Asian Action Movies: Top 20 Movies of Recent Years

In the middle of the 20th century, Asian cinema penetrated Europe, and with it, action films with the participation of martial artists. Mind-blowing duels captured the imagination of European spectators who have not yet seen such spectacular showdowns. Full of oriental wisdom and hurricane action, Asian films have acquired an army of fans and have become an object of imitation in Hollywood. Our list contains the best action movies of recent years, filmed in Asia and available in Russian.

Assassin: Battle of the Worlds (2021)

Guan Ning, a Chinese fantasy character, spends six years searching for his kidnapped daughter, sacrificing his career and marriage. He approaches the solution, but Tu Ling, the assistant to the head of a large corporation, prevents the guilty from being punished. Her boss Li Mu wants to hire Guan Ning for a very unusual mission. The mercenary must kill a certain writer whose plot of the novel is embodied in real life, as a result of which Li Mu is expected to die soon. Will the hero be able to determine where is the truth and where is fiction in this intriguing story?

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

Original title:  
Ci sha xiao shuo jia

Actors:  
Lei Jiayin, Yang Mi, Dong Zijian…

Country:  
China

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.0, IMDb – 6.2

Age limit:  
18+


Sword Master (2020)

A place of honor among Asian films is occupied by South Korean action films, and this story about a noble swordsman has become one of the most popular. Tae-yul was the court swordsman, but failed to prevent the overthrow of his master. Since then, he has been living as a hermit with his teenage daughter , Tae-ok, gradually losing his sight due to long-term injuries. Learning that there is a medicine in the capital that can help her father, the girl sets off on the road. But in the city she is kidnapped by the insidious Gurutai, and the half-blind Te-yul again has to take up arms to save her daughter.

Original title:  
Geomgaek

Actors:  
Chang Hyuk, Kim Hyun-soo, Joe Taslim…

Country:  
South Korea

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.8

Age limit:  
16+


Gangster, Cop and Devil (2019)

Based on true events , the story of cooperation between the South Korean police and the mafia against a common enemy. Cheonan Dong-soo is a provincial gangster who nearly fell victim to a serial killer . The miraculously surviving mafia wants revenge and restoration of authority in the eyes of his subordinates, so his interests coincide with the intentions of law enforcement agencies. Sworn enemies Cheonan Dong-soo and Detective Jung Tae-suk have to team up to find and neutralize the maniac.

Original title:  
Akinjeon

Actors:  
Ma Don-seok, Kim Mu-yeol, Kim Sung-gyu…

Country:  
South Korea

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 6.9

Age limit:  
16+


Fury (2019)

The heroine of one of the best Asian action films is a woman who owns the Vietnamese martial art of vovinam. Hai Phuong was expelled from her family for her criminal activities and now lives with her daughter Mai in the province, earning money by collecting debts. The girl does not like her mother’s occupation, and together they dream of their own fish farm . However, Hai Phuong’s past catches up when Mai is kidnapped to be sold for organs. But the kidnappers will regret what they did, because the angry mother will stop at nothing to save the child.

Original title:
Hai Phuong

Actors:
Veronica Ngo, Mai Cát Vi, Thanh Nyen Phan…

Country:
Vietnam

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.8, IMDb – 6.3


Blade of the Immortal (2017)

Fantasy Asian action movie with professional voice acting in Russian is the 100th work of the famous Japanese director Takeshi Miike. Samurai Manji accidentally took the life of his sister’s husband, which caused her insanity. In an effort to atone for guilt, the hero takes care of the girl, but still the enemies kill her and injure Manji. The samurai says goodbye to life, but an old woman saves him by injecting parasites into his blood that ensured Manji’s immortality . After 80 years, she sends a girl to him, strangely resembling her dead sister, with a request to avenge her father.

Original title:  
Mugen no junin

Actors:  
Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi …

Country:  
Japan, UK, South Korea

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.5, IMDb – 6.8

Age limit:  
16+


Frame City (2017)

The action-packed South Korean cinema continues the selection of Asian action films. The unemployed Kwon-yu found his calling thanks to the Internet, showing remarkable talent in computer games . One day, a guy finds someone else’s phone, and the owner is ready to buy it for a fee. But the meeting with the owner of the device turns into a meeting with the police, as the girl is killed, and Kwon-yu is the main suspect. The hero will have to mobilize all his gaming abilities and connections in order to find the true killer and remove suspicion from himself.

