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Top best and worst martial arts movies ever made.


jhfagan
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On my recent Hong Kong martial arts movies viewing binge, I wondered to myself, what's the best and worst contemporary martial arts movies made?

 

Well, I don't know EVERY movie out there, but a few that I do know of, make my worst list:

Gymkata

 

Mortal Kombat Annihilation

 

Game Of Death 2

 

No Retreat No Surrender ( one of Van Damme's earlier films )

A HORRIBLE martial arts film. Just horrible.

 

and I know I'll probably get flack for this, but ...

The Last Dragon

It IS fun to watch sometimes, and the martial arts are decent, and Sho'nuff is classic, but the movie is too cringe inducing for me more times than not.

 

 

 

 

Best?

Another long list, but just a few:

 

With the exception of Game Of Death, all Bruce Lee movies are lumped as one awesome martial arts movie!

 

Crouching Tiger, of course. ( you don't fuck with "The Fat" !!! )

 

(probably get flack for this too but.... ) the first Mortal Kombat

For "martial arts" its great! But bad bad marks for casting Conner McCleod as the Thunder God.ugh

 

And to round it all out,

 

Big Trouble In Little China!!!!!!!!

Yeah baby. :)

This is required viewing.

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IMHO...

 

Top martial arts movies:

 

Iron Monkey - Funny with some spectacular fight scenes and of course, the great Donnie Yen (who's so criminally under-used in American movies like Blade II and Shanghai Knights).

 

Enter the Dragon - While all of Bruce Lee's other films have some great fight scenes, the plots and production values were more reminiscent of a typical porno. Enter the Dragon is a big budget movie with great fight scenes and a cast of literally hundreds.

 

Shogun Assassin - Lone Wolf and Cub. The Masters of Death. 'Nuff said!

 

Ong Bak - Combine the acrobatics of early Jackie Chan with the fighting of Jet Li and you get Ong Bak.

 

Hero: I think this movie is better in every way compared to the more acclaimed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (not that I'm saying I didn't like Crouching Tiger). The visuals are simply breathtaking and the story resonates.

 

Master of the Flying Guillotine - I remember watching this as a kid but it didn't hold up as well when I watched it on DVD a couple of years back. I think a remake of that movie with better production values/effects would be pretty cool though. Despite it not holding up well with age, there are a lot of really inventive characters in this movie and it will always hold a place in my heart.

 

Worst martial arts movies:

 

Gymkata - I almost hesitate to put this in here, since it's almost offensive to call this a martial arts movie. However, the laughable placement of gymnastic equipment (metal bars sticking out of buildings for him to swing around and something that looked an awful lot like a pommel horse in an old town!) puts this on the worst list.

 

Best of the Best - This movie is so cliched and sappy that you will find yourself laughing out loud at it. Eric Roberts at his best (or worst).

 

The Last Dragon - This movie is everything bad about the 80's. The horrible acting is perfectly matched with the horrible plot. If not for Sho'Nuff, the Shogun of Harlem, I'd probably vote this the worst.

 

The Karate Kid (and its sequels) - I used to love the Karate Kid (not so much the second one and not at all the third one) when I was in my teens. However, having recently seen the first and second one again, they are not good. With the exception of Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi, the acting is pedestrian and the characters are cartoony. The fights are unimpressive at best. Daniel-san is such a whiny little git that I enjoyed watching him get his ass kicked by Cobra Kai. If not for the dreaded flying crane kick that won the all-valley karate tournament, we all could have been spared two sequels.

Edited by Masta Red Snappa
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Man, Ong Bak was fun, wasn't it? It isn't often that I'd say a martial arts movie is "charming," but that foot chase through the city and the funny autorickshaw chase were just that.

 

After wire-work spread like wildfire (to even Charlie's Angels!), it was refreshing to see a martial arts movie bereft of it. It just makes you appreciate the things Tony Jaa can do that much more.

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My Favs...

 

Drunken Master 2 (I'm talking the original cut: screw the happy ending! :) )

Police Story (I still can't believe Jackie really did that ending scene)

Enter the Dragon (A Perfect Film in my mind)

Hero (THE BEST Jet Li film. Hands down KICKASS and needs a proper BD release)

God of Cookery (it's Martial Arts... with COOKING. My personal favorite Stephen Chow movie)

 

"Worst"...

 

Ong Bak (Tony Ja is amazing, however the acting/story were AWFUL ... I'm actually looking forward to Chocolate however [from the same Director])

Game of Death 2 (shouldn't even exist.)

Big Trouble in Little China (I hate this movie. I don't know why. It gives me a headache. And I LOVE Carpenter/Kurt Russell too! I love The Thing & Escape from New York! Even Escape from LA! :) )

Mortal Kombat (even when I was a kid I thought this film was utterly retarded. MK: Annihilation was actually quite enjoyable though, IMHO!)

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My Favs...

 

God of Cookery (it's Martial Arts... with COOKING. My personal favorite Stephen Chow movie)

 

"Worst"...

 

Ong Bak (Tony Ja is amazing, however the acting/story were AWFUL ... I'm actually looking forward to Chocolate however [from the same Director])

 

God of Cookery sounds great; thanks for the heads up!

 

I think it's interesting that you put Ong Bak on the worst list. I can't disagree with your complaints about acting and story, though. Still, I thought the guy who played the city cousin was hilarious and was an stand-out from the acting perspective.

 

But you and me, Lutter? We're done professionally. ;)

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LOL... I knew that putting BTiLC on my worst list would upset the forum! :) Sorry! :D

 

I don't think God of Cookery has been released in Region 1... there's a Hong Kong release that can be picked up on DDDhouse.com here: http://www.dddhouse.com/v3/product_details.php?ProductID=479

 

It's not the best disc in the world (non-anamorphic widescreen, iirc) but it has english subtitles and is region-free.

 

I can't recommend DDDhouse.com enough... I've gotten tons of stuff on their "Weekly Cheap Sale!" (incl. God of Cookery for like $4 after conversion). Fast Shipping and (strangely for Hong Kong) legit discs. They carry Blu-ray discs as well.

 

If you like Chow also check out The King of Comedy. It's more comedy than Kung Fu but outside of that genre I'd say it's Chow's most touching film as a director.

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Best:

 

Black Belt (Kuro Obi): the only movie I've seen that portrays karate accurately

Karate Kid: saw it in the theater, it's based on Shorei-kan, and written by someone from my school. Plus, "Sweep the leg!"

Enter the Dragon

Kung Fu Hustle

Legend of Drunken Master

 

Worst:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Love the movie, but the martial arts were pretty goofy (not in an intended way like Kung Fu Hustle)

Redbelt: I love Mamet, but his elevation of MMA as the ultimate thing evar was offputting

Rush Hour, 2, 3: Ugh.

Karate Kid 3: Hillary Swank, bad Tae Kwan Do moonlighting as karate, dancing lessons, barf.

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