John Wick's Greatest Opponents, Ranked By Fighting Skill

Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick: Chapter 4
(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Through four films, we’ve seen Keanu Reeves’ John Wick kill a whole lot of people, regularly demonstrating himself as an unstoppable force that no sane person would dare cross. In a way, it makes him a tricky character as a protagonist, as there are moments where it seems like he just can’t be beat – but that’s where the big principal villains step in. While there are some baddies that John can take out with a single well-aimed shot, there are also some who require a bit more focus and effort… and it’s those individuals who we are here to celebrate today.

Having previously ranked the fight sequences in the John Wick movies, and also the loyalty of Baba Yaga’s allies, we’re now turning our attention towards all those individuals who have a bad habit of standing in John’s way:

Michael Nyqvist as Viggo Tarasov in John Wick

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

12. Viggo Tarasov (John Wick)

We’re going to take a minute to play devil’s advocate here and have some sympathy for Michael Nyqvist’s Viggo Tarasov. Sure, the guy is a monster in the sense that he makes money entirely based on the suffering of others, but he basically got dragged kicking and screaming into the plot of the first John Wick thanks to his idiot son. Viggo would have been more than happy to see John stay retired forever, but his stupid progeny decided to fuck with the metaphorically sleeping boogeyman. He knew from the start that he would really have no chance against the titular assassin, raising the price on his head at every opportunity, but he does give it the old college try in the movie’s final fight sequence.

Viggo doesn’t need to be much of a fighter, as he hires people to take care of violence for him, but to his credit John Wick doesn’t just instantly kill him when they have their rain-soaked showdown. In fact, John winds up basically needing to stab himself in order to get the upper-hand, so points go to him in that regard. Still, his physical capabilities are really nothing compared to the other characters noted on this list, which is why he gets last place.

Boban Marjanovic as Ernest in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

11. Ernest (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum)

When you look at Ernest in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, it's immediately clear what his particular advantage is. Played by 7'4" Serbian NBA star Boban Marjanovic, the man is absolutely massive, and has one hell of a reach. He's able to just stick out an arm and incapacitate John, which is how he winds up doing a nice deal of damage to the character in the movie's first fight sequence, set in a New York Public Library.

The problem is that Ernest seems to depend on his size to get him far in fights – and that doesn't work out when facing off against a guy as quick as John Wick. His brute force is awesome, but he doesn't have much in the way of martial arts skills, which is why his ranking is pretty low on this list... and also why he winds up getting his neck broken on a hardcover.

Shamier Anderson in John Wick: Chapter 4

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

10. Tracker (John Wick: Chapter 4)

While most of John Wick’s opponents aren’t shy and directly confront the protagonist, Shamier Anderson’s Tracker plays things differently. Instead of taking his shot at killing John, he patiently waits for the price to be right. He recognizes the danger in going after the target, and he’s happy to let other assassins try to take The Baba Yaga down and let the price on his head ultimately go up. His greatest skill is logistics in the John Wick world, but he’s also pretty damn dangerous when he’s ready to seize an opportunity.

In John Wick: Chapter 4, Tracker waits for the best deal before he tries to take on Keanu Reeves’ character, but when he does get into the action he certainly proves himself no slouch – demonstrating some excellent gun-fu moves. And not only is he skilled with weapons, but one must factor into his skill set that he has a canine companion that is exceptionally well trained.


Adrianne Palicki as Ms. Perkins in John Wick

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

9. Ms. Perkins (John Wick)

As portrayed by Adrianne Palicki in John Wick, Ms. Perkins definitely has some killer moves. She’s not much of a rule-follower, as the place she decides to attack our hero is the one place she’s definitely not allowed to do so, but she also recognizes the value of a dollar, and knows an opportunity for a sneak attack when she sees one. There are a few moments when she and John are battling in the room at the Continental where she dominates, and she deserves credit for that.