Original title:  
Jojakdoen dosi

Actors:  
Chi Chan-uk, Shim Eun-kyung, Oh Jung-se…

Country:  
South Korea

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.9

Age limit:  
16+


Prison Break (2017)

The gripping Cambodian film focuses on a deadly intelligence operation to protect a key witness. The head of a large Asian gang, nicknamed Playboy, suddenly declares in court that a certain Madama Butterfly is in fact in charge of everything, and the bandit himself is ready to cooperate with the investigation. With this confession, Playboy signs his own sentence, and the task of a group of tough special forces is to ensure his safe stay in prison , where Madame’s henchmen are rioting.

Original title:
Jailbreak

Actors:
Katsumi, Jean-Paul Lee, Lauren Plancel …

Country:
Cambodia

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.5, IMDb – 5.5


Bahubali (dilogue, 2015 and 2017)

One of the most expensive action films in Asia from Indian filmmakers who shot a grandiose epic about a mythological hero. The brave Bahubali, after victories on the battlefield, was recognized by the queen as her successor. This did not please the crown prince, who became the supreme commander, and he began to weave intrigues against his rival brother. However, if Bahubali, who fell in love with Devasena from a neighboring kingdom, marries her, then he himself will lose his high position. What will the heroic prince choose – the throne or love?

Original title:  
Bãhubali 2: The Conclusion

Actors:  
Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty…

Country:  
India

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 7.2, IMDb – 8.2

Age limit:  
16+


At work (2013)

A fascinating Filipino film based on a real scandalous story. While investigating several apparently contract killings, Investigator Joaquin and lawyer Francis make a shocking discovery that the hitmen are prisoners who are released from prison to complete a mission. An experienced criminal named Mario decides to tie up with his dark past, but a diligent student Daniel is ready to replace him. What happens when the paths and interests of the four men cross?

Original title:
On the Job

Actors:
Piolo Pascual, Gerald Anderson, Joel Torre…

Country:
Philippines

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.9, IMDb – 7.0


Raid (dilogue, 2011 and 2014)

This hardcore movie was filmed in Asia by British hardcore action filmmaker Gareth Evans, who has lived in Indonesia for a long time. According to the plot of the film, a special forces detachment, under the cover of night, surrounds the impregnable multi-story lair of the drug lord Tama Riyadi. But by a fatal accident, the carefully prepared operation ceases to be a secret, and all the power and fury of the criminals falls upon the commandos locked on the sixth floor. Are the fighters destined to get out alive from this bloody battle?

Original title:
Serbuan maut

Actors:
Iko Weiss, Joe Taslim, Donnie Alamsha …

Country:
Indonesia, France, USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.6

Age restrictions:
18+


13 killers (2010)

In the middle of the 19th century, a half-brother of the shogun named Naritsugu Matsudaira was rampaging in Japan. Using the protection of family ties, he tortured and killed innocent people with impunity, while simultaneously claiming a high position. Desperate to tell the shogun the truth about his relative, adviser Doi Toshitsura instructs the samurai Shinzaemon Shimada to eliminate the sadist. But Naritsugu is protected by a whole army of bodyguards , so the hero gathers a squad of twelve dexterous swordsmen, ready to do anything for the success of the historical mission.

Original title:  
Jûsan-nin no shikaku

Actors:  
Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya …

Country:  
Japan, United Kingdom

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.6

Age limit:  
16+


Merantau (2009)

In the top of Asian action films there is another picture by Briton Gareth Evans, which is worth a look for fans of the genre. The village boy Yuda successfully mastered the local style of hand-to-hand combat, proving his ability in a fight with a teacher, and set off to conquer the capital. However, Jakarta turned out to be inhospitable to the provincial, and, finding himself without housing and work, Yuda was about to return home. However, the hero of the film is rescued by his mastery of martial arts when he decides to free young orphans from the hands of human traffickers, which is why he goes to war with a whole gang of thugs.

Original title:  
Merantau

Actors:  
Iko Weiss, Siska Jessica, Kristin Hakim …

Country:  
Indonesia

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.7

Age Limits
18+


Once Upon a Time in the East (2009)

Until recently, Chin made a living as a sex worker , but now, under the name Phoenix, she works for the Black Dragon. To ensure the girl’s loyalty, the gangster kidnaps her little daughter, with the promise of returning the baby when the Phoenix completes several tasks. During one of them, Chin meets a mysterious mercenary. Kuan is called the Tiger for his mastery of martial arts. A romantic relationship develops between young people, but can Phoenix trust the Tiger when it comes to saving his daughter?

