Bar Brawl

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"I don't want to get in a bar fight. People are always gettin' in bar fights. It's such a damn cliché. You hear about it all the time and you see it in the motion pictures, people are gettin' hit in the head with beer bottles, and furniture, and--" (breaks bottle over man's head)
Jack Cates, Another 48 Hrs.

A Bar Brawl is a fight scene where the emphasis is less on fighting skill and more on destruction of furniture. Glass will be broken, ordinary bottles turned into weapons, and very probably a chair as well, most likely across somebody's back. Someone will probably swing from a chandelier, even if there weren't any there to start with. (groan) At some point, the fighting will become widespread among the patrons who aren't involved in the instigating argument. A good clue this is about to happen is when The Piano Player secures the piano and leaves.

Bar Brawls are staples of The Western, and not uncommon in The Need for Mead.

This commonly overlaps with Escalating Brawl. Expect to see one guy Strolling Through the Chaos, drink in hand, until he reaches either the exit or the bartender. Sometimes it's capped with a Check, Please! moment. Compare and contrast Chop Sockey.

If this scene takes place in a diner, it's a Diner Brawl, though the Diner Brawl can also be the Porting Disaster of the Bar Brawl.

It happens in Real Life and the destruction of furniture is Truth in Television: when drunk, people are less likely to aim their blows properly or even to stand properly.

Examples of Bar Brawl include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • One Piece
    • A rival pirate crew attack Luffy and Zoro while they're in a bar in Mock Town; however, the other pirate crew was so pathetically weak Luffy and Zoro don't bother fighting back. They look pretty torn up in the end, but they're ultimately unhurt.
    • In the fourth movie, Luffy, Zoro, and the bounty hunter Shuraiya get into a large fight with the crew of General Gasparde.
  • No sooner did Negi of Mahou Sensei Negima enter a lawless border town's bar at the start of the the Magical World Story Arc did he and Kotaro find themselves participating in a bar brawl with the rowdier patrons. Bar brawls happen pretty often in that bar, so the bartender told them not to worry about the damages since he'll get the guys they beat up to pay for it, though Negi and crew still stayed around to help repair the place.
  • As soon as Lucy steps into the eponymous guild in Fairy Tail, a bar brawl breaks out. Apparently this happens all the time, particularly whenever the most boisterous of mages are in the guild at the same time.
  • There is one in episode 17 of Sonic X, "The Aventures of Knuckles and Hawk", but it's very short because... well, Knuckles is the one fighting so the guys fighting him never stood a chance. This extremely short fight occurs when Knuckles starts looking for his human friend Hawk.
  • In the Tales of Vesperia prequel movie, First Strike, Yuri and Flynn end up in a tavern full of Guild members boasting about how they took an old man's money and didn't finish their job. Needless to say, Yuri doesn't like that and soon the two of them lay the smackdown.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Lucky Luke
    • In the comic, most pianists and dancers can only play right with "atmosphere"—that is, massive fights during their performances.
    • In one case, the people are at the bar following a funeral and a brawl breaks out for whatever reason. At the end, Luke raises his glass to the dead man, and two participants are seen limping away, commenting on how well that fight turned out, shame the dead guy couldn't have been in it.
    • Averted at another time with a town composed exclusively of men, who no longer have the heart to start brawling anymore as there's no woman to fight over.
  • X-Men
    • Charles Xavier would occasionally Flash Back to his past friendship with Magneto, before the two became bitter enemies. One of the most memorable of these involved the two starting a Bar Brawl with a bunch of drunken sailors because Charles didn't like seeing them pick on a cripple for "being different"—and winning without using their mutant powers. Well, mostly without their powers...
    • Another X-Men comic has a bar brawl between the Juggernaut and Colossus. Surprisingly, there was no property damage.
    • Wolverine gets into these all the time.
  • Even if Winnowill's diversion in Elf Quest may not qualify as a bar brawl, it lookslike one.
  • Sin City: Marv likes to get into these as well.
  • At one point in Preacher (Comic Book), Jesse, sensing that Cassidy is in a bad mood (his girlfriend had just died of an overdose), deliberately picks a fight in a bar to burn off the bad vibes. (He still had limits, however, and stopped Cassidy from eating his opponents.)
  • The Savage Dragon
    • During the "Gang War" arc, we get to see a Bad Guy Bar filled with supervillains. The storyline revolves around a power vaccum in the supervillain underworld so a brawl was bound to happen... twice. Both times were pretty violent.
    • The eponymous hero also got involved in one in the first issue of the ongoing series (the character first appeared in a miniseries) while drowning his sorrows.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

