My Favorite Martial Arts Movies

by theNeoplatonist | created - 16 Jun 2014 | updated - 2 months ago | Public

The Martial Arts movies that appeal most vividly to the twisted sensibilities of theNeoplatonist.... In attempted alphabetical order, except that IMDb keeps changing the titles. In the words of the celebrated martial arts expert Tony Hancock, they need a punch up the bracket.

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1. Azumi (2003)

Not Rated | 128 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

49 Metascore

Raised to deal in cold blooded death, the teenage assassin girl Azumi must defeat three evil warlords while also battling her own heart.

Director: Ryûhei Kitamura | Stars: Aya Ueto, Kenji Kohashi, Hiroki Narimiya, Takatoshi Kaneko

Votes: 14,202

Heart-rending stuff. Almost an existentialist epic - but some gripping fight scenes.

2. Bodyguards and Assassins (2009)

Not Rated | 139 min | Action, Drama, History

In 1905, revolutionist Sun Yat-Sen visits Hong Kong to discuss plans with Tongmenghui members to overthrow the Qing dynasty. But when they find out that assassins have been sent to kill him, they assemble a group of protectors to prevent any attacks.

Director: Teddy Chan | Stars: Xueqi Wang, Tony Ka Fai Leung, Jun Hu, Edison Wang

Votes: 7,439

3. Chocolate (2008)

R | 110 min | Action, Drama

An autistic girl with powerful martial art skills looks to settle her ailing mother's debts by seeking out the ruthless gangs that owe her family money.

Director: Prachya Pinkaew | Stars: JeeJa Yanin, Hiroshi Abe, Pongpat Wachirabunjong, Taphon Phopwandee

Votes: 17,047 | Gross: $0.01M

The little girl effortlessly demolishing the tough men must be seen to be believed.

4. Enter the Dragon (1973)

R | 102 min | Action, Crime, Drama

83 Metascore

A martial artist agrees to spy on a reclusive crime lord using his invitation to a tournament there as cover.

Director: Robert Clouse | Stars: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, Ahna Capri

Votes: 94,199 | Gross: $25.00M

Bruce Lee's movies are, I suppose, beyond comment; but this is probably the best one, in theNeoplatonist's pathetic opinion.

5. Fearless (2006)

PG-13 | 104 min | Action, Biography, Drama

70 Metascore

A biography of Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia, who is the founder and spiritual guru of the Jin Wu Sports Federation.

Director: Ronny Yu | Stars: Jet Li, Li Sun, Yong Dong, Yun Qu

Votes: 71,948 | Gross: $24.63M

6. Five Elements Ninjas (1982)

R | 107 min | Action, Drama

When five ninjas whose fighting styles are based on natural elements unleash their fury on a rival school, a lone survivor vows deadly revenge.

Director: Cheh Chang | Stars: Tien-Chi Cheng, Tien Hsiang Lung, Meng Lo, Michael Wai-Man Chan

Votes: 2,281

"Five Element Ninjas" - or "Super Ninjas". A feast for martial eyes.

7. Fist of Fury (1972)

R | 107 min | Action, Drama, Romance

68 Metascore

A young man seeks vengence for the death of his teacher.

Director: Wei Lo | Stars: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, James Tien, Maria Yi

Votes: 25,486 | Gross: $1.29M

"Fist of Fury" or "The Chinese Connection" - same movie.

8. Fist of Legend (1994)

R | 103 min | Action, Drama

In 1937, a Chinese martial artist returns to Shanghai to find his teacher dead and his school harassed by the Japanese.

Director: Gordon Chan | Stars: Jet Li, Shinobu Nakayama, Siu-Ho Chin, Billy Chow

Votes: 21,953

Pretty much a remake of "Fist of Fury" (see above) but with interesting variations of character and motive.

9. Flash Point (2007)

R | 88 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

38 Metascore

A hot-headed inspector takes on a small but powerful Vietnamese-Chinese gang, after a series of crimes and murder attempts committed and putting an undercover cop and his girlfriend in great danger.

