Top 6 Martial Arts Movie Fights of All Time: The KbJ Fans’ Edition

By Jesse | 32 Comments

Kung fu movies.

Taste the phrase.

We all have our favorite one. And we all have our favorite hero. From Bruce Lee to Jet Li, to Jackie Chan to Sammo Hung; kung-fu fighting has never looked cooler than on the big screen – especially when you know that most old-school stunts are done without Hollywood computer animation or even stuntmen (Jackie Chan is of course well-known, and scarred, for this admirable fact).

Traditional martial arts movies, of which kung-fu movies hold the top spot, appeal to us because we can connect to them in a whole other way than, say, The Matrix or any other random flashy Hollywood action movie of today.

They’re… more genuine.


And, correct me if I’m wrong here guys, but I certainly don’t think it would be an understatement if I wrote that many of us certified Karate Nerds™ probably started out practising the martial arts precisely because of kung-fu movies?

As kids we were easily enchanted by the classical storyline: poor/frail/lonely boy gets bullied, proceeds to meet secretive martial arts master with weird moustache, proves himself through various strenuous tasks, to finally get accepted for one-on-one tutoring in the long lost art of kicking ass through the use of such exotic moves as various ‘animal forms’ (crane, tiger, dragon fist etc.) and hidden death/K.O. points.

Or something like that.

In any case, the coolest part of most martial arts movies is, obviously, the fight(s). Sure, cheesy monologue and awkward dubbing (not to mention the classical hairy mole) has its place (it certainly is memorable), but it is always those special fight moments that you talk about the morning after with the other kids at school. At least that was always the case around my hood.

So, to sort of commemorate those happy ol’ days (I’m talking before you had to grow up and start waching the 6 o’clock news instead of awesome kung-fu movies), last Tuesday I asked you, my dear readers, on the official KbJ community Facebook page, what YOUR all-time favorite must-see movie fight scene was.

Personally, I posted this one (from Fist of Legend with Jet Li):

(See all those nasty, gritty, dirty Karate bunkai in there? Juji uke [cross block] á la Heian/Pinan Godan or Gankaku/Chinto at 2:00 btw!)

And the replies came faster than I could ever have expected!

Which was awesome, of course.

So without further ado, here are, as recommended by the super knowledgeable KbJ Facebook fan page movie connoisseurs, some of the best martial arts fight scenes ever to hit the big screen:

1. Legend of the Wolf (1997) – Donnie Yen vs. Mak Wai Cheung

Donnie Yen is one hell of a guy (he’s also in Iron Monkey, my #1 favorite movie actually) who kicks and punches faster than most. I love the old-school sound effects!

2. Ong Bak (2003) – Tony Jaa vs. Poor Bad Guys

This fight scene became legendary when it first came. Why? It’s just one scene. ONE! I remember people talking about it everywhere!

3. Fist of Fury (1972) – Bruce Lee vs. Japanese Evil Dojo

Bruce Lee kicking ass. This fight was part of the reason the nunchaku (numb-chucks) became banned in most countries. This scene is famous.

4. First Strike (1996) – Jackie Chan vs. Gang of Thugs (feat. Ladder)

Jackie Chan’s unparallelled choreography shines through, as always. And who said a ladder can’t be used as a weapon? Epic.

5. Wheels on Meals (1984) – Jackie Chan vs Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez

At 1:16, Jackie Chan squares off with former world kickboxing champion Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez! Good stuff.


And lastly… a bonus. The training from The Drunken Master (1978) with Jackie Chan – a really classic movie that I must have seen a hundred times!

Now, obviously there’s tons of more awesome fight scenes from many movies. Like I said, these were just some suggested at the KbJ Facebook page a few days back. What I really want to know, of course, is:

What’s YOUR favorite martial arts movie fight?

(and no, Kung-Fu Panda isn’t allowed!)

Share in the comments!

About the author

is a self-titled Karate Nerd™, best-selling martial arts writer, unreasonably handsome elite athlete, autodidact, karatepreneur and carrot cake aficionado. He really thinks you should become a Karate Nerd™ too.


  1. virtualsensei

    June 21, 2012 at 3:56 am

    LOL, i totally agree with the part: “… many of us certified Karate Nerds™ probably started out practising the martial arts precisely because of kung-fu movies…”

    I would add: “… and because of martial arts videogames!!!”
    Street fighter, Tekken and so on… :-)

    • Chuck

      June 24, 2012 at 3:33 am

      I pre-date a lot of the folks here.

      My interest in martial arts was sparked by the BBC show The Avengers. Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, in a leather catsuit, kicking ass with “kung fu” moves.

      What’s not to love?

