This list looks at the best martial arts movies ever made. It contains films seen as popular martial arts classics as well as martial arts movies that are highly rated by film critics. This list also includes the most popular martial arts adventure movies and comedies.
These films include martial arts stars such as Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen, Toshiro Mifune, Gordon Liu and many other great martial artists. Many of these movies also include spectacular and/or advanced martial arts kicking, punching and grappling techniques. Visitors can also help by voting in our poll below that asks What is the best martial arts movie ever made?.
Wiki – Best Martial Arts Books
Best Martial Arts Movies – Movies in alphabetical order (not rank order). These pages show movie trailers, etc.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – A 2000 martial arts movie starring Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi. When it was released, this martial arts movie became the highest-grossing foreign-language film in American history (as the movie was done in Mandarin).
- Drunken Master – A 1978 martial movie starring Jackie Chan. In this martial arts film, a young man must learn the martial arts style of Drunken Fist Kung Fu (Zui Quan) in order to defeat an assassin.
- Drunken Master 2 – A 1994 martial comedy starring Jackie Chan. This is a follow-on to the original Drunken Master.
- Enter the Dragon – A 1973 martial arts movie starring Bruce Lee. This is one of Bruce Lee’s best martial arts movies and is a highly popular Kung Fu movie.
- Fearless – A 2006 martial arts movie starring Jet Li. In this martial arts movie, the Chinese hero fights foreign martial artists in order to help restore the country’s pride.
- Fist of Fury – A 1972 martial arts movie starring Bruce Lee. In this film, Bruce Lee plays a martial arts student who defends his master’s honor against foreign aggressors.
- Fist of Legend – A 1994 martial arts movie starring Jet Li. This martial arts movie is a remake of Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury.
- Harakiri – This is a very well regarded Samurai movie. The best is the 1962 version but the movie was also remade in 2012.
- Ip Man – A 2008 martial arts movie starring Donnie Yen. The movie focuses on the hero’s use of Wing Chun to fight against Japanese occupiers of Foshan, China.
- Ip Man 2 – A 2010 martial arts movie starring Donnie Yen.
- Kill Bill – A 2003 martial arts movie starring David Carradine (famous for the Kung Fu TV series) and Uma Thurman. Uma Thurman is “The Bride” and is out for revenge.
- The Karate Kid – A 1984 martial arts movie starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. This popular martial arts movie focused on a boy learning karate in order to defend himself against bullies.
- Kung Fu Hustle – A 2004 martial arts comedy starring Stephen Chow.
- Kung Fu Panda – A 2008 animated martial arts movie. This film was very successful and starred Po, the “Big Fat Panda”.
- The Matrix – A 1999 martial arts movie starring Keanu Reeves. While this is a science fiction movie, it is also a wonderful martial movie. The hero, Neo, learns various martial arts in order to combat enemies in the computer generated “reality” of the matrix.
- Once Upon A Time In China – A 1991 martial arts movie starring Jet Li. This film focuses on a fight against foreigners and local thugs who are terrorizing a Chinese city in the 19th century.
- Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior – A 2003 martial arts movie starring Tony Jaa. It was a popular movie that revolved around Thai martial arts such as Muay Thai and Muay Boran.
- Sanjuro – A highly rated 1962 samurai movie starring Toshiro Mifune. This movie is seen as the sequel to Yojimbo.
- Seven Samurai – A 1954 Japanese samurai movie starring Toshiro Mifune. The plot revolves around a poor village that hires seven samurai to defend them against hundreds of bandits. Seven Samurai is considered one of the best martial arts movies ever made.
- Return of the Dragon – This Bruce Lee movie is also known as Way of the Dragon.
- Tai Chi Master – A 1993 martial arts movie starring Jet Li. This film focuses on rebels versus an evil Governor and the eventually founding of Tai Chi.
- The Tale of Zatoichi – This is a classic 1962 martial arts movie focused on a blind former samurai who is a master swordsman. The success of this movie generated numerous sequels.
- 13 Assassins – A 2010 martial arts movie. The plot is focused on a group of samurai trying to bring down an evil lord who threatens the peace of Japan. Very bloody ending to this film.
- The 36th Chamber of Shaolin – A 1978 martial arts film starring Gordon Liu. This film focuses on a young man who joins Shaolin Temple in order to learn Kung Fu and eventually defeat the Manchu oppressors.