Where Ms. Perkins loses points, though, is in her inability to be mindful of her surroundings. For starters, she definitely should have known that inciting a fight on hotel grounds would lead to her death, but more importantly A) she didn’t pick up on Willem Dafoe’s Marcus being across the street with a sniper rifle, and B) she let the scuffle move into the hallway, where John was immediately able to find backup from Clarke Peters' Harry.

Keanu Reeves and Common in in John Wick: Chapter 2

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

8. Cassian (John Wick: Chapter 2)

Cassian is another John Wick opponent who we at least give an “A” for effort. While he’s clearly not the best person in the world at being a bodyguard, as he lets the franchise protagonist slip by him when he is on his way to kill Claudia Gerini's Gianna D'Antonio, but once it happens, you have to admire Cassian’s commitment to getting revenge… even if things don’t exactly work out well for him at the end.

Before all is said and done, Common's character in John Wick: Chapter 2 does successfully do quite a number on John Wick. Their battle through the streets of Rome is excellent, including a crazy-long stair tumble, and it’s notable that it only ends because they accidentally crash into the Continental lobby. He also earns marks for his ability to shoot a pistol in a crowded subway and have nobody notice. He definitely has skills – but they aren’t quite as sharp as those possessed by those we’ll discuss as we make our way down to #1.

John Wick Caine and Killa in John Wick: Chapter 4

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

7. Killa (John Wick: Chapter 4)

Scott Adkins is an action star who fits perfectly into the scope of the John Wick universe, as he has been a favorite among genre fans for years – but he plays quite an unexpected role in John Wick: Chapter 4. Adkins is almost unrecognizable as Killa, as the actor wore a number of prosthetics to enhance his size playing the Sammo Hung-esque character. An extension of this is that he doesn’t move quite as fast as he does on-screen, but that no less makes Killa a formidable threat to the movie’s hero.

Killa is made to appear to have about a hundred pounds on John Wick, and he most definitely uses his significant stature to his advantage during their confrontation. John meets with him with the plan to kill him – a vengeance mission on behalf of his family – but Killa doesn’t make it easy for him in the slightest.

Ruby Rose as Ares in John Wick: Chapter 2

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

6. Ares (John Wick: Chapter 2)

The “Reflections On The Soul” sequence in John Wick: Chapter 2 is not just one of the best in the series because of its aesthetic style and use of mirrors, but also because Ruby Rose’s Ares puts up one hell of a fight. Her weapon of choice is a push dagger, the blade sticking out of her closed fist, and it’s an intense thing to watch her swing it around. It’s fortunate that John Wick has the skills to dodge her attack, because otherwise he would have wound up looking like Laurence Fishburne’s The Bowery King at the end of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.

Given that Riccardo Scamarcio's Santino D'Antonio doesn’t exactly put up too much of a fight when John Wick enters the dining room of The Continental and puts a bullet in his brain, the protagonists’ fight against Ares is essentially the final boss battle of the movie, and earns it with some swift moves. Add in her coordination of the albeit-unsuccessful assault targeting John following the assassination of Gianna D'Antonio, and she gets a solid ranking on this list.

Daniel Bernhardt as Kirill in John Wick

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

5. Kirill (John Wick)

Right now you may be thinking to yourself, “Wait, who the hell is Kirill?” but the good news is that I’m happy to remind you! Played by Swiss martial artist Daniel Bernhardt, he’s the guy who winds up being exceptionally close to taking out John Wick in the first movie. The two characters first collide as John is making his way through the Red Circle Club in pursuit of Alfie Allen's Iosef Tarasov. While the hero is able to cut through most of Tarasov’s protection detail like a saw through silk, Kirill proves to be a brick wall. He not only gives John a nice beating, but also throws him over a balcony for good measure.

