14 Martial Arts Movies Every Guy Should See


Few things are as delectably enjoyable as martial arts films. You can turn most on half way through and still get glued to your couch. You coast along with the plot (as awful as it can be at times) eagerly anticipating the next fight scene. Great martial arts flicks, however, combine awesome combat with a story that actually makes it worth the down time between roundhouse kicks. Here are 14 every guys should see.

Ip Man

The fight scenes in Ip Man are so devastatingly awesome, you’ll want to start training in Wing Chun as soon as the credits roll. Bruce Lee’s mentor, as played by Donnie Yen, is soft-spoken, kind, and insanely badass when it comes to combat. Ip Man is not just a watch-worthy flick because of the great fight scenes, but it’s also an interesting historical look at the world Ip Man lived in and what life was like in 1930’s Southern China. Plus, any dude who trained Bruce Lee must be pretty decent, right? Amazon Instant iTunes Netflix Instant Netflix DVD


For as awesome as Jet Li is, a lot of his films fall short for us. Hero is one major exception (along with Once Upon a Time in China). The first thing you’ll notice about Hero is the sheer beauty of it. Not just the choreographed fight scenes, but just the overall look. It’s stunning. In fact, it’s the only time we can recall watching a plethora of arrows fly towards someone’s cranium and thinking how beautiful it is. Amazon Instant iTunes Netflix DVD

Enter the Dragon

Not including any Bruce Lee movies on this list would be ridiculous. While some might argue that The Chinese Connection should be the choice, we just can’t not choose Enter the Dragon. Is it the greatest story ever told? No. Does it feature Bruce Lee destroying a substantial series of evil-doers? Yes. For that alone, it’s just awesome. Amazon iTunes Netflix DVD


Some of the kicks in Ong-Bak will leave you checking your own jaw to see if it got shattered to pieces from some sort of weird osmosis. The film, which mostly showcases Muay Thai, is the standout project from the incredible Tony Jaa, and definitetly worth a watch. Amazon Instant iTunes Netflix Instant Netflix DVD

Brotherhood of the Wolf

When you think French movies, you think passionate romances, artsy flicks that go over your head, and plenty of baguettes. You don’t think martial arts. And while Brotherhood of the Wolf isn’t a straight-up martial arts movie (it isn’t a straight-up any kind of movie, actually), it is a serious piece of entertainment. It’s one of those movies you just put on and enjoy without letting your brain get to wrapped up in what’s going on. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before and it’s damn entertaining. Netflix DVD

13 Assassins

The scheming and strategy, the David vs. Goliath aspect, and the kickass battles make 13 Assassins a treat for samurai fans. Actually, it’s a treat for movie fans in general, because, unlike some martial arts films, there’s actually some grandiose scope aside from the standard action scenes. Amazon Instant iTunes Netflix Instant Netflix DVD

The Man From Nowhere

It can be challenging at times to determine what is and what isn’t a true martial arts movie. Like, what do you do when lots of the action involves gun fights but there is still martial arts involved? While The Man from Nowhere walks that fine line, we put it on this list for two good reasons: 1) It’s unbelievably awesome, and 2) The fight scene with the eyeball in a jar. That’s all we’ll say. Amazon Instant iTunes Netflix Instant Netflix DVD

Kung Fu Hustle

Martial arts movies don’t always have to be dead serious, in fact, they don’t always have to be serious at all. Kung Fu Hustle won’t be confused for a Bruce Lee epic, but it’s definitely a must watch. It’s so absurdly ridiculous that you almost miss how awesome the fighting is. Amazon Instant iTunes Netflix DVD

Once Upon a Time in China

The first in a trilogy, Once Upon a Time in China really introduced many to the skills of Jet Li. It also happens to combine incredible fight scenes with a large-scale story that will keep you interested for the 2+ hours. Netflix DVD

Kill Bill Vol. 1

No subtitles! Okay, watching Kill Bill Vol 1 is not pleasurable just because you don’t have do any reading, it just happens to be a kickass martial arts flick from a dude who knows a thing or two about violence on film. It’s one of the few films with a female protagonist and the only film on this list that involves sick moves with a nonstick frying pan. iTunes Netflix DVD

Iron Monkey

Think of Iron Monkey as Robin Hood without the goofy tights. An unknown hero steals from the rich, only he doesn’t challenge enemies to archery contests, he just beats the crap out of them. The fighting is choreographed by the same dude who worked on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Matrix, plus, it’s got Donnie Yen in it, which is always a positive. iTunes Netflix DVD

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

The fame of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is warranted. Ang Lee’s epic is visually stunning. It feels like you’re watching a kickass fairy tale meant for adults. Oh, and there’s tree fighting. Amazon Instant iTunes Netflix DVD

The Legend of Drunken Master

Finally a Jackie Chan movie for the list. Not only that, but a Jackie Chan movie where he gains his fighting ability by drinking. The script writes itself! The film features some of the funniest/coolest fight scenes you’ll ever see. Just don’t pound Maker’s Mark and try to fight after watching it. Netflix DVD

Seven Samurai

This list wouldn’t be complete without the movie many consider the greatest martial arts/samurai film of all time. It’s a movie that spawned so many remakes and offshoots, that you just know without watching it that it will be good. Well, it is good, and, in fact, far, far better than good. Don’t let the black and white and subtitles stop you from watching this masterpiece. Amazon Instant iTunes Netflix DVD


  • rob

    Kung Fu Hustle is one of the most surprising films I have seen.