  • Early on in the Firefly/Doctor Who fanfic The Man With No Name, the Doctor wears his usual attire (a brown coat) into an Alliance-friendly bar. Much to his confusion, he is quickly punched out a window.
  • In the Fallout 3 fan fiction Trouble, Butch gets into huge fights every night with the two former slavers and the ex-raider living in Rivet City, along with off duty guards. Though for the most part they all admit they have fun beating the crap out of each other.
  • Nobody Dies has Gendo starting one of these in an UN-sponsored dinner with the presidents of almost every nation on Earth. The reason? France's representative dared to say that Yui's legs got her a job at NERV. Ends in an epic Cross Counter with the president of the U.S. and a massive Xanatos Gambit explanation to Yui. And it works.
  • With Strings Attached
    • At the beginning of the Second Movement, having just arrived in the Baravadan city of Ta'akan, the four unknowingly wander into a skahs pub, where they have barroom brawls roughly once a night. It's just about all the skahs have to do these days. Afterward, the employees sell healing potions to the crowd, and all the broken stuff magically disappears.
    • Months later, when the four leave Ta'akan for good, they have dinner at the pub and watch the nightly brawl as a form of closure.
  • In the Ghostbusters fan film Return of the Ghostbusters, Neil and Pavel get into one of these. The call they make to Ed later asking him to post bail implies that this wasn't the first time.


Films -- Animation[edit | hide]


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • The film Shane has a classic scene.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • A brief brawl in the first movie, and a rather more massive one in the second. And Jack walks right through it without becoming involved, trying on a variety of recently-vacated hats.
    • Tortuga, as it is portrayed in Pirates, seems to be a bar brawl the size of a city.
  • In Thor, Thor and Erik Selvig get into a bar brawl, after Selvig unwisely tried to outdrink Thor. A stealth moment of awesome when you realise Thor hasn't got any injuries, and is carting Selvig around like he weighs nothing at all.

Thor: We drank, we fought, he made his ancestors proud!
Drunk!Selvig: I still don't think you're the God of Thunder... But you should be!

