The Best Martial Arts Films Of All Time!
I’ve been doing various martial arts since I was 8 years old. It’s more than just a part of my life – martial arts principles and philosophies actually form a huge base of my every waking moment.
But what are my all-time favourite films?
I’m glad you asked, because here they are:
Roadhouse – Ok, so this isn’t a pure martial arts film, as such, but I feel it needs to be included. The main reason for this is Sawyze’s ‘Throat Ripping’ move. Legend has it, that if anyone pushes him too far, he’ll rip their throat out and watch them die. How fucking cool is that? Near the end he does it, and leaves the Bad Guy’s corpse face down in the river. Have at you! For years after, if anyone would have got me REALLY angry, I’m sure I’d have ripped their throats out! Rarr!!! And there’s another thing – however ‘hard’ you think Swayze is through the film (or any of his ‘hard’ films) there is the inevitable moment where he does a flying kick that looks so blatantly Ballet-Gay, you just want to bitchslap the Mo Fo and break his legs for being such a damn fairy!
Rocky – All of these films are entertaining to watch, although again, the actual boxing moves are rarely a large part. The down-an-out Bum triumphs over the unstoppable bad guys! Yay!!!
“I will break you.”
ANY Steven Segal Film – they’re all pretty damn shit, as far as storyline and stuff goes – especially after he turned all hippie. But the guy really is a true Master of Aikido. One thing he stands firm on in his films is that the techniques are shown in full detail. He’s also so fast that he has to slow down the moves or the camera would miss them, much like Bruce Lee had to. There are clips around of Segal teaching and giving Aikido demonstrations for real – check that shit out and tell me he isn’t one bad little screw-head? His role in all his films is someone who’s got so much skill he’s untouchable and unbeatable – which is cool as hell, but gets a bit tired… Any of his films are choc-full of Trap-‘N’Snap moves. Mmm.
The Karate Kid 1 & 2 – These are pretty much one film. I love them! I’ll watch them whenever they’re on even now! They have it all, especially when you’re a young teen. Little weakling Danny La Rousso gets bullied by nasty Karate gang, he trains with wise old Mr Miyagi and then whupps all their asses in a tournament, despite their dirty tactics. Oh, and the music is so cheesy it’s cool. I have it all on my hard drive… But what a -ing ponce little Daniel-San is when he fights?! My God, even though I’m routing for the runt, even I want to see him get battered. STOP BEING SUCH A PANSY AND HIT HIM!!!! Crane kick? GAYYYYYYY!
To be fair his snap punches were lovely, and when I fought in Karate competitions back in the day – I wore a head band, too… Oh the shame… (I still have my headband)
The Drunken Master – Actually I’d recommend just about all of Jackie Chans films. This is one of the early dubbed ones, set in Ancient China. It’s funny as hell, mixed with tragedy. All of Chan’s films are highly entertaining and the guy amazes me how he moves. The highlight of this film, after being pretty light and jokey all the way through, is when The Master demonstrates the true Drunken Master technique. Suddenly it all goes dark and serious, as he displays the truly awesome power of this deadly style. “Snake In Eagles Shadow” is probably my next favourite.
The Last Samurai – Oh my God – it’s a Tom Cruise film! That major flaw aside, I love this. It has real atmosphere, and is a great insight into the Samurai way of life in feudal Japan. Although I could tell you things about Samurai that would make you hate them, in this instance they are the Good Guys, trying to cling to and defend their honourable way of life against the Age Of The Gun and industrialisation and all that nasty modern stuff. Tom was training the Gun People when he was captured by the Samurai, and he lives in their village, learning their ways and eventually fighting for them against the people he was training. An excellent lesson in how modern times have fucked up everyones sense of honour and peaceful living. The bastards. The scenes where a young Samurai boy is play-fighting with Tom with bokken (heavy oak training swords) is brilliant, as is his training against the other samurai as he gets better.
Man, I can’t say enough about this film – it gets me all emotional just thinking about it! It teaches a lot of the principles from ‘The Hagakure’ – which should be the bible for living your life. I shall watch it tonight!
American Samurai – This is one of the cheesiest films ever made – but also the best for weapons fighting! Little white boy is orphaned or rescued by a Japanese family, where he grows up and trains alongside the Japs own son, Kenjiro. They both get good, but as they get older Kenjiro turns Bad, and eventually goes all Yakuza and disowns the family, after calling the American ‘brother’ a “Geijin!”. The Yank goes to live in America, then years later (can’t remember if he’s kidnapped or goes poking about) he finds himself fighting in an underground tournament, where people enter with their choice of weapons.
