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The Best Kung Fu Movies of All Time



The Best of Kung Fu Movies of All Time
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

The best of Kung Fu movies are a combination of violence and grace. Accordingly, this list of the top Kung Fu movies represents the author’s long-time love of the genre.

The Best of Kung Fu Movies

  • The One-Armed Swordsman (1967) – one of the first movies in the wuxia style, The One-Armed Swordsman inspired a trilogy. Additionally, it made Jimmy Wang a big star of the genre.
  • Enter the Dragon (1973) – notably the final movie completed by Bruce Lee before his untimely death at the age of 32. Many fans consider Enter the Dragon to be the greatest martial arts film of all time. In addition to Lee’s unquestioned star-power, the film was among the first to merge the martial arts, spy, and blaxploitation genres.
  • Drunken Master (1978) – Jackie Chan stars in this fun film of a young punk who hesitatingly learns the drunken fist style of Kung Fu in order to defeat the evil Thunderfoot. Additionally, this film was among the first Kung Fu movies to feature a strong comedic streak.
  • The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) – a great film about a young protestor (against the ruling Manchu government) escapes persecution by seeking sanctuary in a Shaolin temple to learn Kung Fu. In a unique twist, there are 35 “chambers’ the student must progress through, each building competency in a specific area. After completing the 35 chambers, the student leaves the temple to confront the evil regime. Consequently, the student defeats the evil general and returns to the temple to establish the “36th chamber”, where he intends to train ordinary people in Kung Fu.
  • Police Story (1985) – Another Jackie Chan vehicle that sees him as a police officer battling a ruthless crime lord. As is the case with many of Chan’s films, Police Story is a great mix of action and physical comedy.

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  • Iron Monkey (1993) – Ever wonder if there were a Chinese version of Zorro or Robin Hood? Well, whether you did or not, Iron Monkey is that film. Iron Monkey is actually the alter ego of a traditional Chinese physician. During the day, he runs his clinic and provides free medical treatment for the poor. At night, he dresses in black and travels around town to rob the rich and help the poor.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) – this mega-hit became the highest-grossing foreign-language film produced overseas in American history at the time. Mostly driven by three female characters, the film became an international success and established the concept of the female Kung Fu warrior.
  • Hero (2002) – A fictionalized telling of Jing Ke’s attempted assassination of the King of Qin in the second century BC. Jet Li stars in the lead role of Nameless, the assassin sent to kill the king. Hero was the first Chinese-language movie to top the American box office, where it stayed for two consecutive weeks.
  • Kung Fu Hustle (2004) – another comedy-action Kung Fu film. The movie tells the story of a murderous gang, unlikely heroes, and an aspiring gangster’s journey to find himself.
  • Fearless (2006) – loosely based on the life of Huo Yuanjia, a Chinese martial artist who challenged foreign fighters in highly publicized events. One of my favorite Jet Li movies, it has a Rocky-type of vibe and some truly excellent fight scenes.


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