    It has everything:
    It’s Kung-Fu
    It’s Campy
    It’s Funny
    and it has several great object lessons.
    This is one of my favorite movies ever!

  • http://www.facebook.com/BenjaminJeevanraj Benjamin Jeevanraj

    I would definitely have The Raid on that list as well. Some of the sequences in that movie were AMAZING.

  • Jeff

    totally agree

  • Jack Burton

    Big Trouble in Little China

  • http://www.facebook.com/AdamAragon Adam Aragon

    I’d throw Jet Li’s remake of “Fist of Legend” on there, not to be confused with Donny Yen’s Legend of the Fist – Jet Li gives it all to try to match or one-up bruce lee in Fist of Legend and it’s still the best fight scenes ever IMHO

  • Randy_Torres

    You forgot to mention that 7 Samurai is a film by Kurasawa, one of the greatest directors of all time. I agree that every one of those films belongs on that list, but I would expand it to include the car wash scene in the Replacement Killers, the gunfight in The Wild Bunch, The Man With No Name taking out the bad guys one by one in High Plains Drifter, the…

    Martial arts are martial arts, whether it be fists, knives, swords or guns!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002265526202 Leonard Cage

    I’ve seen quite a few of these but I see now that I’ve got some catching up to do.

  • http://twitter.com/Mgon Mgon ♥

    I got 12 of the 14 under my black belt. LOL

  • Si Fi

    Yes, great list! Wouldn’t be right not to include a couple of classics though:

    5 Deadly Venoms – Kung fu cult classic!
    Return of The Dragon – Bruce Lee kicking some Chuck Norris ass at the Colisium in Rome. My fav fight scene of all time!

  • jpr

    Great list, hoping there’d be more that I haven’t seen. I’d add either Yojimbo or Sanjuro and any of the Zatoichi movies.

  • andrewsmyk

    Five Deadly Venoms is missing from this list. The ultimate kung-fu classic.

  • C

    i would have switched iron monkey and brotherhood of the wolf for 36th camber of shaolin and fearless which are much better martial arts movies! no hating towards iron and brotherhood but when you’re talking about marital arts movies every guy should see, chamber and fearless should definitely be on that list.

  • az

    Great list! I would have also included: “The Raid: Redemption” and “I Saw The Devil”

  • Kenich

    I will also add movies like:

    * Undisputed 3, Redemption
    * The Protector (aka Tom Yum Goong)
    * Chocolate (A sailor moon kinda girl with kick ass abilities)
    * Rurouni Kenshin
    * Yamada, The Samurai of Ayothaya (kinda Thai Samurai)
    * Ninja Assassin
    And… gotta go back to work, cant recall more; just enjoy those ones.

  • kenich

    True… Zatoichi and Ichi, a kind of second part, great samurai movies.
    Perhaps a little less artisan yet great ones, Warrior, Never Back Down (more an mma karate kid)

  • whyteshooz

    This is the worst list ever compiled. I take it that Mike Newman hasn’t watched many Martial Arts films. Hey Cool Material, if you want a ‘Top 25 List’ I can have it ready for you by tomorrow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.rose.16121 Alex Rose

    You pick “Hero ” over “Fearless”? Also add “True Legend”

  • http://www.facebook.com/AndrewKimEpicBadass Andrew Kim

    once upon in time in china actually has like 6 movies

  • bevsun

    Uninterrupted fight scene of Tony Jaa in The Protector deserves an honourable mention.

  • http://singpatong-sitnumnoi.com/ Singpatong Sitnumnoi

    let’s see, Jet Li’s Hero, Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon (the best, a must watch movie when it comes to martial arts, too bad Bruce Lee died early, if not he might have some collaboration movie together with Jackie Chan ) Kung Fu Hustle, is a feel good combat movie, another Jet Li, Once Upon a Time in China, good, good, good, story, fight scenes, really good.

  • narayanan

    This is the greatest list of martial arts movies which I have ever seen been put together by any one. Hats off to you. Mind you, it is a tough job – as there are so many of them which can be considered for different reasons. I have watched each and every one listed by you and you have my 100% vote on your choice……..keep it up.

  • gerrit apekont

    where is the raid?

  • 45caliber

    where is “SHAOLIN VS LAMA”, “FIST OF WHITE LOTUS”, “MASTER KILLER”? you know nothing!!!

