Best Martial Artistry Films

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15 Best Martial Arts Movies Of This Century

One of the finest examples of the Hong Kong martial arts movies of the ’70s, Master of the Flying Guillotine piles on the action, cheese, and absurdity to a degree you can’t help but love. With the one-armed boxer, blind flying guillotine master, and a yoga master whose arms can extend 10-feet long, there’s no shortage of crazy characters to keep you entertained. A great mix of action and comedy, The Prodigal Son features a hearty serving of close-quarters Wing Chun fighting while telling the story of Leung Chang, the son of a wealthy man who is half-heartedly studying kung fu.

The history, humor, oddball characters, and in older films, the cheese; the so-bad-it’s-good dubbed dialogue; it all adds up to a niche genre that can sometimes make for a perfect piece of Saturday afternoon entertainment. This movie started the “fant-Asia” film craze, a mixture of horror, fantasy and science fiction with over-the-top martial arts action. It also initiated the now-prominent “wire-fu” action as created by Hong Kong’s Ching Siu-tung.

Try to complete 3-4 minutes, working twenty seconds, and resting for 10 seconds. After the son foils an attempt to steal a priceless Thai artifact, the family becomes national heroes and the target of revenge by the criminal gang whose robbery they stopped. Three young martial arts masters emerge from the back streets of Hong Kong to help the powerless fight injustice.

The villain, Shih Kien, is as dastardly an evildoer as you could imagine, trafficking in opium and slaves. Our hero must not only investigate the man’s crimes, but win a massive martial arts contest being held on his palatial island estate. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it, Lee is going to have to face off against the massive baddie who killed his sister. Scroll on to see our selection of the best kung fu movies by year.

There’s kung fu, lots of guns, and a whole lot of Keanu wearing black. This list wouldn’t be complete without the movie many consider the greatest martial arts/samurai film of all time. It’s a movie that spawned so many remakes and offshoots, that you just know without watching it that it will be good.

This Shaw Bros. classic throws the kitchen sink at you, with a ragtag team of blind, deaf, legless, and brain-damaged warriors seeking vengeance against the tyrant who crippled them. The crazy set pieces, creative fights, and dart-shooting arms make this one of our favorites. With star Jet Li and director Gordon Chan putting their spins on the Bruce Lee classic, Fist of Fury, this remake manages to up the intensity quite nicely.

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