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Martial Arts Movies to Watch

Table of Contents

Martial arts movies are a subgenre of action movies that include various martial arts styles in the fighting between the characters. These fights are normally the main appeal of martial arts movies and are also a technique of storytelling, character expression and growth. Martial arts are regularly included in training scenes and also in various other scenes along with fights. Martial arts movies consist of hand-to-hand fights along with various other types of activities, such as stunts, chases, and gunfights. The subgenres of martial arts movies consist of wuxia movies, karate movies, and also comedy movie , while the relevant categories are jidaigeki with weapons, kung fu and samurai movie.

Oriental movies are known for having more minimalistic technique in movies. Some martial arts movies have only a fringe story and a specific emphasis on action, while others have much more complex and original stories and personalities, and action scenes as well. Martial arts movies of the latter type are generally regarded as more creatively interesting movies, yet many movies of the former type are effective and well-liked by fans of the genre. 

The Origins of Martial Arts movies


Akira Kurosawa launched the martial arts movie genre with his 1943 directorial pitch, Sugata Sanshiro. The movie deals with a boy who discovers judo and fights against numerous jujitsu specialists. Kurosawa also led a sequel in 1945 titled Sugata Sanshiro, Part Two. It includes fights with karate fighters and professionals, perhaps the first depiction of martial arts in cinema.

Martial arts movies consist of numerous characters who are martial fighters and these roles are usually played by stars who are true martial arts experts. Otherwise, the actors learn with some prep work for the scenes or the director may rely more on slow-motion action, camera angles, editing and computer-generated imagery and special effects. The minimal design uses short scenes and improvised but explosive fights, as seen in Jackie Chan movies. These methods are also occasionally used by real martial experts. 



A Brief History of Martial Arts Movies


Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, one of the most notable English-dubbed martial arts and ninja movies were produced by the Shaw Brothers, Godfrey Ho and various other Hong Kong producers . Included in this list of movies are popular movies like The Big Boss, Drunken Master, and One Armed Boxer.

Martial arts movies were produced worldwide, but the category was controlled by Hong Kong action cinema, peaking from 1971 with the rise of Bruce Lee until the mid-1990s with a substantial decline of the martial arts genre, until it was revived around the 2000s. Various other notable figures in the category include Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, and Donnie Yen as well.

Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Shihomi and also Hiroyuki Sanada starred in countless martial arts and jidaigeki movies from Japan in the 1970s and early 1980s. Hollywood also took part in the fashion with such actors as Chuck Norris, Sho Kosugi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, Wesley Snipes, Gary Daniels, Mark Dacascos and Jason Statham. In the 2000s, the Thai movie market became a global force of martial arts movies with the movies of Tony Jaa and the cinema of Vietnam also did the same with The Rebel and Clash. In even more recent years, the Indonesian movie industry has produced interesting martial arts movies.

Women have also played crucial roles in the martial arts genre, including actresses such as Michelle Yeoh, Angela Mao and Cynthia Rothrock. In the Chinese-speaking world, martial arts movies are often divided into two subcategories: wuxia movies, more modern martial arts movies, such as Bruce Lee movies, the Chanbara Samurai genre, and swashbuckling movies set in the Feudal Japan.

Martial arts movies are a substantial category of movies. Like westerns for Americans, they have actually become an identification of Chinese cinema. As one of the most important movies in the context of Chinese cinema, martial arts movies were among the very first Chinese movies produced, and wuxia movies are the first type of Chinese martial arts movies, with the historical appeal of wuxia stories. Jin Yong’s and Gu Long’s wuxia stories determined the frequency of wuxia movies. Martial arts Westerns are generally American movies shot on a low budget in Southwestern United States locations, displacing martial arts in an “old west” setting; for example, Red Sun with Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune.


Sanshiro Sugata (1943)

It is a 1943 Japanese martial arts movie and also the directorial launch of Japanese movie director Akira Kurosawa. The movie is based on the story of the same name written by Tsuneo Tomita, the son of judoka Tsunejirō Tomita. It tells the story of Sanshiro, a gifted but inflexible young man, who takes a trip to the city to discover jujutsu. Upon his arrival he finds a new type of martial art: judo. The main character is based on Saigō Shirō.

Sanshiro Sugata Part II (1945)

It is a 1945 Japanese martial arts movie also directed by Akira Kurosawa. It is based on the novel by Tsuneo Tomita, son of Tomita Tsunejiro, the first follower of judo. It was movieed in early 1945 in Japan around the time of the end of World War II. Unlike the first Sugata Sanshiro, the sequel was designed as a propaganda movie. In 1880, a martial arts apprentice continues his quest to become a judo master, from the creator of that discipline. Eventually, he learns enough to show off his prowess in an encounter between Japanese and American fighters at the end of the movie. In fact, the entire movie is about the competition between karate and judo martial artists and the battle of Sanshiro. On the one hand there is the ethically best thing to do, on the other the rules of the dojo. Eventually he chooses to break all guidelines, quit the dojo, fight against American fighter and karate masters alike.


