You’ve probably read hundreds of these, or at least discussed the topic with mates, but those lists have probably included a film starring Steven Segal, therefore become void (although don’t get us wrong the first Under Siege had its moment, maybe two)! So check out our 10 best martial arts movies of all time and let us know what you think!
1. ENTER THE DRAGON
This has to be at the top of the list. With a great plot that saw Bruce Lee accept an invitation to compete in a martial arts competition organised by the sinister Mr Han, and an all-star cast, we wouldn’t be true fans if it wasn’t numero uno. Released on July 26th 1973, this was actually Lee’s final film appearance before sadly passing on July 20th 1973 at only 32 years of age.
2. POLICE STORY
Possibly some of the best choreographed fight scenes but definitely the best stunts you will ever see. This list could have easily featured ten Jackie Chan films, but Police Story is by far the best. An elite police officer (Chan) is framed for murder and spends the remainder of the film trying to clear his name incorporating some of the best on screen action in film history.
3. ARMOUR OF GOD
Another absolute corker starring Jackie Chan. Arguably more famous for the outtakes (Chan, who if you didn’t know does all his own stunts, falls from a tree hitting his head off a rock resulting in a hole to the head). This film is crazy, and if you haven’t seen it, prepare yourself for the end fight scene, which sees Chan take on three leather clad, stiletto wearing vixens, before diving onto a passing hot air balloon. Like we said, this film is bonkers but so good.
4. KICK BOXER
A cult classic! Who can forget the moment Tong Po strikes Jean-Claude Van Damme’s brother with a paralysing blow to the spine! The ultimate revenge story ending with JCVD Vs Tong Po. Released only a year after Bloodsport in the height of Van Damme’s fame.
5. BEST OF THE BEST
Not many people know but this franchise actually extended into a total of four films, but it was the original starring Julia Roberts big bro Eric, as talented martial artist Alexander Grady, chosen to represent the USA in an international martial arts tournament, that captured the imagination of a young Smuggling Duds team!
6. ONG BACK
Our young fans might only know Tony Jaa from the last Fast & the Furious instalment but it was Ong Bak that catapulted him to fame with some of the best fight sequences of the 2000’s. When a sacred Buddha statuette is stolen from a small peaceful village, it’s up to Jaa to retrieve – which he does via an abundance of elbows and flying knees.
Another cult classic courtesy of ‘The Muscles from Brussels’. Bloodsport is loosely based on real life martial artist Franx Dux claims he participated in an illegal combat tournament called ‘Kumite’. These claims have never actually been proven but regardless, we got a film that played a big part of our childhood!
8. THE RAID
Written and directed by Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans, The Raid was a breath of fresh when on its release in 2011. Doing what it says on the tin. Iko Uwais plays officer Rama, who along with about 20 other policemen, storm a high rise apartment block in the slums of Jakarta. What ensues can only be described as absolute carnage. The epitome of non-stop action.
9. MORTAL KOMBAT
Growing up you either loved Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, or in our case – both. 1994 saw the much anticipated film version of Streetfighter released. It was terrible. Just a year later Sub Zero and co also got the big screen treatment, it was class. Backed up with a techno infused soundtrack the fight scenes and characters didn’t let us down and we all went home and played the game another 500 times.
10. THE KARATE KID
You might frown upon this but there is absolutely no denying this film deserves a place in our list (to clarify we aren’t talking about the horrendous remake starring Will Smith’s kid).You may or may not know that The Karate Kid was directed by master of the underdog, John G. Avildsen, the man Stallone teamed up with for Rocky. This can be seen in Ralph Macchio’s portrayal of bullied senior high school student, Daniel LaRusso who finds guidance under Kung Fu master Mr Miyagi in order to take on the notorious Cobra Kai karate team. A classic 80’s soundtrack topped off with the memorable ‘Crane Kick’ makes this a true classic. Interesting fact: Macchio was actually in his early 20’s when this film was made!