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Five Amazing Kung Fu Movies (Post 2000) That Don't Have Bruce, Jackie or Jet

Updated on February 17, 2023
Ken I Cruz profile image

Kung Fu movies are my jam. If you can't get enough of Kung Fu movies, definitely check out these 5 movies.


I have been a huge fan of kung-fu movies ever since I was a little kid. It is my favorite genre. When I say kung-fu movies, I am encompassing all martial arts from different parts of the world, not just Shaolin and Wu Tang, a.k.a. Shaw Brothers, movies from China (though they are great to watch and must be seen if you truly are a fan of kung-fu). The next five movies don't have the typical kung-fu appeal. No cheesy sound effects, no tiger style, no fu manchu facial hair, and no terrible dub voice overs. These five movies are pure martial arts at its best.

BKO: Bangkok Knockout (2010)


A group of martial artists who are competing to be selected as stuntmen for a movie are coerced to participate in a gauntlet that will test their skills, stamina, and loyalty.

Trailer (with English Subtitles)

Samples of Some Fight Scenes

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As the plot goes, it's not very original. In fact, it can be considered a remake of a 1980s Thai Movie called Born to Fight. The concept of this film will always be rehashed and copied. There is an all English speaking movie that was released in 2014 called Die Fighting that is an exact replica of this Thai gem. The storyline has been done numerous times in the past. Movies like The Game of Death, Gymkata, and most recently, The Man of Tai Chi have similar storylines where the heroes are pulled away from there daily lives to fight for their survival in a gauntlet for the amusement of others.

Don't let the cliches fool you. Strictly watching this Thai movie as martial arts talent and fight scenes, it has to be one of the best I have even seen. I was reluctant in watching it because of the bad reviews but I gave this movie a chance and I am glad I did. The fight scene in the cage alone rewarded the viewer with some don't-even-blink-or-you-will-miss-something-amazing moments. I was in awe of this scene. The movie has plenty of fight scenes but I was so impress in the cage fight choreography that I didn't care how outlandish the story was or how awful the acting was performed.

If you want to watch a movie with superb choreography and amazing stunts then BKO is for you. If you are looking for something along the lines of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, then keep on looking, you won't find that here.

Merantau (2009)


Merantau is an Indonesian rite of passage. Yuda, who must meet this rite, leaves his farmland home to pass this journey to adulthood for Jakarta. In the big city, he is introduced to the ugliness and violence that the city only has to offer. He ends up in the mix of protecting a woman and her younger brother from a gang of traffickers.

Trailer (with English Subtitles)

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What can I say about this movie that hasn't been said already? It is purely amazing. I have never heard of the Indonesian fighting style, Silat, but it is bone-crushingly brutal. I was always amazed at how brutal Muay Thai is but the Indonesians stepped it up. Most kung-fu movies from China look like a dance, almost ballet like. If Chinese kung fu is an elegant waltz, then Indonesian Silat is a head banging mosh pit.

The main star, Iko Uwais, is the perfect candidate to take the baton from Bruce Lee to take Martial Arts movies to the next level. Jackie Chan had his run and it was mostly comedic. Jet Li had his share but getting up there in age too. I was ready to believe Tony Jaa from Thailand could make a running for international stardom in Martial Arts movies but it seems he is running out of steam.

This is one bad dude (at least in the movies).
This is one bad dude (at least in the movies). | Source

Fight Scene in Merantau

Iko Uwais will be the next world star in martial arts films. His acting is very solid, humbling and believable. The crew that he works with are equally as talented as he is. The director of Merantau, Gareth Evans, knows how to pack every scene with action, fury and intensity. Like many actor and director duos such as Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio or Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Evans and Uwais have made a perfect partnership in style, substance, and action and I hope they can continue to do many more.

The Raid: Redemption (2012)


In Indonesia, a member of a special task unit, becomes trapped in an apartment complex that is run by a drug kingpin. He is the lone survivor and must take down the kingpin one level at a time.

Trailer (No Subtitles)


Okay, I had to sneak another Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais movie in here. I wanted to make a list of movies with no repetitive mentions of action stars but I had to include this one.

If Merantau set the tone for the creative duo's style and work, The Raid: Redemption turned up the bass and cranked the volume up to the max. The fight scenes are even more brutal. The tension and intensity are so flinching that you will cringe at every shot fired and neck snapped.

