Warning: Hobbs & Shaw Spoilers below.
The ninth entry in the Fast & Furious franchise has arrived, and it’s sure got the “furious” part down. From the moment Hobbs & Shaw was announced, fans knew they were in for an explosive spin-off. Jason Statham’s ex-British military officer, Deckard Shaw, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s ex-Diplomatic Security Service agent, Luke Hobbs, have hated each other since they first locked eyes in 2015’s Furious 7. But somehow in Hobbs & Shaw, they consent to working together to thwart a literal supervillain (Idris Elba) and a boilerplate supervirus — you know, the kind that cooks your insides and threatens to take down the entire planet. As a result, there’s surprisingly little ass-whooping of either Hobbs or Shaw at the hands of the other; rather, they focus their blows on Etheon’s legion of bad guys.
Now, attentive fans have long known that no protagonist ever loses a fight in the Fast and the Furious franchise, but The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that the fights involving Johnson, Statham, and fellow series star Vin Diesel are carefully choreographed to maintain this fantasy. Diesel even allegedly came up with a complicated scoring system for the Fast fights, assigning a numerical value to every punch, kick, and headbutt in order to ensure that the beatings he received were proportionate to the beatings he dealt out — and that that ratio was relatively equal to the ratio of his rivals.
Diesel’s points system ultimately proved unsustainable, but once you know scores were being kept, it’s hard not to want to know who comes out on top in the fights-filled franchise. So I went into Hobbs & Shaw (notably absent a Diesel) armed with a notebook, a pen, and a trusted accomplice who was only slightly annoyed that I gave him a statistics assignment during a Fast & Furious movie. Our mission: to count every hit both given and taken by both Hobbs and Shaw, in an attempt to determine who won the movie.
What was our methodology? We counted any punch or kick dealt to an opponent or to one of our two key players, but we did not count punches and kicks that were blocked or dodged. If damage was inflicted using a weapon (makeshift or otherwise; gun, Samoan club, car axle, toaster — yes, toaster) or in a manner not involving a punch or a kick (including headbutts, body slams, electrocutions), then such a blow was counted in the “weapons, etc.” category. These results are not entirely what you’d call scientific. They’re based on frantic note-taking during a single viewing. So we arbitrarily planned for a 7 percent margin of error. After all, nothing about the Fast and Furious franchise has ever been infallible. Here we go!
Weapons, etc.: 45
I know what you’re thinking. “Hobbs only lands ten punches in the whole movie? That can’t be right.” But the truth is, there are two things keeping Hobbs’s punch total down. The first is that he punches hard, meaning that when Hobbs lands a punch, it’s typically the only one that he needs. The fight is over. Since super-short fight scenes are no fun, most of the punches Hobbs throws in Hobbs & Shaw are blocked or dodged.
The other thing keeping Hobbs’s punch total low is that he simply has fewer opponents to fight when he’s empty handed — which it turns out isn’t that often, since he uses a lot of weapons. Remember the scene in the trailer when Hobbs enters a room with one bad guy at the same time Shaw enters a room with about a dozen bad guys? That scene accounts for only one of Hobbs’s punches, and at least half of Shaw’s.
But Hobbs also lassos a helicopter with a chain and then holds it in place with one hand. It’s not a hit, but it feels like it should count for something.
Weapons, etc.: 59
Looking at the total number of completed hits for both Hobbs and Shaw, it seems like there’s a pretty clear winner: Shaw landed nearly twice the number of blows as Hobbs. But is it really winning when it takes him several hits to lay out an opponent, while it only takes Hobbs one? On the other hand, perhaps Shaw should receive more credit for taking out an entire roomful of bad guys while Hobbs only had to handle the one.
Weapons, etc.: 16
In spite of what the WSJ reported, Hobbs actually does lose a fight early on in the film — to Shaw’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), the rogue MI6 agent he’s been tasked with bringing in (and whose hits I really wish I had been counting, as I suspect she’s got both Hobbs and Shaw beat). During his fight with Hattie, she goes on the offensive, while he seems much more concerned with blocking. It’s the right call — from the moment she appears onscreen, we’re rooting for Hattie — but it also results in him taking a lot of hits. For most of the other fights in the film, Hobbs and Shaw are about neck and neck when it comes to damage taken versus damage given, but this early scene may have severely skewed his ratio.
Weapons, etc.: 12
One interesting thing I noticed while counting blows in Hobbs & Shaw was that most fights tended to include the two main characters either landing hits or taking hits, but not both. When Hobbs or Shaw are winning a fight, they take almost no damage, but when they start taking hits, they have trouble landing any. For both characters, that means that the majority of the damage they take comes from battling Brixton, who appears to pummel them more or less equally, while other nameless bad guys are barely able to lay a hand on either of them. Since Hobbs’s size isn’t nearly as significant when it comes to blows received as it is to blows given, that makes their tallies in this category much more even. But thanks to Hobbs’s fight with Hattie, Shaw just baaaaarely squeaks out a win here as well.
Who Gets Beat Up More?
By the numbers, Hobbs took nearly one hit for every two that he dealt, while Shaw was able to land three and a half blows for every one that found him. And when comparing the two characters’ totals, Shaw got hit less than Hobbs, while he landed more hits than Hobbs. It’s debatable whether that means Shaw actually dealt more damage — those Rock-sized punches are no joke — but based on the metrics we have, Shaw comes out on top across the board.
I’m very sorry, Hobbs, but you did, in fact, get beat up more. As for the winner of the movie? I think it’s us.