Top Ten Martial Arts Movies

Top 10 martial arts movies
Here we look at the Top Ten Martial Arts Movies of all time. Some may say this list is great, some may say it has missed some greats. Well thats what your comments are for. Let us know what you think of this list.

Anyone who enjoys a good martial arts movie probably has their own list of favorites. This type of film runs the gamut from cult films with small but dedicated audiences to box office mega hits. But only someone who has actually practiced one of the many types of martial arts can truly appreciate the strength and skill required to make these films look natural and believable.

This list is based upon the martial arts movie voting algorithm as voted on by the martial artys community of

Top Martial Arts Movies of all time list


10. Chocolate (2008) JeeJa Yanin

Probably the best martial arts movie to come out of Thailand, although influenced heavily by the Hong Kong martial arts movie scene. This modern classic is well worth a watch. It's about an autistic girl with incredible combat skills who sets out on a mission to ensure that her mother's debts with local gangs are paid back.


9. 13 Assasins (2010) Koji Yakusho

One of Japan's best and probably the most profitable, making almost $1 billion, but only costing $6 million. The directing, acting, storyline and cinematography is second to none. The story revolves around a group of men who join forces to defeat an evil tyrant. In my opinion, this movie should be in the top 5.


8. The Big Boss (1971) Bruce Lee

As you can expect, Bruce Lee features twice in this list. This is a story of a young man who gives a promise that he will never get in any fight. However when he takes up work at an ice factory with some underhand dealings going off, he finds it harder and harder to keep his promise,  especially when it's a question of life or death!


7. Fist of Fury (1972) Bruce Lee

Don't expect the kind hearted, 'always do things by the book' style Bruce Lee in this movie. Here he means business and with that comes revenge, for the eath of his beloved teacher. Make sure that you watch the uncut & undubbed version - it's so much better.


6. Fearless (2005) Donnie Yen

Based on the lift of Master Huo Yuanjia, the founder of the Jin Wu Sports Federation, the most famous martial artist in China at the turn of the 20th Century. This movie is set in the late 1800s / early 1900s where Master Huo decided that he incredible skills are best put to use by educating others rather than taking brutal advantage of others.


5. Wu Lang ba gua gun (1984) Lau Kar Fei / Gordon Liu

Another great movie of the 80's whereby a man seeks to learn martial arts from Shaolin monks, however they refuse to teach him until he changes his mentality. This movie is that good it will even convert non-martial artists - it's not just about it's excellently choreographed fight scenes, but also an intriguing plot.


4. Fist of Legend (1984) Jet Li

This movie was basically a remake of the original Bruce Lee movie called “Fist Of Fury”. Doing a remake of one of Lee's most popular movies is a big risk, but it helps when you have a talent like Jet Li. The dubbing was pretty bad but the fight scenes more than made up for it.


3. Drunken Master (1978) Jackie Chan

Drunken Master is a classic of it's time. A story of a young man who has record of behavioural problems thinks his Kung Fu skills are unmatchable by anyone else. However he soon gets into some serious trouble and is sent to learn a unique style of Drunken Kung Fu.


2. Ip Man (1984) Donnie Yen

This movie was basically a remake of the original Bruce Lee movie called “Fist Of Fury”. Doing a remake of one of Lee's most popular movies is a big risk, but it helps when you have a talent like Jet Li. The dubbing was pretty bad but the fight scenes more than made up for it. 


1. The Seven Samurai  (1954)

Probably the single best cult classic Kung Fu movies of all time. The plot line involves seven samurai who are hired by a village to teach them to protect themselves from bandits. The acting is superb and will keep you hooked from beginning to end. None of the martial artists in “The Seven Samurai” has famous names that you would recognize both because of the age of the movie and its relative obscurity. The movie is in black and white, subtitled and may be a little hard to track down but it's well worth the search.

See the full list

Checkout the full ranking of martial arts movies as voted for by our members.

Article category: 
Do you like this article?


