The 25 Great Martial Arts Films You Can Circulation Proper Now
From conventional practitioners like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, to later comedy and movement legends Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, and Lucy Liu, all the way to brand new trendsetters Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais, one factor is clear: martial arts cinema has one hell of a roster.
Martial arts films are also a long way more numerous than screams and flying kicks, spanning every viable style and using a myriad of strategies related to wires and digicam rigs and months and months of practice. When we watch a terrific martial arts movie, we’re no longer simply looking the primary take; we’re witnessing something as choreographed as a level performance, or a dance, or a circus, wherein everything has to move proper—and, wherein if some thing very small is going incorrect, things ought to get very painful.
In quick: we adore an awesome martial arts film because we will see the affection and determination and difficult paintings that goes into each take.
So we’re taking a minute to listing off a number of the exceptional.
We’re calling a “martial arts movie” one that makes use of martial arts as the precept storytelling car—both for comedy or for drama—which means the bodily motion of the scenes are vital for illustrating reasons, man or woman relationships, emotions, and internal struggles.
Some movies appoint martial arts as fixture of the drama; the arts aren’t a lot principal to man or woman or story, however alternatively useful in portraying fight. So while we like films like The Matrix and John Wick—and apprehend how each use multiple forms of fight for their movement sequences—we don’t assume the subject occupies middle level of the story.
We need the humanities to be the tale.
So right here are 25 of the quality martial arts films ever made. Did we swing and pass over a couple? Probably. But, hello, no longer everything may be as perfect as a Jackie Chan combat.
Of the many martial artists on this listing, Thailand’s Tony Jaa and his Muay Thai choreography can be some of the maximum brutal and realistic—we are quite sure he’s virtually punching dudes. The Protector capabilities an nearly five-minute-long non-stop combat scene in order to make you tired simply looking.
Action comedy. For some films, this indicates closely-edited gun fights and car chases. For Prodigal Son, it way amazingly choreographed fighting. And additionally plenty of comedic ridiculousness.
Our first Jackie Chan entry! The truth isn’t any one does stunt work quite like Chan, who has both the toes of a performer and the eyes and ears of a director. The final results is regularly the most electric stunts you’ll ever see. The first scene of Police Story features Chan honestly dangling from a double-decker bus in the course of a automobile chase. Sold.
Another Hong Kong action celebrity: Donnie Yen. He’ll appear lots extra on this listing in more iconic roles. In Kill Zone, even though, we see Yen demonstrating some of the most severe spontaneous choreography ever. Kill Zone makes the list for one specific alleyway combat…
Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976)
It’s a kung fu traditional and any other example of simply how dominant Hong Kong cinema is in this listing.
The thirty sixth Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
The movie mythologizes the story of San Te, a mythical disciple in Shaolin. The film is one of the pleasant of its kind and its have an impact on persevered decades after its release. Just ask the Wu-Tang Clan.
More Jackie! Drunken Master unearths Chan mastering an eccentric fashion of martial arts: drunken martial arts. Don’t permit the movie’s zaniness flip you off; the stunt paintings is untouchable.
Once Upon a Time in China (1991)
The film helped begin a martial arts craze inside the 90s and features the legend Jet Li. More on Li later.
Hero is a martial arts epic. Directed by means of the legend Zhang Yimou, the movie become one among the most important and maximum grossing films in Chinese records on the time. The arrow scene from three hundred … yeah, they were harking back to this.
The martial arts cult phenomenon features numerous specific martial arts patterns in what is truly amusing, movement-packed, and pretty dang bizarre.
Speaking of cult martial arts … no martial arts movie listing might be complete with out Stephen Chow. And while there are plenty of eccentric kung fu movies to selected from, you just can’t beat Kung Fu Hustle. It’s humorous and also functions better combating than ninety nine% of serious Hollywood.
The net jokes Warrior is Titanic for guys—in that we all cried manly tears while Brendan instructed Tommy he loved him. Not saying we failed to additionally cry in Titanic, however Warrior—possibly the fine MMA film ever made—genuinely is as emotional as any drama.
A terrific sports activities movie. A amazing coming of age movie. A awesome film movie. And, in the end, a exceptional martial arts movie. While the kicking and screaming won’t be as extreme as different films in this listing, The Karate Kid has a lot of heart to make up for it.
Few films in western cinema had been able to seize the frenetic energy (and camp) of classic martial arts film higher than Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. The guy is aware of his craft and his genre.
House of Flying Daggers looks greater like a dance than a martial art. And by way of this we mean no criticism. The epic romance martial arts period piece is kinetic poetics. Or, rather: movement has in no way regarded so pretty.
Okay, permit’s talk about Jet Li. Li become once a aggressive martial artist and Wushu champion. He retired at 19. Since then, he is been starring in some of the fine martial arts cinema ever. In Fearless, he performs any other competitive martial artist who fights for countrywide delight.
The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
A observe-as much as his first drunken ass-kicking, Chan’s The Legend of Drunken Master unearths the artist at the height of his stunt work and choreography. It’s both hilarious and electric, goofy and jaw-losing. If handiest American directors permit Chan cook this manner. If you watch not anything else on this listing, watch this.
We’ve been missing someone, and that someone is Bruce Lee. The Way of the Dragon is wonderful in the Lee canon in its humorous technique to action. It also capabilities Lee dealing with off towards another legend: Chuck Norris.
A remake of a preceding Bruce Lee movie (which may also or may not be coming up), Jet Li’s Fist of Legend is maybe the martial artist’s satisfactory work. It could also soon after encourage using kung fu in The Matrix.
The original starred Bruce Lee at the height of his competencies.
Ip Man—named after the master who trained Bruce Lee—is basically Hong Kong Rocky. It’s an underdog story about struggling with (in recreation) your kingdom’s enemy. Except the enemy is genuinely an occupying pressure and you are no longer precisely an underdog, but a master. Now that we think about it, it’s really manner cooler than Rocky.
Ong Bak is Tony Jaa at his maximum raw and actual. Not best turned into the film Jaa’s worldwide breakout; it also helped introduce audiences to the conventional form of Muay Thai.
If Ong Bak gave the arena Muay Thai and Tony Jaa, then The Raid gave us Silat (an Indonesian martial artwork) and Iko Uwais. The sequel to that movie proved to be even larger and capabilities—we think—a number of the craziest and maximum visceral combat choreography ever put to display. Where can we join up for Silat lessons now?
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Based on the novel by using Wang Dulu, Ang Lee’s 2000 epic martial arts film genuinely defies hyperbole. The film is an historic Chinese martial arts legend added to technicolor existence. And Crouching Tiger isn’t always just a fantastic martial arts movie with sharp choreography and electric powered fights; it’s also only a fantastic movie, duration. One of the quality of this century.
How are we able to now not quit here? Considered with the aid of many to be the first-rate martial arts film of all time, Enter the Dragon could additionally tragically be Bruce Lee’s swan music. But he left us with something indelible—something that does not just have fun martial arts, but motion and field and power.
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