      • Jesse

        June 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

        Haha, love it! :)

  2. Diego Romero

    June 21, 2012 at 5:05 am

    i got shown this one earlier today:

    • Jesse

      June 21, 2012 at 7:52 am

      Diego-san, admit it: It’s only because you look like him! (btw, that end was nasty!) :)

      • Diego Romero

        June 24, 2012 at 3:09 am

        i have more hair.

  3. Frik

    June 21, 2012 at 9:38 am

    The first kung fu movie I can remember watching was “Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave”. Yeah, a rip off of the Lee name, I know, but it got me into the dojo for the first time at the age of 9. My dad was a huge Chuck Norris fan and movies like “Good Guys Wear Black” and “Slaughter in San Francisco” were part of my early childhood memories.
    as for my own favorite fight scene: too many to choose from! However, the final fight scene in Fist of Legend is awesome! Especially as mentioned by Jesse-san because of the many karate bunkai that can be seen in it. (Notice the move from Passai-Sho?)
    Enjoy the movies guys!

  4. Anthorien

    June 21, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I enjoy the fight scenes from this movie.

    • Ken

      July 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm

      Fighter in the wind!!!!

      awesome karate mountain training lol

  5. Jesse

    June 21, 2012 at 10:11 am

    By the way, everyone: make sure you write “httpv://www…” in the url (just add that “v” after http) to make your youtube videos be seen!

  6. Mitja

    June 21, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Almost 10 minutes of pure “fun”.

  7. MARK

    June 21, 2012 at 11:17 am

    where is donnie in ip man, the fight against ten karate guys is epic

    • Jesse

      June 21, 2012 at 11:44 am

      Yup, it is epic indeed. However, the movie company seems to be flagging the clips on Youtube… so they get removed!

    • Gerry

      June 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      I agree, that may be my favorite fight scene ever.

  8. effort

    June 21, 2012 at 11:46 am

    jackie chan vs “superfoot” in the protector!

  9. Raddon

    June 21, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Nuff said :)

    • Virtual Sensei

      June 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      OMG this is terrible… looks like a splatter movie!!!

  10. Vincent

    June 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    WTF ?? how is it even possible that nobody talked about the best jackie chan movie ever?? DRUNKEN MASTER 2 !
    You can’t talk about martial arts movie without naming this one for funakoshi’s sake…

    Check this pure peace of chan’s genius

  11. Vincent

    June 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Damn, I can’t put da vid in the comment…so here’s the link

  12. Tommy

    June 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Not sure what my favourite scene ever is, but I thoroughly enjoyed the kick at precisely 5:30 in the Wheels on Meals clip above :)

  13. Szilard

    June 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Hmmm, no High kick girl? (The movie that is more than 50% slow motion replay)
    No Steven Seagal either?

    • Jesse

      June 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      That was a joke… right? In that case, here it is!

      • Szilard

        June 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm

        Yep, and here is an other one:

  14. arian

    June 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Picking even a handful of favorites is really hard. But one that is at the top of my list that has been easily forgotten or unnoticed, is the fight between Benny “The Jet” and John Cusack in Gross Pointe Blank. It does an excellent job of blending cinematic fighting with the gritty reality of physical struggle.

  15. AlexDesmo

    June 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    I love Donnie Yen’s movies. This one is my favorite from Flash Point.

    • AlexDesmo

      June 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm

  16. Ismael

    June 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Some of the best Kung-fu films I have ever seen are:

    Enter the Dragon
    The Way of the Dragon
    Fist of Fury (Bruce lee version)
    Fist of Fury (Jet Li version)
    Drunken Master (Jackie Chan & Hwang Jang Lee)
    Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (Uncut version)
    Super Power (Billy Chong)
    Martial Club (Gordon Liu)
    Master Killer (Gordon Liu)
    Chinese Gold (rear film hard to find)
    Unbeatable Dragons (Shaw Brothers)
    Challenge of the Masters (Gordin Liu)

    And I can go on but that’s it for now….

  17. Kevin

    June 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    I am a big fan of “Dragon’s Claws” (Joseph Kuo director) I always like the kung fu movies with cool training scenes in them just as much as the fight scenes.

  18. Kevin

    June 25, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Also, the movie “Ghost Face Killer”. Even inspired the group Wu Tang Clan.

  19. Kevin

    June 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Sorry, the last movie title should have been “Mystery of Chessboxing”, NOT Ghost face killer…that was the main villian’s name.

  20. Gerry

    June 26, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Jesse, I think you need another post regarding the most realistic fight scenes. My vote would go to one of the “Bourne” movie fight scenes, but I’m not sure which.

  21. ILoveShitoRyu

    July 6, 2012 at 1:04 am

    How could you guys leave out the rooftop fight to the death in “Revenge of the Ninja”??? That is my all time favorite.

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