Director: Wilson Yip | Stars: Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Ray Lui, Collin Chou

Votes: 12,212 | Gross: $0.00M

10. Heroes of the East (1978)

R | 105 min | Action, Comedy

A Chinese man (Liu) marries a Japanese woman through an arranged marriage and manages to insult all of her Japanese martial arts family by issuing a challenge to her that is misinterpreted ... See full summary »

Director: Chia-Liang Liu | Stars: Chia-Hui Liu, Yuka Mizuno, Yasuaki Kurata, Naozo Kato

Votes: 1,952

Or "Shaolin Challenges Ninja". One of the best.

11. Legend of a Fighter (1982)

Unrated | 89 min | Action, History

The story of "Fok Yun Gap" also know as "Hou Yuan Chia" one of China's greatest marital artists.

Director: Woo-Ping Yuen | Stars: Yao Lin Chen, Yeh Fang, Fung Fung, Hark-On Fung

Votes: 517

The movie almost seems comical until you get to the final segment, when it suddenly morphs into heart-rending tragedy. By the way, I doubt that he was really a "marital artist" as the description says.....!

12. Ip Man (2008)

R | 106 min | Action, Biography, Drama

59 Metascore

During the Japanese invasion of China, a wealthy martial artist is forced to leave his home when his city is occupied. With little means of providing for themselves, Ip Man and the remaining members of the city must find a way to survive.

Director: Wilson Yip | Stars: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Siu-Wong Fan, Ka Tung Lam

Votes: 207,457

Donnie Yen's masterpiece. Unmissable.

13. Ip Man 2 (2010)

R | 108 min | Action, Biography, Drama

67 Metascore

Centering on Ip Man's migration to Hong Kong in 1949 as he attempts to propagate his discipline of Wing Chun martial arts.

Director: Wilson Yip | Stars: Donnie Yen, Xiaoming Huang, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Lynn Xiong

Votes: 95,098 | Gross: $0.21M

And a fine sequel to Donnie's masterpiece.

14. Ip Man 3 (2015)

PG-13 | 105 min | Action, Biography, Drama

57 Metascore

When a band of brutal gangsters led by a crooked property developer make a play to take over a local school, Master Ip is forced to take a stand.

Director: Wilson Yip | Stars: Donnie Yen, Lynn Xiong, Jin Zhang, Mike Tyson

Votes: 46,757 | Gross: $2.68M

A worthy third part of the trilogy.

15. SPL: Kill Zone (2005)

Not Rated | 93 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

A near retired inspector and his unit are willing to put down a crime boss at all costs while dealing with his replacement, who is getting in their way. Meanwhile, the crime boss sends his top henchmen to put an end to their dirty schemes.

Director: Wilson Yip | Stars: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Jing Wu

Votes: 11,183

Another great entry in the Donnie Yen canon, with one or two fights so real, they must have been - er - real.

16. Kiss of the Dragon (2001)

R | 98 min | Action, Crime, Drama

58 Metascore

A betrayed intelligence officer enlists the aid of a prostitute to prove his innocence from a deadly conspiracy while returning a favor to her.

Director: Chris Nahon | Stars: Jet Li, Bridget Fonda, Tchéky Karyo, Ric Young

Votes: 60,050 | Gross: $36.85M

17. Lady Snowblood (1973)

Not Rated | 97 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

80 Metascore

A strikingly beautiful young woman is raised from birth to be a deadly instrument of revenge against the swindlers who destroyed her family.

Director: Toshiya Fujita | Stars: Meiko Kaji, Toshio Kurosawa, Masaaki Daimon, Miyoko Akaza

Votes: 11,846

18. The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)

R | 102 min | Action, Comedy

74 Metascore

A young martial artist is caught between respecting his pacifist father's wishes or stopping a group of disrespectful foreigners from stealing precious artifacts.

Directors: Chia-Liang Liu, Jackie Chan | Stars: Jackie Chan, Ho-Sung Pak, Lung Ti, Anita Mui

Votes: 42,179 | Gross: $11.55M

19. Merantau (2009)

R | 134 min | Action, Drama

A young man from the countryside uses his skills in silat martial arts to survive the slave trade.