  • In the climactic fight in Top Secret, the hero and villain fall into a lake and continue the fight underwater, which suddenly becomes a western-style bar brawl in an underwater bar.
  • There's a particularly messy one in the James Bond film Licence to Kill.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as the heroes are captured by Dirty Communists, Indy orders Mutt to punch a man, starting a Malt Shop Brawl between Greasers and Socialites that allows the duo to escape.
  • One of the notable scenes of Pearl Harbor´s Romantic Plot Tumor is a Bar Brawl started by the two competing halves of the love triangle.
  • The T-800 starts one in "Film/Terminator2". It's very one-sided.
  • Between two card-playing Girl Scouts in Airplane!
  • There is a great martial art bar brawl in Project A with Sailors vs. Cops, starring Jackie Chan.
  • In a bit of a meta-subversion, in the Director Commentary for Shanghai Noon, the director talked about how Jackie Chan had never heard of a barroom brawl and assumed that he would be fighting everyone.
  • Scorsese's Mean Streets.
  • The Great Race. "Now can I get me some fighting room?"
  • Averted in Wishmaster: 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled. The Djinn (in human form) tries to cause a scene in a strip club, only to be forced to leave by the bouncer, who gets into a fist fight with the Djinn outside. He does pretty well, but still dies in the end.
  • Unsurprisingly, The Dukes of Hazzard movie has one of these.
  • In Romper Stomper, the skinhead gang led by Russell Crowe's character gets into a bar brawl when they discover that a Vietnamese family has just bought their local pub. One brother escapes to call reinforcements, bringing the city's entire population of Vietnamese factory workers down on the gang's bald heads. The fight spills into the streets and across half the city as the gang literally runs for their lives.
  • In the beginning of Star Trek, when Kirk was flirting unsuccessfully with Uhura, a few other cadets didn't like that and punched Kirk, starting the fight.
  • One particularly one-sided brawl in Popeye. He got his apologiky.
  • Cool Runnings has one in a famous cowboy bar.
  • Batman the Movie. Going on in Ye Olde Benbow Taverne when Catwoman (dressed in her Miss Kitka disguise) walks in.
  • Blazing Saddles. The fight between Hedley's thugs and the citizens of Rock Ridge eventually spills out into the Warner Bros.' commissary.
  • River starts one in Serenity, more-or-less completely out of the blue, by kicking a random patron in the head after being activated. She ends up fighting basically the entire bar, and wins.
  • Our Man Flint. Flint starts one with 008 (Triple-O-Eight) so he can talk with him without anyone realizing that they're allies.
  • The pool hall fight in the first Rush Hour movie.
  • Subverted in An Officer and a Gentleman. Despite the obvious tensions, the brawl doesn't happen until everyone is outside, and it ends after one well-timed roundhouse kick.
  • The Boondock Saints has the McManus brothers getting into one of these against two Russian mob dudes who have come to close down their favorite bar. The Russians get their asses kicked and the brothers even set the ass of one of them on fire. This supremely pisses them off, and they retaliate by busting down the brothers' door, cuffing Connor to a toilet and leading Murphy off to be executed, which sets up Connor's first Moment of Awesome.
  • The Boom Town which is the setting for the Western spoof Support Your Local Sheriff has these breaking out pretty much anywhere, until the hero becomes sheriff and puts an end to it.
  • Brannigan (1975). John Wayne gets into a fight when he tries to interrogate someone in an English pub. The crook tries to fight him, leading to a brawl in which an innocent bystander keeps getting punched in the face every time he tries to walk in the door, then the poor man gets arrested by responding police. "I was only here for the beer!"
  • The main characters witness one in Race with the Devil. One of the characters even lampshades it, saying it's the "first one of the night".
  • Tron: Legacy: Zeus's betrayal of the heroes gets Clu's forces storming the End of Line club. A massive fight breaks out. The reaction of the club DJs? Look at each other, and change the music to something a little more fast-paced.
  • Universal Soldier has Van Damme scuffling with some local toughs - "I just want to eat."


