The era of dug-in cinema has already passed its best years, but the beauty of the present day is that we can at any moment return to the rich history of cinema and reach for whatever we want. This time let’s take a look the best martial arts movies.
Kung-fu movies – a forgotten classic?
The once dug cinema was triumphant and was one of the most popular film genres. The 70s and 80s, that is before the era of great development of special effects, were an ideal period for this type of film, which provided almost unreal and unbelievable fighting scenes that delighted everyone who watched them. And although movie mods have changed, martial arts cinema still resonates in pop culture, perhaps less directly, but its echoes can be seen in some series and the greatest blockbusters. Hardly any genre contributed to such a powerful and rapid development of cinematic stunt. In the twenty-first century, of course, also began to appear films referring to the tradition of kung-fu production, which was relatively loud. We also have the successors of Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan in the form of Iko Uwais, Tony Jaa and Donnie Yen. The martial arts cinema is still alive and well. Here are some of his best examples.
In this case, the plot is just an excuse for a trip through Thailand, which includes crazy chase sequences and even crazier fight scenes. “Ong-Bak” simply stuns with the choreography of the duels and at times it is hard to believe that they were shot without any support with ropes or CGI.
Five Element Ninjas
This movie is just crazy in the best sense of the word. It looks like a cartoon or a crazy anime series, but in a version with real people and scenery. The plot focuses on several young warriors seeking revenge against the ninja clan who massacred their colleagues. In this movie, however, the villains really stand out. Each group of ninja has their own bizarre costumes and absurd quirks. Golden ninjas use their shields to blind their enemies. Water ninjas use pipes and drag their opponents underwater to drown them. Fire ninjas use smoke screens to hide and move around. Wooden ninjas pretend to be trees and use claws to cut and rip apart. Finally, earth ninjas can somehow dig through solid soil like earthworms, jump out of the ground, attacking like missiles. There is a method in this madness – because although it is all true nonsense, it is extremely entertaining, at times funny and full of absurdities, and the fight scenes are a real mastery.
Okay, the feature film “The Defender” is certainly the worst movie on this list. Tony Jaa plays a man who goes to Australia in search of… a kidnapped elephant. But leaving aside the script (who actually watches martial arts movies for the script?) And let’s focus on the fact that “The Defender” is an incredible display of combat sequences that are among the best that a film camera has captured. Including one of the most ambitious in the history of cinema, in which Jaa fights a horde of opponents in one, 4-minute long shot. Considered by many to be one of the best action scenes in history.
Raid is undoubtedly one of the most impressive fighting movies of the 21st century. And one of the few cases of dug cinema, which, apart from phenomenal fights, evokes a feeling of claustrophobia in the viewer, because almost the entire plot takes place in the narrow corridors and rooms of the skyscraper. The fighting scenes in “Raid” look so realistic and are so breakneck that just watching them hurts. This cinema is dug to the extreme.
36 Shaolin chamber
This film, in turn, is the best confirmation of the saying that it is not the destination, but the journey itself that counts. This is one of the few examples of a production in which the main emphasis was placed not on subsequent fights with opponents, but on the training sequences that the main character goes through in the Shaolin monastery. In each of the 36 chambers, he must discipline his body, mind, reflexes and will. The training scenes are at the heart of this production and they are simply the center of the film and are wonderfully filmed and staged.
Jackie Chan considers “The Police Tale” to be his best film. I almost agree with him. I put both parts of “Drunken Master” higher, while “Police Tale” is right behind them. This is yet another film, which is actually a kind of apogee of Chan’s amazing career, who at that time proved that the human body is capable of working truly miracles. The sequences of the action in this film still cause a chattering effect and even the greatest Hollywood shows with the best stuntmen are not even able to come close to Jackie’s level. What we can see in “Police Tale” is a kind of movement poetry.
The entrance of the dragon
The choice is as obvious as it is necessary on this list. There was probably no film that would promote kung-fu cinema more, at least in the West. “Enter the Dragon” uses the classic tournament structure to present a whole host of great, superbly directed fights that have made their way into dug-movie classics. But it’s also just as captivating in the scenes where the main character investigates around the main villain’s stronghold. Without this movie, not only would Bruce Lee’s great career and the global fascination with kung-fu be absent, Enter the Dragon has paved the way for stars of future generations such as Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais . Without “Enter the Dragon” there would be no “Street Fighter” or “Mortal Kombat” (of course I drink more towards video games than their unsuccessful film adaptations).
Once upon a time in China
It’s hard to find a movie that is as close to perfection in the kung-fu genre. The more that Jet Li is one of the best actors in the history of dug movies. “Once Upon a Time in China ”is a masterful and visually beautiful mix of historical costume cinema, action and martial arts that few other items can match. It is also undoubtedly one of the best filmed (wonderful and simply beautiful photos) productions in this genre.
The legend of a drunk master
The sequel to “Drunken Master”, which itself is an absolute classic of kung-fu movies, is actually a masterpiece of the genre and the absolute best film in Jackie Chan’s career. It’s a kind of the best of Chan, which is simply unmatched in masterfully staged duels with a mixture of fighting, dancing, ballet and slapstick comedy. It is not without reason that Jackie Chan is considered the main heir to the talent of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin in the late twentieth century. What Chan did in front of the camera at the height of his career was simply unbelievable and unique, and Legend of the Drunken Master brings it all together in one film.
Wu Du. Five poisoners
“Wu Du. Five Poisoners ”are almost the Avengers in the kung-fu version. The plot is a classic story about the fight between good and evil, but told in such an engaging way that it is difficult to break away from this film. This is the first production in which a group of dug-cinema actors appeared, called collectively Venom Mob. “Wu Du. Five poisoners “is characterized by an excellent choreography, splendid scenes of fist and foot fights, and rarely seen in cinema of this type with beautiful scenery and costumes. Of course, this film beats (nomen omen) in the eyes with charming trash, but which kung-fu movie from the 70s . or the 80th did not beat? Overall, “Wu Du. Five Poisoners ”presents the best of martial arts movies in a nutshell.
Movie rankings worth reading
On our website you will also find many other rankings and lists that are worth reading. Below is a list of them and we encourage you to read them.