Kirill also gets credit for being the only guy to actually knock John Wick out in the first film, ramming him with a car during an attack on Viggo Tarasov. We’d actually give him a higher position in this ranking if he managed to finish the job there, but the movie’s plot steals his glory. As such, instead of being The Man Who Killed Baba Yaga, he’s The Man Who Got Strangled By A Pair Of Handcuffs.

Marko Zaror as Chidi in John Wick: Chapter 4

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

4. Chidi (John Wick: Chapter 4)

Resilience is a big part of Chidi’s game. Played by Marko Zaror, the character first appears in the lobby of the Osaka Continental in the first act of John Wick: Chapter 4, and after surviving waves of arrows (shielding one with his bare forearm) and the hotel’s skilled security forces, he continues to prove himself a formidable force working for the High Table hunting John down right up until the film’s big final duel.

Chidi’s big shining moments really come in the third act race to Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Obviously John Wick has to deal with a lot of opponents as he goes from the Arc de Triomphe to those ungodly stairs, but still Chidi stands out as a particular force to be reckoned with. It says a lot that it really ends up requiring the combined forces of John, Caine and Tracker to take him down.

Cecep Arif Rahman's Shinobi #1 and Yayan Ruhian's Shinobi #2 in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

3. Shinobi #1 & Shinobi #2 (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum)

Because their primary assaults come as a pair, we are counting Cecep Arif Rahman's Shinobi #1 and Yayan Ruhian's Shinobi #2 together in this ranking – and we’re giving them the number three spot because the skills they demonstrate are impressive (though one shouldn’t expect anything less from two graduates of The Raid movies).

There was an initial impulse to rank them a bit lower on the list given that there is a serious advantage that comes with a two-on-one matchup, but we thought against it. Not only does their demonstrated respect for John Wick throughout the fight winds up evening the odds a bit, as they give him opportunity to freely get out of prone positions, but they are just total badasses with remarkable skills, which is the most important qualification in these rankings. They also get bonus points for being two of the few characters who walk away from a battle with John still alive.

Mark Dacascos as Zero John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

2. Zero (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum)

Played by Mark Dacascos, Zero regularly demonstrates himself as one seriously cocky sonofabitch throughout John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, but he isn’t a villain who is just all talk (that’s the role for Iosef Tarasov or Dean Winters’ Avi to fill). Instead, when he has a sword in his hand there is reason for any character to tremble, as he is both gifted with a blade, and ruthless when it comes to executing orders given to him by the High Council.

He works smart as a general, able to orchestrate brutal attacks on both The Bowery King and The Director’s hideouts, but it’s really in the final fight where he has the opportunity to really shine. And while he does ultimately get killed by John Wick, like so many others on this list, there is no denying his demonstrated skill. One could argue that being a little too confident is what winds up being his downfall, right up to his final words about “catching up” with John, but it all adds to his mystique.

Donnie Yen as Caine in John Wick: Chapter 4

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

1. Caine (John Wick: Chapter 4)

To describe someone as having “jaw-dropping skills” is typically just a turn of phrase, but that’s not the case with Donnie Yen. This is a performer whose abilities are so remarkable that you literally just have to drop your jaw. Playing the blind killer Caine in John Wick: Chapter 4, his hands move at speeds one might have otherwise thought not possible for a human – and it takes only an instant at the start of the action in the Osaka Continental in the film to recognize that he truly is John Wick’s greatest foe.

It’s actually sad that Caine is John’s greatest opponent, as they are friends who are pitted against each other because of the power of the High Table, but Caine is among those who pledge to serve and to be of service, and that means him making a full effort to try and kill John upon request. Ambiguous as the ending of John Wick: Chapter 4 is, one could regardless make the argument that he is the one who ends up killing John Wick (or “John Wick,” if you prefer).

John Wick: Chapter 4 is now playing in theaters, and all three of the other John Wick films are available to stream with a Peacock subscription. To learn about Keanu Reeves' next time playing the revenge-seeking assassin, check out our Ballerina Quick Things guide.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.