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in The Rats, the Bats and the Ugly by Eric Flint and Dave Freer. The brawl doesn't take place in a bar but in a three-star restaurant, and it's started by the proprietor.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, most of the scenes in The Mended Drum ("the most reputable disreputable tavern" in Ankh-Morpork) involve a huge fight breaking out. By the time of the Going Postal, it's become the closest thing Ankh-Morpork has to a professional sport, complete with a standardized points system. Postal even features a scene with some bar brawlers discussing strategy. Such a history in fact, that its first appearance—unnamed as the Broken Drum—has a bar fight started over a chest full of gold coins, shortly before it is burnt to the ground and most of the city with it.
  • Twice in X-Wing: Iron Fist. Both times, they are set up beforehand—in the first, the Wraiths are being set up to be carted off by fake cops, in the second, they are setting up to kidnap Imperial pilots. The fact that they consider "We start a Bar Brawl" to be a reasonable step in a covert operation tells you almost everything you need to know about the Wraiths.
  • In Richard K. Morgan's book Black Man (a.k.a. Thirteen), the protagonist starts a few lethal barfights with lowlifes in order to satisfy his genetically mandated bloodlust.
  • In Dark of the Moon, the second book of P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, a particularly vicious bar brawl takes place at a tavern in Peshtar, a bandit-ridden mountain town.
  • In The Solitary Cyclist, Sherlock Holmes gets in a bar brawl. He comes out with a bruise. His opponent had to be carried in a cart.
  • In the Forgotten Realms novel Passage to Dawn, one bar that Drizzt and Cattie-Brie frequented had brawls so frequently that people kept time by them (a man mentioned he'd arrived at the bar during "the fight before last").
  • In Robert E. Howard's "The Tower of the Elephant", Conan the Barbarian starts one in the opening scene.
  • In one story from the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series, Mor glasch Tev (the Tellarite second officer) accidentally starts a bar brawl on Rhaax, due to mistaking hostility for Tellarite-esque argumentative politeness. Under his people's Blue and Orange Morality, insults and blustering argument are a form of polite discourse. He misjudged in this case, though.
  • In Myth-Inc in Action, Chumley goes to wait outside while his sister Tananda takes on an entire bar, amusing himself by cataloguing the various damage she was causing by sound alone.
  • In Mass Effect: Retribution, it's made clear that the xenophobic Cerberus assassin, Kai Leng, is a huge badass when we learn why he was kicked out of the Alliance marines in the first place. He had a Bar Brawl with a KROGAN and killed it with nothing more than a knife. Keep in mind that krogan have redundant vital organs, meaning that you essentially have to kill them twice, and are strong enough to break a human's neck by simply backhanding them.
  • One of the men on trial with Fisk in the Knight and Rogue Series was arrested for getting into a bar brawl, though it's implied that he and the man he was fighting do so frequently enough that people only care anymore if they happen to destroy furniture.
  • Also happens, of all places, in a Bionicle book, Raid on Vulcanus. After the first attempt at the titular raid has been thwarted, Jerkass Strakk starts a fight with the chef at Vulcanus' inn, prompting the temperamental Kiina to step in between. Strakk then gets into a full-blown brawl with her, wrecking the place.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Star Trek, "The Trouble With Tribbles". When the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was to be spliced into original series footage for the episode "Trials and Tribbleations" (which returned via Time Travel to "The Trouble With Tribbles"), one of the more difficult tasks they faced was learning how to avoid the more realistic fight choreography used today in favor of 1960s-style stage fighting so they would not look out of place during the Bar Brawl.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation had SEVERAL bar brawls: two in Ten-Forward started by edgy crewmen who were being influenced by some external force, one in one of Barclay's holodeck fantasies, and another in Alex's Ancient West holodeck program. Honorable mentions go to Riker for minor bar violence on two separate occasions, neither of which erupted into full-scale brawls. Also, one of the Ten-Forward incidents led to Guinan's Crowning Moment of Awesome: she fired off a blast from a rare antique phaser rifle over the heads of the brawlers, mentioned that she'd just fired it on setting one, and then asked if anyone cared to see setting two. Nobody did.
  • The A-Team was rather fond of them, as it allowed an impressive and plausible fight scene without killing anyone. (As opposed to the impressive implausible shootouts without killing anyone.)
  • Red Dwarf
    • A Bar Brawl in reverse in the episode "Backwards". As Lister puts it, "It's not a bar room brawl, it's a bar room tidy! Unrumble!"
    • There's also the one in "Gunmen of the Apocalypse", where the cast are in a virtual Western-style world. Rimmer's special skill in this is beating the crap out of everyone. Which he does.
  • Serenity's crew in Firefly gets into these constantly. Especially on Unification Day.

Mal: Is Jayne even awake--?
(cut outside, where Jayne is fighting four guys at once and mostly winning)

  • Torchwood
    • The episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" had one of these between rogue Time Agents Capt. Jack Harkness and Capt. John Hart. Incidentally, it was combined with Kiss Kiss Slap, and thus was preceded by a snogfest between the two of them.
    • Owen gets into one in the episode "Combat".
  • It must be genetic, because Power Rangers siblings Andros and Karone both ended their undercover jaunts to the Bad Guy Bar this way.
  • To prove to the viewers that something is wrong in Smallville, the first major clue that red Kryptonite makes Clark bad is his instigation of a (one-sided, as he's a young Superman) bar brawl. According to the director's commentary, the network loved this and used the clip of Clark asking if anyone else wanted a try for many promos to come.
  • Stargate SG-1: SG-1 starts one in "Upgrades" after another patron insulted Daniel. Two (much bigger) guys stand up for each member (sans Teal'c), and Jack even lampshades it as cliché. They are under the influence of Super Strength-granting Applied Phlebotinum armbands, courtesy of the Tok'ra. Asskicking ensues.
  • Lie to Me: Subverted in "The Canary's Song." Lightman smashed a bottle on the bar and threatened the miners with it, but an actual fight didn't ensue.
  • There is one great Bar Brawl in each of the first three seasons of Babylon 5:
    • In the first season, one is started by a guy trying to hit on a drunk Ivanova, resulting Ivanova beating up everyone in the bar. Garibaldi refused to arrest her.