Rashomon (1950)

It’s a thriller movie Jidaigeki directed and written by Akira Kurosawa, working closely with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa. Starring Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyō, Masayuki Mori and Takashi Shimura as different characters telling how a samurai was killed in a wood, the story is based on Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short story “In a Grove”, and the short story “Rashōmon” by Akutagawa. Every story is different, from the slain samurai speaking through a Shinto psychic to the outlaw in the woods, the monk, the assault on his wife, and the deceptive retelling of events where everyone reveals their side.


Musashi Miyamoto (1954)

He is a Japanese movie 1954 Hiroshi Inagaki starring Toshiro Mifune. The movie is the initial movie in Inagaki’s samurai trilogy. The movie is adapted from Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi, which was initially published as a series in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, between 1935 and also 1939. The story is loosely based on the life of Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. The movie was followed by Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) and Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956). The movie won a Special Award at the 1955 Academy Awards.

Poor Day at Black Rock (1955)

It’s a western movie 1955 American martial arts John Sturges with movie screenplay by Millard Kaufman. It stars Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan with assistance from Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan, John Ericson, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin. The movie is set in 1945 and contains aspects of the western category. In the story, a one-armed stranger (Tracy) arrives at a tiny community in the desert and reveals something that has damaged the entire village.


Yojimbo (1961)

It is a 1961 Japanese martial arts samurai movie co-written, produced, edited and directed by Akira Kurosawa. The movie stars Toshiro Mifune, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yoko Tsukasa, Isuzu Yamada, Daisuke Katō, Takashi Shimura, Kamatari Fujiwara and Atsushi Watanabe. In the movie, a rōnin shows up in a city where contending crime bosses try to prevail. Both crime bosses attempt to work with the fledgling as a bodyguard.

Sanjuro (1962)

It is a 1962 black and white Japanese jidaigeki martial arts movie directed by Akira Kurosawa and also starring Toshiro Mifune. It is the sequel to Kurosawa’s 1961 Yojimbo. Initially an adaptation of Shūgorō Yamamoto’s original Hibi Heian, the story was changed based on the previous year’s success of Yojimbo to include that movie’s protagonist. 9 young samurai think Chamberlain Mutsuta is corrupt after he destroys their petition against cheating at court. One of them informs Superintendent Kikui about it and he agrees to intervene. As the 9 secretly meet to discuss it at a shrine, a rōnin overhears them and warns them not to rely on the overseer.

The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)

 It is a 1962 Japanese chanbara martial arts movie directed by Kenji Misumi and based on Kan Shimozawa’s 1948 essay of the same name. It is the initial part of a long collection of jidaigeki movies starring Shintaro Katsu as the blind swordsman Zatoichi. Blind masseur Zatoichi is enlisted by yakuza ringleader Sukegoro (Eijiro Yanagi) as he believes war is inevitable with competing yakuza Shigezo (Ryuzo Shimada). Zatoichi has a proven track record as a swordsman and Sukegoro believes he is well invested. Shigezo reacts by working with an equally important ronin, Miki Hirate (Shigeru Amachi). Ichi is a meek and simple man who is ignored and regarded with suspicion. His being a masseur, which was a low-regarded position in feudal Japan, only adds to the hostility towards him. They even try to make the most of his loss of vision in a gambling den, but it is clear from the start that Zatoichi draws strength from his blindness.

3 Outlaw Samurai (1964)

It is a 1964 Japanese chambara martial arts movie directed and co-written by Hideo Gosha in its launch feature movie. The movie is a spin-off of the story of Gosha’s 1963 Japanese television series of the same name, with the same protagonists, Tetsuro Tamba, Isamu Nagato and Mikijiro Hira. The movie features a wandering ronin who gets involved with 2 other samurai who are involved with a gang of peasants who have kidnapped the daughter of a corrupt magistrate.


Sword of the Beast (1965)

It is a 1965 jidaigeki martial arts movie co-written and directed by Hideo Gosha. Set in 1857 at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, the story follows a fugitive samurai who has eliminated a doctor in his clan and goes on the run. He becomes involved in a plan to steal gold from the shōgun’s hill, where he runs into another samurai who is also there to steal the gold.

Come Drink with Me (1966)

It is a 1966 Hong Kong wuxia martial arts movie directed by King Hu. Set in the Ming Dynasty, it features Cheng Pei-pei and also Yueh Hua as warriors with Chan Hung-lit as the villain, and includes action choreography by Han Ying-chieh. The movie was chosen as a candidate for Best Foreign Language movie at the 39th Academy Awards, but was not picked up.

