Krav Maga is a system that prides itself on practical, gritty self defence and fitness training, combined with drills and assessments that test practitioners to the limit of their physical and mental capacity and prepare for dealing with the worst case scenario.
Mental robustness, stamina and resourcefulness should be the forefront of good Krav Maga training, they are also highly desirable in a survival situation.
How would you fare, on your own in a hostile environment, surrounded by people who wish you harm? Could you survive these films for real 🙂
- The Flight of the Phoenix (Robert Aldrich, 1965)
By 1965, Jimmy Stewart had long since shed his ever chipper, cornpone ways by giving dark, obsessive performances for Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock in the fifties. And here we find those unsavory shades fully integrated into his lead performance here as a pilot that crashes in the Libyan desert due to a sandstorm, leaving an all-star cast to run out of water and slowly go crazy. That is, until one passenger turns out to be an airplane designer who thinks they can build a new plane from the old one, and fly out.
- Hell in the Pacific (John Boorman, 1968)
Within the first five minutes, anyone can guess where this movie is going. It’s WWII and an American pilot (Lee Marvin) crashes on a same remote island where a Japanese naval officer (Toshiro Mifune) is already stranded. Of course, they will eventually overcome their differences and work together to get home. But the movie’s lingering power comes from how slowly it takes them to get there, and just how fragile their truce proves to be.
- Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
No list of this kind can ignore Boorman’s masterpiece of wilderness terror, made from John Dickey’s novel about a group of guys having the worst rafting trip in history. Deliverance is so much more than the scene that remains seared into zeitgeist to this day, but after being referenced for the nearly fifty years, the actual movie gets lost. Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty play old pals rafting through the Georgia backwoods, until they piss off some craven locals who are looking for a terrible kind of fun.
- Rescue Dawn (Werner Herzog, 2006)
Much of Herzog’s entire filmography could be defined as battles with nature, both in subject matter and the actual shoots. His status as meme engine now only solidifies the idea of the dead-eyed German reminding us how little the natural world cares if anything, or anyone, lives or dies. It also cheapens one of the richest, and most singular bodies of the work by any director. Rescue Dawn is a case in point. Far from some dour meditation, the movie is a high-spirited adventure picture about Dieter Dangler, a German-American POW in Vietnam that Herzog profiled in a documentary back in 1997.
- Arctic (Joe Penna, 2018)
This austere Icelandic survival picture starts well after our lead, (Mads Mikkelsen) has crashed in the Arctic Circle. We watch his daily routine of fishing and SOS signals until a helicopter flies into view. But the winds are too much, and the chopper crashes, killing the pilot and wounding the other passenger (María Thelma Smáradóttir), leaving Mikkelsen to tend her wounds as best he can.
- A Lonely Place to Die (Julian Gibey, 2011)
This underseen Scottish gem sports a great hook: A group of climbers hear a little girl’s pleas from a breathing tube in the middle of a mountain wilderness, and dig her out of an underground box. She speaks no English, but soon enough, her kidnappers are hunting the climbers to get their victim back in time to collect the ransom. The canny blend of crime and survival story upgrades both elements and feels fresher for it.
- The Grey (Joe Carnahan, 2011)
Ever since Taken, Liam Neeson has been the patron saint of Dad movies, letting middle- aged working stiffs imagine themselves saving the day in increasingly preposterous scenarios. This survival flick from Joe Carnahan gets lost in that shuffle, mostly because it stands as an outlier from the star’s later work and even the director. Carnahan typically delivers macho grit with the tone and intelligence of a Mountain Dew commercial, but here he manages to impersonate Walter Hill, delivering a grim, taut picture about Alaskan oil workers that crash land in the wilderness, only to be hunted by a pack of wolves.
- All Is Lost (J.C. Chandor, 2013)
So many of these pictures are true collaborations between director and star because left alone in the middle of nowhere, there’s no place an actor can hide their lack of screen presence and nothing a director can do to make up for that. And there is probably no closer collaboration among these than J.C. Chandor and Robert Redford in this tale of a man lost at sea. Redford is the only cast member, and the script was famously only 31 pages long. But director and star still managed to produce a classic from it.
- Southern Comfort (Walter Hill, 1981)
A flop at the time, this survival picture eventually found its place as another fine addition to Walter Hills’ filmography. But in 1981, the tale of National Guardsmen getting lost in the bayou and running afoul of the locals was read as an allegory for Vietnam, at a time when audiences were at their peak ambivalence about that defeat. The country was just beginning to enjoy Reagan’s delicious historical amnesia, but more than anything, they’d be grateful to avoid reckoning with it for a spell.
- The Edge (Lee Tamahori, 1997)
Producer Art Linson had worked with David Mamet on the massive hit The Untouchables, and with a new studio deal at Fox, was after another. So Linson suggested an adventure picture with two male leads, and Mamet, a fan of big paychecks, agreed. Linson needed something more to go on, so Mamet replied, “How about two guys and a bear?” And like that, one of the most entertaining wilderness thrillers was born.
About The Author
Mark Edwards is a professional Krav Maga coach, Personal Trainer and passionate advocate for good Krav Maga training. Mark heads up Krav Maga Taunton & Bridgwater and regularly coaches at national Krav Maga instructor training courses. Mark can be contacted on 07986516337