We’re currently witnesses to the cinematic coming-of-age of superheroes. Action movies have been redefined by splendid VFX and incorporation of futuristic technological concepts in films. And while I do enjoy the all-guns-blazing extravaganza which has become the motif of action, a part of me does miss the dearth of balls-to-the wall action of martial arts films which became global phenomena until the decade of 2000s. Films involving martial arts combats have a pulsating energy and physicality to them. For instance, while all of Tarantino’s films feature a gargantuan amount of violence, few would disagree with me if I say that the ‘Kill Bill’ films are his most exhilarating fares as far as pure, veritable bloodshed is concerned.
But for better or worse, Tarantino’s duology is Hollywood’s only representative on this list. The earliest accounts of martial arts rose to prominence from Central and Eastern Asia (Sun Tzu’s now-famous memoir ‘Art Of War’ is said to be the one of the oldest pieces of literature describing martial strategies). Thus, martial arts in cinema has forever been a métier of Asian film stables, of which a lion’s share emerge from the Hong Kong industry, courtesy of Kung Fu legends like Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Recent times have also seen a resurgence of wuxia films, which involve elements of history and fantasy, such as Ang Lee’s internationally lauded masterpiece ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’.
Here is the list of top martial arts movies ever made that pack the most spectacular knockout punches of all. Hiyah! You can also watch some of these best martial arts movies on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime. The list also includes best Karate movies.
15. Iron Monkey (1993)
This tale of authoritative corruption and a rebellion against it focuses on the lives Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung and his father Wong Kei-ying, as they seek to search for a rebellious Chinese Robin Hood christened Iron Monkey, who is actually a physician named Yang Tianchun. But eventually, Kei Ying and Iron Monkey unite to fight an evil larger than their differences, along with Miss Orchid, an accomplice of the Monkey. The film pits two well-rounded badass characters in Wong Kei-ying and Iron Monkey against each other to achieve fireworks, which further heightens the tempo once they unite. This was also the film which catapulted Donnie Yeng, who would later make the acclaimed ‘Ip Man’ trliogy, to superstardom.
Best Fight Sequence: The climactic fight – Evil Shaolin Monks Vs Our trio of heroes