One-Armed Swordsman (1967)

It is a 1967 Hong Kong wuxia martial arts movie produced by Shaw Brothers Studio. Directed by Chang Cheh, it was the beginning of the new genre of wuxia movies featuring male anti-heroes and fierce sword fighting. It was the first Hong Kong movie to gross $1 million at the box office, propelling Jimmy Wang’s stardom to major fame. This movie eventually became the first of Chang Cheh’s trilogy, and became a cult movie of Hong Kong cinema.  


Eleven Samurai (1967)

It is a 1967 Japanese jidaigeki martial arts movie directed by Eiichi Kudo. This is the last and third part of Kudo’s Samurai Revolution trilogy. The story is based on a legendary samurai with a historical basis. The young Lord Nariatsu was probably imitated by the real-life samurai Matsudaira Nariyoshi, who was Shōgun Ienari’s 20th man and also Shōgun Ieyoshi’s youngest. Nariyoshi died when he was 19. The scenarios surrounding his death are mysterious. 

The Chinese Boxer (1970)

It is a 1970 Hong Kong action martial arts movie written, directed by and starring Jimmy Wang Yu. The movie was a commercial success upon its release and is currently being held as the initial standard in non-wuxia, Kung Fu style, unarmed combat, focus more on training and proficiency than fantasy and to the adventure. It would certainly have been an inspiration for later movies like Fist of Fury. 


Vengeance! (1970)

It is a 1970 martial arts movie directed by Chang Cheh, and starring David Chiang and Ti Lung. The movie is set in Beijing around 1930, and tells a story of Chiang’s revenge. The movie has few real martial arts scenes and is quite loaded with blade fighting and judo as well. At the 16th Asian movie Festival, director Chang Cheh won the Best Director Award, David Chiang won the Best Actor Award and won Asia’s first Movie King Award, and Vengeance won the Best Movie Award and also the iron triangle.

The Big Boss (1971)

It is a 1971 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Raymond Chow and starring Bruce Lee in his first film in a lead role. The film also stars Maria Yi, James Tien, Tony Liu and Nora Miao. Initially created for Tien, the lead role was offered to Lee when the film’s initial director, Ng Kar-seung, was replaced by Lo. The film was a huge box office success. Lee’s solid performance surpassed Tien, who was a celebrity in Hong Kong, and also made Bruce Lee famous in Asia and the world.

One Armed Boxer (1971)

It is a 1971 Hong Kong martial arts movie starring Jimmy Wang Yu. It tells of a skilled Chinese martial fighter who loses an arm and seeks revenge on his enemies. For the movie, Wang Yu, who actually has both arms, had one arm tied to his back. Tien Lung, the top fighter in the Ching Te martial arts school, gets into a fight with the local Hook Gang at a restaurant where Tien Lung and his friends are having dinner. The Hook Gangs are part of a local opium and prostitution ring run by a man named Chao and are rivals of the Ching Te school. Ching Te School is the city’s premier martial arts academy and controls the local clothes-dye and brick factories. In a battle, Tien and his friends defeat Hook’s gang.

Billy Jack (1971)

It’s a independent movie, the second of four movies that began with the movie The Born Losers (1967), starring Tom Laughlin, who co-wrote the screenplay and also directed the movie. movieing began in Prescott, Arizona in late 1969, but the movie was not completed until 1971. American International Pictures went bankrupt, shutting down the movieing. 20th Century-Fox stepped up and finished the movie.

Touch of Zen (1971)

It is a 1971 wuxia movie co-edited, produced and directed by King Hu. The screenplay of the movie is based on a traditional Chinese story “Xianü” titled Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling. The movie is set in the Ming empire under the supremacy of the eunuchs and tells different themes of transcendence of dualities, Zen Buddhism, feminism, traditional female roles and ghost stories. At the 1975 Cannes movie Festival, the movie won the Technical Grand Prix.

Red Sun (1971) 

It is a 1971 Franco-Italian co-production Spaghetti Western movie directed by Terence Young and also starring Charles Bronson, Toshirō Mifune, Alain Delon, Ursula Andress and Capucine . It was movieed in Spain by British director Young with a screenplay by Denne Bart Petitclerc, William Roberts and Lawrence Roman, from a short story by Laird Koenig. Connect Stuart and Gauche are the leaders of a gang of outlaws who rob a train of its $400,000 cargo. On the train is a Japanese ambassador en route to Washington, carrying a ritual tachi suggested as a gift for the president. Gauche takes his gold-handled sword and shoots dead between the ambassador’s 2 samurai guards.

Fist of Fury (1972)

It is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts movie written and directed by Lo Wei, produced by Raymond Chow and starring Bruce Lee in his second major role after The Big Boss (1971). Lee, who was also the movie’s action choreographer, plays Chen Zhen, a student of Huo Yuanjia, who fights to protect the honor of the Chinese in the face of international hostility, and to bring those responsible for his death to court. master. The movie discussed sensitive issues affecting Japanese fate and included fight choreography that was quite avant-garde for the time. It is distinguished from other martial arts movies by its social and historical references, especially to Japanese expansionism. The movie earned around $100 million globally, against a $100,000 budget plan. It was the highest-grossing Hong Kong movie until Lee’s The Way of the Dragon (1972).


