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Top 10 Martial Arts Movies

Updated on October 29, 2010

While I am not your typical Martial Arts nut, I do enjoy a good Ninja/Karate movie. It does seem like there aren't as many Martial Arts movies made nowadays and I hate to see that. The latest ones I have seen come out were actually very good. Every Martial Arts fan knows about the Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly movies, but I want to list some of the later movies that have came out and give a short review of why I think they are great movies to own. I guess the reason I like the newer Martial Arts movies is because of the effects that they didn't have back in the Bruce Lee days. It really does allow for a more entertaining experience.

The Karate Kid

I loved watching Ralph Macchio as the Karate Kid when I was growing up and who could forget Mr. Miyagi. I think that the new Karate Kid movie is the best remake I have seen in a long time. Well i shouldn't say remake because it is nothing like the previous ones. The movie starts out with a scrawny kid who has just moved overseas because of his mothers work relocation. As if his stature and goofiness weren't enough to set him away from the crowd, he soon becomes a target for a bully gang. Wanting to free himself from the fear of being beat up every day, he seeks out the maintenance man of their apartment, who happens to be Jackie Chan. The plot follows the same as the original Karate Kid, with Dre, the main character, being really impatient and wanting to become a karate master as quickly as possible. To me the story is a lot better than the original Karate Kid because it has more story lines. A lot of stuff going on in this movie. Definitely worth the money to rent even if you don't want to buy it.

The Protector

The Protector is one of my favorites simply because it has the great Tony Jaa in it. The story starts out with Tony's elephant being taken by the main villain who has a plethera of men willing to fight for her. The movie does take a while to get started, so be patient. The action later is definitely worth the wait. This is one of the best movies depicting a man that can overcome all enemies all by himself.

Ninja Assassin

Ninja Assassin is probably the best Martial Arts films that has come out recently. Rain plays the main character and he is in every aspect, the baddest man ever. He starts out as an assassin, who kills anybody he is told to. It is not until he fails to complete a task, where it gets interesting. The movie spirals off into him defying the other assassins because they kill the woman he loves. This is the ultimate example of the student becoming the master. I felt like this movie was only 5 minutes long because it was so action packed.

Never Back Down

I stumbled upon the movie, Never Back Down, while I was at a friends house. It didn't really appeal to me for some reason, but I'm glad I was forced to watch it. The main character was a simple kid, who wasn't looking for trouble, but it seemed to find him. After being banned from the gym he finally convinces a teacher to take him in and train him so that he could compete in a tournament against the main "bad guy" character. Throughout the whole fight scene it looks like our good guy is going to lose. I'm not going to give away the ending. You have to watch it to find out who prevails.

The Forbidden Kingdom

The Forbidden Kingdom is another great movie that came out not too long ago, featuring Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Anything that has those two in it is destined to be good. I got to see this in the theater and I am so glad I went. It is funny in points, just like all Jackie Chan movies. It revolves around this young boy who is obsessed with Martial Arts, but doesn't know jack about self defense. It's not until he sees his good friend get shot, that he is thrust into a alternate time to return a golden staff to the "Monkey King". The movie has several twists and turns and uncertainties, and is definitely a must see.


Unleashed, in my opinion, is Jet Li's best movie. He utters not a word in the movie, but is still, without a doubt, the baddest man in the movie. His character is nothing but a body guard bruiser, who intimidates debtors into paying off their debts. It's not until an old blind piano tuner, Morgan Freeman, enters onto the scene, that Li's character makes his turn to good guy. The movie has several flashbacks of Li's life throughout and shows how he became the monster that he is. Definitely a great movie to own. I could watch it time and time again and never get tired of it.

Bulletproof Monk

Bulletproof Monk was never touted to be a great Martial Arts movie, but it was good in its own right. It follows suit with a young boy wanting to learn Martial Arts. The monk teaches the boy everything he knows about Martial Arts in order to prepare him to be able to protect sacred scrolls from the main villains. So many times it looks like the villains will prevail, but somehow the good guys pull it out once again.

