In film, a match cut is a cut from one shot to another where the two shots are matched by the action or subject and subject matter. For example, in a duel a shot can go from a long shot on both contestants via a cut to a medium closeup shot of one of the duellists. The cut matches the two shots and is consistent with the logic of the action. This is a standard practice in film-making, to produce a seamless reality-effect.
Match cuts form the basis for continuity editing, such as the ubiquitous use of match on action. Continuity editing smooths over the inherent discontinuity of shot changes to establish a logical coherence between shots. Even within continuity editing, though, the match cut is a contrast both with cross-cutting between actions in two different locations that are occurring simultaneously, and with parallel editing, which draws parallels or contrasts between two different time-space locations.
A graphic match (as opposed to a graphic contrast or collision) occurs when the shapes, colors and/or overall movement of two shots match in composition, either within a scene or, especially, across a transition between two scenes. Indeed, rather than the seamless cuts of continuity editing within a scene, the term "graphic match" usually denotes a more conspicuous transition between (or comparison of) two shots via pictorial elements. A match cut often involves a graphic match, a smooth transition between scenes and an element of metaphorical (or at least meaningful) comparison between elements in both shots.
A match cut contrasts with the conspicuous and abrupt discontinuity of a jump cut.