For many of us, our first introduction to martial arts was through movies. And, even today as adults, we are inspired to hit the mats and spend countless hours repeating moves after viewing our favorite martial arts films again and again. At MP USA, we do not endorse spending hours in front of the screen watching movies, but the occasional viewing of a high-quality film can motivate you. With this in mind, here are our picks for the 7 best martial arts movies.
Swordsman II (1992)
Directed by Ching Siu-tung and with Jet Li in the lead role, this mesmerizing movie raised the genre from its selfish individualism hollows while giving a new meaning to “creative carnage.” With meticulously choreographed fight scenes, gravity-defying acrobatics, and imaginative special effects, it makes homage to classic Chinese epics. This film offers the ideal balance of spiritual substance and entertainment.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1977)
In the first Shaolin movie to showcase the temple’s secret training methods, Gordon Liu Chia-hui plays an anti-Ching dynasty rebel. Directed by his brother Liu Chia-liang, the film chronicles his transformation from an unskilled, simple-minded fighter to monk San Te, one of Shaolin’s greatest heroes in real life. When the movie came out, it won a whole slew of awards and changed the direction of all Shaolin films that followed it.
Come Drink With Me (1965)
Directed by King Hu, this classic stars Cheng Pei-pei, the top female name in kung fu cinema. She is Golden Swallow, a mysterious swordswoman who attempts to save an official kidnapped and held in a monastery. The star went on to become the most well-known kung fu actress in the history of martial arts films as the movie set new standards for the genre. Come Drink With Me was a big inspiration for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Martial Club (1980)
This is another Liu Chia-Liang film that stars Gordon Liu Chia-hui, who plays Huang Fei-hong. Liu is credited as the inventor of the kung fu comedy genre. The film also features popular villain Wang Lung-wei in a non-villain role for once. The final fight scene takes place between the two stars in a three-foot-wide alley. It provides a beautiful depiction of how effective martial arts can be in tight spaces.
The Blade (1993)
Starring the enigmatic Zhao Wen-zhuo, this One-Armed Swordsman retelling from Tsui Hark is a violent, engaging, revenge story. Zhao, who took Jet Li’s place in Once Upon a Time in China, a series directed by Tsui, battles Xiong Xin-xin. The action from Yuen Bing, the film’s fight director, is a breathtaking display of billowing smoke, clanging swords, unnerving sequences of brutal fighting, and swirling flames.
Legend of the Fox (1979)
Chang Cheh made eighteen other movies after The Five Venoms in which he used the same actors. Each had a turn being the hero, the fight choreographer, and the villain. Just about all eighteen of those movies could be on this list. But, due to its weapon sequences and ultra-intricate, far-out pugilistic scenes, we chose Legend of the Fox.
One-Armed Swordsman (1967)
Chang Cheh burst onto the scene with this film at a time when women ruled the silver screen in Hong Kong and romances and musicals overshadowed action movies. This revenge thriller reversed the Mandarin and Cantonese starlet-entrenched cinematic trends.
If any of these 7 best martial arts movies have inspired you to take martial arts classes, we hope you will consider MP USA. We are the only school in the Western Hemisphere to teach Merpati Putih, and we are located right in your backyard in Ogden, Utah. Contact us today to learn more about joining.