20 martial arts films

Such a movie attracts attention with spectacular fights and spectacular stunts, as well as an exciting plot and intense internal struggle. We offer you a selection of the best films about martial arts with experienced masters of karate, kung fu, taekwondo and other martial arts.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

The hero of a novelty movie with elements of martial arts is the son of an influential crime boss. The father raised the boy in strictness, dreaming of turning the heir into an invulnerable killer, but the guy escapes from the very first task. Shang-Chi moves to San Francisco, where he works as a parking attendant, and one day the past comes back to haunt him. Part of an old amulet is stolen from the father, and the other half is kept by the daughter. Shang-Chi must get ahead of the criminals, protect his sister and find out the true purpose of the family medallions.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Actors:
Simu Liu, Tony Leung Chu Wai, Aquafina …

Country:
USA, Australia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.6

Age restrictions:
16+


Ip Man (film series, 2008 – 2019)

The key character in one of the best martial arts films is a kung fu master who lives in Foshan. The city of Ip Man is famous for its strong martial arts schools. At the same time, the guy is considered the most virtuoso fighter of Foshan, but he does not give lessons to anyone. At this time, the war begins, and China is under the yoke of Japan. Even with the hardships of the occupation, the protagonist continues to remember dignity and honor. Now Yip Man, more than ever, will need the acquired skill.

Original title:
Yip Man

Actors:
Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Lynn Hong …

Country:
Hong Kong, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.3, IMDb – 8.0

Age limit:
16+


Bruce Lee: Birth of the Dragon (2016)

Actor, director and producer Bruce Lee has become a real symbol of martial arts films. A dynamic biopic tells about a dramatic episode of his youth. After moving to the US, the rising star was challenged by a famous kung fu master. They will meet in battle right on the streets of San Francisco, and defeat can put an end to their careers . Although the name of the foreign action star is included in the title, the film focuses not only on him, but also on the development of his students.

Original title:
Birth of the Dragon

Actors:
Philip Ng, Xia Yu, Wang Xian …

Country:
China, Canada, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.4, IMDb – 5.6

Age limit:
16+


Last of the Best (2014)

A kung fu instructor is in jail on charges of accidentally killing a man. He will have a chance to regain freedom in exchange for the assistance of the police , because no one else is able to stop the mysterious maniac who destroys martial arts masters. The film is filled with spectacular duels and is imbued with nostalgia for Chinese action movies of the eighties.

Original title:
Yi ge ren de wu lin

Actors:
Donnie Yen, Wang Baoqiang, Charlie Yong …

Country:
China, Hong Kong

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 6.5

Age limit:
16+


Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (2014)

Zhen Ma Yun comes to Shanghai to find a job. A respectable young man from the village rejects an offer to join a bandit group that is tormenting the city. Refusal causes discontent of villains. The bandits intend to deal with the young man and his friends, but, in addition to moral principles, the guy also has knowledge of kung fu. Among the best films about martial arts, this action movie stands out for its historical setting – the gloomy atmosphere of Shanghai at the beginning of the last century.

Original title:
E zhan

Actors:
Philip Ng, Sammo Hong, Andy On …

Country:
China, Hong Kong

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.8


Grand Master (2013)

The oldest school of martial arts is about to change its head: its founder leaves the affairs to the successor. However, a student of the master Ip Man hatches more grandiose plans. The guy hopes to unite all previously disparate schools. To do this, he will have to fight with the leader of each of the communities. Only a convincing victory will allow the successor to unite all the schools together. In the last duel, Ip Man must defeat the daughter of his teacher.

Original title:
Yi dai zong shi

Actors:
Tony Leung Chu Wai, Zhang Ziyi, Chang Chen …

Country:
Hong Kong, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.6

Age limit:
12+


Tai Chi Master (2013)

Modern Beijing. Chen Li Hu is a very ambitious guy who works as a courier. He devotes all his free time to studying martial arts. Gradually honing the smooth movements of taijiquan, the young man hopes to apply them in possible fights. Meanwhile, Donaka Mark is on the run from the Hong Kong police. He opens an underground fight club, whose members master different types of martial arts, earning a lot of money from it. Mark is looking for a new star for his establishment, and Chen Li Hu catches his attention.