Garibaldi: I want to live.

    • The second season was a dispute over a spilled drink in a bar containing at least a company of Marines (and one pilot), resulting in a massive free for all. It only ended with the bellowing of the Sergeant Major.
    • The third season has Marcus investigate a kidnapping by walking into a seedy bar and state that if he isn't provided with information about the kidnapping withing ten minutes, he will be the only man in the bar still standing. Ten minutes later, he looks around and declares "Bugger! Now I have to wait for one of them to wake up."


Music[edit | hide]


Music Videos[edit | hide]


Puppet Shows[edit | hide]

  • In The Muppet Movie's El Sleezo Cafe, Kermit and Fozzie become the victims of one after their dance routine fails to pacify the unruly customers. While gets flung at the ceiling fan (And subsequently into the piano), Fozzie is tossed into the bartender- and manages to end the brawl by declaring "Drinks on the house!" The mob beats feet to the roof for the free drinks.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • These are pretty standard for the setting in Shadowrun. A stock joke has the difference between high-class bars and low-class bars being whether the bouncer takes away your guns or hands out loaners.
  • The Wizards of the Coast card game, Inn Fighting, is based entirely around this trope.
  • Classic Traveller
    • Introductory Adventure (a.k.a. Adventure 0) "The Imperial Fringe". The adventure is started off by a brawl in a tavern, after which the PCs meet their patron, Administrator Galadden.
    • "The Traveller Adventure". While in a bar on the planet Zila, the PCs are mixed up in a fight between crews from Oberlinded and Akerut ships. This leads to a meeting with Marc hault-Oberlindes, owner of Oberlindes Lines.
  • The Deep 7 game Arrowflight has a pub known as the "Drink and Fight", where patrons are expected to have a drink and then have a good fight. The current champion is the tavern's owner, an ex-mercenary.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • In Guys and Dolls, Sky and Sarah help start a fight in a dive in Havana but get out of there just as it is turning into a real brawl.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Upcoming MMORPG Age of Conan will feature bar brawls as PVP combat.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, fourth party member Angelo is introduced with a bar brawl caused by his cheating at cards.
  • One of the levels in The Warriors has your gang fighting The Hurricanes inside a bar, where you can beat the crap out of them with chairs, bottles, cue sticks, or even the billiard balls themselves! One of the flashback levels also has a brawl in a bar.
  • A few battles in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 take place inside pubs.
  • Dragon Age: Origins
    • A sizable number of these in Denerim, one in Lothering, and one outside of a bar at the Lake Calinhad. Hell, in these bar fights you actually get a Rogue class specialization and an NPC follower!
    • One of the 'follower base' locations (where your companions live when they're not in your party) is a bar called the Hanged Man. It isn't all that surprising, then, that you seem to get into fights there at least once a chapter. Isabela is introduced fighting against three guys (and apparently started one that wound up involving more than twenty people), and your opponents can include drunken wretches, corrupt guardsmen, and irritable blood mages.
  • Guybrush starts one inadvertently, due to his poxed hand, in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1 by being let into Club 41. We don't see what happened, only hear the sounds, but they won't let him back afterwards, so it must have been messy. However, it is later played straight in Chapter 4, though the Bar Brawl is more of a Bar Swordfight.
  • The third Sly Cooper game features one of these as part of the plan.
  • World of Warcraft
    • A lot of world Player Versus Player ends up in an Inn. Inns usually are bars... when 4 Blood Elves walk into an Alliance Tavern where there's 3 Alliance Players and a Death Knoob... it's on.
    • Starting a Bar Brawl is part of a quest line in the Blackrock Depths dungeon.
    • The Cataclysm expansion of World of Warcraft features the Speedbarge Bar in Thousand Needles. Goblins and Gnomes in the same room, all just waiting to be set off by your character throwing an easily bought bottle... and it's actually a quest for you to do so. The quest givers even encourage doing it again.
