Dr. Craig D. Reid, author of the Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies, lists his candidates for the top 20 martial arts films ever made! His list includes films featuring Tony Jaa, Jet Li and Bruce Lee! Did your favorites make the cut?
Twenty-first century kung fu film fans are more aware and appreciative of good movies than their ancestors ever were. There are three main reason for this: the mainstream success of Chinese-language martial arts films such as Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Zhang Yimou’s Hero and House of Flying Daggers in the West; the use of stylized Hong Kong action in Hollywood blockbusters; and the international success of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh and their cohorts.
Learn even more martial arts movie trivia with this FREE Guide! Our Bruce Lee Movies List: Little-Known Trivia From Bruce Lee's Pictures.
Because of their current status in the American martial arts community, Black Belt asked me to devise a list of the top 20 martial arts movies of all time. The result is this article. Movies were included based on their impact on martial arts cinema, as well as their choreography. Before jumping into the list, however, I’ll note a few honorable mentions:
- Crouching Tiger for giving small-town America a view of the wu xia world of martial arts films
- Kung Fu vs. Yoga for ... well, you just can’t ignore a guy who’s capable of whipping his right leg up across his back and kicking over his left shoulder to strike the face of a man standing in front of him
- Magnificent Butcher for what’s arguably Sammo Hung’s best fight performance
- The Sword of Doom for being the best samurai film ever made
- Once Upon a Time in China for resurrecting the legend of Huang Fei-hung, for defining Jet Li and for introducing the world to the “Hong Kong kick”
- Armor of Gods for featuring in its final fight four of Jackie Chan’s skinny Chinese stuntmen doubling four large-bosomed black women. You’ve got to love it.
Go behind the scenes of Bruce Lee’s final film with this FREE download! Bruce Lee Movies: The Making of Enter the Dragon.
Martial Arts Movie #13 - The Blade (1993)
Martial Arts Movie #9 - Tai-Chi Master (1993)
About the Author: Dr. Craig D. Reid is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s: 500+ Films Loaded With Action, Weapons and Warriors.
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