5 of the Best Martial Arts Movies – Part 1

Ok, so before we get into the thick of things, let us just remind you that this is a highly subjective topic. Some people may regard this martial arts movie as the best one, while others prefer that one. The point is that you may not agree with us, but that is just fine, because we always love to hear the opinions of others. That being said, in our mind there are definitely some really awesome and inspiring martial arts movies that stand out above the rest. Whether based on true stories or completely fictitious, there are some truly amazing martial arts movies out there, all of which are worth watching. We’ll add more posts like this, as there are too many out there to limit them to only 5, but this is where we’ll start…

We get the feeling we’re about to stir up some controversy here, but that is OK too!

Anything with Bruce Lee

This might be a bit of a cop-out since we’re naming an actor instead of one of his movies, but come on, when it comes to martial arts, we just cannot ignore the man himself, Bruce Lee. Bruce’s real name was Lee Jun-fan, but Bruce seemed to work better for Hollywood movies. Bruce was from Hong Kong originally, but was born in San Francisco while his father was on tour with the opera. His life inspired many people to better themselves and also inspired many other movies to be made. He was seen as a true pioneer, as he did create the martial art style of Jeet Kune Do.

An actor, philosopher, martial artist, and pop-culture icon, Bruce Lee will never be forgotten for as long as martial arts exist. We would definitely recommend watching movies such as Enter the Dragon, Way of the Dragon, Game of Death, The Big Boss, The Kid, and pretty much anything else with him in it. There is a more recent biographical movie made in 2000, entitled Bruce Lee: A Warriors Journey, which is definitely worth watching as well.



Ip Man – Donnie Yen

ip manIp Man is in our opinion one of the very best martial arts sagas out there. At this point there have been three Ip Man movies created, each one being better than the last. Action star and world renowned martial artist Donnie Yen plays the lead role of Ip Man (also referred to as Yip Man). The man himself was actually Bruce Lees teacher, which speaks more than any Hollywood movie ever could.

Ip Man focuses on his (Ip’s) life, which takes place during the Sino-Japanese war, as well as his struggles regarding martial arts, being a master, and running a Wing Chun dojo against merciless enemies. Ip Man was virtually the first male to utilize Wing Chun as a main fighting style, as it was previously viewed as very feminine, something that the movies focus on greatly. In essence, this is a 3 part film documenting the life of the man who taught Bruce Lee everything he knew.


Drunken Master – Jackie Chan

drunken masterAnother personal favorite of ours are the Drunken Master movies, where Jackie Chan encounters a seemingly insane old man who is always drunk, the drunken master himself. He teaches Jackie Chan (not his name in the movie) to fight while drunk, or at least while appearing drunk, thus catching opponents off guard and giving them a butt kicking of a lifetime. The Drunken Master movies do have a fairly serious note to them, but no one can deny that they are pure comedic gold. Watching that old drunkard sway around intoxicated past any reason, while on a trail of hilarious destruction, is something everybody should see.

Speaking of Jackie Chan, he has many good martial arts movies under his belt, especially from an earlier period like the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Some other good movies from Jackie Chan worth checking out include The Fearless Hyena, The Big Brawl, Dragon Blade,Mr. Nice Guy, Wheels on Meals, The Medallion, Police Story, and even the new Karate Kid movie that also stars Will Smith’s son, Jayden Smith. While Jackie not only does martial arts movies, he has many huge hits under his belt none the less.


Marked for Death – Steven Seagal

Marked_For_Death_filmOk, so this is definitely where the controversy comes into play. As of late, Mr. Seagal has often been mocked and ridiculed for making some awful movies, which may be true in some respect. However, there is no denying that the man actually has countless martial arts movies under his belt, the vast majority of which have somehow been successful. Moreover, Steven Seagal was, when in his prime several decades ago, a renowned Aikido practitioner and master. He won too many competitions and awards to count. He is undoubtedly the real deal, albeit just a little old now.

While his fighting style, especially now at 65 years old, may look a little stiff and robotic, he used to be one of the very best in the world. Many people don’t like him due to his fast-paced and guns blazing style Hollywood movies, which he often directs and produces himself, with himself as the main star. However, the fact remains that he keeps pumping out martial arts movies and people keep watching them. Some of our favorite ones include Shadow Man, The Patriot, Belly of the Beast, Attack Force, Under Siege, and The Glimmer Man. There are countless more so go check them out!


Bloodsport – JCVD

bloodsportBloodsport starring none other than Jean Claude Van Damme is an absolute must see when it comes to martial arts movies. This high paced martial arts action movie will have you sitting on the edge of your seat from start to finish. We honestly love Jean Claude Van Damme and any movie he’s ever starred in. The Belgian born martial artist and actor is a master of Karate, Kickboxing, Taekwondo, May Thai, and Shotokan.

He may not be a native Asian martial artist, but there is no denying that he packs a wallop. He is another one of those controversial actors who has received a lot of heat from moving away from traditional martial arts movies to a more guns blazing Hollywood style of film. However, at the end of the day, most people could not stand up to the fury is that is JCVD. Other good martial arts films he stars in include Kickboxer, Lionheart, Hard Target, The Quest, Street Fighter, and Death Warrant.



At the end of the day, there are still many other awesome martial arts movies out there, but the above ones, especially when any of the actors/martial artist we’ve talked about are involved, are some of the best in the world. Don’t worry, though. If we didn’t get to your favorite movie or star, just tell us below what your favorites are!


I'm Steve D'Agostino, founder of Martial Arts Weapons and Training. Thanks for visiting and reading my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Mustafa

    I have loved action movies from my childhood and I am totally agree with you, those are the Best Martial Arts Movies for me because all of them are my favourite actors, i started practicing sport because of those movies, i really enjoyed your article andcI am so excited for Part 2,

    • kungfuninja

      Hey, thanks! This one was really hard because there are just so many great ones to choose from. All of these definitely did have a huge impact on my teenage years and sparked my love for martial arts, too!

  • Michael Pawlik

    Hey Steve awesome article! One of my favourite Bruce Lee scenes is the one in which he fights Chuck Norris at the Coliseo! Awesome stuff. Not to mention Jean Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport – a true staple of my childhood. I have seen that movie maybe 20 times haha.

    Great article and I look forward to the next one!

    • kungfuninja

      Heck yeah, man! Bruce and Chuck are some of the most iconic martial artists of the 20th century. I’ll have Chuck Norris in the next post (and Tony Jaa, too!), but it was just too much for a single article.

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment!

  • Kevin Dee

    I absolutely love Drunken Master!

    One of my all time favourites!

    Great article, thanks

    • kungfuninja

      Yeah, that and Fearless Hyena were my inspiration to learn kung fu! Chan is my all time fave.

  • casey ehnes

    hey i’m a big fan of fighting movies a few of my favorites are the karate kid, big trouble in little china, rush hour, and mortal combat those are my favorites so anyway very cool post thanks for sharing and have an awsome day or night.

  • kungfuninja

    Those are all fantastic. I totally forgot about Big Trouble In Little China. Great movie!

    • S. Neal

      That’s my favorite flick also! Lightning, Wang Chi, Jack and Miao Yin (though her time was limited) were all my favorite characters.

      BTW, thanks for liking my ‘Punisher’ topic that I posted a while back.

  • S. Neal

    Great list you put together! Bloodsport is always a classic favorite of mine. That movie is what sparked a lot of fight tournament style movies in the 90s (particularly direct to video B-grade kickboxing flicks).