Martial arts films not only have some of the most beautifully choreographed fight sequences, but often contain the most inspiring heroic journeys and dramatic storylines. It’s no wonder why it’s one of the most loved genres of film. These six mesmerizing martial arts movies are waiting for you this month on Netflix.
This 2002 Chinese film holds the distinction of being the first foreign film to open at No. 1 in the U.S. However, it wasn’t actually released in North America until 2004, with the help of Quentin Tarantino.
Another way this martial arts epic (also known as part of the wuxia genre) is intriguing? The Jet Li-led flick is based on the true story of Jing Ke, and his failed assassination attempt of Ying Zheng, King of Qin state.
2. Kung Fury
Casual fans of the genre may not be familiar with this title. The Swedish English-language short film is a comedy both poking fun at and paying homage to the ’80s Kung Fu films that so many were fond of.
The plot depicts a ninja cop who is sent back in time to kill Hitler. Crazy enough for you? Featuring purposefully terrible dubbing, extensive green screen, and a David Hasselhoff cameo, this crowd-funded 30-minute romp is a laugh fest from start to finish.
3. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon revolutionized the mainstream martial arts genre when it released back in 2000. Now, over a decade-and-a-half after the fact, we finally have a sequel, brought to us by none other than Netflix. The streaming service has upped their original programming in a big way, with Sword of Destiny acting as their first entry into the world of martial arts cinema. And while Rotten Tomatoes gave it a less-than-friendly 20% rating, it’s still worth watching for franchise fans who love a sequel.
4. Ip Man
With an 84% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Ip Man is “a period piece filmed on obvious but eye-pleasing studio sets with wall-to-wall kung fu and a simplistic, philosophical message,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It focuses on the conflict that arises when Ip’s (Donnie Yen) town of Foshun becomes occupied by the Japanese during the Sino-Japan war. His happy life is turned upside down as he is forced not only into labor, but also to spar for the amusement of those occupying his homeland. Ip is a Wing Chun grandmaster, and his skills appeal to a Japanese Colonel, who wants Ip to teach his soldiers — leading Ip to a challenge of his honor.
5. Chinese Zodiac
Indiana Jones meets James Bond in this action film about an adventurer tasked with recovering a group of valuable artifacts based on the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals. Martial arts legend Jackie Chan is, of course, the main star, while Oliver Platt co-stars as a powerful businessman who offers a reward for the return of the artifacts.
Fans of Jackie Chan take note: The multi-talented action star wore even more hats than usual in the making this film, including stints as director and producer. In fact, Chinese Zodiac earned Chan a Guinness World Record Award for the having the most credits in one movie (15 in total), per IMDb.
6. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
Produced by the legendary Shaw Brothers Studio, this 1978 film stars Gordon Liu (also known as Chia-Hui Liu) as San Te, a Shaolin monk who is drawn into an uprising against the Manchu government after they attack his family. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is widely considered one of the best kung fu films ever made, and its fans include director Quentin Tarantino, who featured Liu in both volumes of Kill Bill.
Additional reporting by Nathanael Arnold and Becca Bleznak.
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