10. Clan of the White Lotus (1980)
Gordon Liu plays a Shaolin Temple martial artist out to avenge the death of his fiance and brother. Most of the movie revolves around Liu training and fighting the leader of the White Lotus clan, who looks like he’s well beyond retirement age. Nevertheless, Liu keeps going back time after time trying to defeat the seemingly invincible old man, only to come up short every time.
Some of the most intriguing scenes involve Liu’s character practicing some sort of acupuncture technique using a statue that discharges golden balls with strange symbols on them. The fighting scenes themselves are quite extraordinary.
9. Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
This film is a pure, non-stop, jaw-dropping martial arts film. It’s probably better to ignore the plot which involves Jackie Chan protecting treasure from a group of thieves, or something like that — it’s completely irrelevant. Just sit back and watch the mind-blowing fighting scenes of Jackie Chan at his very best.
8. Enter the Dragon (1973)
The last film Bruce Lee completed before his untimely death. It’s the film that catapulted him into Hollywood stardom and has almost become synonymous with his legendary status all over the world.
The storyline is deeply involving based around Lee’s character infiltrating a martial-arts tournament on a secret island in order to expose the crime lord holding the tournament. The fight scenes, in and out of the tournament, are brilliant.
This film will always be remembered as one of his greatest works.
7. IP Man (2008)
Donnie Yen stars in this film based on the life of Yip Man, the grand-master of the Wing Chun school of fighting, and Bruce Lee’s teacher at one point.
The story encompasses Yip Man’s life from when he lived a quiet life with his family, to his descent into poverty, and his rise into one of the greatest fighters in China’s history.
The fighting scenes are furious, brutal and some of the best ever filmed.
6. Ong Bak (2003)
Tony Jaa, a former stuntman, stars in his major debut and introduces mainstream Hollywood to Muay Thai boxing. This film is about ninety-percent fighting sequences, with Jaa climbing walls, slithering through small openings, and defying gravity. Jaa’s astounding form of fighting is executed in a viciously stylized manner.
The plot mainly involves Jaa trying to retrieve a stolen statue from corrupt businessmen, but it serves no purpose other than to provide continuous reasons to fight — and that’s a good thing in this case.
5. Kid with the Golden Arm (1979)
One of the all-time great Shaw Brothers kung-fu flicks — this one involves a kung-fu master who wears golden rings around his arms, making him nearly invincible. He’s the leader of a group of less-talented fighters with nicknames like Brass Head and Silver Spear.
The story involves a man named Yan, who is hired by the government to transport a cargo of gold past Golden Arm’s gang of thugs. Outnumbered, Yan forms allies with a swordsman and his girlfriend — and together, they face off with Golden Arm himself.
There are plenty of twists and surprises along the way, including a guy with ulterior motives named Iron Feet who appears out of nowhere to face Golden Arm. This film also has some of the most spectacular fighting scenes in the genre.
4. Fearless (2006)
Jet Li stars in this film based on the life of Master Huo Yuanjia, founder of the Jin Wu Sports Federation. The breathtaking fighting scenes involve Jet Li battling a variety of fighters from different nations, with their own unique fighting styles, in a contest to determine the greatest fighter of all.
The fighting scenes are incredible, but at the film’s core lies the story of how Yuanjia overcomes the guilt of causing the death of his wife and child, ultimately coming to grips with his past, and discovering his true purpose in life. His spiritual journey of redemption alters his beliefs forever and makes him a hero to his nation.
3. The Chinese Connection (1972)
A lot of people think this is the same film as Fists of Fury (1971), just with a different name — but in reality, this is an entirely different movie made one year after Fists of Fury.
This time, Bruce Lee shows us his additional acting talents by briefly playing several different sub-characters, like a quirky phone repair man his character poses as to spy on his enemies. The variety of villains he has to contend with are some of the most colorful out of all his films.
The fighting scenes, including one where Lee has to battle an entire dojo of karate students, are phenomenal — and the shocking final scene is probably the best ending to any of his films.
2. Hero (2002)
An epic masterpiece that’s way more than just a kung-fu film. Jet Li plays a man who confronts the emperor of China and tells him the tales of how he defeated three assassins who were hired to kill him.
Most of the film is comprised of three major flashbacks revealing the details of his victories over the assassins. There is a major revelation as the plot nears the end, which leads to the breathtaking finale.
Mind-blowing fighting scenes along with beautiful storytelling make this one of the greatest martial arts films of all-time.
1. Five Deadly Venoms (1978)
Centipede has lightning-fast punches, Lizard climbs walls, Scorpion’s kicks are faster than bullets, Toad has an impenetrable body, and Snake slithers on his back. Oh, and there’s a sixth one that is skilled in a little of each fighting style.
The plot is simple: a teacher instructs a current student to track down his five former pupils to determine which ones are using their powers for evil. These “venoms” and their intentions are revealed slowly and methodically, as is their particular fighting techniques. What makes things extra complicated is the fact that none of them know the identities of the others — let alone that one of them might be the ultimate super-villain.
There are twists, turns, and a whole lot of magnificent fighting sequences.