50 MAD AS HELL MARTIAL ARTS MOVIES

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The world of martial arts cinema has been a major part of popular culture for many decades now. It essentially began to sweep across the world in the early 70s with such movies as Five Fingers of Death (1972) and Bruce Lee’s breakout smash Enter The Dragon (1973) as well as the hit TV series Kung Fu (1972-75) which starred David Carradine as an Asian-American shaolin priest who must flee China after which he travels throughout the Old West to find his half brother. Throughout the rest of the 70s and 80s these kinds of immensely entertaining action films introduced international audiences to a new style of cinema they hadn’t seen before. Many of the movies were based on historical legends which the filmmakers then heightened and filled with characters who possessed almost supernatural powers. These heroes could do such things as soar through the air like eagles and punch holes through dense wood using secret kung fu skills passed down to them from their wise old masters.

The films that were being released by studios such as Shaw Brothers, Golden Harvest and numerous other smaller distributors were especially popular in the inner city grindhouses in America. These theaters would show double and triple features which became a staple providing audiences with exhillerating experiences. After superstar Bruce Lee’s tragic death in 1973, actors such as Lo Lieh, Sonny Chiba, David Chiang, Jackie Chan, Jimmy Wang Yu and Bruce Li became the new silver screen icons who filled the void he had left.

For our new furious list we’ve handpicked 50 movies (old and new) that we think should give you a nice taste of what the genre has to offer. It should be pointed out that there are hundreds upon hundreds of these kinds of films, so this list isn’t meant to be a specific “Top 50 of All Time”, they are simply some of our personal favorites. Our hope is that if you aren’t already a longtime kung fu aficionado you’ll get enough of a KICK out of them to maybe become a new fan and explore. Along with the chosen titles we’ve added some special links to trailers and clips so you can get a peek of what the movies are like, as well as purchase them through Amazon.

Five Fingers of Death

Five Fingers of Death (1972, Dir: Cheng Cheng Ho)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVDGCDB Page

Enter The Dragon

Enter the Dragon (1973, Dir: Robert Clouse)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY BLU RAYGCDB Page

The Streetfighter

The Streetfighter (1974, Dir: Shigehiro Ozawa)

WATCH TRAILERBUY DVDGCDB Page

Fists of the White Lotus

Fist of the White Lotus (1980, Dir: Lo Lieh)

WATCH TRAILERBUY DVDGCDB Page

Snake in the Eagle's Shadow

Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978, Dir: Yuen Woo Ping)

WATCH TRAILERBUY DVDGCDB Page

Drunken Master

Drunken Master (1978, Dir: Yuen Woo Ping)

WATCH TRAILERBUY DVDGCDB Page

The Big Boss

The Big Boss (1971, Dir: Lo Wei)

WATCH TRAILERBUY BLU RAY GCDB Page

Fist of Fury

The Chinese Connection aka Fist of Fury (1972, Dir: Lo Wei)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY BLU RAY – GCDB Page

Chinese Super Ninjas

Five Element Ninjas (1982, Dir: Chang Cheh)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY BLU RAY – GCDB Page

Executioners From Shaolin

Executioners From Shaolin (1977, Dir: Lau Kar Leung)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

36th Chamber of Shaolin

36th Chamber of Shaolin aka Master Killer (1978, Dir: Lau Kar Leung)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY BLU RAY – GCDB Page

Snake in the Monkey's Shadow

Snake in the Monkey’s Shadow (1980, Dir: Sum Cheung)

WATCH CLIPGCDB Page

Fist of Legend

Fist of Legend (1994, Dir: Gordon Chan)

WATCH A CLIP – BUY BLU RAY

The Hot The Cool and the Vicious

The Hot, The Cool and The Vicious (1980, Dir: Tso Nam Lee)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Five Deadly Venoms

Five Deadly Venoms (1978, Dir: Chang Cheh)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY BLU RAY – GCDB Page

Master of the Flying Guillotine

Master of The Flying Guillotine (1975, Dir: Jimmy Wang Yu)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

The Chinese Boxer

The Chinese Boxer (1970, Dir: Jimmy Wang Yu)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Ip Man

Ip Man (2008, Dir: Wilson Yip)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY BLU RAY

Dirty Ho

Dirty Ho (1979, Dir: Lau Kar Leung)

WATCH TRAILERBUY DVDGCDB Page

Eagle's Claw

Eagle’s Claw (1978, Dir: Tso Nam Lee)