There’s some excellent Wu Shu type fighting, and some cool as fuck bloke who fights with two swords and has a blade in his long ponytail, that he whips out. And his trick is to run up the wall, flip over, and land behind the opponent.
There’s some serious slicing and dicing. Of course, there’s a huge redneck bloke who enters with a fucking hunting knife. Err… WTF??? Of course, the tournament champion is none other than Kenjiro, who’s practising his vastly superior chopping skills and winning everything. He lops the big redneck clean in twain, as he’s shouting and trying to act all scary. Serves him right.
The two ‘brothers’ match up at the end, and it’s a damn good fight – Samurai to Samurai. I need to get this on DVD!
The Fighter – This is the only modern martial arts film worth watching. This is the story of boxer ‘Irish’ Mickey Ward and his rise from being completely overshadowed by his local hero brother through to becoming a contender for the Welterweight championship.
Unlike Rocky, this IS a proper boxing film without huge Russians and melodrama. There is plenty of real-life drama, though! Mickeys big brother has fallen from his days of boxing fame and into the use of crack cocain, and their family is so dysfunctional, unfair, and just plain nasty that you’ll find yourself shouting at the screen. All the acting is top notch (especially from the lovely Amy Adams playing Mickeys girlfriend) and it will entertain even those with no interest at all in boxing.
Kickboxer – Tong Po is a fucking God! Every single scene and line in this film is a classic! Big hard Yank Kickboxing champ goes to Thailand to face their Muay Thai Champion – Tong Po. Despite warnings from the yanks little brother (Van Damme, who’s just witnessed Tong Po warming up: “Legs? This guy was kicking one of these (a wall post) with his fucking legs – BAM! BAM! – until plaster was falling down!!!”), they fight and Tong Po splatters him, breaking his back up good and proper and leaving him in a wheelchair. Van Damme gets mad, and swears revenge, eventually training with an old Master until he’s good enough to stick it to the big bald bloke.
Awesome training montage’s, and it has a real feel about it that makes you want to go to Thailand to take in the beauty – not the drugs and hookers – of this ancient civilisation. And again I love the soundtrack!
A great demonstration of how beautiful and brutal Muay Thai Kickboxing is, and a cheesy but engaging plot!
So my all-time favourite is….
Bloodsport – Yes, another Van Damme film (one of his first ever). The Young Van Damme is saved from a path of naughtiness when he gets caught burgling a Japanese man’s house, who then offers to train him up with his own son. The japs son dies in the war, then he gets ill, and Van Damme vows to enter the secret Kumite tournament to prove his style of Ninjitsu is the best in the world. To enter, he goes AWOL from the Army (who then chase him throughout the film) and enters the tournament. The customary big redneck Yank (Jackson) is entered and they become friends, until the big bad guy – Bolo Yeung – stamps on his head and puts him in a coma – so more incentive for Van Damme to kick ass. Bolo Yeung is a truly evil Bad Guy, who inflicts pain and death on his opponents, and is just plain scary.
The range of fight styles shown is amazing – from Kung Fu to Karate to Muay Thai to Monkey Style! It’s all here, and the fight scenes are a joy to watch!
Of course, Van Damme meets Yeung in the finals, and Yeung blinds Van Damme with some powder… Luckily, Van Damme, in an earlier excellent training/torture montage, has trained to fight blindfolded, so concentrates and gets in the zone, then kicks Yeung’s ass – eventually getting him to submit and admit defeat. By the final, the MP’s that were chasing Van Damme are cheering him on, and he goes back peacefully after he wins.
This film has possibly The Worst Sex Scene EVER! All you see is sweaty backs and cheesy music.
It’s also allegedly based on the true story of Frank Dux, Ninjitsu ‘Master’ and holder of untold tournament ‘records’. But, I’m sorry to say that Mr Dux was a big fat liar who made much of this up. Still an awesome film, though! And again – so is the cheesy music!
………… so where the hell are all the Bruce Lee films, you ask??? Well they’re not here. Because I don’t particularly like them. I never have been a big fan of Bruce Lee’s films, and to me even when I was young they looked dated and over the top. As a martial artist, I think very highly of Bruce Lee – but his films don’t turn me on as much as the above. So there.
Any I’ve missed out that you feel should be here?