Top 10 Action Scenes in Disney Movies

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Top 10 Action Scenes in Disney Movies

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
These action scenes in Disney movies took full advantage of the animation medium. Our countdown includes "Tangled," "Mulan," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," and more!
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Top 10 Action Scenes in Disney Movies


Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 action scenes in Disney movies.

For this list, we’ll be taking a look at some of the most exciting action moments from Disney animated films. To be clear, they have to be solo Disney movies, as Pixar action scenes deserve a list of their own.
If there’s a thrilling Disney scene you weren’t thrilled we left off our list, please tell us your favorites in the comments!

#10: Rapunzel & Flynn’s Dam Escape
“Tangled” (2010)


Pursued by Flynn Rider’s many enemies, the thief and Rapunzel find themselves cornered at a dam. Using her long hair as a rope, Rapunzel secures a means of escape while Flynn fights off the guards, and Maximus the horse, with her frying pan. They then cause the dam to flood, defeating their enemies and allowing them to make a quick getaway. The whole sequence is brilliantly choreographed, with a ton of spectacle and plenty of humor. It may fly by quickly, but it’s so well-executed that it’s worth watching again and again!

#9: Kill the Beast!
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)


Although it’s tempting to include the Beast’s battle against wolves, the film’s final action set-piece takes the cake. Gaston turns the villagers into a mob that attacks the Beast’s castle. The castle’s objectified servants manage to make quick and comedic work of them. Meanwhile, Gaston battles Beast atop the rainswept rooftop before falling to his death after a treacherous move. There’s a big contrast between the comical battle below and the serious one above, but both parts of this climactic scene are beautifully animated, and thoroughly engaging.

#8: Tarzan vs. Sabor
“Tarzan” (1999)


While Tarzan’s final clash with Clayton is also pretty amazing, our pick goes to this earlier battle with Sabor, the leopard that killed Tarzan’s human parents. When the cat attacks Tarzan’s adopted ape father, Kerchak, Tarzan steps in to battle her. The pair of fighters chase each other among the treetops, until they both fall into a pit... from which only Tarzan emerges. The fluidity of movement by both combatants is absolutely stunning, and each section of the fight seamlessly flows into the next. Tarzan delivering his iconic yell to celebrate his victory is the cherry on top of this fantastic action sequence.

#7: Moana & Maui vs. Te Kā
“Moana” (2016)


Charged with returning the heart of Te Fiti to an island guarded by the lava spirit, Te Kā, Moana and Maui enact a daring plan to accomplish their goal. While Maui attacks the fiery creature, Moana sails to restore the heart. While the ultimate solution to their problem doesn’t come from their fight, it’s still thrilling while it lasts. Maui’s numerous transformations make for some funny and creative maneuvering on his part, and his attacks on Te Kā are as flashy as he is. Likewise, Moana’s rush to her goal has us on the edge of our seats, to the point where her alternate solution is as much a relief for us as it is for her.

#6: Ralph Wrecks the Cy-Bugs
“Wreck-It Ralph” (2012)


When the titular video game villain is faced with an invasion of aggressive bugs in his friend Vanellope’s game, “Sugar Rush,” he resolves to stop them. However, Ralph’s efforts to destroy a volcano with fizzy eruptions are interrupted by a glitched King Candy/Turbo/Cy-bug. Ralph manages to drop to what he believes is his death to save his friend, only for her to save him at the last minute. Meanwhile, all the bugs, including Candy, get zapped. Not only is this moment full of great action and beautiful imagery, it’s also the emotional culmination of the whole movie, with Ralph and Vanellope rising to meet the challenge brilliantly. It’s…it’s just so dang touching!

#5: Bear Attack
“The Fox and the Hound” (1981)


When human hunter Amos, and his dog Copper, are hunting Copper’s former fox friend Tod and his mate Vixey, the pair are attacked by one of cinema’s most terrifying bears. The black, red-eyed beast is enormous and Copper bravely tries to fight it off. Hearing his friend is in trouble, Tod rushes to Copper’s aid; getting the bear to chase him instead. After leading it to a tree over a waterfall, Tod and the bear fall to the water below. The whole sequence is incredibly harrowing, and the heroism by both fox and hound is wonderful to witness.

#4: Hercules vs. the Hydra
“Hercules” (1997)


Young Herc performs many flashy, heroic deeds on his quest to become a hero, but one of the most memorable is his battle against the Hydra. While trying to win acclaim in Thebes, Hercules accidentally unleashes the Hydra. The demi-god nearly gets swallowed, but manages to decapitate the creature. However, this only leads to it growing more and more heads. Eventually Hercules is able to cause an avalanche that buries the beast. Despite featuring some dated CGI, the fight still features some marvelous action, with Herc using everything from his fists to his sword to his horse to his wits against the powerful creature.

#3: Sanctuary!
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)


Things look hopeless for all involved when Claude Frollo decides to burn Esmeralda at the stake. But though Quasimodo is initially despondent and chained up, upon seeing her suffer he breaks free of his bonds. Swinging into action, he rescues Esmeralda, as the people of Paris battle below. When Frollo tries to kill the pair of them once and for all, he ultimately falls to his own death. While not quite as action-packed as some other Disney scenes, the epic music and striking visuals help make this climactic showdown particularly impressive.

#2: The Mountain Battle
“Mulan” (1998)


Although the final fight with villain Shan Yu is also a contender, the best action scene in “Mulan” is the battle in the mountain pass. While the Chinese forces believe they’ve succeeded at first, the Huns come back with a huge charge. However, some quick thinking by Mulan leads her to rush forward with the last cannon. Although her shot seems to miss, it causes an avalanche which buries most of Shan Yu’s forces, and wins the day. Every development in this sequence is more thrilling than the last, and it has everything: stunning animation, great music, and even a little comedy.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Magic Carpet Escape, “Aladdin” (1992)
The Camera Puts Us Right in the Middle of the Action

Rescuing Kida, “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” (2001)
Aerial Dogfight & Fisticuffs on a Balloon

Defeating Ursula, “The Little Mermaid” (1989)
Striking Down the Sea Witch With a Ship

Callaghan Confrontation, “Big Hero 6” (2014)
Every Hero Gets a Moment to Shine

Dragon Battle, “Sleeping Beauty” (1959)
Whimsy Gives Way to Major Action

#1: Simba vs. Scar
“The Lion King” (1994)


With Pride Rock in flames, Scar is forced to admit his responsibility in Mufasa’s death when Simba gets the better of him. This launches a battle between the hyenas and the lions, as well as several supporting characters. When Simba follows Scar as he tries to escape, the two of them fight each other, ultimately leading to Scar being killed by the hyenas after he tries to pin it all on them. This fight has everything – slow-mo, flames, comedy, stakes, thrilling music, and some of the most beautiful animation Disney has ever produced! It’s awesome, in every sense of the word!
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