Japanese Style Fighting: 11 Karate Movies

The crushing beauty of Japanese martial art requires from its adherents not only sacrifices in training, but also incredible spiritual resources. In movies about karateka, you can see many spectacular victories in fights, but each martial artist always wins the main victory over himself. The best films about karate, included in our selection, will surprise you both with spectacular combat choreography and exciting plots.

Ip Man 4 (2019)

An elderly and seriously ill master of the traditional martial arts of the East comes to the United States to enroll his son in a prestigious school. Sensei’s longtime student, rising star Bruce Lee, has been promoting martial arts. The national diaspora opposes this good undertaking, believing that secrets that have been tested for centuries should not be revealed to outsiders. However, Yip Man supports the student, although he risks not getting the permissions he needs for his son.

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

Original title:
Yip Man 4

Genre:
Action, biography, drama

Actors:
Donnie Yen, Danny Chan, Wu Yue …

Country:
Hong Kong, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.0

Age limit:
16+


The Art of Self Defense (2019)

Comedy-drama feature film about a novice karateka. A humble accountant is severely beaten by a biker gang . After recovering from his injuries, the man decides to learn how to defend himself and gets into a karate class. Under the guidance of a cool brutal sensei, the hero trains, improves and finds new friends. The modest goal of rebuffing offenders gradually turns into something more ambitious.

Original title:
The Art of Self-Defense

Genre:
Sports, drama, thriller, comedy

Actors:
Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola, Imogen Poots …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.6

Age restrictions:
16+


Cobra Kai (TV series 2018 – 2021)

An interesting series about karate continues the events of the popular film from the eighties. The once successful athlete and “golden boy” found himself at the very bottom of his life. To regain his place in the sun and get rid of the problems of the past, Johnny Lawrence decides to revive the famous karate school, known for its strict rules and uncompromising philosophy of life.

Original title:
Cobra Kai

Genre:
Comedy, sports, action, drama

Actors:
Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Jolo Maridueno…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.9, IMDb – 8.6

Age restrictions:
12+


Empty Hands (2017)

The daughter of a martial artist after the death of her father is faced with a black life streak. A married boyfriend refuses to leave the family, and another problematic co-owner is discovered at the inherited meditation and sports hall. The girl finds salvation from an impasse in what her deceased father devoted his whole life to – in the art of hand-to-hand combat.

Original Title :
Kong shou dao

Genre:
Drama, Sports

Actors:
Chapman To, Stephy Tan, Yasuaki Kurata…

Country:
Hong Kong

Rating:
IMDb – 6.1


In shock (TV series, 2011 – 2015)

A serial foreign movie about karate is worth watching for the warm family atmosphere of the show and sparkling humor. In a small American town, an experienced master teaches teenagers the secrets of martial arts. The gym is in danger of closing. Young karatekas, together with their mentor, will have to figure out how to defend their favorite place for training. Meanwhile, a proud fighter appears in the city, capable of influencing the situation.

Original Title :
Kickin’ It

Genre:
Action, Comedy, Family

Actors:
Leo Howard, Dylan Riley Snyder, Mateo Arias…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.5

Age Limits :
16+


Karate Kid (2010)

A remake of the famous 1984 sports drama. A single mother moves to Beijing with her teenage son. It is difficult for a black boy to get comfortable in a new unfamiliar city. In addition, the stranger is offended by school bullies involved in kung fu. An inconspicuous man who stood up for the boy becomes the hero’s coach. Under the guidance of an experienced teacher, the guy masters the art of combat and is ready to get even with offenders even at a tournament.

Original title:
The Karate Kid

Genre:
Drama, sports

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

Country:
USA, China

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 6.2

Age restrictions:
6+


High Kick Girl (2009)

Japanese film about karate in the action genre, where the main character is a schoolgirl . A talented high school student learns an ancient martial art from a recognized master with an impeccable reputation. In pursuit of a black belt, a capable student crushes the strongest rivals. A team of “destroyers”, secret from her teacher, invites the girl to prove herself outside the sports ground – in a detachment of fighters who eliminate businessmen by order of the powers that be.

Original title:
Hai kikku gâru!

Genre:
Action

Actors:
Rina Takeda, Tatsuya Naka, Ryuki Takahashi …

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 4.9, IMDb – 4.7


Black Belt (2007)

The fates of two students of the same coach diverged in different directions. The first follows moral principles, and the second, who has become a military expert, drinks, gets mixed up with women, and participates in raider seizures. Old karate friends will meet again and come together in a brutal fight when one receives an order to kill a popular rock singer, and the second will defend the singer .

Original title:
Kuro-obi

Genre:
Action, drama, sports

Actors:
Akihito Yagi, Tatsuya Naka, Yuji Suzuki…

Country:
Japan

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 7.0


Wind Warrior (2004)

Top films about karate continues the real story of a Korean fighter who moved to Japan. The hero will have to get comfortable in a foreign inhospitable country and prove his skills. Perseverance, courage and integrity help a man win triumphant victories, but Choi Bae-dal is not going to stop until he takes over the best warrior of the Land of the Rising Sun.

Original title:
Baramui paiteo

Genre:
Biography, Action, Drama, History

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

Country:
South Korea

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.4, IMDb – 7.0

Age limit:
16+


Doubles strike (1992)

Barry – a boy with poor health and a timid character – is constantly bullied by his peers. In dreams, the guy, side by side with his idol, the star of Hollywood action movies, crushes the most notorious villains. An elderly Chinese man who lives next door teaches Barry the basics of karate. Soon the boy has the opportunity to perform at the tournament, where the same actor from popular films will be the invited guest.

Original title:
Sidekicks

Genre:
Action, drama, comedy, adventure

Actors:
Jonathan Brandis, Chuck Norris, Mako…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.5, IMDb – 5.1

Age restrictions:
12+


Karate Kid (1984)

The list of the best films about karate is impossible to imagine without this sports drama. It’s hard for a freshman at a Los Angeles high school to make friends. Communication with a pretty girl turns into huge problems for a high school student – it turns out that this is the former lover of the leader of a gang of karate hooligans. When Daniel is attacked on the street by the guys from this company, he is rescued by an elderly Japanese man. The rescued young man turns to the old martial arts teacher with a request to give mastery lessons.

Original title:
The Karate Kid

Genre:
Drama, sports, family

Actors:
Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue …

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.3, IMDb – 7.3

Age restrictions:
6+


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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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