- Way of the Dragon – A 1972 martial arts movie starring Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. At the end of this martial arts movie, there is a famous martial arts showdown between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris – only one “survives”. This movie is also known as Return of the Dragon.
- Yojimbo – This 1961 Japanese samurai movie was the basis for Clint Eastwood’s A Fistful of Dollars. The movie starred Toshiro Mifune and was directed by Akira Kurosawa.
Best Martial Arts Movies?
Other Noteworthy Martial Arts Movies – These pages include movie trailers, etc.
- Above the Law – A 1998 movie starring Steven Seagal, a master in Aikido. This is Seagal’s film debut.
- Best of the Best – A 1989 martial arts movie focused on Taekwondo, misfit Americans and a powerful Korean team. This movie stars Phillip Rhee, James Earl Jones and Eric Roberts.
- Billy Jack – A 1971 martial arts movie focused on a Hapkido expert fighting for Native American rights.
- Bloodsport – A 1988 martial arts movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme. In this movie, Van Damme must fight a series of elite martial artists in the Kumite, an illegal martial arts competition.
- Cobra Kai – This is a sequel to the Karate Kid series where Daniel (hero) and Johnny (bully) are middle aged. Johnny reopens the infamous Cobra Kai dojo. This is a Youtube video series.
- 5 Deadly Venoms – This is a classic Kung Fu movie where the fighters employ five different animal-based styles – centipede, lizard, scorpion snake and toad. It was filmed in 1978.
- Game of Death – In this 1972 movie, there is a scene where Bruce Lee fights a very tall martial artist (played by basketball legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
- The Hidden Fortress – This 1958 samurai movie features two greedy peasants who lust for gold. However, they do not realize that their traveling companions are a princess and general from a defeated samurai clan. Very highly-rated movie.
- House of Flying Daggers – A highly-rated 2004 martial arts film with wonderful cinematography. A love story plus tons of acrobatic martial arts action.
- Iron Monkey – A 1993 martial arts movie starring Donnie Yen. The plot revolves a doctor who steals from the rich in order to help the poor (a Chinese-version of Robin Hood).
- The Karate Kid (2010) – A 2010 martial arts movie with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. Decent movie but not as good as the original The Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio.
- Kickboxer – A 1989 martial arts movie with a very memorable scene of Jean-Claude Van Damme kicking a banana tree.
- Kung Fu: The Movie – This movie is based on the popular 1970s Kung Fu TV series. It starred David Carradine and Brandon Lee.
- Kung Pow! Enter the Fist – A 2002 martial arts comedy that is a satire of classic martial arts movies.
- The Last Samurai – This 2003 samurai film stars Tom Cruise as an American military officer who embraces the life of a samurai.
- The Raid – A 2011 Indonesian martial arts movie featuring a police squad that must escape an apartment building full of villains.
- Ran – This very highly-rated 1985 samurai movie focuses on the chaotic aftermath resulting from a warlord dividing his kingdom between his three sons. It was directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa.
- Return of the 36th Chamber – A 1980 martial arts comedy with Gordon Liu. In this film, the star learns “scaffolding” or construction Kung Fu in order to defend workers against evil overseers.
- Road House – This 1989 cult classic starred Patrick Swayze. The movie focuses on a high level bouncer with martial arts skills who defends a bar and town against a corrupt businessman.
- Rush Hour – A 1998 martial arts comedy starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. Two completely different detectives (one from Hong Kong and the other from Los Angeles) have to work together in order to rescue a kidnapped girl.
- Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto – Part one of a trilogy focused on Musashi Miyamoto, Japan’s most famous swordsman.
- Shaolin Soccer – A 2004 martial arts comedy that revolves around a soccer team comprised of misfit Shaolin Kung Fu experts.
- Shintarō – The Samurai – This was a very popular Japanese TV series that ran in Australia in the 1960s.
- Shogun – This 1980 film centered around a shipwrecked English sailor who becomes a samurai. Hugely popular.
- The Sword of Doom – A 1966 Japanese movie focused on a skilled but amoral swordsman who slowly goes insane.
- Twilight Samurai – A 2002 samurai movie focused on a lowly samurai who cares deeply for his young daughters. This is a very tender movie.
- Unleashed – This is a 2005 martial arts movie with Jet Li as “Danny the Dog”. When Jet Li is leashed, he is under control. When he is unleashed, watch out!
- When The Last Sword Is Drawn – A 2003 samurai movie that focuses on a samurai willing to do anything for his family.
Martial Arts Movies – Bruce Lee
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