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Best Martial Arts Movies of All Time

Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Check out these best martial arts movies of all time if you haven't yet; and feel your sinews twitch in tandem with all those lethally spellbinding action scenes!
A good martial artist does not become tensed but ready, not thinking yet not dreaming, ready for whatever may come. ~ Bruce Lee
Thus spake the ultimate authority on martial arts! Martial arts are more than arts of warfare―they are a way of life. Martial arts go way beyond the physical plane and base their philosophies and techniques on spiritual and metaphysical soil.
In popular parlance, martial arts simply includes Asian, especially Oriental martial arts types that originated in China, Japan, Thailand, and Korea. A list of all martial arts would include more than 800 martial art styles prevalent all around the world, their origins spreading over 60 countries worldwide.
The chunk of the martial art styles, however, belong to the far eastern countries of China, Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Mongolia, and Thailand. It is difficult to pinpoint one single style as the deadliest style of martial arts as each style has its own bunch of lethal moves.
All of you out there who have a thing for martial arts and consider yourselves connoisseurs of martial arts movies must be familiar with the popular martial arts techniques and terminologies. Be it the Preying Mantis or the Crane stance, the Shaolin Tiger or the Snake or, for that matter, even the Drunken Monkey, you've seen it all on the big screen. Here are some of the best martial arts movies of all time. Check out the ones you've missed.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

This one is a mesmerizing trip into the world of martial arts and treats your senses with a healthy dose of delectable kung fu fight scenes. The story follows the journey of a young Kung Fu student towards excellence in the art of combat and his contribution to the life of the people of his native village through teaching them Kung Fu, despite his frequent trysts with the evil warlord and his henchmen!

The Legend of the Drunken Master

Among the greatest martial arts movies of all time, this one boasts of a balance between plot, comedy, drama, and action. Considered by many to be Jackie Chan's best martial arts performance, this movie is a visual treat for just about anyone, irrespective of his/her cinematic inclinations, because of its splendid kung fu techniques spiked with Jackie Chan's individual improvisations that give a distinct personality to every stunt he performs.

Way of the Dragon

The last fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris more than makes up for this one's cinematographic rawness. Anyone who's watched this movie would never forget the warm-up scene before the fight, where Bruce Lee's agility and reflexes are metaphorically equated with that of a cat!

Ong Bak

This is perhaps the first movie to have made the regular action movie buff wake up to the charms of Muay Thai! Raw action is the signature of Ong Bak and Tony Jaa does a splendid job holding the audience mesmerized by his dexterous martial arts moves.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

With an academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film to its credit, this masterpiece of a martial arts movie does complete justice to the honor bestowed upon it. Made in the wuxia martial arts style, this movie tells a beautiful story interwoven with other worldly martial arts action sequences. A must watch for those who haven't watched it yet.


The regal grandeur of this movie's background, the ethereal plot line, and the enchantingly graceful and technically perfect martial arts scenes take the viewers on a different plane altogether.
Watching the fight scenes of this movie is like watching an opera of dexterously choreographed and lethally elegant combat moves with not a trace of crude violence in it. One of the most expensive and highest grossing movie in the Chinese cinema history, Hero is a martial arts experience of epic proportions.

Iron Monkey (1977)

Chen Kuan Tai directed this movie and played the protagonist of this kung fu extravaganza. Reckoned among some of the best kung fu movies ever, this movie brings us the deadly art of monkey kung fu in all its deadly glory!

Fists of Fury

Bruce Lee in all his glory.

The Game of Death

This movie remained unfinished due to Bruce Lee's untimely demise. This is the movie in which this grand master intended to introduce his very own improvisation―Jeet Kune Do―to the audience. Wish he had not left us yet.

Enter The Dragon

This one serves as the icing on the cake! This is, by far, considered as Bruce Lee's finest movie, showcasing the full splendor of his martial arts' dexterity and impeccable combat techniques. This is the ultimate tribute to the great guy himself besides the best treat for any martial arts movie fan.
Bruce Lee's presence almost overshadowed the characters of John Saxon and Jim Kelly who did splendid jobs with their fight sequences. This movie remains unrivaled among the finest martial arts movies of all time!

Other Best Martial Arts Movies

Besides the above list, there are some more martial arts movies which deserve a respectful mention among best ever martial arts and classic kung fu movies of all time. Without these movies, the list would never seem complete.
  • Magnificent Butcher
  • Once Upon a Time in China
  • Bulletproof Monk
  • Return of the Dragon
  • Police Story
  • Rush Hour
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1
  • Fist of Legend
  • Romeo Must Die
  • The Forbidden Kingdom
  • Shanghai Noon
  • Five Deadly Venoms
  • The Karate Kid
  • Drunken Monkey
  • Shaolin Temple
  • The Bride with White Hair
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Street Fighter
  • The Prodigal Son
  • Fearless
  • Seven Samurai
  • Fist of the White Lotus
  • Dragons Forever
  • Mad Monkey Kung Fu
  • Drunken Tai Chi
  • Invincible Pole Fighter
  • Unchained
  • Seven Swords
  • Ip Man
  • Tai Chi Master
  • Bloodsport
  • Mortal Kombat
These are some of the most revered martial arts movies among others and the list doesn't end here. The likes of Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Bob Wall blazed the trail for such gems of martial artist actors as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Jean Claude Van Damme, Robin Shou, Chow Yun Fat, and Jason Scott Lee. We would always be infinitely indebted to these mind-blowing individuals for giving us some of the best martial arts movies of all time.
We can never express enough gratitude to these legends who gave cinema such a dynamic genre and opened the world of martial arts to the mainstream international audience. Each of these movies leave you speechless and with a lingering awe at the beauty, lethal efficacy, and spiritual connotations of these arts.