  • Kingdom of Loathing
    • Barrney's Barr, essentially a continuous bar fight with occasional breaks for insult sports and karaoke.
    • There's also the Typical Tavern, with "A Barroom Brawl" as one adventuring area.
  • You can start one in Red Dead Redemption.
  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception opens with Nate and Sully starting a brawl in an old-fashioned English pub—specifically, they take on The Dragon and his thugs in the parlour, but it spills over into the rest of the pub and the English patrons are more than keen to give the troublemaking Yanks a good thumping. It's done to teach the player Uncharted 3's new hand-to-hand combat mechanic, and setting this tutorial in a pub gives the player an opportunity to hit bad guys in the head with bottles, pool cues and fridge doors.
  • Tron 2.0, like the Tron: Legacy example above, has one of these. Jet goes to the Progress bar to help Ma3a assimilate some code that could protect her. And in the middle of the process, in barges Thorne and a horde of virus-inflected Z-Lots, forcing Jet into fighting them off long enough to protect Ma3a. Unfortunately, the code's horribly bugged, and the corrupted Ma3a forces Jet to run for his life with both Thorne and Ma3a on his tail.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In Twice Blessed, Cade goes to ask Tessa of the Emerald Flame at the Blue Bulls Tavern if she'd be interested in his Rod of Wonder. She sets him on fire.
  • Mamma Gkika's bar and burlesque show from Girl Genius has a brawl at the same time every evening to "blow off steam." Fortunately it's not Thursday. That's poetry slam night.
  • Roy starts a brunchroom brawl with bounty hunters in The Order of the Stick, only to have it intensified by Mr. Scruffy, by dragging in the girl in the corner.
  • In Rusty and Co, what they get instead of information.
  • In Beyond the Canopy, Glenn falls through a roof and disrupts a bar room card game, then finds himself fighting two of the players. One of them has a grudge against Glenn; the other was "winning" the game and resents Glenn's disruption.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • A staple of the sillier CAPOW threads is to start a bar brawl for no good reason at all, sometimes even Breaking the Fourth Wall to let the players join in on the fun with their characters.
  • The second of Tiernan Douieb's Twitterbrawls was a bar brawl in the Victorian East End. Someone did indeed swing from the chandelier.
  • In Pay Me, Bug!, the protagonists are attacked by a group of Cyborg slavers while in a bar.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Justice League
    • The episode "Comfort and Joy", wherein we (and her rather unfortunate boyfriend, Green Lantern) learn that Hawkgirl likes starting these for fun. Apparently, on Thanagar, this is the tradtional method of celebration. Followed by a scene of both Hawkgirl and Green Lantern sleeping off their drinks, lying against the large alien who they started out fighting. It's oddly heartwarming.
    • Hawk and Dove's debut on Justice League Unlimited involves this trope in a sports bar. The trophy case gets demolished before the fight actually starts.
  • An episode of Disney's The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has a card player in a Western saloon start a brawl with his opponents over being told to "Go Fish!"
  • In one episode of The Simpsons, there is a Bar Brawl and the Jukebox is used as a weapon.

Patron One: Let's fight!
Patron Two: Them's fight'n words.

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a couple.
    • One was started as a distraction so that Iroh and Zuko could slip out of a bar when some bounty hunters come after them.
    • Another was shown briefly in the multi-part finale when the Gaang are looking for June.
  • Used regularly on Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers; if the Rangers head to a tavern to meet an informant, it's even money that one of these is going to start. Turned Up to Eleven in "Boomtown" where the fight starts in the bar, and soon turns into a town-encompassing free-for-all.
  • In Wakfu's season 2 episode 10, a bar brawl erupts in Brâkmar when the protagonists inquire about their friend Kriss Krass, as he's Persona Non Grata in town. Idiot Hero Sadlygrove is having the most fun out of it, but then the bar's owner shows up with enforcers, angrily stating that they should have made a reservation first before starting a brawl.