Rich's picture

Really good list and well presented, I would have had Ong Bak in there though, to me thats a great martial arts movie.
Varekai22's picture

oh yes! Tony Jaa is crazy good in that movie!
Tony's picture

No room for Return of the Dragon? I preferred this over Enter the Dragon, still some great movies here.
BarryBJJ's picture

Return of the Dragon was more of a comedy than a martial arts movie Tony
wing chun's picture

ashley's picture

Good point Wayne, I think this article needs updating with some more movies, possibly changing it to the top 15 or 20.
wing chun's picture

What about 70's - 80's - 90's & 2000 TOP 5 FILM'S FROM EACH YEAR. BEST FIGHT SCENE
Medway Tai Chi Society's picture

I would have to add: Seven Swords Hero House of Flying Daggers Ip Man The Banquet Warlords Death Duel of Mantis Descendants of Wing Chun 7 Star Grand Mantis Damn... this could end up being a very long list!
444four444's picture

Great List I definitely check some of them out. I would have to agree with Rich that Ong Bak is a great movie! Should definitely be on the list. :)
Chaleira's picture

Good list indeed. Enter the Dragon number one all the way. My list would have also included Iron Monkey, Once Upon a Time in China, and Azumi!
clouddragon's picture

Out For Justice-Steven Seagal. Yes as you say you either love him or hate him. This film has some great action and his timing distance and angle is superb in these early films. Above The Law is good but I like this one more. I like all his films though even the bad ones lol....
clouddragon's picture

Pushing hands by Ang lee, this is my favourite martial arts film. Very funny and very entertaining. I used to think Drunken Tai Chi with Donnie Yen could never be beaten in my estimation, but this is such a good film, it was Ang Lees first film and is a beautiful story about an old Tai chi Master moving to America to live with his son and daughter in law.
Mikeitup's picture

I would have to disagree with most of that list apart from Fist Of Legend (which came out in 1994!) here's mine: Fist of Fury King Boxer (5 Fingers of Death) Drunken Master Prodigal Son 5 Deadly Venoms 36 Chamber Of Shaolin Warriors Two The Victim Drunken Master 2
MMAwarrior's picture

my top ten list of the best martial arts movies is (#1 best of the best )(#2 enter the dragon )(#3 bloodsport) (#4 fist of fury) (#5 fist of legend )(#6 the octagon)( #7 fighting black kings)( #8 supercop)( #9 wrecking crew )(#10 return of the dragon)
Varekai22's picture

has anyone mentioned Pray for Death?? that was fun to watch. :)
MMAwarrior's picture

its so hard to just pick 10 thier are so many great ones: The Perfect Weapon, The Streetfighter (SONY CHIBA), The Protector ( Tony Jaa), Kicboxer, Force of One ,Wing Chun (Mechelle Yoeh), Come Drink With Me ,Karate Warriors, On Deadly Ground , Snake In The Egale Shadow
crichton_kicks's picture

No offence to the writer of the article but the only one that would probably get into my top 10 from your list would be Jet Li's Fist of Legend. Chuck Norris, Van Damme and Steven Seagal wouldn't even get a whiff of a top 50 placing. Okay Chuck might, depending where I rated Way of the Dragon. By the way I can't believe no one picked up the writer of the article that Chuck Norris was in Way of the Dragon NOT in Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon in the post under the heading Walker, Texas Ranger! Some contenders for my top 10 would have to be… The Prodigal son knockabout Rumble in the Bronx Police Story 3 supercop Ong Bak Broken Path Who Am I? Dragons forever Legend of a Fighter Contour (stunt people) The legend of Fong Sai Yuk 1 & 2 Kiss of the Dragon Hero Ninja in the Dragon's Den Iron Monkey I'm probably missing some fantastic movies too but that's off the top of my head.
Tim-Bo's picture

ong bok, did all of his own stunts
Tim-Bo's picture

Looney tunes meets Kung Fu, KUNG FU HUSTLE
wheeliepaul's picture

There are a so many good films now :) I think it often relates to what we can relate to or can learn from by example. Below is a link to an old film called "The Silent Flute". Good actors in it, and some interesting fight scenes and philosophy. Shame language is in Italian with no sub titles.
abhi's picture

on the most dangerous art form meant only for killing and espionage...a must watch
neo_001's picture

I could never miss IP man and fearless in my top martial arts movie.
Ogriv83's picture

Why does no one ever mention this film. Ok the story isn't that impressive the the fights and cheography is superb. Also any film with donnie Yen, Nicholas Tse and Shawn Yue all turning out great performances is a must watch in my book.
cris donovan's picture

those that have made negative comments are forgetting that as a medium film is like everything else, enjoyment and preferance are opinion, and opinion is subjective and personal. I don't particularly like martial arts movies (i like the ma in them) because more often than not (in my opinion) the movie is a vehicle to show case ma skills and or action; everything else is secondary and it shows in the plot/dialogue/acting/production values etc. Not always, but often enough to generally have me skip over the genre when selecting a film to watch. in regard to the Karate Kid inclusion in the list; the points mentioned are enough to validate its inclussion, but i'd like to add another: It taught the high values and positive moral and personal growth elements to Karate too, not just a, "here's the skills you need Daniel to beat those bullies!" And for that reason alone i like its inclussion.