Top 10 Chinese Martial Arts Movies of All Time

Written by Don P on . Posted in Challenge #9

(Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes) - Ninjas in a Row

In this country, we don't expect much from martial arts movies. Out-of-sync dialog and a shallow, played out plot ("you killed my [father/master/mother/wife/dog/cat], so now to avenge their death I'm going to kill [you/your father/master/mother/wife/dog/cat]") is totally acceptable as long as some serious ass kicking happens along the way.

In all fairness, for this list I could have just listed ten Bruce Lee movies and wiped my hands of writing because we all know Bruce Lee kicks more ass than you ever will. But, believe it or not, there are other martial arts movies starring other actors that deserve a shit load of credit, too — despite all of them having the same plot as described above.

In no particular order...

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (卧虎藏龙 Wo hu cang long) - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Genre: Action/Adventure
Director: Ang Lee
Actors: Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang
Plot: Two warriors in pursuit of a stolen sword and a notorious fugitive are led to an impetuous, physically skilled, adolescent nobleman's daughter, who is at a crossroads in her life.

Hero (英雄 Ying xiong) - Hero Genre: Action/Adventure
Director: Yimou Zhang
Actors: Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung
Plot: In ancient times China was divided into seven kingdoms. Qin, the king of the western most province, is under permanent threat of assassination attempts. His greatest fears are the warriors "Broken Sword", "Flying Snow" and "Sky". One day one of the magistrates of his kingdom enters the palace, claims that he defeated all three of the emperor's adversaries and tells his story; how he beat "Sky" in a duel and used the love between "Broken Sword" and "Flying Snow" to subdue them.

Fist of Fury (精武门 Jing wu men) - Fist of Fury Genre: Action/Drama
Director: Wei Lo
Actors: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, James Tien
Plot: Chen Chen returns to the international compound of China only to learn of his beloved teacher's death. This is compounded by the continual racist harassment by the Japanese population in the area. Unlike his friends, he confronts it head on with his mastery of martial arts while investigating his teacher's murder.

Kung Fu Hustle (功夫) - Kung Fu Hustle Genre: Action/Comedy
Director: Stephen Chow
Actors: Stephen Chow, Wah Yuen, Kwok-Kwan Chan
Plot: In Shanghai, China in the 1940s, a wannabe gangster aspires to join the notorious "Axe Gang" while residents of a housing complex exhibit extraordinary powers in defending their turf.

The Way of the Dragon (猛龙过江 Meng long guo jiang) - Way of the Dragon Genre: Action/Crime
Director: Bruce Lee
Actors: Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Chuck Norris
Plot: Bruce Lee's character is sent to protect a man and his restaurant in Rome. As he shows his skill to the rest of the team, the mafia try to kill him. With little success, they bring in the ultimate fighter, Chuck fucking Norris!

Drunken Master (醉拳 Jui kuen) - Drunken Master Genre: Action/Comedy
Director: Woo-ping Yuen
Actors: Jackie Chan, Siu Tien Yuen, Jang Lee Hwang
Plot: His nickname is Naughty Panther, so earned because of his lack of discipline. Constantly clowning around when he should be learning Kung Fu, his father sends him to live with and study under his uncle - a sadistic Master with the reputation of crippling his students. Meanwhile, a rival landowner places a price on Fei Hung's father's head... and an assassin answers the call.

House of Flying Daggers (十面埋伏 Shi mian mai fu) - House of Flying Daggers Genre: Action/Romance
Director: Yimou Zhang
Actors: Ziyi Zhang, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau
Plot: During the reign of the Tang dynasty in China, a secret organization called "The House of the Flying Daggers" rises and opposes the government. A police officer called Leo sends officer Jin to investigate a young dancer named Mei, claiming that she has ties to the "Flying Daggers". Leo arrests Mei, only to have Jin breaking her free in a plot to gain her trust and lead the police to the new leader of the secret organization. But things are far more complicated than they seem.

Jet Li's: Fearless (霍元甲 Huo Yuan Jia) - Jet Li's: Fearless Genre: Action/Drama
Director: Ronny Yu
Actors: Jet Li, Yong Dong, Betty Sun
Plot: When an ill-advised fight destroys the reputation of a renowned martial arts champion and his family, his difficult path to redemption will bring him face-to-face with the most ferocious fighters in the world.

Fist of Legend (精武英雄 Jing wu ying xiong) - Fist of Legend Genre: Action/Drama
Director: Gordon Chan
Actors: Jet Li, Shinobu Nakayama, Siu-hou Chin
Plot: Chen Zhen leaves Shanghai for Kyoto and finds nothing but insult and abuse from the Japanese, especially after pursuing Mitsuko Yamada, daughter of the director. Yet when he learns of the death of his old kung fu master - he returns home determined to prove his master died not in a fight, but through poisoning. The honor of Chen and Japan are at stake, leading to one final, epic battle that will settle the score once and for all.

Shaolin Soccer (少林足球 Siu lam juk kau) - Shaolin Soccer Genre: Action/Comedy
Director: Stephen Chow
Actors: Stephen Chow, Man Tat Ng, Wei Zhao
Plot: Sing is a skilled Shaolin kung fu devotee whose amazing "leg of steel" catches the eye of a soccer coach. Together they assemble a squad of Sing's former Shaolin brothers inspired by the big-money prize in a national soccer competition. Using an unlikely mix of martial arts and newfound soccer skills, it seems an unbeatable combination until they must face the dreaded Team Evil in the ultimate battle for the title.


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