Top 10 Martial Arts Movies

They’re spectacular tales of self-defense, adventure and revenge. These action packed spectacles of human ability have not only thrilled audiences, but launched the acting careers of many famous martial artists. These include such icons as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Tony Jaa. Due to gaining worldwide recognition, this genre is no longer limited to Asian films, and its influence has since spread to Hollywood. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down the Top 10 best and most influential Martial Arts movies ever made.
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Top 10 Most Influential Martial Arts Movies

They’re spectacular tales of self-defense, action, adventure and revenge. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 most influential Martial Arts movies ever made.

Number 10: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)


Kicking off our countdown is the fantasy filled epic starring Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh. Centered on two warriors in pursuit of a stolen magical Jade sword, this martial arts extravaganza blew critics' minds back in 2000. This was due to raising the bar on the genre by incorporating romance, a compelling story, incredible cinematography, wonderful costumes, breathtaking locations, and gravity defying martial arts.

Number 9: The Matrix (1999)


The second film on our list needs no introduction. The Matrix’s tale of artificial reality set the stage for some of the most spectacular martial arts ever recorded. Bullet time aside, no one can forget how the film introduced Keanu Reeves to Kung Fu! (Editor’s Note: Keanu Reeves- “I Know Kung Fu!”)

Number 8: The Karate Kid (1984)


The original story of a martial arts master teaching a bullied New Jersey kid self-defense remains a beloved cult classic. Starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, this film showed us that there’s more to martial arts than raw force, and that Mr. Miyagi knows how to use training for personal gains! (Editor’s note: Wax On, Wax Off scene- polishing his car)

Number 7: Seven Samurai (1954)


A veteran samurai, who has fallen on hard times, answers a village's request for protection from bandits. As a result, he gathers 6 other samurai to help him. This stunning adventure drama by famed director Akira Kurosawa is easily one of the greatest Japanese films to become known in the west, and in turn has influenced countless filmmakers.

Number 6: Ong-Bak (2003)


Tony Jaa plays the part of Ting, a man who lives in a small and peaceful village. When their sacred Buddha statue Ong Bak is stolen, he is tasked with tracking the thief and reclaiming the religious treasure. Employing his non-traditional marital arts, the star has come to be touted as the next big star of the genre. It’s easy to see why, with his thrilling combination of crushing moves and real-life stunts.

Number 5: Fist of Legend (1994)


Taking place in 1937, the film told the tale of a man who returns to Shanghai to find his master dead and the city under Japanese military occupation. As a result, he vows revenge on the army’s vicious general.

This remake of Bruce Lee’s “Fist of Fury” helped introduce the western world to the spectacular talent of Jet Li. Not only that, but it similarly popularized his fight choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping, who would later work on films like the Matrix.

Number 4: The Way Of The Dragon (1972)


As a man visiting his relatives in Italy, Bruce Lee soon finds himself defending them against brutal gangsters. As a result, Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee face off in one of cinemas most memorable confrontations ever recorded. Lee toys with his pray, like a cat would with a toy (Editor’s note: Cat plays while fight goes on), and teaches Norris that he should always shave his chest before battle! (Grabs a bunch of his chest hair and blows it back at him).

Number 3: Kill Bill Vol.1 (2003)


It’s bloody, ultra-violent, and over the top in every way. Quentin Tarantino’s tale of the bride’s revenge has not only registered highly on cinematic radar, but has come to re-define the genre, all while paying tribute to it.

Number 2: The Legend of the Drunken Master (1994)


A semi-sequel to Jackie Chan’s earlier martial arts extravaganza, this project popularized the artist around the world, and showcased his signature mix of martial arts and comedy. Due to this, and its jaw-dropping 20-minute fight sequence, that took months to shoot, Drunken Master easily makes the short-list of the very best martial arts films ever created.

Number 1: Enter The Dragon (1973)


Rounding out our top 10 list is the first Kung Fu film to have been made by a Hollywood studio, and the last fully completed film Bruce Lee appeared in before his death. A true classic in every sense, this film showcases the world’s most legendary fighter at the top of his game.
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