  • Michelle

    … Every ”GUY” should see? Girls can like martial arts movies just as much as guys.

  • no rio

    Once upon a time there were also “The Five Venoms” who “Challenge of the Masters” with like the help of an “Eight.Diagram.Pole.Fighter” and a “Boxer.From.The.Temple” who knew of the “Seven.Steps.of.Kung.Fu” and mastered the “Shaolin.Mantis”, this before the “Master with cracked fingers” ;)

    Fist of legend, Mystery.of.Chess.Boxing, Drunken.Tai.Chi, Golden Arm …

  • no rio

    Hi GUYs and Michelle, the female woman :)

    few more ASIA movies, have fun ;

    The blade (tsui hark)
    Fighter in the wind
    Police Story 1, 2
    Born to defense (1986)
    Project A (1983)
    Legend Of A Fighter (1982)

  • Purple

    Zatoichi !

  • Purple

    whats the movie called where the guys elephant gets stolen and at the end he ties it’s tusks around his arms and beats the crap outta everyone ? …

  • Purple

    what about BLOODSPORT JCVD!

  • Locboii

    The Protector

  • come on

    shut up your dumb.

  • Godfrey Ho

    Drop kill bill for Lady Snowblood, the movie tarintino ripped o… Was inspired by. I like Brotherhood of the Wolf, but it doesn’t belong on a kung fu/martial arts list. Swap it for Dynamite Warrior. Crouching Tiger is a dreadfully boring movie, gimme Legend of the Fist.

  • MJ


  • Modi

    I strongly endorse these films:
    1.Bourne I, II, and III- Spy movies featuring the martial art Kali, excellent acting, screenwriting, and directing

    2.Blade I and II- Comic book sci-fi horror featuring Karate and Street Fighting, excellent F/X , and directing

    3.Fist of Legend- Martial Arts movie featuring Kungfu, Karate, and Muy Thai, excellent choregraphy and story
    4.Raid I and II- Martial Arts movie featuring Silat- Solid story and excellent directing, The Raid II is quite simply the greatest martial arts film ever made(This is a statement shared by most Martial Art movie fans.
    5.The Matrix Reloaded- Sci Fi movie featuring Kung Fu- excellent directing and epic fight choreography
    6.Bunraku- Comic book style movie featuring Karate, Jujitsu, Boxing and Street Fighting, Samurai Sword Fighting and Parkour- The visual style is on par with if not rivals ‘Hero’
    7.Return of the Dragon- Martial Arts movie featuring Jeet Kune Do, Karate, Hapkido, and Street Fighting- Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris nuff said
    8.Marked for Death- Action movie featuring Aikido- Great popcorn flick
    9. The Last Samurai- Samurai movie featuring Samurai Sword Fighting, Karate, Jujitsu, and Ninjitsu-excellent acting, directing and cinematography

    10. Shaolin challenges Ninja- Martial Arts movie featuring Kungfu, Karate, and Ninjitsu- a classic. One of the best ninja movies fights ever.
    11. The Warrior’s Way- Martial Arts movie featuring Samurai Sword Fighting- This is a very solid B movie production with slick fight choreography

    12. Flash Point- Action movie featuring Kungfu, and MMA- One of the best action movies ever
    13. Dragon Fist-Martial Arts movie featuring Kung Fu- One of the only movies where Jackie Chan is less comedic and straight up kicks ass.
    14. Drive-Action movie featuring Wun Hop Kue Do- a B movie with cheesy comedy but excellent fight choreography with spot on execution of acrobatic martial arts blended with brutal in fighting.

  • Baka

    That’d take too much energy to type out. No reason to waste all that effort on that particular response.

    Correction; “you’re”.** (That’s what you should have typed, if you wanted to be pretentious, by the way.)

  • Rizwan

    Ong Back

  • Blitztroll


  • Shan Garton

    no they cant so stfu

  • Connor

    Except for the part where the period goes inside the quotation marks, you pseudo-intelligent gump.

  • Rohit Arora

    I don’t see any reference of Tai Chi or Shaolin movies…

  • Potato

    Drunken Master 2. Snake in the eagles shadow. Game of death…


    how can she be a woman if she isnt female, you dont need both pick one you greedy fuck.



  • Sam K

    Um no they don’t – you’re the exception not the rule hun, lol

    That’d be like saying “Guys like watching Glee or listening to Justin Bieber just as much as a girls”. Unless maybe you’re talking about gay guys then nothing could be further off base, lol

  • abadon

    What a joke… You call this should see? Are you retarded or something ? Probably 2-3 on this list can be as should see rest is just crap!!! There are far better martial arts films but i guess this is what you get when you give idiot chance to write what is “should” see!!

  • a girl.

    michelle is right! i’m a girl, and i love martial arts, and there’s many girls who love martial arts too. don’t be sexist’s. and, by the way, i don’t know any guy who loves artial marts more than i do. so shut the fuck up.