Which are the top ten kung fu movies? There are a lot of great martial arts movies to choose from older classics to newer kung fu and karate movies.
1. Enter the Dragon. This classic Bruce Lee karate movie was filmed in 1973 and by many is consider one of his best. This movie stars Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly, and Bob Wall. You will also a well known martial artist and body builder, Bolo, who has been in a number of kung fu and karate movies. In this film you will see Bruce Lee showing why he is a great martial artist, by use of his quick strikes, use of a variety of weapons, and adaptability in his kung fu techniques. Great movie! Enter the Dragon is a great showcase of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do style of martial arts. Four chili pepper rating.
2. Legend of Drunken Master. What’s not to like about this movie. You will see Jackie Chan as a young karate student who learns a drunken style from his drunken master. Drunken Kung Fu is a unique form of the Shaolin karate style. Whether this is an actual kung fu style, or was created for film is in question. In this martial arts movie, you will see the drunken master’s students fighting an evil Wushu gang, along with their master. The final fight scene is a hoot! Jackie Chan is magnificent in how he performs his drunken kung fu movements. The Drunken Master film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and employs a good measure of comedy throughout the film. The martial arts fighting in this movie is very well done. This martial arts movie provides good entertainment value. Rated Four chili peppers.
3. Jet Li – Fearless. This 2006 marital arts movie is at the top of the list for a more serious drama oriented, historical, Wushu movie. Jet Li plays Chinese Martial Arts Master Huo Yuanjia. Master Huo began studying martial arts by watching his father instructing other students. Huo goes from being less than competent as a kid; to developing his Kung fun skills, and defeating all of his rivals. This goes to his head, and he gets cocky. From Huo’s irresponsible fighting actions, he suffers tragedy. This tragedy leads to reflection and a change of attitude. Enter the European influence in China in the early 1900’s. Master Huo becomes the Chinese Boxing Champion, who defeats foreigners, to create pride among the Chinese people. This is a great movie, with exceptional martial arts action and fighting. You will also like the character, hate the character, then love the character. There is little humor in this film, but a great deal of drama, like a Greek tragedy. I have watched this film four times already, and never get tired of it. Rated: 5 chili peppers.
4. Big Trouble in Little China. This kung fu comedy drama stars Kurt Russell and came out in 1986. While this film may not be on everyone’s top ten kung fu list, it does stand out in the quality of the film, and the use of many Hollywood movie techniques. The story line is good with Kurt Russell somehow getting involved with kung fu warriors, a kidnapping, kung fu sorcery, and epic action packed scenes. The climax is when Kurt Russell must defeat Lo Pan, the mysterious kung fu master who is 2000 years old. There are no slow moments in this film. There is plenty of action, and many twists and turns. This martial arts movie provides good entertainment value, and is fun to watch. Rated: four chili peppers.
5. Karate Kid. This karate movie is the first of a series that came out in 1984, followed by two more Karate Kid movies with Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, and Elisabeth Shue. A new Karate Kid movie premiered in 2010, starring Jackie Chan, and Jaden Smith. This is a story of a smart-ass kid who learns about life and karate from an unassuming and controversial Okinawan karate master. Who today, has never heard, “Wax on, wax off”. This is a story of a kid who wants everything instantly, but learns you have to work for anything of value. On the other part of the plot, you have an unscrupulous karate instructor at the local karate school, who teaches, win at any cost. This is where the two different karate worlds collide. Daniel is in the middle trying to learn Master Miyagi’s subtle teachings, versus the Americanized competitive form of karate. The film’s importance is showing that there are different levels of martial arts. Martial arts are as much mental, as physical. Learning martial arts involves much more than competing in tournaments. Rated 3 chili peppers.
6. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was produced in 2000 to very good reviews. In fact, it won 4 Academy Awards, and received very high review ratings. This classic kung fu movie starred, YunFat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, and Ziyi Zhang. This in many ways is a classic kung fu movie with a Greek tragedy storyline. This film is huge in its range of scope, scenery, and story line. This film includes a search for a magical jade sword, and missing treasure. You also have a love story, and an assassin to deal with. The scenery in Western China’s mountains, gives this film an extraordinary visual palette to enjoy. Some of the scenes of flying though the air were a bit strange, but, hey, it is a movie. This is a good movie with an abundance of expression. This is a classic kung fu epic. Rated five chili peppers.
7. Kill Bill. The first Kill Bill Movie came out in 2003. The second Kill Bill movie came out six months later, and completed the story line. This film was produced by Quentin Taratino, who is known for bloody and graphic films. This film stars Uma Thurman, along with David Carradine (Kung Fu TV Series), Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Vivica A. Fox, and Daryl Hannah. This is basically a revenge movie with Uma Thurman finding the other members of her assassin group and killing them for their betrayal. There are some scenes when Daryl Hannan, and Uma Thurman are studying under a Shaolin Master, which gives you a better underlaying of their training. The kung fu/karate movie has all the elements of a good film, with plenty of action, suspense, great characters, and uncertainty of where this film will lead. Great movie! Rated five chili peppers.
8. Billy Jack. Billy Jack is a relatively obscure American karate movie. This film stars Tom Laughlin, and came out in 1971. The character, Billy Jack, is part Indian, and lives out west on a reservation. Billy Jack has returned from the horrors of Viet Nam, and just wants to be left alone. The bad guys in the movie want to kill the wild horses and turn the horse meat into dog food. Billy Jack has a desert retreat to protect the wild horses. The bad guys pick on Billy Jack, since he is an Indian. Little do the bad guys know Billy Jack is a former Green Beret and Hapkido karate expert from Viet Nam. So we have classic story of good vs. bad, and the good guy trying to do the right thing. When it is time to fight, Billy Jack pulls no punches. While this movie did not win any awards, it told a good story in an American setting. This was not a fake David Carridine, doing kung fu. This was an American expressing himself with the skills he had learned to protect his family and friends. This movie is worth seeing if you come across it. Rated three chili peppers.
9. Kung Fu Hustle. The Kung Fu Hustle is a great film, with exceptional entertainment value. This movie, by far, is the greatest kung fu comedy to date. The story line is great with characters, bigger than life. The kung fu is fantastic and fun. The characters have a like-ability and stand out on their own. This film came out in 2004, and was produced by Stephan Chow. The movie stars Stephan Chow, Yah Yuen, and Oiu Yuen. This is a fun movie, and is definitive of great movie entertainment. Keep an eye out for the lady with the hair curlers, and a cigarette in her mouth. She has mastered special kung fu talents. Rated five chili peppers.
10. Shaolin Soccer. This is another Stephen Chow kung fu comedy, which predates Kung Fu Hustle. This film premiered in 2001. There are a lot of good karate scenes and special effects that keeps this film engaging. One particular scene has a young lady kung fu master working as a street vendor, making bread. It is so cool when you see her hand motions and how she spins the bread dough. There is something captivating about this scene, which gives you a better appreciation of the Chinese art of kung fu. The final scene where the hero uses kung fu to defeat the opposing soccer team is great. This film has high entertainment value, though the quality of the film is not quite up to Hollywood standards. Rated three chili peppers.
Leave me a comment about what you think are the TOP TEN KUNG FU MOVIES.
As a movie and martial arts enthusiast, I enjoy a good move, especially a good karate or kung fu movie. I decided to come up with a list of the best and influential martial arts movies of the past forty years. These ten films really standout. Let me know which kung fu movies you would add to the top ten. Cheers, Bob