Original title:
Man of Tai Chi

Actors:
Tiger Chen, Keanu Reeves, Karen Mok …

Country:
China, Hong Kong, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 6.1

Age limit:
16+


Wrath of the Vajra (2013)

On the eve of World War II , the Japanese authorities decided to completely destroy China. A sinister sect buys children from local residents in order to grow merciless killers out of them. A brave martial artist decides to challenge a powerful organization. The fights from the film are definitely included in the top of the most spectacular fights, because Japanese and Chinese approaches to martial arts are fully revealed here.

Original title:
The Wrath of Vajra

Actors:
Xing Yu, Yu Seung-jun, Nam Hyun-jun …

Country:
China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.0, IMDb – 5.8


Master’s Apprentice (2012)

Yang is incredibly gifted, but others consider the teenager very strange. Fate brings the hero of the film to a secluded village, where he meets the masters of martial arts. Teachers do not want to teach the young man the subtleties of martial arts due to the fact that he could not even defeat a girl in a duel. However, the local old man, who turns out to be a great kung fu master, still offers Yang help.

Original title:
Tai ji 1: Cong 0 kai shi

Actors:
Fung Hark-On, Xiaochao Yuan, Stephen Fung …

Country:
China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.7, IMDb – 6.1

Age limit:
16+


Shaolin (2011)

The plot of this film about Shaolin and martial arts tells about the enmity that broke out between the military leaders at the very beginning of the existence of the Republic of China. This confrontation turns into a series of conflicts for the country. Hou Jie becomes a victim of discord. His family perishes at the hands of mercenaries, and he miraculously escapes. The hero begins to seek refuge and ends up with the Shaolin monks. After learning the martial arts and gaining peace of mind, Hou Jie stands up to protect the monastery from impending danger.

Original title:
San Siu Lam zi

Actors:
Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse …

Country:
Hong Kong, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.2, IMDb – 6.9

Age limit:
16+


Karate Kid (2010)

The protagonist of this film about oriental martial arts is a teenager Dre Parker, who, after the death of his father, leaves his native Detroit. Now he lives with his mother in unfamiliar and hostile Beijing. The boy quickly appears a heap of problems. In addition, he causes hostility from the local hooligan Chen, who owns the techniques of kung fu. Dre is afraid of single combat with his enemy, because he does not know how to fight. Soon Parker has the opportunity to learn the basics of martial arts.

Original title:
The Karate Kid

Actors:
Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith, Taraji P. Henson …

Country:
USA, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 6.2

Age restrictions:
6+


True Legend (2010)

General Su was one of the best in the army of the Chinese prince for a long time and showed outstanding fighting skills. However, the time came when he decided to retire. Su’s position is held by his half-brother Yuan, who has always been jealous of the hero. A former military man moves with his wife to a small village, where their son is born. The hero does not yet realize how much his brother hates him. Yuan has been studying the dangerous martial arts for many years and is now ready to demonstrate his deadly skills.

Original title:
Su Qi-er

Actors:
Vincent Zhao, Zhou Xun, Andy He…

Country:
China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.4

Age limit:
18+


Fist of Legend: The Return of Chen Zhen (2010)

The famous master of martial arts was considered dead for a long time. When the threat of enslavement looms over his country, he returns under a false name to fight the conquerors. The main character is a cult character in the field of martial arts cinema. After the first appearance on the screen in 1972, a dozen films and TV series were shot about him.

Original title:
Jing wu feng yun: Chen Zhen

Actors:
Donnie Yen, Shu Qi, Anthony Wong …

Country:
Hong Kong, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 6.3

Age limit:
18+


Merantau (2009)

The young man, having studied martial arts, leaves the village for a big city in order to succeed. A lot of hardships and wanderings await him, and after he, saving a girl, injures the leader of a large gang, criminal circles begin to hunt for him. This film is worth watching not only for its gripping plot, but also for getting to know harimau silat, a martial art from Southeast Asia that is rarely in the focus of attention of filmmakers.