King Boxer (1972)

It is a 1972 Hong Kong martial arts movie directed by Jeong Chang-hwa and starring Lo Lieh. The screenplay was written by Chiang Yang. Made in Hong Kong, it is one of many martial arts movies starring Indonesian star Lo Lieh, who appeared in many martial arts movie projects of the 1960s, before Bruce Lee. The movie initiated the North American martial arts cinema fad of the 1970s with over 30 similar movies released in the United States alone in 1973. 

The Way of the Dragon (1972)

It’s a comedy movie 1972 Hong Kong martial artsThis is Lee’s only completed directorial movie and also the last one cast in his lifetime. The movie stars Nora Miao, Robert Wall and Wei Ping-ou, with Chuck Norris taking his lead role. The movie earned an estimated $130 million globally, equivalent to over $700 million today, against a capped $130,000 spending plan, earning a thousand times its spending plan. It was the highest-grossing Hong Kong movie until Lee’s next movie, Enter the Dragon (1973).

Go Into the Dragon (1973)

It’s a 1973 martial arts movie directed by Robert Clouse and written by Michael Allin. The movie stars Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly. It was Lee’s last finished movie before his death on July 20, 1973 at the age of 32. An American and Hong Kong co-production, it premiered in Los Angeles on August 19, 1973, one month after Lee’s death. The movie is estimated to have earned over $400 million worldwide, the equivalent of over $2 billion today, against a spending plan of $850,000. Having made more than 400 times its budget plan, it is one of the most profitable movies of all time and the most commercially successful martial arts movie. It is regarded as one of the best martial arts movies ever made.

Among the very first movies to integrate martial arts action with spy movie components and the emerging blaxploitation category, its success has spawned a series of similar productions integrating the martial arts and blaxploitation categories. His themes created discussions about the changes occurring within postcolonial Asian societies after the end of World War II. It is also regarded as one of the most important action movies of eternity, with its success adding to the worldwide mainstream of interest in martial arts and inspiring many works of fiction, including action movies, television shows, action movies video games, comics, manga and anime.

Black Belt Jones (1974)

It’s a 1974 American blaxploitation martial arts movie directed by Robert Clouse and starring Jim Kelly and Gloria Hendry. The movie is a sequel to the previous movie Go into the Dragon, in which Kelly had a supporting role. Here, Kelly gets her first leading role; he is a hero fighting the mafia and a local drug dealer. 

The mob has found out about the construction of a new civic center, and have bought all the land except for a karate dojo owned by “Pop” Byrd (Scatman Crothers), who refuses to leave his property. The Don contacts an indebted drug dealer called “Pinky”, who had actually stolen $250,000 from the mob which he consequently loaned to Pop Byrd to have the dojo built. The Don orders Pinky to get her money back or reclaim the property. “Black Belt” Jones (Jim Kelly), a mercenary martial fighter, is contacted by his old friend Pop to help him secure the dojo.


The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)

It’s a horror movie . The movie begins in 1804, when 7 vampires dressed in golden masks are revived by Count Dracula, played by John Forbes-Robertson. A century later, Peter Cushing as Professor Van Helsing, known to the world for his exploits with Dracula, is hired by a boy and his 7 brothers after lecturing at a Chinese university to deal with vampires.  

The movie is a British-Hong Kong co-production between Hammer movie Productions and Shaw Brothers Studio. Chang Cheh was employed to direct additional martial arts scenes for the movie’s release in the East. The movie was first released in Hong Kong and later in the UK with a much shorter run. The movie was a monetary failure. In the reviews it was considered boring were it not for the contribution of Peter Cushing as a hunter of Dracula and for some innovative fights. 

Bruce Lee Fights Back From The Grave (1976)

It’s a martial arts and supernatural movie from 1976 Bruceploitation starring tae kwon do coach Jun Chong. The movie was directed by Lee Doo-yong, although some unreliable sources state that the movie was directed by Italian horror director Umberto Lenzi. The opening scene reveals Bruce Lee, played by an unidentified double, leaping out of his grave after being struck by lightning. While the title indicates a story that includes Bruce Lee returning from the afterlife to fight, the rest of the movie focuses on a plot that has nothing to do with Bruce Lee. Rather, it is about Wong Han, a Korean man who attempts to uncover the mystery behind the death of his brother, Han Ji-Hyeok. He takes a trip to Los Angeles and teams up with a lady named Suzanne. Han is annoyed by a variety of petty offenders and henchmen in his attempt to uncover the truth about his brother. Eventually, he begins to believe that Ji-Hyeok is still alive and associated with a criminal racket.

