As Legend of Korra comes to an end, one of the things I’m going to miss the most is the unparalleled action- particularly the Eastern-inspired fighting. The original series, Avatar: The Last Airbender broke new ground in the melding of animation and imagination with their conceit of elemental-based martial arts. LoK took and advanced these concepts, with offshoots like metal-bending, lava, and flight having even more prominence. There have been so many great showdowns on LoK over the seasons, it’s hard to narrow it all down to just 10. The easiest thing to do would be to just list all the finales, when we got epic Avatar-State battles. But I’d like to go more intimate, with the throw-downs that didn’t have to go huge to be effective. Sorting through all the electric gloves and poison rage, I’d like to countdown my favorite fights of the series:
Kya vs Ming Hua (Book 3, The Ultimatum)
The Chi-blocker escape (Book 1, The Revelation)
Brother vs Brother (Book 2, Civil War pt 2)
Lin vs. Suyin (Book 3, Old Wounds)
10. Equalists attack the Pro-Bending Arena (Book 1, And the Winner Is)
Amon’s first major terrorist act is one to remember. Season 1 of Legend of Korra had the best animation, because they had the longest time to work on it. You will see these examples in the intricacy of the combat, showcased best with the non-bending Equalists, who use pure hand-to-hand technique.
9. Korra vs. Kuvira (Book 4, The Last Stand)
I loved the confined setting of the cockpit for this rematch. And clearly, Korra is ready for Kuvira this time. The skill here in “Round 2” is at the top of it’s game, as Korra burst in, and the fight is a flurry on the senses. But believe it or not, their first confrontation speaks more volumes.
8. Mako and Bolin stall the Red Lotus (Book 3, The Stakeout)
The “bending brothers” make great use of the environment in this standoff against Ming Hua and Ghazan. A two-on-two fight isn’t very uncommon in the Avatar-verse, so this one stood out as unique, especially with the poolside backdrop.
7. Bolin Defends the President (Book 2, Night of a Thousand Stars)
Book 2 of Legend of Korra had its problems, but things really picked up in its last episodes, particularly for Bolin, who got his first big hero moment defending President Reiko from kidnapping during his own movie (technically “mover”) premiere!
6. Lin BeiFong against the Equalists (Book 1, Turning the Tides)
Lin Beifong had a series of jaw-dropping moments throughout Book 1, but my favorite has got to be her defense of Air-Temple island- a true showcase of her earth and metal bending prowess. Additionally, Tenzin’s kids come to help, showing us for the first time what they can do.
5. Kuvira vs. Suyin (Book 4, Operation Beifong)
The Beifong assault on the Spirit gun bombards the senses with earht-bending greatness, but it’s when Suyin breaks away to move in on Kuvira that things get really stunning. These women are wicked fast, shooting metal at each other in what look like lethal attacks.
4. Team Avatar vs. the Red Lotus (Book 3, The Terror Within)
In one of the face-offs we’ve been waiting all season for, Book 3’s team of heroes got their first real taste of Book 3’s team of villains, in this confrontation. All elements are used to great effect here, and to my surprise, both sides seemed evenly matched.
3. Tenzin vs. Zaheer (Book 3, The Ultimatum)
The driving force behind Legend of Korra’s arguably best season was anarchist Zaheer and his new-found ability to bend air. Enlightened and dangerous, everything this villain thinks he knows is put to the test when he faces a true Air-bending master in Tenzin.
2. Korra vs. Tarlock (Book 1, When Extremes Meet)
With Republic City under civil unrest, and her friends captured, Korra visits councilman Tarlock, brazenly demanding her friends be released. What ensues is the series’ most explosive fight, and Korra actually has her elder beat…until he reveals his shocking, blood-bending secret…
1. Korra vs. Kuvira (Book 4, The Battle of ZaoFu)
Kuvira was presented as sort of Korra’s villanous counterpart. In some ways they are similar, but in others they are complete opposites- a concept epitomized in this one-on-one face off, which in my opinion, is the series’ greatest. Korra’s fighting is wreckless and predictable, while Kuvira is controlled and calculated. Other elements at play include Korra’s PTSD, Kuvira’s declaration to her onlooking army, and an entire city at stake. What makes this encounter different from all the others (including their “round 2” bout in the series finale) is that it isn’t just a fight. It’s telling a story the entire time. It’s a shocking reality check that sees the Avatar get her butt handed to her, and it’s brilliant lesson to be learned.