to “grind your bones to make my bread,” Johnny starts jabbing him with a pencil, presumably the pointy end, but it’s hard to tell. He finishes the bouncer off with a trashcan lid.
#4 The Dark Knight – Joker Kills the Henchman
The Joker (Heath Ledger) shows up at a meeting of Gotham’s underworld leaders and offers to kill Batman in exchange for half of the crooks' money. To show them how serious he is, the delightfully demented villain offers to demonstrate a magic trick. He plants a pencil on a table, then makes it “disappear” by slamming one of Gambol’s henchmen headfirst onto it.
#3 Casino – Is This Your Pen?
In Martin Scorsese’s crime classic, Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro) is having drinks with his mob guardian, Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci). When he finds a nice pen laying on the bar, he casually turns to the man next to him and asks if the pen belongs to him. The clueless drinker responds rudely, and Nicky, grabbing the pen, stabs the man over and over in the neck until he falls to floor whimpering. Pesci was the king of the psycho mafia characters in the ’90s, and this was one of the scenes that cemented his reputation.
#2 The Bourne Identity – Bourne vs. Castel
Amnesiac spy Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is searching his own Paris apartment for clues to his identity when assassin Castel (Nicky Naude) bursts through a window, setting off one of the most exciting movie fight scenes in the last 10 years. Castel attacks with a knife and Bourne, unarmed, manages to grab a Bic from his desk. He puts several holes in the assassin before the pen lodges in Castel’s hand. Bourne then kills him with a little movie-fu.
#1 Grosse Pointe Blank – High School Reunion Death Match
Hitman Martin Blank (John Cusack) is attending his 10th high school reunion, not realizing that a competing killer has followed him to the event. When a drunk former classmate hands him a promotional pen, he slips it into a pocket and goes upstairs to see his old locker. That’s where Felix La PuBelle (former kickboxing champ Benny “the Jet” Urquidez) catches him. The two go at it fists, feet and knees until Blank reaches in his pocket for the pen, flips off the cap and buries it in La PuBelle’s neck.
That’s our list, although we thought we’d give honourable mention to two pen deaths that occurred offscreen in a couple of U.S. television shows. In “American Gothic,” a short-lived supernatural series from the ’90s, Sheriff Lucas Buck (Gary Cole), who may or may not have been devil, murdered a man by forcing him to stab himself to death with a Platignum fountain pen. And, in the "CSI: NY" Season 3 episode “Some Buried Bones,” a college student apparently is stabbed to death with a Montblanc.
(You may be wondering at this point whether anyone has ever actually killed or seriously hurt someone using a pen...or maybe that’s just a little morbid curiosity on our part. Either way, the answer is, “Yes.”
In 2007, a student at the University of Hull attacked his girlfriend in a fit of jealousy and stabbed her to death with a pen. And, in 2008, a 13-year-old California boy was stabbed several times with a ballpoint pen in a fight with a classmate and later died.
BTW: Pens can also be used for self-defense, if you're into that sort of thing, as our post on tactical pens explains.)
Let us know what you think of our list, or if you know of any other great pen fight scenes we should know about. Extra points if you can identify any of the pens/pencils used in the movies above.