Director: Gareth Evans | Stars: Iko Uwais, Sisca Jessica, Christine Hakim, Mads Koudal

Votes: 9,963

Should be far more widely known and loved.

20. Once Upon a Time in China (1991)

R | 134 min | Action, Adventure, History

Late 1800s Foshan, Guangdong: Wong Fei Hung/Jet Li trains men in martial arts to help defend against foreign powers already holding Hong Kong and Macau. He looks after cute 13th Aunt, who's just returned from England. Lots of fight scenes.

Director: Hark Tsui | Stars: Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan, Biao Yuen, Jacky Cheung

Votes: 16,827

21. Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior (2003)

R | 105 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

69 Metascore

When the head of a statue sacred to a village is stolen, a young martial artist goes to the big city and finds himself taking on the underworld to retrieve it.

Director: Prachya Pinkaew | Stars: Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Pumwaree Yodkamol, Suchao Pongwilai

Votes: 70,106 | Gross: $4.56M

Difficult to see how these fights are not real!!

22. Ong Bak 2 (2008)

R | 98 min | Action

47 Metascore

A young Thai boxer learns the skills and inner meaning of martial arts.

Directors: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai | Stars: Tony Jaa, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Sorapong Chatree, Primorata Dejudom

Votes: 28,936 | Gross: $0.10M

23. Police Story (1985)

PG-13 | 100 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

78 Metascore

A virtuous Hong Kong Police Officer must clear his good name when the drug lord he is after frames him for the murder of a dirty cop.

Directors: Jackie Chan, Chi-Hwa Chen | Stars: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Yuen Chor

Votes: 28,233 | Gross: $0.11M

Watch it for the climactic fight in the shopping center. Stunning. The rest of the movie is so-so from a martial arts standpoint. But that ending....!

24. The Protector (2005)

R | 111 min | Action, Crime, Drama

52 Metascore

A young fighter named Kham must go to Australia to retrieve his stolen elephant. With the help of a Thai-born Australian detective, Kham must take on all comers, including a gang led by an evil woman and her two deadly bodyguards.

Director: Prachya Pinkaew | Stars: Tony Jaa, Nathan Jones, Xing Jin, Petchtai Wongkamlao

Votes: 34,704 | Gross: $11.91M

Either "Warrior King" or "The Protector".

25. The Raid: Redemption (2011)

R | 101 min | Action, Thriller

73 Metascore

A S.W.A.T. team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.

Director: Gareth Evans | Stars: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy, Donny Alamsyah

Votes: 186,707 | Gross: $4.11M

Bloody (literally) good stuff, especially the climactic clash between the villain and the two heroes. Possibly the best fight ever.

26. The Raid 2 (2014)

R | 150 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

71 Metascore

Only a short time after the first raid, Rama goes undercover with the thugs of Jakarta and plans to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force.

Director: Gareth Evans | Stars: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara

Votes: 111,729 | Gross: $2.63M

Good sequel, demanding a third installment.

27. Supercop (1992)

R | 91 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

A Hong Kong detective teams up with his female Red Chinese counterpart to stop a Chinese drug czar.

Director: Stanley Tong | Stars: Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung, Kenneth Tsang

Votes: 18,907 | Gross: $16.27M

28. The Villainess (2017)

Not Rated | 124 min | Action, Thriller

64 Metascore

A female assassin leaves a trail of bodies behind her as she seeks revenge.

Director: Byung-gil Jung | Stars: Ok-bin Kim, Ha-kyun Shin, Jun Sung, Seo-hyeong Kim

Votes: 11,437 | Gross: $0.03M

29. The Way of the Dragon (1972)

R | 90 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

58 Metascore

A man visits his relatives at their restaurant in Italy and has to help them defend against brutal gangsters harassing them.

Director: Bruce Lee | Stars: Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Nora Miao, Ping-Ou Wei

Votes: 31,092



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