New Fist of Fury (1976)

It is a 1976 Hong Kong martial arts movie directed by Lo Wei and starring Jackie Chan. It is the first of several movies in which Lo directed Chan. The movie gave Chan his first leading role in an internationally launched movie. The movie was the sequel to Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury, one of Lo Wei’s most significant achievements. Chan had already appeared in the first Fist of Fury as a stuntman. New Fist of Fury became part of Lo’s effort to market Jackie Chan as the new Bruce Lee, and it didn’t have anything as funny as Chan’s later movies.

Hand of Death (1976)

It is a 1976 Hong Kong martial arts movie written and directed by John Woo. It stars Doran Tan and James Tien in the lead roles and includes early supporting roles from Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. In addition to acting, Hung also worked as a stunt coordinator, while Biao also did much of the stunt work.  

Throughout the Qing dynasty the Shaolin disciples are persecuted by a powerful warrior, Shih Shao-Feng, who wishes to free China from the Shaolin. In a remote training school a group of Shaolin train together. Their best apprentice Yun Fei is offered the task of removing Shih and his reign of terror. Along the way, he befriends Chan Yuan-lung’s character Tan Feng, who is a blacksmith.


The Dragon Lives Again (1977)

It’s a fantasy movie 1977 martial arts comedy-There, the late Lee plays a variety of pop culture icons, including Dracula, James Bond, Zatoichi, Clint Eastwood, The Godfather, The Exorcist, and even 70s softcore character Emmanuelle. Lee befriends The One-Armed Swordsman, Caine from TV Kung Fu, and Popeye.

The movie begins with the statement: “This movie is dedicated to millions of people who like Bruce Lee.” After his unforeseen death, Bruce Lee (Bruce Leung Siu-lung) awakens to find himself in the “Underworld”. Here he meets the King of the Underworld and after questioning the king’s power, the king shows his annoyance by shaking a pole which can trigger an earthquake through the Underworld.

Circle of Iron (1978)

It is a 1978 martial arts fantasy movie directed by Richard Moore and co-written by Bruce Lee, who intended to star in the movie himself, but he died before production. After Lee’s death in 1973, Silliphant and Stanley Mann finished the movie’s script, and the part of Lee was given to Kung Fu star David Carradine. Several other famous stars also had small parts in the movie, including Roddy McDowall, Eli Wallach and Christopher Lee. 

In a martial arts competition, fighters vie for the right to start a mission to challenge Zetan (Lee), a famous magician who possesses a unique book of knowledge in which is all the knowledge in the world. Big-headed fighter Cord (Jeff Cooper) beats every challenger, however is disqualified for fighting unfairly. Cable chooses to follow the eventual victor, Morthond (Anthony de Longis), hoping he can lead Cord to Zetan.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)

It is a 1978 Hong Kong kung fu movie directed by Lau Kar-leung and produced by Shaw Brothers, starring Gordon Liu . The movie follows a highly fictionalized variation of San Te, a famous Shaolin martial arts disciple who trained under the basic Chi Shan. The movie is regarded as one of the best kung fu movies and a turning point in the director’s and star’s professions. It was followed by Return to the 36th Chamber which was more comedic in dialogue and featured Gordon Liu as the new main character.  

A young student named Liu Yude becomes involved by his activist instructor in the local uprising against the Manchu federal government. Government officials, led by the stern general Tien Ta, however, quickly put a stop to the revolt, liquidating the school and eliminating the pupils’ families. Yude chooses to seek revenge and heads to the Shaolin temple to discover kung fu.

5 Deadly Venoms (1978)

It’s a cult movie 1978 Hong Kong martial arts Chang Cheh, starring the Venom Mob, with martial arts choreography by Leung Ting, and produced by Shaw Brothers Studio, about 5 kung-fu fighters with different animal masks : the centipede, the snake, the scorpion, the lizard and the toad: these are the five poisonous creatures of Chinese folklore, from which the movie takes its title. The movie is regarded as one of the most popular martial arts movies of its period.  

The missing master of the mighty Poison Clan sends his latest student, Yang Tieh, with an important goal. Concerned that the skills he taught are being used for evil, he enlists Yang to track down a retired colleague, Yun, and warn him that the fortune he has garnered from the clan’s activities is being threatened by 5 of his former students. Yang must find the location and true identities of these masked warriors.

The Game of Death (1978)

It is a Hong Kong martial arts movie, shot between August and October 1972, directed, written, produced and played by Bruce Lee, in his latest movie work. Lee died during the making of the movie. Over 100 minutes of video footage was taken prior to his death which was later lost in the Golden Harvest archives. The remaining footage was released with Lee’s opening Cantonese and English dialogue. Much of the video that was shot comes from what was supposed to be the climax of the movie.

