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Martial Arts Movies That Can Inspire You With Their Style

Updated on September 24, 2020
FelishiyaPS profile image

Prachi has worked as a freelance writer since 2012. When not writing, she helps people with web design and development.

Martial Arts movies always have some unique taste of different combat styles as well as their sense of humor sometimes gives us a negative and wicked feeling and sometimes makes us laugh. Here is a list of ten such martial arts movies that also has the power to inspire you with their unique styles, which are also my personal favorites.

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000): Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is one of the most successful martial arts and award-winning movies. It was highly appreciated for its brilliant martial arts skills, story, cinematography and direction as well as music. Its cast includes Michelle Yeoh, Chow Yun-fat, Chang Chen, Cheng Pei-pei and Zhang Ziyi in main roles. It was predicted that after the enormous success of this movie, United States would start showing great interest in Asian actors and that what actually happened. Many Asian actors did received great opportunities. The movie won at least forty awards and earned more than $214 million at the box office while the budget was only around $17 million.

A still from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
A still from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

2. Ip Man (2008): Ip Man is a biography of Chinese great martial artist and the founder of Wing Chun, Ip Man or Yip Man, which is played by Chinese actor Donnie Yen. It is a series of three films. In each of these films, Ip Man had successfully explained about Wing Chun style and how it was helpful in defeating the opponents. Besides him, multiple martial artists were shown in the different series including Mike Tyson, Louis Fan, Dennis To, Sammo Hung, Darren Shahlavi and many more. The series had proved to be quite inspirational in the sense that how Ip Man struggled to bring fame to his martial arts style and how he managed to survive along with his family during many hardships of life that come his way. He is also the master of world-famous martial artist Bruce Lee.

A still from Ip Man
A still from Ip Man

3. Kung Fu Hustle (2004): Kung Fu Hustle is action and comedy film that has Stephen Chow in its lead role. With the mixture of different martial arts in a cartoon style and the traditional Chinese music made it one of the highest grossing movie of the Hong Kong. The movie came up with lots of almost impossible and magical martial arts such as Buddhist Palm, magical guqin launching invisible blades, toad style and lion’s roar. Though movie had not much to do with the actual martial arts, yet it became highly popular and received six awards at Hong Kong Film Awards, five awards at Golden Horse Awards as well as it was awarded as Best Foreign Language Film by United States. Besides these, it was also appreciated by MTV, BAFTA, Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival and Time out.

A still from Kung Fu Hustle
A still from Kung Fu Hustle | Source

4. Ong Bak (2003): Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior is a complete pack of action that has Tony Jaa in its lead role. The movie demonstrated the Thailand martial arts also called as Muay Thai. Its chase scenes, acrobatics and hand-to-hand combat, which were shown multiple times using different angles are quite striking as well as inspiring and also liked by many people. Some combat experts also appreciated the movie as one of the finest martial arts film of today’s generation. Another noticeable quality of film was that it was created without using CGI and wire-fu. Moreover, it also had great inventive moves and superb quality. One of the major attractions of the movie was the athletic performance of Tony Jaa, which was later compared with Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan by film critics.

A still from Ong Bak
A still from Ong Bak

5. Enter the Dragon (1973): Enter the Dragon is all about martial arts that features the greatest martial artist of all time, Bruce Lee. The movie also starred Jim Kelly and John Saxon in lead role. The movie is considered to be one of the biggest reasons in sparking the craze of Kung Fu (martial arts) in United States. It was also marked as “aesthetically, culturally and historically significant” by US Nation Film Registry. The main attraction of the movie was Bruce Lee’s exceptional talent and fast moves. Lee also acted with real cobra in the movie. As said by filmmakers, there was no requirement of special effects for Lee’s action and most of the times, directors had to speed up their camera because of Lee’s fast moves and then, they had to slow down the scenes’ progress for final cut.