Kung Fu Hustle

Kung Fu Hustle has to be one of the funniest Martial Arts movies I have ever seen. The main character is such a goofy guy. He starts out knowing nothing about Karate and gets pummeled to a bloody pulp by the main villain. While it is a hysterical movie, it is also a twisted love story. All throughout the movie, scenes are portrayed showing the main character and the girl he would ultimately wind up with. A lot of people haven't seen this movie because it is deemed as "corny", but truthfully it has a great plot and wonderful combat scenes.

The Transporter 1, 2, 3

What can I say about Jason Statham. He is the coolest fighting Brit I have ever seen. The Transporter Trilogy isn't his only work, but they are definitely among his best films. He has so many innovative fighting scenes where he uses so many objects that I would never think of using. The movies only get better with the next. He operates his whole business out of his car, performing deliveries and other tasks for Independent clients. It does seem that all of his clients are against him and he eventually winds up fighting against them because of his moral beliefs.

Tony Jaa

I left this one spot open just for Tony Jaa. I know I listed another of his movies above, but felt that it was necessary to give him a spot of his own. He is definitely the next major Bruce Lee type star. Ong Bak and Ong Bak 2 were nothing short of awesome. Action packed and great fighting scenes. Ong Bak 3 is set to release on DVD soon and you better believe I will be buying it. If you have never heard of Tony Jaa, you must Google him. He doesn't have a lot of movies as of yet, but that is soon to change. A couple other good ones are The Bodyguard and The Bodyguard 2. Any movie of his would be a great addition to any Martial Arts collection.

Which of these is the best movie?

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    • arnis boy profile image

      arnis boy 6 years ago

      Hollywood action movies like Bourne Identity,dare devil,Residense evil,tom raider,and book of eli filipino martial arts action?You must see in hollywood action films

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 6 years ago

      Out of the older movies I would vote for Bruce Lee's Enter The Dragon. :)

    • BeccaHubbardWoods profile image

      Mizzery Chick 6 years ago from Outside your window...

      I love martial arts, and I love movies. So naturally, martial arts movies pique my interest. Sadly, I've only watched one of the movies listed above. Now I will make it a point to find the others and watch them as quickly as possible. ;)

    • Fenixfan profile image

      Jesse 6 years ago from Mississippi

      I will take that compliment, but I'll assume you are talking more about my honesty and conviction. I don't think I'd want to fight him haha. Thank you for your nice comments.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ..well we can compare that man (Bruce Lee) to one that I know of: YOU!!!!! Like Bruce Lee, you are a man of conviction, honesty and sincerity - you have a vision and drive and yet you're loyal and a gentleman to all - so you are both winners - and I am sure you will become a legend too - in whatever direction you take in life!!!!!

    • Fenixfan profile image

      Jesse 6 years ago from Mississippi

      You hit the nail on the head Chris. Dragon and Hero are definitely great movies. I wanted to put these other less known films in place of Hero and Crouching Tiger because they were never considered box office hits. So many of these movies just went from theater to DVD. If it was up to me I would've put all Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies on here. I love Bruce Lee. Just wanted to do the more recent ones. I will probably leave Lee in a hub of his own. Can't compare that man to anyone.

    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

      I had to check out your list just out of curiosity for the movies you would choose, but I don't feel qualified to vote because some of them I haven't seen.

      May I suggest you include the names of at least the main characters in each movie for those like me who are unfamiliar with them.

      You didn't mention "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon"(Chow Yung Fat) or "Hero"(Jet Li)or "Dragon, the Bruce Lee Story (Jason Scott Lee)or "Enter the Dragon" (Bruce Lee).

      I know it's hard to cull the number down to just 10, but each one of those movies are "must sees" IMHO.

      Anyhow, there is certainly room for debate. This was a good hub, well laid out and informative.

      Thanks. I will have to check a few of these films out.