While recording, Lee landed a deal to star in Enter the Dragon, the first kung fu movie produced by a Hollywood studio, and with a budget plan unmatched for the category ($850,000). Lee died of cerebral edema before the movie’s release. At the time of his death, he had been devising strategies to resume movieing The Game of Death. After Lee’s death, Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse was hired to finish the movie using two stunt doubles; was launched in 1978 as Game of Death, 5 years after Lee’s death, by Golden Harvest.

Drunken Master (1978)

It is a 1978 Hong Kong martial arts comedy movie directed by Yuen Woo-ping, starring Jackie Chan, Yuen Siu-tien and Hwang Jang-lee. It was a hit at the Hong Kong box office, earning 2.5 times more than Yuen and Chan’s previous movie Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow which was also considered a hit. He is a staple of the martial arts fun category and also helped popularize Jackie Chan in Asia. It has been ranked among the best martial arts movies. It spawned a major sequel, Drunken Master II (1994), as well as a number of spin-offs. It has had a remarkable social effect, inspiring various subsequent movies, songs, anime, manga, and even video games.

The Magnificent Butcher (1979)

It’s a funny movie 1979 Hong Kong martial arts Yuen Woo-ping and starring Sammo Hung, Kwan Tak-hing, Yuen Biao and Wei Pai. The movie is based on the story of Lam Sai-wing, who was among the apprentices of famous Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung. Hung plays “Butcher” Lam Sai-wing and Kwan Tak-hing plays Wong Fei-hung, a role he had already played in over 70 movies. 

The movie stars Hung Yuen Biao as another of Wong’s apprentices, Leung Foon, a role he would repeat years later in the movie Once Upon a Time in China alongside Jet Li. The Magnificent Butcher was produced as Hung’s attempt to replicate the success of Jackie Chan’s 1978 entertaining martial arts action movie Drunken Master, in which Chan plays Wong Fei-hung. 

Lam Sai-wing (Sammo Hung), also called Butcher Wing, is a student of Wong Fei-hung (Kwan Tak-hing). Butcher Wing’s long lost brother Lam Sai-kwong (Chiang Kam) lives in the city with his partner Yuet-mei (Tong Ching). Ko Tai-hoi (Fung Hak-on), the son of Master Ko (Lee Hoi-sang), sees Yuet-mei and kidnaps her. The kidnapping is watched by Master Ko’s goddaughter Lan-hsing (JoJo Chan).

The Big Brawl (1980)

It is an entertaining martial arts action movie from 1980, which represents Jackie Chan’s first attempt to enter the American Hollywood movie market. An American and Hong Kong production, it was directed by Robert Clouse and included much of the team from Enter the Dragon (1973). The movie is primarily set in 1930s Chicago, Illinois, although it was movieed in Texas, and follows the character of Chan, a Chinese American martial artist, as he fights the mafia by himself.

While moderately successful in North America and Hong Kong, The Big Brawl fell short of expectations in these markets, but was more successful in other Asian and European markets. The movie’s meager earnings in North America, however, caused Chan to be looking for supporting roles in other movies. Chan later made another effort to enter the American market with 1985’s The Protector which fared even worse than this movie. Only in 1995 with Rumble in the Bronx, in which Chan displayed his characteristic humor and stunt work, did he become successful in American cinemas.

The Octagon (1980)

It is a 1980 American martial arts action movie starring Chuck Norris, Karen Carlson and Lee Van Cleef. It was directed by Eric Karson and written by Paul Aaron and Leigh Chapman. The movie tells of a martial arts fighter (Chuck Norris) who must stop a group of terrorists trained in the ninja style by his half-brother (Tadashi Yamashita).  

The movie was shot in Los Angeles. It is significant for its innovative use of “voice-over” to depict the inner life of Norris’ character Scott James. The movie opens with a short scene in a training camp. Coach Katsumoto (Yuki Shimoda) informs the students that all their actions will be watched and that if they do anything to harm the group, they and their families will be eliminated.

The Prodigal Son (1981)

It is a 1981 Hong Kong martial arts comedy movie starring Yuen Biao and directed by Sammo Hung, who also co-starred with Barry Wong. The movie was chosen for 2 Hong Kong movie Awards and won the Best Action Choreography award. The movie tells the story of Leung Chang, the son of a rich man who reluctantly studies kung fu. Leung Chang’s lack of talent forces his father to pay opponents to lose in fights. After Leung Chang discovers that his father deceived him, he ends up being inspired to study martial arts more seriously and tries to convince a kung fu specialist to take him on as a student. 

Enter the Ninja (1981)

It is a 1981 American martial arts movie directed by Menahem Golan and starring Franco Nero, Susan George, Sho Kosugi and Christopher George. The movie deals with a martial artist named Cole (Nero) who is visiting his friend Frank in the Philippines. Upon arrival, Cole finds his friend annoyed by wealthy businessman Charles Venarius who covets Frank’s land for the underlying oil. Frank and his wife are constantly thwarted by Cole who safeguards them with his martial arts skills. Knowing of Cole’s existence, Venarius employs his ninja (Kosugi).