A still from Enter the Dragon
A still from Enter the Dragon | Source

6. The Karate Kid (2010): The Karate Kid is primarily focused on Kung Fu rather than Karate. It stars Jackie Chan as maintenance man and the Kung Fu master of Jaden Smith. The film is the remake version of the 1984 film of the same name. Though, it was equally appreciated and criticized for its story, yet the film showed a strong bond between a master and his disciple which was quite appreciated by masses. Additionally, film’s music was also quite soothing and mesmerizing as well as the tinge of comedy in it made the film a completely family movie. Film has also perfectly captured the beauty of Beijing and Wudang Mountains which is worth watching. It received nominations at People’s Choice Awards, Kids’ Choice Awards, MTV Awards, and Young Artist Awards as well as at Teen Choice Awards and won many times.

A still from The Karate Kid
A still from The Karate Kid | Source

7. Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978): Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow is a movie made in 1978, but still worth-watching. It stars Jackie Chan, Yuen Siu Tien and Hwang Jang Lee in the main role. The movie is a great combination of martial arts, acrobatics, stunts and comedy. Different martial arts styles such as Snake style, Eagle style and cat claw are quite energetic and shown quite clearly in the movie. According to Jackie Chan’s book I am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action, his arm was slashed by a sword accidentally and also he lost a tooth when Hwang Jang Lee kicked in his face during the shooting of a fight scene. While he was screaming because of the severe pain, directors kept on shooting the scenes.

A still from Snake in the Eagle's Shadow
A still from Snake in the Eagle's Shadow | Source

8. Kill Bill (2003): Kill Bill is a series of two films. The main stars of movie are Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu and David Carradine as well as Vivica A. Fox and many more. The film was not only about martial artists but also included samurai techniques and related costumes that were quite appealing. If there was something more different in the movie then it was the power of female martial artists. Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu showed great energy and power that helped the movie to gain popularity and gross nearly $340 million altogether. Uma Thurman received seven nominations for the movie out of which she won four awards.

A still from Kill Bill
A still from Kill Bill | Source

9. Fist of Fury (1972): Fist of Fury features Bruce Lee in lead role. The movie demonstrated the bravery of a young man who fights to protect the honor of his country and bring the respect and justice against the foreign aggression. He was also portrayed as a devoted disciple who, by any means, defeated the people who were responsible for murdering his master and did not knelt down in front of the foreign power. Bruce Lee has always brought a sense of inspiration and energy to his movies. His gentle and humble attitude used to add more positivity to his character. The movie is also known by the name The Chinese Connection.

A still from Fist of Fury
A still from Fist of Fury

10. Once Upon a Time in China (1991): Once Upon a Time in China film series is one of the most popular film series of the Golden Age of Hong Kong cinema. They were also well-known for the brilliant description of Chinese nationalism and action choreography. The movie had Jet Li in main role for the first three films and Vincent Zhao for the next two. Jet Li played the character of Wong Fei-hung who was a physician, folk hero and not forget to mention a great Chinese martial artist having expertise in Hung Ga style. Jet Li as Wong Fei-hung was shown fighting for country’s pride by dealing with the negative and harmful effects of Western imperialism at the time of Qing dynasty.

A still from Once Upon a Time in China
A still from Once Upon a Time in China | Source
Movie Name
Rotten Tomatoes
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Ip Man
Kung Fu Hustle
Ong Bak
Enter the Dragon
The Karate Kid
Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow
Kill Bill
Fist of Fury
Once Upon a Time in China 2

Movies' Ratings on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes


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    • FelishiyaPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Prachi Sharma 

      4 years ago from India

      Hi CYong74. Well, I have not watched that series yet. I would love to watch it and write article about the same. Thank you for the idea.

    • CYong74 profile image

      Scribbling Geek 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Could I recommend the Swordsman (笑傲江湖) Series from the 90s? These were made in Hong Kong, and they were in general the ones that pushed Kung Fu movies towards more, superhuman kind of expressions.


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