Original title:
Merantau

Actors:
Iko Weiss, Siska Jessica, Christine Hakim …

Country:
Indonesia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.7

Age Limits :
18+


Never Give Up (2008)

The list of the best films about martial arts continues with a sports drama , the hero of which often became a participant in serious fights. Although Jake is the most popular football player on the school team, he constantly gets into trouble. The guy moves with his family from San Andreas to Florida, but becomes an outcast in a new place.

Wanting to achieve the location of a classmate, the hero opposes the local authority, but loses. A new friend invites Jake to take revenge, after working out with a famous trainer who teaches mixed martial arts.

Original title:
Never Back Down

Actors:
Sean Faris, Amber Heard, Cam Gigandet …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 6.6

Age restrictions:
16+


Forbidden Kingdom (2008)

Jason is an American teenager who loves kung fu and films about this martial art. One day, the hero visits a Chinese shop where he hopes to buy DVDs. Suddenly, the young man becomes a member of a serious scrape. He tries to defend himself with the first thing that comes to hand – a staff. But this item turns out to be magical. A parallel dimension opens up before Jason, where he meets a mysterious martial artist. Soon the hero will have to become part of a great plan to save the world.

Original title:
The Forbidden Kingdom

Actors:
Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michael Angarano…

Country:
USA, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 6.6

Age restrictions:
12+


Chocolate (2008)

The top movies about martial artists include an unusual action movie from Thailand. The autistic girl owns martial arts on an intuitive level. Trying to raise money for the treatment of her mother with cancer , she comes into conflict with powerful mafia clans . For the sake of filming in this feature film, the leading lady had to drop out of college to hone her martial arts skills and study the psychology of autistic people.

Original title:
Chocolate

Actors:
Yaanin Wismitananda, Hiroshi Abe, Pongpat Wachirabunjong …

Country:
Thailand

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 7.0

Age limit:
16+


Fearless (2006)

Beginning of the XX century. The events of this film about martial arts unfold around Huo Yuanjia, who dreams of becoming a famous fighter. One day, a guy’s life is overshadowed by terrible news: his loved ones died. Ho begins aimless wanderings around the country. Residents of one of the villages decide to shelter a young man. It is there that he understands what the true purpose of martial arts is. Yuanjia goes home, where he soon opens a martial arts school. After some time, fate gives him a chance to defend the honor of his native country.

Original title:
Huo yuanjia

Actors:
Jet Li, Sun Li, Yun Dun…

Country:
China, Hong Kong

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.1, IMDb – 7.6

Age limit:
16+


Kung Fu Showdown (2004)

XX century, 30s. Shanghai’s streets are subject to strict rules set by local gangs. The city is divided into spheres of influence. The group “Axes” induces special fear in the district. However, some young people try to imitate criminals. One of them starts a riot, passing you off as representatives of the Axes. This turns into a serious confrontation between real gang members and slum dwellers who also have martial arts skills.

Original title:
Kung fu

Actors:
Stephen Chow, Feng Xiaogang, Yuen Wa …

Country:
Hong Kong, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 7.7

Age limit:
16+


Wind Warrior (2004)

The highly rated Korean film tells the story of a young man who left his home country to master the martial arts. In Japan, a foreigner is looked down upon and not taken seriously. He trains in seclusion for a long time, and then, having honed his skills and overcome his weaknesses, he challenges the best karate masters. The film is based on the biography of the creator of the Kyokushinkai style, Masutatsu Oyama.

Original title:
Baramui paiteo

Actors:
Yang Dong-geun, Aya Hirayama, Masaya Kato …

Country:
South Korea

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.0

Age limit:
16+


Ong Bak (trilogy, 2003, 2008, 2010)

The plot of this film about martial arts and martial arts is centered on the small Thai village of Nagpradu. Disturbing news is sweeping through the village: someone has stolen the head of the local Buddha statue. Only a person with a sharp mind, courage and physical endurance can return the shrine. Only one resident of the province has all these qualities – Ting. And soon he will have to apply the incredible skills of Muay Thai, which he was taught by an old monk.

Original title:
Ong-bak

Actors:
Tony Jah, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Pumwari Yodkamol …

Country:
Thailand

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
16+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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