The movie was originally to be directed by Emmett Alston and star Mike Stone. Early in production, Alston was replaced by Golan, however he remained as second director, and Stone was replaced by Nero, however he remained as a stunt and combat stunt double. Since its release, the movie has brought a cult following. The movie started a trend of ninja-themed Hollywood movies in the early 1980s and was the first movie in Cannon movies’ Ninja Trilogy, a series that includes Revenge of the Ninja (1983) and Ninja III: The Domination (1984). The movie inaugurated the profession of Sho Kosugi, who went on to play the lead role in both sequels of the movie, while also starring in other 1980s ninja-themed movies and television shows such as The Master (1984).


Legendary Weapons of China (1982)

It is a 1982 martial arts wuxia movie directed by Lau Kar-Leung. It is set during the late Qing Dynasty when Empress Dowager Cixi sends her representatives to different rebel factions to discover supernatural martial artists who are invulnerable to Western bullets. As the title of the movie suggests, an incredible variety of battles occur, including the “famous weapons”.

 Lau Kar-Leung is known for revealing “real Kung-Fu” in his movies, he takes some creative license by including components of Maoshan Taoist folk magic with hand-to-hand battle. This resembles what he accomplished in another of his movies, Heroes of the East (or “Challenge of the Ninja”).

The Shaolin Temple (1982)

It’s a 1982 Chinese-Hong Kong martial arts movie directed by Chang Hsin Yen and starring Jet Li in his lead role in addition to Ding Lan and Yu Hai in supporting roles. The movie is based on the Shaolin Monastery in China and illustrates Shaolin Kung Fu. The movie was among the first significant co-productions between Hong Kong and mainland China, and the first to be shot in mainland China with a mainly mainland cast. The plot of the movie has an episodic and complete narrative structure romantic story, action and fun components. 

 It was the first martial arts movie made in mainland China after the start of the People’s Republic of China; until then, kung fu movies were made in Hong Kong and King Hu’s wuxia movies mainly in Taiwan. It was likewise the first movie to be shot in a Shaolin monastery. It has sold around 500 million tickets in China and is estimated to be the highest-grossing movie ever in China. 

The movie’s success developed Jet Li into Hong Kong’s first real mainland Chinese star, and later Hollywood. He was also primarily responsible for transforming the Shaolin Monastery into a major travel spot, both in China and around the world. A remake of the movie was launched in 2011 titled Shaolin and starred Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse and Jackie Chan.


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

It is a 2000 wuxia movie directed by Ang Lee and written by Wang Hui-ling, James Schamus and also Tsai Kuo-jung . The movie features actors of Chinese ethnic origin, consisting of Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi and also Chang Chen. It is based on the Chinese story of the same name serialized between 1941 and 1942 by Wang Dulu, the fourth part of his Crane Iron pentalogy. The movie was made on a budget of $17 million with discussion in Standard Chinese, subtitled for numerous markets, and became a surprise worldwide hit, earning $213.5 million worldwide. 

The movie garnered 40 accolades and was also nominated for 10 Academy Awards in 2001, including Best Foreign Language movie, Best Production Design, Best Original Score and Best Cinematography. The movie also won four BAFTAs and two Golden Globes, one for Best Foreign Language movie. In addition to its many accolades, the movie is mentioned as one of the best wuxia movies ever made. The movie was appreciated for its story, direction, cinematography and fight scenes.

The Rebel (2007)

It is a 2007 Vietnamese martial arts movie directed by Charlie Nguyen and starring Johnny Tri Nguyen, Dustin Nguyen and Veronica Ngo. The movie is set in French-occupied Vietnam in 1922, where peasant revolutions against French colonialists have emerged across the nation. In reaction, the French have Vietnamese men to find and dispose of the rebels. Among them is Le Van Cuong: his principles are destroyed by the bloodshed he created. Following the assassination of a high-ranking French authority, Cuong is tasked with finding and eliminating the well-known resistance leader. Cuong meets Vo Thanh Thuy, a relentless revolutionary fighter and the daughter of the rebel leader. 

Clash (2009)

It is a 2009 Vietnamese martial arts movie directed by Le Thanh Son and starring Johnny Tri Nguyen and actress/singer Veronica Ngo. Johnny Tri Nguyen and Veronica Ngo recently starred together in the 2007 movie The Rebel. Codename Trinh Phoenix (Ngo Thanh Van), a woman working for the mafia, has to finish a series of jobs for her boss Hac Long (Hoang Phuc Nguyen) to win the launch of her kidnapped baby. She seeks help by hiring several mercenaries, including Quan, nicknamed Tiger, with whom she falls in love. But after a short time Thrinh realizes that the man has different motivations. 