WATCH TRAILERGCDB Page

Iron Monkey

Iron Monkey (1993, Dir: Yuen Woo Ping)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY BLU RAY

The One Armed Swordsman

The One Armed Swordsman (1967, Dir: Chang Cheh)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Bloodsport

Bloodsport (1988, Dir: Newt Arnold)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD

Sister Streetfighter

Sister Streetfighter (1974,  Dir: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi)

WATCH TRAILER -BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Lady Whirlwind

Deep Thrust aka Lady Whirlwind (1972, Dir: Feng Huang)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Crippled Masters

The Crippled Masters (1979, Dir: Kei Law)

WATCH TRAILER

Eight Diagram Pole Fighter

8 Diagram Pole Fighter (1984, Dir: Lau Kar Leung)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Fistful of Talons

Fistful of Talons (1983, Dir: Sun Cheung)

WATCH A CLIP – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Invincible Armor

Invincible Armor (1977, Dir: See Yuen Ng)

WATCH A CLIP – BUY DVD

Triple Irons

Triple Irons aka New One Armed Swordsman (1971, Dir: Chang Cheh)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Deaf Mute Heroine

Deaf Mute Heroine (1971, Dir: Wu Ma)

WATCH A CLIPGCDB Page

Black Belt Jones

Black Belt Jones (1974, Dir: Robert Clouse)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

The Blade

The Blade (1995 Dir: Tsui Hark)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD

Once Upon a Time in China

Once Upon a Time In China (1991, Dir: Tsui Hark)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY BLU RAY

Fist of Fury Pt. 2

Fist of Fury Part II (1977, Dir: Tso Nam Lee)

WATCH A CLIP – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Kung Fu Hustle (2004, Dir: Stephen Chow)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY BLU RAY

Born Invincible

Born Invincible (1978, Dir: Joseph Kuo)

WATCH A CLIP – BUY DVDGCDB Page

Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe

The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe (1973, Dir: Mario Caiano)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVDSWDB Page

Deadly China Doll

Deadly China Doll (1973, Dir: Feng Huang)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Magnificent Butcher

Magnificent Butcher (1979, Dir: Sammo Hung)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Kid with the Golden Arm

Kid With The Golden Arm (1979, Dir: Chang Cheh)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Warriors Two

Warriors Two (1978, Dir: Sammo Hung)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD

Ten Tigers of Kwangtung

10 Tigers of Kwangtung (1980, Dir: Chang Cheh)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

Boxer From Shantung

Boxer From Shantung (1972, Dir: Chang Cheh/Hsueh Li Pao)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

7 Grandmasters

7 Grandmasters (1980, Dir: Joseph Kuo)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

The Buddhist Fist

The Buddhist Fist (1980, Dir: Yuen Woo-Ping)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD

Ong Bak

Ong Bak (2003, Dir: Prachya Pinkaew)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD

Come Drink With Me

Come Drink With Me (1966, Dir: King Hu)

WATCH TRAILER – BUY DVD – GCDB Page

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son (1981, Dir: Sammo Hung)

WATCH TRAILER BUY DVD

One Armed Boxer

One Armed Boxer aka The Chinese Professionals (1972, Dir: Jimmy Wang Yu)

WATCH TRAILERGCDB Page 

Special Thanks to our sister site: The Grindhouse Cinema Database for their comprehensive listing of titles we used as a guide for this feature!

Do you have any favorite martial arts films? If so, let us know in our comments!

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Peter

Peter

Editor-In-Chief of The Deuce: Grindhouse Cinema Database/Furious Cinema contributor. Pete is a rabid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation/cult flix to big budget mainstream classics. His other interests include: graphic design, cartooning and music.

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5 Responses

  1. PsychoMuslim says:

    I love all the moves wow i love kongfu

  2. Kung Fu Manchu says:

    great list

  3. John says:

    With films like – Iron monkey, The story of Rikki, The blade, Fist of legend, Once upon a time in China, Legend of the drunken master, Wing chun, Tai chi master, Legend of Fong Sai Yuk Amongst others i’d say the 90’s is the greatest decade for Kung fu cinema!

  4. Williams, Tony says:

    I need help finding a martial art movie I saw back in the 70’s or 80’s. Two guys were fighting using their long hair (cue) in which the hair broke/ destroyed everything. They wre fighting all over the place even on the mountains or hills. I do not know the name of the movie and I need to know. Thank you.

  5. Andre Grant says:

    I’m looking for a movie where the main character has mediocre fighting skills, but has developed a technique with bricks that when rubbed together makes a noise and he’s nearly invincible.

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