Stunts in a movie are like cream filling for cake; it’s a much better level of cake when it’s stuffed full of car chases, flips and exploding motorcycles. But not all stunts are as easy as falling out of an airplane. Some are as complicated as Einstein’s theories, although in the end your hair will be just as windswept. We give you now the 15 most complicated stunts ever performed on film!
Live and Let Die (1972) — Boat Jump
Setting the world record for boat jumps at 110 feet and levels of astonishment at 58 astonishment rads, the Live and Let Die boat jump was also featured in Mythbusters. So if geeks like it, and William Shatner wasn’t involved, it must be complicated.
Jackass Number Two (2006)
The words “complicated” and “Jackass” shouldn’t normally go together, but people shouldn’t normally stab a fish hook through their cheek and swim with sharks either. Because this stunt also involved wild animals, it’s about as predictable as what Mickey Rourke’s face might look like in twenty years. Between the cameraman, the multiple sharks, Chris Pontius’ fishing pole and Steve-O wearing nothing but a speedo, one has to wonder how no one from the Jackass cast has died yet.
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) — House Collapse
Funny man Buster Keaton was what the kids would call “extreme” today. He once drove a motorcycle over the tops of two trucks moving in opposite directions. No helmet, no safety harness – he just kept doing it until he timed it right. Crazy man is best known for letting the front of a house collapse around him in this scene. Few people know that the façade of the house was probably heavy enough to kill him if the stunt had gone wrong. Buster Keaton’s so crazy, even Chuck Norris refused to fight him.
Thunderbolt (1995) — Avoiding Airborne Racecar
When it comes to stunts, Jackie Chan is king. Known for hurting himself and being unable to pronounce the word “lollipop”, Jackie has made a living at what some people would call being incredibly clumsy. In this stunt, the stuntman must not only jump out of a tower, but he’s got to do it before it’s hit by a racecar, which sails over his head. Jackie’s insurance premiums must be very high.
Born to Fight (2004) — Flaming Motorcycle Leap
Choreographed by the Muay Thai Stunt team, Born to Fight is already an orgy of testosterone-fueled stunts. The one that really comes to mind is when a guy riding a flaming motorcycle crashes into a truck… and then dives over the truck. Video game characters with multiple lives wouldn’t do the stunts that these guys do.
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) — Plane Through Billboard
This movie had more old comedians jammed inside it than the mens room at the Friars Club. Stuntman Frank Tallman nearly upstaged all of them when he drove a plane through a billboard in one the movie’s iconic scenes. Not only did Tallman had to avoid the frame, which might’ve sheared off the wings, but he had to immediately land after the stunt because the balsa wood billboard clogged his engines.
Sharky’s Machine (1981) — Skyscraper Window Drop
The late, great Dar Robinson did the stunts on Burt Reynold’s Sharky’s Machine. No, that didn’t mean cleaning his mustache, it meant doing a 220 story backwards freefall out of the window of Atlanta’s Westin Peachtree Plaza. This is still considered the highest freefall stunt from a building for a commercially-released film and the only way to get out of paying for the mini-bar at the Westin.
McQ (1974) — First Car Cannon
In most jobs, people don’t jump at the chance when someone says, “Hey, let’s pack your car with explosives and roll it over a bunch of times.” Stuntmen, however, apparently fall over themselves. In this obscure John Wayne movie, McQ, the stunt team first used a “car cannon” to propel a vehicle into a rollover. This became the standard for car flips until CGI ruined everything.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) — Dynamite Train
Explosives aren’t all that complicated, but when you purposely over do it, it can be bad. Not Lindsay Lohan on a bender bad, but pretty bad. This was a stunt that definitely included safety goggles in the budget for the stuntmen.
Ben Hur (1959) — Chariot Race
Famous Stuntman, Joe Canutt, performed this dangerous chariot jump and bloodied himself up during a mishap. A popular urban myth says one of the stuntmen died, but in actuality it was only Charlton Heston who died on the inside when he found out Joe wasn’t in the NRA.
Romancing the Stone (1984) — Drive Over Waterfall
Stuntman Terry Leonard had to drive a car over a waterfall and then jump out as it plunged 80 feet down. It’s not easy to survive the worst test drive of all time. Sadly, he was later eaten trying to cut in line at the craft services table in front of Kathleen Turner.
Super Cop (1992) — Motorcycle Train Jump
Jackie Chan protégé, Michelle Yeoh, makes an amazing motorcycle jump landing on a moving train. It was the first Jackie Chan Hong Kong movie to use sync sound so you can really hear him not speak English well.
Stagecoach (1939) — Stagecoach Stunt
Yakima Canutt is best known for his strange name and amazing stunts. His most famous stunt was this complicated transfer stunt in Stagecoach where he jumps from stagecoach to horse, then to ground and again to stagecoach. He was going to add catching a bullet in his teeth, but the director ran out of film. The truck scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark is an homage to this groundbreaking work.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) — Skiing and Skydiving
Stuntman Rick Sylvester pulled off a parachuting ski maneuver that is the envy of Mountain Dew junkies to this day. During the filming, a ski nearly clips the parachute, which would’ve been splatsville for the Bond stuntman, laser watch or no.
Hooper (1978) — Finale Stunt
Probably one of the greatest movies about stuntmen you’ll ever see, the finale in Hooper involves car chases, explosions, building collapses and an awesome jump that’s scarier than even the possibility of seeing Sally Field naked before the credits roll.