Best Kung Fu films ever made.
written by Souranath Banerjee
Kung fu or wushu are chinese words that refers to the age old tradition of Chinese Martial Arts.
In ancient China, Kung fu was first introduced as a method of self-defence and hunting, and was also a part of the country’s military training. Essentially a hand to hand combat system (with different forms and styles of fighting) but then again, certain classic Chinese weapons are often used as well.
Since long time martial art has been introduced in films for entertainment and such action films were very popular in China and in a few other Asian countries.
But only in the early 70s, the craze for kung fu films hit the west, and the person responsible for giving kung fu a world-wide recognition was none other than Bruce Lee.
Then there was Jackie Chan and Jet Li who prolonged the tradition.
Nowadays, even in Hollywood action films like The Matrix Trilogy, Kill Bill, and The Transporter stylized forms of kung fu are extensively used and well appreciated by the audience.
Listed below are some of the best Kung fu films ever made that can be enjoyed even if you are not a hard core action film lover.
Let’s kick start the list.
10. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m3IB7N_PRk
Directed by Stephen Chow also known for films like Shaolin Soccer and The God of Cookery – this one is the most entertaining kung fu film.
According to Bill Murray this film is ‘the supreme achievement of the modern age in terms of comedy‘.
According to famous film critic Roger Ebert ‘Imagine a film in which Jackie Chan and Buster Keaton meet Quentin Tarantino and Bugs Bunny’.
9. Ip Man (2008)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhz4Jl6nf58
A semi-biographical account of the most influential martial art master Grandmaster Yip Man.
The man who taught martial art to the world, he was also renowned as the teacher and inspiration of the legendary kung fu master Bruce Lee.
Directed by Wilson Yip, the film tries to be as real and authentic to the grandmaster’s life as possible.
8. Come Drink with Me (1966)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1A6PnPZ6Gk
Directed by King Hu, also known for films like A Touch of Zen and Dragon Inn started the modern trend of kung fu films.
This film is said to be the first Hong Kong martial art film which portrayed kung fu as pure entertainment and each ‘fight scene as art form’.
This film has more historical value than than any other in this list.
7. Ong-bak (2003)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJvMhOkwH9I
Tony Jaa, the face of the new martial art superstar gets his introduction through this film.
After an extensive four years training, Tony Jaa performed all his stunts by himself, no wires or CGI were used in the fight scenes.
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the film was a huge hit for it’s epic fight sequences and the extreme acrobatic stunts.
6. The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6f6f_kfp1Z8
Directed by Gareth Evans, this is one extreme action-packed film, the best in the recent times.
The Martial Art used in this movie is Pencak Silat, which is the indigenous fighting style of Indonesia.
Iko Uwais and his fighting skills are simply awesome. If you like this film then The Raid 2 is also a must watch.
5. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65GQtH6pzTY
Chia-Hui Liu plays the guy who firstly gets beaten by the brutal Manchu clan; then he learns martial art and goes back to take his revenge.
Hence forth this learn-and-revenge plot has been done to death in numerous films.
Directed by Chia-Liang Liu, this one is one of the kung fu classics.
4. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEaGsdiA0y0
Yun-Fat Chow, Michelle Yeoh, Ziyi Zhang, Chen Chang and Pei-Pei Cheng all together in this exclusive kung fu drama.
Directed by master director Ang Lee, the film was a huge success – the first foreign language film to earn over $100 million in the United States.
A story of passion, love, revenge and much more – an unique action film without any real violence!
3. Hero (2002)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srFhXDZhUZI
Directed by Yimou Zhang, who is also famous for House of Flying Daggers and Curse of the Golden Flower.
The most expensive Chinese movie till date, epic fight sequences and visually the most beautiful film ever made!
Jet Li at his best along with Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung Ziyi Zhang and Daoming Chen.
2. Drunken Master (1978)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQMNllz6aE0
The film that kick-started Jackie Chan‘s career and also portrayed his unique ability to combine kung fu with comedy.
Drunken Fist Kung Fu is a particular style of fighting that is highlighted in this film.
Directed by Woo-Ping Yuen, this was a landmark film that paves the path for the infinite comic-action films to be made ever since.
- Enter the Dragon (1973)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tB-QGOChuQc
Bruce Lee, the legend of martial arts, the man who made kung fu movies a world wide sensation – this was his last film shot before he passed away at a young age of 32.
Directed by Robert Clouse, the film was a sensation and a landmark in action genre.
The ‘Hall of Mirrors’ sequence, the cave fight were Lee beats 50 people at a go, and then the unique steel hands of the antagonist Han were some of the highlights of the film. This one is one of it’s kind and a must watch for everybody.
and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch).
+1. Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery (1928)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=012M83Me6us
The film that successfully introduced martial arts in cinema – it runs for 27 hours and thus it’s the longest film ever produced!
It was split up and released as 18 features between 1928 and 1931, of which Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery is one.
Directed by Shichuan Zhang, this Chinese film is considered as a classic and rightly so.
Poster courtesy: www.impawards.com, www.topchinesemovies.com, en.wikipedia.org.