Merantau (2009)

It is a 2009 Indonesian martial arts movie produced, directed and edited by Gareth Huw Evans, as well as starring Iko Uwais. The movie, which marks Uwais’s launch as an actor, is the first collaboration between director Evans and actor Uwais. It is also the acting launch of Yayan Ruhian, both of whom Evans met while movieing a docudrama in Indonesia which became his introduction to the Pencak Silat fighting style.

Yuda is a Minangkabau from West Sumatra, as well as a silat specialist. As part of the merantau (travelling) custom, he leaves his residence to look for work outside his hometown. He prepares to teach silat to the youth of Jakarta. On her bus ride, she meets Eric, another Silat specialist. Eric warns him that the city is quite different from what Yuda is used to, and it will be difficult to make a living teaching Silat. They go to a bodyguard tryout that Eric has heard about. Eric bests his challenger, taking the job. 

The Raid (2011)

It’s a 2011 Indonesian martial arts thriller movie written, directed and edited by Gareth Evans. The movie stars Iko Uwais, who previously dated Evans in another action movie, Merantau, released in 2009. In the movie, a team is tasked with breaking into a skyscraper run by a vicious lord of the drugs in the rundown neighborhoods of Jakarta; among them is Rama (played by Uwais), an experienced fighter of the group.

Mr. Vampire (1985) 

It’s a movie funny horror 1985 Hong Kong Ricky Lau and produced by Sammo Hung. The movie’s success led to the development of a Mr. Vampire franchise, with the release of 4 sequels directed by Ricky Lau from 1986 to 1992, and subsequent similarly themed movies with various directors launched between 1987 and 1992, with Lam Ching-ying as the protagonist for most of them. The movie’s vampire is based on the jiangshi, comparable to both vampires and zombies. The movie was a hit in the jiangshi category, a popular style in Hong Kong in the 1980s, and developed a number of recognizable clichés. 

In Republican-era China, Master Kau makes a living as a Taoist priest who juggles and maintains control over aggressive spirits and vampires. Together with his apprentices, Man-choi and Chau-sang, they live in a large house protected from the spirit world with amulets and talismans.

A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

It is a romantic comedy 1987 Hong Kong horror- Leslie Cheung, Joey Wong and Wu Ma, directed by Ching Siu-tung and produced by Tsui Hark. The plot is loosely based on a narrative about Nie Xiaoqian from Qing Dynasty author Pu Songling’s Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio and is also inspired by the 1960 Shaw Brothers Studio movie The Enchanting Shadow. 

The movie was popular in Hong Kong and a number of Asian nations, including South Korea and Japan. The movie did not have access to theaters in mainland China when it was first released, and has become a cult movie among Chinese youth. At that time the movie produced a tremendous cult following among audiences, especially the generation born in the 1980s. The movie triggered a pattern of folklore ghost movies in the Hong Kong movie market and was ranked among the top 100 Chinese movies. 

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) 

It’s a drama movie 1993 American biographical Rob Cohen. The movie stars Jason Scott Lee, with a cast including Lauren Holly, Nancy Kwan and Robert Wagner. The movie follows the life of star and martial artist Bruce Lee (Jason) from his move to the United States from Hong Kong to his profession as a martial arts instructor, and later as a television and movie star. It also focuses on the relationship between Bruce and his wife Linda Lee Cadwell and the effect of stardom on Bruce Lee.

The primary source for the movie’s script is Cadwell’s 1975 biography Bruce Lee: The Man Only I Knew. Other sources are Robert Clouse’s book Bruce Lee: The Biography and Cohen’s research study, consisting of interviews with Cadwell and Bruce’s son Brandon Lee. Instead of a standard biopic, Cohen chose to insert components of mysticism and dramatize the fight scenes to give it the same tone as the movies Bruce starred in. Dragon was movieed primarily in Hong Kong, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story opened to favorable reviews, with critics finding it entertaining despite criticism for its reverence for Bruce Lee. The movie was a success and its profits went beyond the average biopic, which was attributed to its romantic themes and its appeal to people outside the standard kung fu movie audience. Dragon is dedicated to Brandon, who passed away several weeks before its release.

Mortal Kombat (1995) 

It is a 1995 American fantasy martial arts action movie directed by Paul WS Anderson and written by Kevin Droney. Based on the computer game series of the same name, it is the first installment in the Mortal Kombat movie series. Starring Linden Ashby, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Robin Shou, Bridgette Wilson, Talisa Soto and Christopher Lambert, the movie follows a group of heroes who take part in the Mortal Kombat competition of the same name to protect the Earth from the domination of dark forces. Its story primarily adapts the 1992 video game, while also using aspects from the Mortal Kombat II (1993) video game.

The movie received mixed reviews from critics, who applauded the martial arts scenes, setting and production values, but criticized the actors, script and video game violence. It was a hit, earning $122 million out of a $20 million spending plan. Mortal Kombat was followed by several sequels that weren’t able to match the success of the initial movie, and the series was rebooted with a 2021 movie.

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