Kung-Fu/Martial Arts Films - Best of?

I have been building my Samurai collection since I posted a thread about Samurai films last year. That has been very enjpoyable.

So I thought I would try again with a slightly different genre - this time really good Kung Fu/Martial Arts action films.

I have seen most Bruce Lee films, my favorite has always been Fists of Fury. I hope there is something equal or better that came out of Taiwan or somewhere else over the years…maybe even forgotten Amercian films.

I don’t like the Taiwanese films where the two toons are flying and dancing to some metronome as they fight. I would prefer to see good, at least plausible and believable action, with a nice story or plot. Comedy or drama.

I hate wire fu. I’d recommend:

Ong Bak - Tony Jaa is the best martial artist since Bruce Lee. His second film, which is almost a remake, isn’t as good, but still has some entertaining stuff in it - the Protector.

Fists of Legend - Jet Li remake of Bruce Lee’s Chinese Connection

Drunken Master 2/Legend of Drunken Master - Jackie Chan’s best, with some great, non-wire, martial arts.

Start with the Once upon a time in China series. They’re classic Hong Kong kung-fu with good stories, romance, and dramatic moments. You can skip the third in the series, “Once upon a time in China, in America, if you want.”

It’s a younger fitter, faster Jet Li, without the wire-fu.

If on the other hand, you prefer the Jackie Chan school of slapstick kung-fu. Go for the Police Story series, as well as Drunken Master. They’re lighter on the story, since most of them seem to be vehicles in which Jackie Chan can go break stuff.

Stay away from anythign involving an American / European pretending he knows anything about making a martial arts movie.

There were a raft of kung fu flicks coming out of Hong Kong in the 90s, many of them surprisingly strong. You’d be well served to dig into them. Some starters:

Jet Li: Fist of Legend, Once Upon a Time in America, My Father is a Hero
I enjoyed Kiss of The Dragon, but I think I’m in the minority on that.

Jackie Chan: Drunken Master 2, Project A (1 and 2), Police Story (there are several of these, all fun)

Shaw Brothers: Drunken Monkey (new), The Magic Blade (old, this may be a little wujia–flying people–for your tastes, but give it a try)

More as I think about it…

Edit: Ooh, a bunch of people composing replies at once with all the same stuff!

Magnificient Butcher.

Once Upon a Time in China and America was the sixth in the series and at least it’s better than the Li-less parts 4 and 5. It’s definitely a climbdown compared to the first three, though. And there’s plenty of wires in the OUATIC movies – Tsui Hark can’t make a movie without them. But there’s a big difference between wire-fu and the guys-flying-through-the-air stuff mok is talking about, which is more of a wuxia convention than a kung fu one.

Last Hero in China is sort of the “lost” OUATIC movie and it stacks up pretty well with the first three. It’s more of a comedy, though.

I really liked the Korean Mas Oyama bio-pic Fighter in the Wind. And while we’re going Korean, check out Musa the Warrior.

I loved House of Flying Daggers, though everyone else seems to like Hero better. The first two volumes of Once Upon a Time in China, already mentioned, are great cinema that rank right up there with The Godfather I & II. Unfortunately, the later sequels make The Godfather: Part III look like high art by comparison.

Jackie Chan is always good, but particularly in the series he’s most famous for: the Drunken Master movies, the Police Story series, and Operation Condor/Armour of God.

I second all suggestions so far, and I’ll add Jackie Chan’s The Myth (San Wa).
It’s a very recent movie, and it’s plain fun in the old style, like before he did any
Western movies. There’s also a hot Indian chick with an interesting martial arts
style. There’s a temple in India is training women, and he just happens upon them :P

There’s an especially crazy scene in a glue factory :)

Ong Bak is excessively violent. Blows to the head with 100-ton Buddha
statues? Pfft, they tough it out!

Fantasy Mission Force. It’s usually advertised as a Jackie Chan movie, even though he’s hardly in it.

It’s just such a fucked up, retarded movie that it’s awesome. I don’t even remember what it’s about, but I remember a group of men looking for some gold or treasure, and driving around in a car with Jewish symbols sparypaints all over it, I think they drive the Hitler car to. There’s a twenty to thirty minute scene where the group fights a horde of zombies, and at the end of the movie everyone in the team has died at least once. Some twice.

Chan makes an appearance as a small wrestler who pretends to die in the ring, or something. Good luck finding it.

Actually Fantasy Mission Force isn’t that obscure anymore. I’ve seen for sale in multiple places multiple times.

Ah. I actually found it in a $5.99 Jackie Chan DVD box set at Winners.

For shits and giggles…Crippled Masters. I was horrified and intrigued the first time I watched that.

Erik J.

Man, my tastes are so far the opposite of most peoples’ on these movies. I saw the first 2 Once Upon a Time in Chinas, and thought they were bad enough that I didn’t want to see any more. And I thought Legend of Drunken Master completely sucked. But, whatever.

These are wire fu, but my picks are:

Iron Monkey (the 1993 one)
Master of the Flying Guillotine
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

Ong Bak - Tona Jaa
Fist of Legend, New Legend of Shaolin - Jet Li
Drunken Master 2 - Jackie Chan

Jet Li’s “Fong Sai-Yuk”

Heaven Sword, Dragon Sabre (1981)
Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain (1982 and 1992)

DREADNAUGHT is a must see, the best tiger dance stuff ever.

King of Beggars is nice comedy and very kung fu hustle ish

8 diagram pole fighter is double super awesome as well.

Simple tip: if you see Gordon Liu, and he doesnt have any wrinkles, it’s a fucking awesome kung fu movie.

So wire-fu that wires can’t even cut it, Kung-Fu Hustle is still one of the best movies made. It puts the fun back into the genre.

Ong Bak, on the other hand, is the best “pure” martial arts movie I’ve seen in . . . ever.

For flashy wire-fu, Crouching Tiger is still tops in my book, just because the intervening bits are so well done. Production values do count.

Chan’s Legend of Drunken Master is pretty darn good, but isn’t serious. Who Am I? has a great final fight, but is pretty raw everywhere else. First Strike is probably my favorite of his imports.

Jet Li is at his best in Fist of Legend, Hero is pretty masturbatory and fakey-feeling.

My two cents.


No love for Brandon Lee’s “Rapid Fire” or “Showdown in Little Tokyo”?!

No, but now that you (almost) mention it:

Big Trouble in Little China.

Now there’s some quality chop-socky!