This movie garnered international acclaim because of the camera work, stunt coordination, and fighting choreography. It has to be seen to believe. This is a guy's movie. In this movie, there is only one woman in the entire film and she has no speaking lines and plays the pregnant wife of our lone protagonist. He fights for survival so he can come back home to her. Everyone else in the film are badass fighters especially the hero.

No lie, everybody in the movie is a badass.
No lie, everybody in the movie is a badass. | Source

Fight Scene in The Raid: Redemption

Watching this movie will instantly make you manly. Watching this movie is equivalent to taking a shot of tequila, a shot of vodka, and a shot of whiskey all at once with no chaser. It'll grow hair on your chest, and yes that includes you women who are reading this so get your razors ready if you don't want that to happen.

Twenty years from now, Iko Uwais will make an appearance in The Expendables 10 and play the role as the token Asian guy (I know he's an Islander but Hollywood never gave a crap about authencity) because he will be the guy that pops in everyone's mind on who is the best Martial Arts action star in the East.

(The Raid: Redemption has quickly influence Hollywood. People have argued that the plot to the latest Judge Dredd film, Dredd (2012), starring Karl Urban copied the Indonesian kung fu movie.)

Chocolate (2008)


A revenge movie that consist of an autistic girl with supreme fighting skills seeks and fights off a large gang of despicable thugs who threaten the life of the girl's mother over a debt owed.

Trailer (No Subtitles)

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Chocolate is an excellent kung fu movie. The story is improbable but what kung fu movie isn't? The protagonist, played JeeJa Yanin, is an autistic girl who easily trains and learn a mixture of martial arts that she absorb from watching kung fu movies and martial arts practitioners.

JeeJa is an incredible fighter in this film. Though a little suspension of disbelief is needed to enjoy the film, it doesn't take away from the story and fight scenes. Jeeja can definitely hold her own as a fighter and anchor the movie as a star.

One woman wrecking crew
One woman wrecking crew | Source

Fight Scene in Chocolate

The movie brags that its from the makers and director of Ong-Bak, the movie that launch Tony Jaa to international stardom, and the quality shows. The production, choreography, and editing of the film are extremely well done. In essence, it has elements of Jackie Chan's early career box office smashes but starring a woman that is a bad ass. Jeeja and company do their own stunts with no wires or stunt doubles and disregard for own safety with a sprinkle of comic relief.

As far as female kung fu action hero goes, Jeeja has to be high on anybody's list. Michele Yeoh, one of the best martial arts movie star, let alone a female one, would be proud that there are still highly talented women that can create breathtaking martial arts movies.

IP Man (2008)


This is a historical account of the man who would end up being the mentor and trainer of Bruce Lee.

Trailer (with English Subtitles)

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I could not write an article about kung fu movies without a kung fu made in China. This is grandmaster of them all. At least, a portrayal of a grandmaster. A grandmaster who taught the beloved Bruce Lee (this entry mentions Bruce Lee but doesn't have him in it.)

If you don't know who Donnie Yen is, do yourself a favor and get familiar with his filmography. Any movie he is in will not disappoint you. He's broken into some Hollywood films but he's a god in China and Hong Kong cinemas. Yen does not disappoint as the guru of Wing Chun fighting style. He plays the title character, a humble sifu, Ip Man, with high integrity and conserved anger and power. His portrayal of the teacher is so believable that you can see why Bruce Lee is the way he is in his films.

Fight Scene (with Subtitles)

The real Ip Man (a.k.a. Yip Man); Not Donnie Yen; wouldn't want to mess with either one.
The real Ip Man (a.k.a. Yip Man); Not Donnie Yen; wouldn't want to mess with either one. | Source

The cinematography of this movie is alluring, almost like an Oscar bait martial arts movie much like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but not as artsy. In fact, the choreography of the action scenes are mesmerizing and ferocious.

Ip Man is great insight to the man behind "The Dragon" and an informative awareness of the trials and tribulations of the Chinese from foreign occupation during the 1930s to 1940s. This movie is a thing of beauty, a perfect combination of storytelling and fight scenes much like a punch to kick combo by Bruce Lee.

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© 2014 Ken


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