Guide Picks - Ten Most Influential Martial Arts Movies
These movies are notable not just for great martial arts stories, but because of the impact they had on viewers and on the film industry. Did you start training in the martial arts because of Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi? Or because of Bruce Lee?
1) "Enter the Dragon"
The one that started it all. Bruce Lee stars as the Asian James Bond, traveling to a remote island to kick some legendary butt. The standard by which all others are judged.
2) "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon"
Beautiful. This movie blew critics' minds--that you could have romance, a compelling story, and incredible cinematography, costuming, and locations in a martial arts movie. Raised the bar for all the others to follow.
3) "Seven Samurai"
One of the greatest movies of all time, period. The inspiration for "The Magnificent Seven," "Battle Beyond the Stars," and a host of admiring copycats. What, you don't have this in your collection already? Shame on you!
4) "The Karate Kid"
How many kids got into the martial arts because of Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi? When you wash your car, does "Wax on, wax off" echo in your head? Are you embarassed about those high school photos of you in that silly kamikaze headband? Blame this movie.
5) "Billy Jack"
Billy Jack is a half-Native American, half-white martial artist who spreads his message of peace by beating up the mean rednecks that persecute the local pacifists. Hapkido fight sequences courtesy of Grandmaster Bong Soo Han. "Billy Jack" taught a generation of 70's kids to love peace--and the martial arts.
6) "Five Fingers of Death"
This was one of the first Shaw Brothers movies to get theatrical release in the U.S., launching the 1970's karate craze. Remember Count Dante? When Billy "Tae Bo" Blanks was a point-sparring competitor? Ah, those were the days. Gory flick.
7) "The Matrix"
So what if Keanu Reeves doesn't make a convincing martial artist ("Dude! I know kung fu!"). This movie has paved the way for other great Yuen Woo Ping films to make it big in the theaters, like "Iron Monkey".
8) "Rumble in the Bronx"
Jackie Chan's first big U.S. movie plunks him down in the middle of the Bronx (which oddly looks a lot like Vancouver, B.C.). Tons of fun, especially the long fight sequence against the "gang members" (who oddly look like the cast of Fame). While not the best Chan movie, it introduced Jackie to a legion of new fans.
9) "Enter the Ninja"
Lame attempt at flashback to the 80's haiku: Duran Duran video on the TV screen. Skinny tie around your neck. And ninjas in every shadow. Whatever happened to Sho Kosugi, anyway?
10) "Good Guys Wear Black"
Chuck Norris' breakout film (no pun intended) had an amazing shot of Chuck kicking the driver of a speeding automobile through the windshield. The rest of this 1978 movie wasn't as great as that scene, but for nostalgic martial arts movie fans, this is great fun. This movie launched Chuck's career, and paved the way for the other Hollywood martial artists (Van Damme, Seagal) to follow.
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