Original title:
Bay rong

Actors:
Johnny Nguyen, Veronica Ngo, Hoang Phuc Nguyen…

Country:
Vietnam

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 6.0

Age limit:
16+


Ip Man (film series, 2008 – 2019)

A series of biographical films about the life of the master of martial arts Yip Man, teacher of Bruce Lee. Before the invasion of China by Japanese troops, Ip Man was a respected and well-to-do man who entered into hand-to-hand combat only out of sporting interest. But the occupation plunged the craftsmen into poverty along with ordinary workers. For the sake of fun, the Japanese commandant arranges fights between his well-fed soldiers and hungry Chinese, and Ip Man undertakes to teach fellow countrymen one of the styles of kung fu – vin chun, which saves many lives and secures a place for himself in history.

Original title:
Yip Man

Actors:
Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Lynn Hong …

Country:
Hong Kong, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 8.2, IMDb – 8.0

Age limit:
16+


Chocolate (2008)

After getting pregnant by a member of the Japanese yakuza, Thai girl Zen is forced to leave the gang and the father of her unborn child. Her daughter Zin was born with autism , but the syndrome did not prevent the girl from successfully mastering the martial arts. When her mother is diagnosed with cancer , Zin and a friend look for ways to earn money for her treatment. Having accidentally stumbled upon Zen’s notes with amounts owed to her by certain people, the guys go to the debtors, not suspecting what dangerous people are behind the debt numbers.

Original title:  
Chocolate

Actors:  
Yaanin Wismitananda, Hiroshi Abe, Pongpat Wachirabunjong …

Country:  
Thailand

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 7.0

Age limit:  
16+


Don. Mafia leader (dilogue, 2006 and 2011)

A remake of the popular 1978 Asian film with Indian film star Amitabh Bachchan tells the story of a police operation to catch a drug lord nicknamed Don. During the shootout, he is badly injured, but the police cover it up to arrest Don’s henchmen. Inspector D’Silva finds a simple guy Vijay, like two drops of water similar to the leader of the mafia, and convinces him to pretend to be Don. But soon the policeman himself dies, and Vijay finds himself in a hopeless situation, since only D’Silva knew who he really was.

Original title:  
Don

Actors:  
Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Arjun Rampal …

Country:  
India

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 8.1, IMDb – 7.2

Age limit:  
12+


Dragon’s Honor (dilogue, 2005 and 2013)

Thai dilogy about the adventures of a simple guy Kham performed by a unique master of martial arts Tony Jaa. When criminals kidnap an elephant and a baby elephant belonging to the Kham family, the guy rushes after them. The search takes the hero of the film to distant Australia, where a local detective helps Kham, but the task of finding animals sacred to the Thais and punishing the villains still seems impossible. In the second part, the hero investigates the murder of the owner of an elephant sanctuary, in which he himself is suspected.

Original title:  
Tom yum goong

Actors:  
Tony Jah, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Bongkodzh Khongmalai …

Country:  
Thailand, USA, Hong Kong, France

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 7.1

Age restrictions:  
16+


New Police Story (2004)

The name of the film echoes the famous “Police Story”, and Jackie Chan also stars here , but he starred in a thriller genre unusual for the legendary Asian actor and stuntman. Tough Hong Kong cop Wing blames himself for the death of his comrades, whom he unwittingly led into a gang trap. Unable to cope with guilt, the inspector seeks oblivion in alcohol . Wing is saved from the final moral decay by a new partner, a young policeman – together they declare war on Hong Kong crime.

Original title:
Xin jingcha gushi

Actors:
Jackie Chan, Nicholas Tse, Charlie Yong …

Country:
Hong Kong, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.0

Age limit:
16+


Ong Bak (trilogy, 2003, 2008, 2010)

A cult trilogy featuring the unrivaled martial artist from Thailand, Tony Jaa. The village of Nagpradu suffered a serious misfortune – mysterious intruders stole the head of a statue of Buddha, called Ong Bak. Only the best fighter is able to find and return the sacred artifact. Tian, ​​who learned from the monks the art of Thai boxing – Muay Thai, takes over the case. On the way to the goal and glory, Tian will face many trials and fierce fights. And although the noble action hero does not always come out victorious, the guy never gives up.

Original title:  
Ong-bak

Actors:  
Tony Jah, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Pumwari Yodkamol …

Country:  
Thailand

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:  
16+


Zatoichi (2003)

The blind masseur and dice player Zatoichi roams the country, for the time being not interfering in conflicts, no matter how evil people provoke him. But in one town, he changes his rule and gives heat to the local yakuza clan with a sword disguised as a cane. The author’s “samurai” film by the famous Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, who wrote the script and played the main role, earned a high rating from the audience and was recognized as the best jury of several film festivals, including Venice.

Original title:  
Zatôichi

Actors:  
Takeshi Kitano, Tadanobu Asano, Michiyo Ookusu …

Country:  
Japan

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.5

Age limit:  
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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